I just absolutely loved this holiday! October was the perfect time to explore Provence on bike and on foot. The boiling hot summer had given way to beautifully cool crisp mornings and wonderfully warm afternoons. By evening a winter coat and jumper were required – unfortunately I had packed all summer clothes except one pair of jeans and a woolly jumper. We met plenty of other tourists who had made the same mistake and had fun admiring our ridiculously layered outfits.
First up I want to share with you the highlight of the trip – cycling around the hill top towns of the Luberon.
This here beauty is Gordes! We stayed in a B&B near where this photo was taken – it was by far the best place we stayed on holiday, which I think is critical in terms of how much you enjoy a place. But more on that later.
I first heard of Provence through one of Peter Mayles books which i randomly picked up in a second hand book shop. His books were so idyllic. I loved the idea of leaving a successful career in the city to set up home in the French countryside. At that time Provence was still relatively undiscovered and teeming with cheap restaurants serving the most incredible food. By now it is full of wealthy Parisians, British and Americans and sadly the amazing food was a lot more difficult to find. Although I did have the most incredible lavender chicken in an unassuming pizza restaurant in the centre of Gordes – although it cost €24. Provence is expensive!!
The bike hire place in Gordes was closed for the winter but the nearby town of Coustellet had a few shops to choose from. It’s a work-a-day town but full of non-touristy shops and restaurants. We hired bikes from the place across from the Super U, near the disused railway and cycled along that lovely flat path for a few km before getting bored and cutting across to the hill towns. The full circuit was about 50Km but I had an electric bike which did most of the work on the hills for me. (I was on holiday!!!). The bike hire place gave us maps of routes that we could do and we made it up as we went along.
After cutting off the railway path, we passed through Bonnieux and carried on through Lacoste, Mènerbes, Oppède, Maubec, Robion, and back to Coustellet. The villages are strung along country roads and every few kilometre you meet another beauty. Each village was different and beautiful and charming… and up hill. The route was really well signposted (thankfully as it meant we didn’t have to check any maps). And we met very few other cars or cyclists.
Just farms, vineyards, and villages.
All perched on hills overlooking the countryside.
The villages were quiet with only one or two cafes open.
After the cycle we dropped off our bikes and headed back to our B&B.
This B&B was the best of the holiday – I highly recommend it. Even though it had those annoying French showers- just a hose in a bath tub and no screen or hook to hang the shower head – why do you do this France!!!!
The room had a lovely private terrace and big bright windows.
All tastefully done with white walls and big windows!
The gardens were gorgeous and overlooked the beautiful countryside.
The pool was covered over but the owner offered to open it up if we wanted a swim.
The next day we took a short hike to down into the valley below to visit Sénanque Abbey. Check out the next post to find out more!