Secrets of Southern France (6 days)
Duration: 6 days (5 nights)
Dates: Saturday, 9 July to Thursday, 14 July, 2016
Start: Toulouse Finish: Toulouse
Accommodation: 4 star hotels
Group Size: Maximum 10 people (2 Staff)
Suitable For: Cyclists and Non Cyclists
Trip Type: Central Based Trip Find out more…
Cost: A$3600.00 (US$2520.00)
Deposit: A$1000.00 (US$700.00)
Note: All trip costs are per person, not including airfare and based on two persons per room. If travelling alone we will match you with a person to share. Alternatively you may choose to have a room of your own by paying the single supplement.
Single Supplement: A$450.00 (US$315.00)
- Bike Rental A$300.00 (US$210.00) (Cannondale Synapse carbon fibre)
- Pre or post tour accommodation to extend your stay
- Travel Insurance – Email us for details
- Experience the 2016 Tour de France, including a stage finish and stage start
- Ride along quiet country roads and visit beautiful villages and stunning historical towns of Albi and Carcassonne
- Dine in a Michelin Star restaurant
- An exclusive small group trip with 5 nights in quality 4 star hotels
- See it Live! 2 Tour de France stages
- An ideal trip to share with your non-cycling partner
Who is this trip for?
This 6 day trip explores the fanfare and excitement of the Tour de France while allowing more time for you to discover some of the secrets on the roads in the South of France. Bikestyle Tours has its European base in this area and we would love to share with you some local secrets, on and off the bike. You will see the spectacle of 2 Tour de France stages and visit some of France’s beautiful villages. This unique trip is tailored toward the keen cyclist, but is also perfect for you to share time with your non-cycling partner to explore the villages, cuisine and historical treasures in the south of France. With 4 nights at a quality hotel in the one location, you can unpack your bags and relax on this leisurely paced trip enjoying the beauty of France. A highlight of this trip will be the experience of lunch in a charming Michelin Star restaurant and a visit to the historic town of Albi.
This is a trip that will suit cyclists and non–cycling partners and friends. Our trips are geared to suit anyone with an interest in Cycling who wants to see the biggest of the Grand Tours, the Tour de France. Although this (and riding our bikes) is our main focus for the trip, we have incorporated many tourist opportunities. We cater for cyclists of all abilities by providing riding options each day. We ride on quiet scenic roads providing options for rides to suit people who feel like a challenge, or an easy day enjoying the scenery.
As with all of our tours you’ll be guided by our expert team of ride leaders, drivers and guides.
See what our clients said about us after the 2015 Tour by reading their Testimonials here.
Saturday, 9 July 2016: Bienvenue
The first day of our trip starts today with our staff meeting you at 11 am at Toulouse Blagnac airport for your transfer to our quality hotel in the region of Tarn. Toulouse is well served by flights from all over Europe, so an easy destination to reach. We can arrange for a pre-tour night at our Toulouse hotel if you prefer to arrive before today and take a look around Toulouse before starting your trip. We can recommend a tour of the Airbus A380 facility and visiting the newly refurbished Airbus museum.
We have a short transfer from Toulouse to Castres, where you can have lunch before checking into our hotel. Our home for 4 nights of our trip is Castres, a historical city with origins as far back as 9th century BC and wealth founded in art and trade. The river Agout flows through Castres and its flow has been vital for local craftsmen and industry. This location give us access to the 3 world heritage sites we will visit and ideally located for our seeing the Tour de France Live.
Our home for the next 4 nights is situated right on the riverfront in a former industrial building converted recently to a comfortable 4 star hotel. Once we’ve got you settled into the hotel we will assemble bikes and take a short local ride to make sure you and your bike are all in good working order. After the ride we can catch up with the Tour de France live on TV and see the finish of today’s stage finish in the Pyrenees. For those not riding, you will be able to explore this lovely town.
Tonight we will enjoy a special welcome dinner at a traditional restaurant in a local village where you will enjoy a glass of wine, meet your fellow travellers and have our staff answer all your questions on your upcoming holiday.
Sunday, 10 July 2016:
Today we indulge in another pleasure of cycling, satisfying your appetite, with a beautiful ride to start our trip through the idyllic countryside and villages of the Tarn.
We have a lunch booking with a Michelin Star Restaurant which will keep us to a schedule this morning. We will set off after breakfast toward Mazamet and do a ride that we know very well, as this is our backyard. We will ride up to Pic di Nore, the highest point of Montagne Noire, the junction between several regions of Southern France.
It is not a Col of the Pyrenees or Alps, but it’s a challenging climb up to 1,200m on quiet forested roads. As with most climbs this high, it offers wonderful views. On a clear day you will see the chain of the Pyrenees and Mediterranean ocean in a single vista. We will then take the fast descent down to Lastours to meet up with the non-cyclists for a visit to its four castles, Châteaux de Lastours.
Lastours is a charming medieval village on the Southern slopes of Montagne Noire, made up of two hamlets and its 4 castles. The castles themselves were built during the 12th and 13th century, believed to have been built by Cathars. Catharism is an old religion violently repressed by the Catholic Church of Rome between the 10th and the 12th century. There are also numerous archaeological sites situated near the castles which date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. For non-riders, you will have plenty of time to walk around this charming village and visit the castles.
After all this activity you’ll have developed an appetite and we’ve got a special treat in store as we enjoy a gastronomic delight with lunch at a Michelin star restaurant in Lastours, Le Puits du Trésor. Situated on the river bank in an historic building under the shadows of the ancient Cathar towers, this will be a meal to remember.
After lunch we will return to Castres in the vans and you will have the rest of the afternoon to relax , even time for an afternoon nap and explore this authentic small French town.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Monday, 11 July 2016:
After breakfast this morning we will make our way along the quiet tree-lined roads of the Tarn to the historical village of Lautrec, of the same fame as the famous impressionist artist. This village is perched above its surroundings offering great views and has medieval timber houses spanning across quiet passages.
You will also find an artisan boulanger, one of the best in France, making fresh baquettes and other treats for you to sample. We will meet up with the non-cyclists in Lautrec and have a look around this stunning village and have a break for coffee. We will give non-cyclists a little more time to wander the streets of Lautrec before heading off to our next destination, Albi.
Our riders will have a mostly downhill ride into Albi, the capital of Tarn. This historic town is unlike any other in France with a beautiful medieval centre dominated by the massive Sainte Cécile cathedral. First built as a fortress in the 13th century and under construction for 200 years, it is claimed to be the largest brick building in the world and when you see it for real, you’ll believe it!
We will have lunch and spend the afternoon visiting the cathedral and exploring this UNESCO World Heritage centre. Le Tour de France has visited Albi many times and the World Masters Road Cycling Championships will be held here in 2017.
After our tourist day out in the Tarn we will travel back to Castres where you are free to dine at one of the fine local restaurants. If you would like more riding, we will have an option to ride an alternative return route back to Castres. Today’s stage of the tour is over the border in Spain, finishing in Andorra, you will have time this afternoon to watch the finish on TV in the comfort of the hotel in Castres.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016:
The Tour de France leaves Andorra after its day of rest and returns to France. We’ll get our first look at the 2016 Tour de France this afternoon in the finish town of Revel. Keeping with our theme of nothing too strenuous, we will offer a ride option after breakfast heading west from Castres. The roads and villages are beautiful and quiet and we will pass through rolling fields quilted in sunflowers.
Today, on our way to Revel, we will visit the village of Sorèze nestled at the foot of Montagne Noire and home of the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of the Sagne. The abbey was first built in 8th century, destroyed in the 9th and rebuilt in the 10th. Through the following 5 centuries and the Wars of Religion only the bell tower and some gates remained. The existing structure was redeveloped in the 17th century and recommissioned as a school. Since the industrial revolution the Abbey-School has been made into a hotel and is the focal piece of this picturesque village. We will stop in Sorèze for lunch, where you can visit the museum, walk through the medieval streets before we head on to Revel.
For the non-riders, you can stroll through the markets in Castres today and taste some lovely delights. You may do as we often do and pick up a variety of foods to make a picnic lunch. Later this morning we will head of to Sorèze to meet up with the riders.
After lunch we will head into Revel for the finish of today’s stage. The central square in Revel with its old timber building is well worth a visit.
It is a mostly downhill stage today and as flat stages are scattered throughout otherwise hilly stages in this year’s tour, the green jersey will be strongly contested today. The sprint into Revel will be electric and the arrival of the caravane before the riders lifts the energy and anticipation of the crowd. After the finish we will travel back to Castres where you are free to dine at one of the local restaurants.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016:
Today after breakfast we will visit the famous walled cité of Carcassonne for a stage start. Carcassonne is one of the most popular and unforgettable sites in France so we can’t pass up the chance to visit it today. Carcassonne is among the major attractions in France and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The huge walled cité is perhaps the best example of a medieval fortress in Europe and paints a stunning picture as it stands proudly on the hill overlooking the plains of the Aude. There are remarkable views over the surrounding countryside from the three kilometres of ramparts.
We will ride later today, after we have joined in the excitement of a Tour de France stage start. Stage starts are exciting to see and are your best opportunity to see your favourite rider, grabbing their photo or autograph. After we watch the riders as they roll out slowly on départ fictif we will have lunch and visit the the old Cité area. Today’s stage may create some time gaps as the road to Montpelier often provide head and cross-winds splitting the péloton.
Our ride from Carcassonne will take us along Canal du Midi which was built to serve as a shortcut between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, avoiding the long sea voyage around hostile Spain, Barbary pirates, and a trip that in the 17th century took a full month to complete. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and runs 240km from the city of Toulouse to the Mediterranean port of Sete. It’s a lovely flat ride on a wide path running next to the canal, shaded by a long rows of plane trees. We will offer a shorter and longer ride option today from which you can choose depending on how you feel.
We will return tonight to France’s fourth-largest city, Toulouse (known as la ville en rose, or the city in pink). It is an ancient city with a stormy history. Complimenting this distinguished history, Toulouse is also a city of the future and the high-tech centre of the aerospace industry in France including Airbus.
Tonight we will have our farewell dinner at a local restaurant and celebrate the end of our trip discovering the south of France. As it is 13 July and the eve of Bastille Day there will be celebrations in the town tonight, so a walk along the river after dinner will see Toulouse in a festive mood.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Thursday, 14 July 2016: Au Revoir
It is farewell to your new friends as our Secrets of Southern France trip comes to an end this morning, Bastille Day! Over the past week you’ve experienced the serenity of Southern France and the excitement of the Tour de France up close, enjoyed riding along quiet roads and hopefully had an unforgettable holiday with Bikestyle Tours.
If you wish to stay on in Toulouse then you can witness one of the biggest Bastille Day Celebrations tonight in France close to our hotel, with a massive fireworks display and people celebrating along the beautiful Garonne river in the historic centre.
For an extended experience, you may wish to combine this trip with another one of our centre-based trips in the Alps where you can unpack your bags and settle in for the week in our luxury private chalet … Itinerary Details.
Tour cost is per person twin share and includes:
- Support van
- Services of our experienced tour guides, mechanics and drivers.
- 5 nights accommodation in quality 4 star hotels
- Buffet breakfast daily
- Lunch in a Michelin star restaurant
- 3 course evening meals on 2 nights
- Wine with welcome and farewell dinners
- Arrival transfer from Toulouse airport on day one of our trip
- Mechanical assistance with your bike
- Sightseeing and entry fees as listed
- Maps, GPS files and Bikestyle guide to the 2016 Tour de France
- Quality Bikestyle Tours kit including cycling jersey, knicks, cap and musette bag
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