Southern France: Biking the Provence Countryside

Updated on July 9, 2018
punacoast profile image

Viet and his partner spent a month in southern France. Biking through the Provence countryside was an unforgettable experience!

Sun-e-bike in Provence.
Sun-e-bike in Provence. | Source

One of the most fun and relaxing ways to see the countryside of Provence is by biking – with un vélo électrique! Why an electric bicycle? The Provence landscape is not completely flat as you may think, there are plenty of rolling hills and steep roads – quite a challenge even for an experienced biker! Also, some of the most famous Provençal villages are situated on mountain cliffs overlooking the valleys and farmlands below. With an electric bicycle you can easily bike up the steep, bumpy cobblestone roads that lead to these villages and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top.

Quiet scenic Provence road is ideal for biking.
Quiet scenic Provence road is ideal for biking. | Source

Enjoy the Countryside of Provence

Compared to driving a rental car or sitting on a tour bus, exploring the countryside of Provence on bike is a much more pleasant experience. It gives you a unique opportunity to enjoy the scenery up close and personal. As you leisurely bike along the road, you can feel the warm summer breezes, smell the lavender flowers, hear the birds in the orchards, and be visually enchanted by beautiful sights such as a field of golden sunflowers or an old church perching on the hillside. It’s like being inside a Monet’s or van Gogh's painting!

Clockwise from top left: stone farmhouse; lavender field; bright sunflowers; room with a view; black grapes at Domaine de Marie winery.
Clockwise from top left: stone farmhouse; lavender field; bright sunflowers; room with a view; black grapes at Domaine de Marie winery. | Source

How does an electric bike work

An electric bike (or e-bike) looks and feels very similar to a mountain bike. It has a light-weight battery (attached under the back seat) that generates an electric current to power a small built-in motor (usually in the rear hub) to “push” the bike forward with less pedaling effort. Similar to the way you switch gears on a regular bike, a simple flip of your finger will engage the motor whenever you need it: biking upslope or against headwind. The battery re-charges itself.

Sweeping views of Provence countryside from Lacoste village on biking route.
Sweeping views of Provence countryside from Lacoste village on biking route. | Source

Where to rent e-bikes in Provence

Sun-e-Bike operates electric bike rental shops in the Luberon, Alpilles, and Aix-en-Provence regions in southern France. This company offers electric bike rentals for one-day trips or for the entire length of your vacation. They also provide excellent road maps and suggested itineraries that enable you to explore and see the best of Provence – on bike.

This article features Sun-e-Bike’s one-day trip itinerary called La route des châteaux perches (The route of the perching castles). The trip starts from Bonnieux (where Sun-e-Bike has a rental shop) and takes you to neighboring villages Lacoste, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux and back. These old villages are registered by the French government as “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (The Most Beautiful Villages of France). You will be biking on small country roads (with hardly any car traffic!) lined with picturesque vineyards and orchards. The round-trip biking distance is approximately 38 km (about 24 miles). It takes 3-5 hours to complete, depending on how many sightseeing stops you make along the way.

Hilltop village of Bonnieux on biking route.
Hilltop village of Bonnieux on biking route. | Source
Biking route for "The route of the perching castles".
Biking route for "The route of the perching castles". | Source
Taking a water break by the vineyard.
Taking a water break by the vineyard. | Source

Top attractions along this route

Lacoste Castle – built in 11th century, also known as Marquis de Sade Castle as he lived here 1769-1772. Currently owned by French designer Pierre Cardin and for an admission fee you can walk through the house and gardens.

Domaine de Marie vineyard – one of the largest wineries in Provence. Offers tours and wine tasting.

Ménerbes – this quaint village was made famous by the 1989 best-selling memoir “A Year in Provence” by British author Peter Mayle who still lives in the area.

Maison de la truffe et du vin – art gallery & fine restaurant located in Ménerbes, offers delectable truffle main courses and impressive regional wines.

Oppède-le-Vieux Castle – magnificent ruins of a 12th century castle. Many contemporary French artists and writers made their homes here in the surrounding village.

House of Truffle and Wine in Menerbes.
House of Truffle and Wine in Menerbes. | Source
Another mode of transportation of another time: antique carriage at Marquis de Sade castle.
Another mode of transportation of another time: antique carriage at Marquis de Sade castle. | Source
Old village street in Oppede-le-Vieux.
Old village street in Oppede-le-Vieux. | Source

Tips on biking

  • Follow the itinerary & map provided by Sun-e-Bike. Ask questions and get suggestions from their friendly, helpful staff (most speak English) at the rental shop.
  • Observe local traffic rules. Look for the little blue Sun-e-Bike logos posted on street signs along the route, it means you’re on the right track!
  • Bike in single file if you’re with a group. Helmet is not required but highly recommended.
  • Bring water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, and don’t forget your camera!
  • Bring a small blanket in case you want to stop for a picnic or take a nap under an apple tree in the orchard.
  • Use the lock provided by Sun-e-Bike to secure your bike whenever you leave it unattended, i.e. outside a museum, a restaurant or café.
  • Yield to others if necessary, especially those serious bikers who look as if they are training for the next Tour de France!
  • Save battery power by using the motor only when you bike uphill. Remember the battery slightly re-charges itself whenever you pedal with your own leg muscles!
  • If for some reason your battery is completely drained, Sun-e-Bike has set up a partnership with some shops in the nearest village where you may exchange the empty battery for a fully charged one.

The road less traveled.
The road less traveled. | Source

All photos were taken by the author with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera and iPhone6.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Viet Doan


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)