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Via Tolosana, such as the enigmatic Picaud Aimery named author of the first pilgrim’s guide to the twelfth century, is now more commonly called ” La voie d’ Arles. ” The Arles route uses to pass over the land of language OC who belonged to the Counts of Toulouse, from where comes the name of Via Tolosana. This path was traversed in both directions: on one hand, Pilgrims from Southern Europe (Spain, portugal) used it to travel to Rome, on the other hand, the pilgrims from Italy, Provence and Germany use to follow it to go to Saint Jacques tomb. It crosses the Pyrenees at Col du Somport to join the Camino Frances to Punta La Reina. We propose you this stretch from Provence to Languedoc by bike in 5 stages.
Day 1 : Arrival in Avignon. Take your time to visit this town, a UNESCO World Heritage city. The capital of Christendom during the Middle Ages is the first highlight of this trip. Do not miss the Palais des Papes, the Cathedral, the Pont Saint Benezet . Overnight Hotel *** B&B.
Day 2 :Avignon – St Rémy de Provence – Arles ( 55 km, 22 miles)
This morning, you’ll meet our local representative who will deliver and adjust your rental bikes (if you choose not to bring your own bikes) to the hotel. From Avignon, the famous city of the popes, you pass through Provence to visit the village of St Remy de Provence, ancient city and major step in the life of Van Gogh. Then you will follow the Camargue direction to reach Arles, one of the major roads to Santiago, via Tolosana, also known as the road to Arles « La voie d’Arles ». In this ancient city of Arles, you will visit the « arenes », the Constantine baths and the Roman theater, dating from Roman times, but also the Espace Van Gogh. For those that love history, an extra day here will be necessary to visit the fabulous museum Arles Antique, Alyscamps, Crypto or the cloister St. Trophime. Overnight Arles en Provence . Hotel *** HB
Day 3 : Arles en Provence – Saintes Marie de la Mer (45 km, 18 miles)
By small country roads , you pass through the Camargue, the bulls and horses land. This is the first wetland in France, formed by the Rhone delta, it is protected by a natural park. The route passes to Saintes Marie de la Mer, an important place of pilgrimage, particularly with the communities Gypsies, Rom and Manush Gypsies that gather annually for the pilgrimage to the holy Virgin Sara. Visit the crypt of the Black Madonna Sara. Overnight Saintes Marie de la Mer . Hotel ** HB
Day 4 : Saintes Marie de la Mer – Clapiers (Montpellier) 65 km, 25 miles
En route to Aigues Mortes, magnificent medieval city. You will join one of the highlights of the history of France, especially since this city and its port were erected and fortified from 1244 by King St. Louis, for the purpose of the Crusades. Not less than 700 ships that depart from Aigues Mortes, with horses and knights, in the direction of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. This city Aigues Mortes received in 1908, the visit of Sr Thomas Lawrence, the famous Lawrence of Arabia. On the way you will pass by the wineyards Petit Chaumont, where you can taste the “vin des sables” (wine of the sands) Overnight Clapiers. Hotel *** B&B
Day 5 : Clapiers – Aniane (45 km, 18 miles)
Through the vineyards and olive groves you win little by little the foothills of the Massif Central and the Causses. The small villages along the route are typical of Languedoc architecture and reflect the good life in southern France. The road to St Jacques de Compostelle is well marked with shells and other distinctive signs. Your night will be in Aniane, a medieval city built around abbeys whose origins date from 782 and was founded by St. Benedict , great reformer of the Benedictine order. But this village owes its reputation to its wines under the appellation Coteaux du Languedoc, you will have the opportunity to taste …. Overnight Aniana. Charming chambre d’hôtes. HB
Day 6 : Aniane – Lodève (43 km, 17 miles)
You leave early, to enjoy St Guilhem le Desert, the last highlight of your trip and a major stop on the Via Tolosana. The village is part of the Great Sites of France and is also included in the list of the most beautiful villages in France. Its origins dates from the middle Ages with the construction of the Abbey Gellone. By the Devil’s Bridge, which spans the river Herault, you will continue your way by the Priory of Grandmont before you reach Lodève for the night , last stage on your way Santiago. Overnight Lodève ina charming hotel ** B&B
Day 7 : End of the trip after breakfast
Net Costs 2016 : from 825€ pp in double/twin room
What’s Included : 6 nights comfortable and carefully chosen accommodations , double or single room occupancy with private facilities, 6 breakfasts, 4 dinners, luggage transfers, detailed route notes, hotline 7/7 from 8:00 to 20:00, all tax and service charges.
What’s not included : Entrance fees into museums, insurance, drinks, items of personal nature. Bicycle rentals. Hybrids are available at the rate from 130 euros per bike (includes drop-off fee)