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CYCLE THROUGH PROVENCE
The trip: Provence is a promise of sunflowers, olive groves, wineries, and bouillabaisse. It's also the world's most rewarding region to bike through, thanks to rolling, riverside rides followed by languorous meals and sumptuous hotels. Bikers on a weeklong excursion with Butterfield & Robinson might depart from Avignon and ride 2060 miles per day through vineyards and orchards toward the lavender-flecked village of Sault-en-Vaucluse. (Or, one could just do it on one's own, of course.) A generous serving of downtime allows for strolling medieval cobblestone streets, lounging by countryside pools, and exploring the landscape that you've seen on a dozen Van Gogh canvases. Leave the PowerBars and Gatorade behind: You'll be refueling at Michelin-starred bistros and sipping Côtes du Rhône.
Why go? It's an ideal way to soak up the area's gorgeous terrain. And if you're going to eat your way through southern France, you may as well burn a few calories while you're at it.
What to pack: In addition to those cushy-tushed bike shorts and bike shoes, be sure to bring a pair of flip flops in which to play boules at the end of the day. Happily, lightweight aluminum-frame bikes are provided.
Difficulty: 6 out of 10. B & R rates the trip "moderate." It's even easier if you're a triathlete, well trained in the arts of cycling, dining, and wining. Or, find "easygoing" trips with B & R in the Loire Valley.
Your guides: Francophile, oenophile, and foodie George Butterfield has been leading bike trips in Europe since 1966, and his guides know exactly how to balance riding and relaxing.
Butterfield & Robinson
Tel: 866 551 9090
Seven-day trip, including a Cannondale bike, six nights in hotels, and most meals, $6,195 per person