Nîmes to Narbonne Backroads – Self-Guided Tour

la rigole

The Road Less Traveled Through Central Languedoc

library-2105A 7-day self-guided tour that rolls over the scenic back roads of eastern and central Languedoc. With a heavy dose of pretty villages and stunning countryside, this tour is for people who love to ride the open road. But we haven’t forgotten history lovers and those who like a bit of culture thrown into the mix! You start and finish your tour in Roman towns and visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on your way. Your tour starts in the city of Nîmes, with its coliseum and Roman temple, then quickly enters the vine-laden and sun-kissed countryside of southern France. Along your route you will take the chemin less traveled, on local roads that link village to village. You will have a few small climbs along the way, so come prepared…but don’t worry, your rental bikes have plenty of gears to get you up any gradient! For more details click on the tabs below.

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Self-guided tours have all the elements of a fully guided tour, without the guide, giving you the perfect compromise between an organized tour and an independent adventure. In place of a guide you will have a GPS device to show you the way, backed up by a Route Book with maps and practical information.

MThis ‘Backroads’ self-guided tour is rated ‘Moderate’. Most of the riding you will be doing is over rolling or flat terrain, but there are some climbs of several kilometers’ length along the way.  You should be used to riding multiple hours on the bike and fit enough to tackle short climbs. This tour is suitable for experienced cyclists of all ages.

2Day One: Your first day is spent exploring the historic Roman city of Nîmes and making any last-minute preparations you might need for your week-long adventure. Your bikes will be delivered to your hotel in the evening, so it’s also a good chance to get to know your new ‘friend’! Nîmes is packed with things to see and all are within easy walking distance of your hotel. Not to be missed are Les Arènes, La Maison Carrée and a good, long stroll through the medieval heart of town.

Day Two: Nîmes to Tornac (55 km)sauve2

From your hotel you make a fast escape from the city and after a few kilometers you are in the wide Vaunage valley, where your route follows the hidden back roads west, then north through vineyards, with the Cévennes mountains in the distance as your guide. Your day finishes just outside Tornac, a tiny village with a rich history, a Romanesque church, a partially-ruined monastery and a dominating chateau – but the real reason we’re here is your charming hotel and restaurant for the evening – Le Ranquet. Your dinner is included tonight, so kick off your cycling shoes and enjoy the peaceful surroundings before an evening of fine dining at the hotel restaurant. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day Three: Tornac to Saint Guilhem-le-Désert (60 km)stguilhem

Today you leave the departement of Gard and enter Hérault. Your route takes you first across the pretty hinterland of Montpellier before depositing you along the stunning Hérault River gorge, which you will follow all the way to your destination, St. Guilhem le Désert. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to explore this beautifully-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to be missed are the cloisters of the Abbey of Gellone and the impressive cirque a few minutes’ walk beyond the village. Breakfast and dinner included. 

Day Four: Saint Guilhem-le-Désert to Autignac (63 km) pddiable

This morning you freewheel down the few kilometers from St. Guilhem to the immense Pont du Diable, a stone bridge that has been here, at the entrance to the gorge, since the Middle Ages. You turn right and continue to follow the flow of the Hérault River, but a tad inland, following local roads from village to village. After climbing over the autoroute you enter a forested and hilly region where you will warm up for a few km before the challenge of the day – the beautiful climb north of Neffliès, with views over the wide plain and down to the Mediterranean. It’s worth the effort! After the descent you are in the lovely countryside north of Béziers, dotted with small hilltop villages. Breakfast included

Day Five: Autignac (__km)View to Autignac

Today, your ‘rest’ day, will be filled up with a ride of your choice, created by your bike-loving hosts, Darren and Emma. You simply chose a loop of your liking and head out on the road, keeping in mind you will have a hearty, home-cooked meal when you return! Autignac is ideally situated for any level of ride you’d like to have and there is a great variety of routes to choose from.  Breakfast and dinner included. 

Day Six: Autignac to Sallèles d’Aude (50 km)la rigole

Today, your last day in the saddle, you continue your journey southwest, hugging the hillside of the the Parc Naturel du Haut Languedoc. Today you will pass through some of the famous circulade villages of the region (e.g. Murviel-les-Béziers) – 1000 year old villages built in concentric circles that are unique to Languedoc. Your day ends a mere pedal’s stroke from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Canal du Midi, so make sure you get out for a walk (or slow spin) along it’s shaded tree-lined tow paths before dinner. If you can’t make it, don’t fret – your B&B is right on its own lovely canal – the Canal de JonctionBreakfast included.

Day Seven: Transfer to Narbonne narbonne

Today, your last, you will be taken to your train station in Narbonne. Make sure you set aside time to explore this ancient Roman town before you move on. Transfers to other hubs (Béziers, Carcassonne) are possible and will incur an extra supplement. Just let us know where you would like to go and we’ll do our best to get you there. Breakfast included.

Hotel Imperator

Unquestionably the most historic hotel in the area, the Hotel Imperator has welcomed the likes of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner and Jean Cocteau. It’s not just a piece of ancient history, though. The Imperator has seen a recent renaissance and is, once again today, a center for art and culture in Nîmes. We hope to see you for some pre-tour planning in the Hemingway Bar before your trip begins!

le ranquetLe Ranquet

Set in its own private park on the southern edge of the Cévennes National Park, 4-star Le Ranquet is one of Languedoc’s best kept secrets. Each room has it’s own exclusive entrance and terrace, and all are tastefully designed and charmingly decorated. Relax in your room or by the pool for as long as you like before taking dinner in Le Ranquet’s fine dining restaurant.


masque1_20Le Guilhaume d’Orange

Le Guilhaume d’Orange is a pretty 2-star hotel, perfectly situated on the rocky banks of the Hérault River and right at the entrance to one of the most historic and prettiest villages in France: St. Guilhem le Désert. After your day in the saddle, walk up and explore the narrow, winding streets and alley-ways of the village (listed as one of the prettiest in France), then enjoy the 3-course dinner waiting for you back at the hotel’s popular restaurant, La Table d’Aurore.

2-tables-and-sail-compressed-e1327062657978Le St. André

Le Saint André provides the ideal cycling base to explore the fabulous region of the Hérault ideally situated between the Mediterranean sea and the Cevennes mountains. The house is relaxed and informal – a home away from home. Free WiFi, a guest computer, dvd player and ipod docking station are here for your use. On hand are route cards and maps, GPS downloads, Garmin Edge 800 rental, secure bike storage, a workshop, essential spares and laundry facilities.

houseLes Volets Bleus

After your final day of pedaling, what could be better than dipping your feet into the cool water right in front of your bed & breakfast?  You’ll have the opportunity, or at least be able to admire it from Les Volets Bleus, a transformed 1880’s town-house on the edge of a principal lock feeding the Canal du Midi, which is just a stone’s throw away itself. The owners of this large and airy sanctuary will help make your final evening a memorable one.  Dinner can be taken in their stately dining room, or in one of several surrounding village restaurants.

Included in Your Self-Guided Tour

6 nights accommodation, in 2 and 4-star hotels and charming chambres d’hôtes.

All breakfasts and 3 dinners.

Bike rental (hybrid). If you bring your own we will deduct this cost from your tour.

Maps and a ‘route book’ of practical information.

A Garmin GPS navigation device for each couple (or individual, if travelling alone).

On-the-ground Emergency support.

Gratuities for hotel staff.

Transfer on last day to Narbonne train station (other locations possible at an extra cost).

All baggage transportation.


Not included

Transportation to France.

Hotels before and after your tour.

Drinks with dinner (except Day 5).


Personal expenses, such as mini-bar, telephone or souvenir purchases.

Transfer from the airport / train station to your hotel in Nîmes.

€1195 per person (based on double occupancy)

€250 – Single Supplement

Nîmes to Narbonne Self-Guided Route

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