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Provence Itinerary

Day 3

Our first little climb, in The Alpilles.

Lunch at Chateauneuf du Pape, Provence

We set off due west, as if we were headed back towards the Rhone, but we turn onto the D27 to cycle through the Alpilles to Les Baux de Provence. This must be the most beautiful stretch of cycling on any Chain Gang tour. This road is reason enough for somebody to invent the bike. 
We follow the little river, the Gaudre de Valmouriane, winding through spectacular scenery as the Alpilles begin to build either side of us. Truly beautiful - maybe we should just cycle up and down this road all week?
 
We've a decent climb into Les Baux, a fascinating, ruined fortress. Ruled over for centuries by (alleged) descendants of Balthazar, one of the biblical 3 Kings , this fortress was able to wreak havoc throughout Provence and as far afield as Toulouse. Eventually it became part of France, but following a rebellion was destroyed by none other than Cardinal Richelieu of Three Musketeers fame.
 
Ten years later it was given to Monaco (the current Marquise of Les Baux is Princess Caroline of Monaco) and in the 19th century was the site for the discovery of aluminium ore, hence 'bauxite'.
 
Astonishingly, Les Baux became such a backwater that it effectively disappeared. Rediscovered after World War II, it's been excavated and restored to what we see today - a ruined fortress surrounded by tourist shops! Don't let me put you off, Les Baux is fascinating and has some of the best views you could possibly imagine.
 
Today we'll visit an olive farm at Maussane Domaine Plaines Marguerite, and after lunch we'll go wine-tasting at Domaine de la Vallongue, proud producers of AOP Les Baux de Provence, one of France's newset Appellations.
 
Tonight we finish our day in Cavaillon in a delightful old quarter of the town at the Hotel de Parc.
 
Distance: 30 miles / 48 Km
Click this link for Day 3 route map on mapometer.

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