elf guided cycling hotel-tour with baggage transfer.
Plus package with** and ***/** hotels and 1 or 2 Chambres d'Hôtes
de charme (***).
Dinners (except in Rodez, Albi and Villefranche de Rouergue) included
(starter, main course, cheese, dessert), beverages not included.
Short to medium length; light hilly stages in rolling countryside
with lots of medieval towns.
You can start this tour any day of the week between March 15th
and October 31th.
You can fly into Rodez with Ryanair from London, Dublin and Brussels-Charleroi.
Bike rental possible, electric bikes too!
Unlike Albi, Rodez needs to be discovered. Albi, UNESCO World Heritage
Centre, Musée Toulouse Lautrec. On the banks of the Tarn river in south-west
France, the old city of Albi reflects the culmination of a medieval architectural
and urban ensemble.
Rodez too, has a magnificent Cathedral and since 2020 Musée Soulages!
Rodez: Musée Soulages and the Cathedral
This cycling holiday starts on the quiet roads of the l'ezou
plateau South of Rodez.
You then head South through rolling countryside, along some big lakes
towards the valley of the Tarn. Through the valley with some very nice Medieval
towns you'll go to Albi.
In Albi the Old Bridge (Pont-Vieux), the Saint-Salvi quarter and its
church are testimony to its initial development (10th -11th centuries).
Following the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heretics (13th century)
it became a powerful episcopal city. Built in a unique southern French Gothic
style from local brick in characteristic red and orange colours, the lofty
fortified Cathedral (late 13th century) dominates the city, demonstrating
the power regained by the Roman Catholic clergy. Alongside the Cathedral
is the vast bishop's Palais de la Berbie, overlooking the river and
surrounded by residential quarters that date back to the Middle Ages. The
Episcopal City of Albi forms a coherent and homogeneous ensemble of monuments
and quarters that has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. leaving
Albi in Nortyhern direction you will visit some wonderfully preserved fortified
villages (Bastides), the most famous of which is hill-top Cordes-sur-Ciel.
These walled settlements, with grid-pattern streets and handsome squares,
are now beautiful reminders of the great conflicts of the Middle Ages. More
to North you will head to Najac the famous fortress in Aveyron and to Villefranche-de-Rouergue
in the 8-, 9- and 10-days tours.
Moderate level tour
: max 60 km a day. Tours of 7 - 10 days (packages
with ** and some *** hotels) and optional extensions in any of the regular
hotels of this tour.
Accommodations: *** and ** hotels, one Chambre d'Hôtes de Charme
with equal standard. ** B&B hotel in Albi. The hotels chosen
for this tour are small nicely restored mansions in medieval village of
which 4 are labeled l'un des plus beau villages de France: one of the
100 nicest villages of France.
From Albi to Rodez: Winding river valleys, empty roads with just
the occasional tractor. Rolling countryside, with half-timbered houses
and the walled 'Bastides' (Najac and Villefranche de Rouergue) that
go back to the time of the Plantagenet Kings. Easy to escape down meandering
back roads and not see a soul for hours. You will stay a night in ***
hotel in Puycelsi ("L'un des plus beau villages de France"),
you will visit Bruniquel with its two castles and St. Antonin Noble Val
on your way to Cordes where you stay for one night in the tower and highest
point of Cathar city Cordes sur Ciel, an unforgettable place to stay. In
this small hotel you can buy Le Jacquard Français. . Najac ("L'un
des plus beau villages de France"). Villefranche-de-Rouergue will be
your destination after the famous Najac (Another "L'un des plus
beau villages de France").
There are hundreds of these remarkable fortified medieval towns
throughout Midi-Pyrénées. Whereas most settlements of the Middle Ages are
typified by narrow winding lanes and a disorderly assembly of buildings
surrounding a church, Bastides are characterized by evenly proportioned
houses and distinct grid patterns of straight streets and connecting alleys
laid out at right angles around a central market place.
Bastides were built for a variety of reasons, but most important motivation
for these easily defended fortresses was as wartime protection. They sprung
specifically from two conflicts. In the 13th century, Catharism, a deviation
from Catholic tradition that was eventually ruled heretic, took hold in
the region. Rome unleashed a series of unremitting crusades to conquer the
Cathar. Later, during the Hundred Years War, the English and French, both
outside rival powers to the region's inhabitants at the time, waged
fierce competition here for control of neighbouring Aquitanie. Today
Bastides are attractive because they are often far off the beaten track,
perched on small hills or rocky outcrops. Peaceful and picturesque in a
way that belie their history, they allow travellers to stroll their cobbled
streets and gain an immediate insight into life in the Middle Ages. Cordes,
just west of Albi, is anong the most well-preserved. Behind its imposing
walls, an attractive assembly of Gothic houses has survived the centuries.
One of the larger bastides is Villefranche-de-Rouergue.