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A cycle journey from Marseille to Barcelona that explores the wild beauty of the Camargue, medieval villages, the Canal du Midi, vineyards, Greek and Roman remains and the inviting beaches of Catalonia. We also travel by train and bus as we cycle the most interesting sections between the historic port cities.
Explore Tour Leader
6 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights premium hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip starts in Marseille. An exuberant multicultural port city in southern France with a mix of grit and grandeur, Marseille was originally founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and has been a crossroads of immigration and trade ever since.
The Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and, slightly later, our first group dinner to get to know your fellow travellers. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), which is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. There are no included excursions today and if you miss the briefing, your Tour Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
No cycling today.
Hotel Ibis Marseille Centre Gare St Charles (or similar)
After breakfast we plan an orientation walk around old Marseille - including the old port, Place de Lenche, Place de Moulin, Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica and the historic Panier district. Later this morning we leave the city in our bus and drive for just over an hour to Porte-Saint-Luis-du-Rhone where we take a short Rhone river ferry crossing. It is here that we commence our first cycle ride into the protected lowlands of the Rhone delta alongside dikes and saltwater lakes, always close to the sea until we reach Saintes Maries de la Mer where we spend the night in the heart of the Camargue. All the cycling today is on good gravel roads. Our support vehicle has limited access to us today due to the cycle route. Strong Mistral winds can affect the region we are cycling in today and tomorrow. Please note that it may therefore be necessary to adjust, shorten or change the rides if the weather is bad.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 31 kilometres on the flat.
Hotel Bleu Marine (or similar)
Today we continue cycling on a mixture of paved and unpaved roads through the rivers, lagoons and canals of the Camargue and Rhone Delta. The area has rich birding opportunities and we will keep our eyes peeled for wildlife including the evocative white horses and Flamingos (seasonal). On our route we will visit the fortified medieval town of Aigues Mortes. Finally we reach Villeneuve-les-Maguelone where we end our ride today. We continue by train to Sete where we check into our hotel in the new part of town and you have a chance to swim in the Med. Sete is an ancient port and the old part of town is just 20-30 minutes away by foot. Our support vehicle has limited access to us today as cannot access our cycle route.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 75 kilometres (300 metres total accumulated ascent and descent).
Citotel Imperial (or similar)
We leave the Camargue today and cycle to Bezier along back roads and a stretch of the famous Canal du Midi. Today's cycling ends in historic Bezier where we get on a train (1hr 30mins) to the medieval port town of Collioure. This picturesque town has a backdrop of the Pyrenees and is set around a quiet Mediterranean bay. It is known for the impressive Chateau Royal de Collioure which dominates the waterfront.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 51 kilometres (270 metres total accumulated ascent and 220 metres descent).
Hotel Princes de Catalogne (or similar)
Our cycle ride today involves some longer climbs and there are a few busier sections of road to be covered in the first 11 km. We then cycle inland on quiet back roads over the Banyuls pass, which marks the border between France and Spain. Entering Spain, we cycle south to Figueres, where we spend the night. The afternoon is left free for you to explore the town and you may choose to visit the famous Salvador Dali theatre-museum.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 50 kilometres (750 metres total accumulated ascent and 700 metres descent).
Hotel Pirineo (or similar)
After breakfast we cycle from our accommodation off across the rolling hills of the Emporda region of Catalonia. We will take a rest stop in Empuries where you have the chance to visit the remains of one of the most important Greek settlements in Spain. The beaches here are inviting and you have the chance for a swim. We continue by bike to our hotel located a few kilometres outside Torroella de Montgri and close to the beach.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 58 kilometres (270 metres total accumulated ascent and 320 metres descent).
Hotel Picasso (or similar)
This morning we cycle from our hotel through diverse scenery including stops at the lovely medieval villages of Peratallada and La Bisbal. Our route continues across low hills covered with oak tree forests before reaching the port town of Palamos. Our bus ride to Barcelona should take one and a half hours, arriving in the late afternoon. The Leader will arrange a final group meal to celebrate the end of the trip in this marvellous city.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 50 kilometres (470 metres total accumulated ascent and descent).
Hotel Sant Pau (or similar)
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Barcelona.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport (BCN), which is about 30-45 minute drive away.
Total distance : 315 kilometres
Across France, from April - August, weather conditions are generally warm and pleasant with moderate rainfall; Autumn temperatures are a bit lower and the winter months (though colder) remain mild. The summer months on the Mediterranean Coast in the south tend to be warmer than the rest of France and have less rainfall, and also more mild winters; freezing conditions are nearly unheard of. The mountainous areas of the Alps, Juros and Pyrenees can be quite different. During summer the morning and evening temperatures are considerably cooler and it becomes much colder in winter with heavy snowfall. Western France, along the English Channel, there can be very strong winds and frequent rain during the winter months Nov - Apr. Wine harvesting takes place in late August/early September.
2 Pin Round
Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.
Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque
Barcelona - Entrance to the Sagrada Familia €17 pp, Picasso Museum €12 pp, La Pedrera (Casa Mila) €22 pp, Casa Battlo €25 pp Note that the Sagrada Familia is very popular and queues can be long to buy entrance tickets. It is possible to book your tickets on line and thus avoid the queue. If doing this, we advise planning your visit for either the day of arrival or departure depending on meeting times and your flight timings. http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/tiquets/ Empuries - Roman Ruins €5.50 pp
When cycling: quick drying cycle tops, padded cycle shorts, lightweight wind and water proof jacket and warmer breathable layers where local conditions require. General: Pack essentially for warm weather depending on the time of the year. The area is known for it's strong winds so we recommend a warmer light jacket as well as a rain jacket.
If you are not bringing cycle shoes then try to bring stiff-soled shoes as these are better for cycling - transmitting your energy into the pedals more efficiently. This becomes more relevant and recommended the more demanding the grade and distances to cover. SPD cycle shoes are not well suited to trips that combine sightseeing with cycling. Comfortable shoes, trainers, sandals or flip flops are useful when not on the bike.
We recommend you bring a daypack and one main piece of luggage (total allowance: 44lb/20kg) which will be transported between hotels while you cycle. Check the bike details section to see if a pannier or handlebar bag is provided on the bike.
On all Explore cycle holidays we strongly recommend you bring along and wear your cycle helmet. It is a legal requirement in Spain to wear a helmet that meets current safety criteria. In case of an accident resulting in personal injury, certain insurance policies are invalidated in cases where a helmet was not being worn. Cycle glasses to protect against dust, pollen and the sun, padded cycle gloves and a water bottle or water delivery system (e.g. camelback or platypus) are also useful. You may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. If a handle bar bag or pannier is not provided (check bike details) then you may like to bring a small rucksack to wear while cycling. Other items to consider bringing are a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent. Please carry some or all of your cycling equipment e.g. helmet as part of your hand luggage.
Bus, Bicycle, Ferry, Train
Comfortable - Our mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en-suite facilities. Accommodation and service levels in France and Spain are generally very good. We try to use smaller, family-run hotels and pensions that might not offer the same luxuries as larger chain-style hotels, but they do provide a warm welcome, a comfortable place to stay and the chance to gain a better understanding of local life. One thing to be aware of in Spain is that breakfast tends to be a small affair, usually with fruit juice or coffee and a pastry.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
France: Visas are not required by UK, EU, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, US, New Zealand, US or Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure .
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.