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In order to begin our self-guided cycle tour in Provence, we caught the TGV from Paris and sped our way to Avignon – it took only three hours to arrive in style at the pretty impressive Gare d’Avignon.

I should say right from the outset that we arranged the cycling trip in Provence through a brilliant Kiwi agent here in Auckland, Jill Grant from A Walker’s World. She was so helpful and well-informed, having done the same trip we intended to do (Provence, Luberon and Lavender).  Nothing was too much trouble – she booked the cycle trip with A Walker’s World afflliate provider at the time France-Bike, she booked our tickets on the Eurostar and TGV, and gave us brilliant instructions on how to get to Hotel du Levant, which came highly recommended by her. There is no doubt that experienced agents can absolutely ease the way for you if you are novices at this kind of adventure, and it is thanks to Jill that things went so seamlessly. I surely hope she is still available when are ready to do another trip in 2014!

But I digress … on arrival at the station in Avignon we took a taxi to our first base hotel – Best Western Le Lavarin – most of the hotels on this type of cycling trip seem to be three star- which in Europe provide an excellent standard of accommodation. This one was no exception with its lovely swimming pool, well appointed room and proximity to the town, which was within easy walking distance. We immediately set off to explore Avignon before France-Bike representatives arrived the next day with our bikes, maps, and their mini bus to transport our gear to the next town. In the meantime, under fabulous blue skies, we explored Avignon …

The week we arrived in July (2007) coincided with the annual Festival d’Avignon and the place was humming with street theatre. We took a tour of the Palais des Papes (amazing!), walked the famous Pont D’Avignon (Pont Saint-Bénezet), enjoyed the colourful itinerant performers, drank wine in the lovely shady Place de l’Horloge, and wandered the side streets, soaking up the festival atmosphere.  Our evening meal outdoors at the hotel was excellent, and we drifted off to sleep looking forward to what the next day would bring when our bikes arrived and our adventure could begin….