This trip is really the Dolce Vi(t)a in the Ardèche! The holiday begins along the bed of the former railway track - now actually known as the "Dolce via" - which once linked Lamastre to Le Cheylard through the mountains of the Ardèche. Then after switching valleys, the ride continues along the Eyrieux river, wild and picturesque. By carefully choosing your start date you'll be able to go from Tournon to Lamastre by the little train of the Vivarais (see details below.)
The former railway tracks, mostly disused since 1968, have become simple trails. However, many remarkable civil engineering works dating from the railway era still remain, and the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Biking along through this little-known yet magnificent countryside, you'll see the distinctive valleys of the Boutières - part of the mountains of the Ardèche - from a whole new perspective.
The itinerary is relatively gentle and suitable for cycletourists, but as some of the paths are not tarmacked we recommend the use of country bikes with wider-section tyres.
Another tour with shorter rides is also proposed for families : see the details
being able to hire an electric-assist bike!
the train transfer from Tournon to Lamastre along the fabulous historic railway of the Vivarais
biking along former railways now transformed into cycle touring routes
discovering a very authentic Ardeche that the average tourist seldom sees
Things to see :
The Rhône Valley. Wines of the Côtes du Rhône: Hermitage and Croze Hermitage.
Dinner and night in a 3 star hotel.
Ride from Lamastre to Saint Cierge sous le Cheylard
According to the train schedule (please contact us) :
ride to station at Saint-Jean-de-Muzols (6km).
transfer aboard little train of the Vivarais to Lamastre (trip 1hr45).
On other days: taxi transfer from Tournon to Lamastre. 19km stage with total uphill 390m (level 2/5). Around 2hrs45.
From Lamastre you continue on your way along the former railway, transformed into a walking and cycling path called "La Dolce Via".
You'll enjoy seeing fine typical old Ardèche farms and railway engineering features that still impress today!
Dinner and night at the inn.
From St Cierge to Saint Barthélémy le Meil
26,3 km with total uphill 265 metres. Duration about 2hrs30.
Free morning in Le Cheylard. The church, the castle, and the market (on Wednesdays) are worth a visit.
You can also visit the Arche des métiers in the heart of Le Cheylard (see practical information).
In the afternoon you cycle back to St-Barthélémy-le-Meil, situated on a remarkable site in the mountains of the Ardèche. From the start follow the river, this time downstream. Note several water mills, supplied by water intakes parallel to the river. The climb to Beauvène and then St-Barthélemy is severe. It is advisable to put your foot down in the hardest parts.
Enjoy the swimming pool in Beauvène or Saint Barthélémy le Meil.
Evening meal and night in 3 'épis' B+B.
From Saint Barthélémy to Charmes
48,2 km with total uphill 150 metres. Duration around 4hrs30.
Today you follow the Eyrieux down to get back onto the former railtrack. The hills melt away progressively as you approach the Rhône Valley.
Maybe you can be tempted to take a refreshing dip in the river beneath one of the old romanesque bridges?
Remarkable chestnut forests and abundant orchards prosper in the fertile ground - mouthwatering!
Dinner and night in 3 star hotel.
From Charmes to Tournon
42 km with total uphill 630 metres. Duration about 4hrs30.
This ride back to Tournon is certainly the most demanding. It's also the most varied in terms of landscape, views and ups-and-downs! You really have to take care along the way as there are lots of crossroads and turns. The climb by the former tramway trail and the ride down to Tournon are among the most enjoyable and exhilarating of the entire day.
3 star hotels, 3 'épis' hostelries and guest houses.
Detailed roadbook (in French or English) and routemarked maps are provided.
Update GPS tracks.
Logistical and technical assistance.
Transfer Tournon to Lamastre by taxi or steam train
Bike rental from :
Bike for adult or junior : 90 €
Trailer bike : 60 €
Child seat : 8 €
Electric power bike rental for adult or junior: 140 €
What's not included?
Private parking at Tournon, parking fee to be paid on the spot
Beverage and extra
Round trip transfer from Home to the first accomodation
Facultative cancellation and repatriation insurance
Characteristics of circuits
Cycle holiday without guide.
Daily stages between 17 and 60 kms, from 2 to 5hrs cycling at your own pace.
Daily uphill between zero and 750 metres.
Altitudes: between 100 and 1,100 metres.
Most of the time you are on tarmacked roads or earth tracks.
Bike required: country bike (all-purpose).
These outings are much more about relaxed exploration than athletic performance. Your roadbook will guide you from beginning to end, and we provide the logistical and technical support necessary.
Accommodation is in either 2 or 3 star/'épis' guest houses or hotels, chosen for their atmosphere, warm welcome and environmental and architectural setting. As the holidays are half-board, picnics are extra; you may like to order picnics when you book.
N.B : the accommodation described above is given as an indication and may have to be modified according to availability at the moment when final reservation is confirmed.
Highway A7 exit 13 Tournon sur Rhône
Airport Marseille-Provence or airport Lyon St-Exupéry + train to Tain l'hermitage railway station + taxi to the accomodation (5 mn)
Gare SNCF Tain l'hermitage (railway station) situated 20 mn far by foot or 5 mn taxi to the accomodation
The Safrantours team was exceptional in organising our recent cycling trip in Southern France. From the planning through the support during the trip, we felt like we were their only clients and nothing was too difficult.
Amazing accommodations and wonderfull routes.
We will be back!
Très bonne organisation du séjour (parcours, hébergements, restauration), hâte de découvrir d'autres parcours sécurisés comme sur la Dolce Via.
Saluons l'organisation parfaite, de très beaux itinéraires en Ardèche, l'accueil aux gites/hôtels.
Le séjour a été agréable et bien organisé. Nous avons effectué les étapes sans souci. Les hébergements et la restauration sont de qualité. Les professionnels très accueillants. Le circuit demande une bonne condition physique (montée longue).
Réponse Safrantours: Nous vous remercions pour votre commentaire. Pour 2020, nous prévoyons de modifier quelques étapes pour les rendre moins exigeantes. Nous espérons que le vélo électrique loué vous a permis d'effectuer l'itinéraire sans difficulté.
On a aimé les différents logements du séjour et l'organisation, qui était trés bonne. Les vélos étaient d'une bonne qualité, on nous a reçu très cordialement. Le trajet de la dolce via était très agréable, mais il fallait sortir de la vallée le soir pour atteindre les logements. Avec le vélo sans traction électrique c'était plutôt dur. Mais en somme, on a bien aimé notre séjour. Vous avez fait un bon travail. Merci.
Nous avons apprécié l'organisation du séjour sur la Dolce Via, le circuit et les hébergements proposés sont de qualité avec un très bon accueil. Nous avons passé un très bon séjour que nous recommandons.
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