The trip begins with a ride along the route of the old steam train which used to link Lamastre with Le Cheylard through the mountains of the Ardèche department. Then, after going from one valley to the next, you cycle alongside the turbulent River Eyrieux. Numerous traces of the engineers’ work remain, and the scenery is simply superb. It’s a really different way to see the mountains of the Ardèche, the Boutières, and the typical Ardèche valleys , whilst giving new purpose to the superb railway heritage, today abandoned.
The route, with its gentle slopes, is ideal for cycle tourists. But as the paths are not surfaced, country bikes (hybrids) are recommended.
Another tour with longer rides is also proposed for adults : see the details
the train transfer from Tournon to Lamastre along the fabulous historic railway of the Vivarais
cycling along the bed of the former railway, far from the madding traffic...
getting to know a discrete and little-known side of the Ardèche
the time-honoured railway architecture that punctuates your voyage
Things to see :
The Rhône Valley. Wines of the Côtes du Rhône: Hermitage and Croze Hermitage.
Dinner and night in a 3 star hotel.
From Lamastre to Le Cheylard
According to the train schedule* :
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.
20.5 km with total uphill 270 metres. Level 2/5. Duration about 2hrs 45.
From Lamastre you cycle along the path of the former rail track, now transformed into a foot- and cycle path. It takes you all the way to Le Cheylard. The first part rises gently towards Les Nonnières. It's generally fairly smooth but there are some stony sections. After the tunnel beneath Les Nonnières, the track becomes more even.
All along the way you'll notice fine farms typical of the Ardeche department as well as impressive railway architecture.
Dinner and night in 2 star hotel with pool.
*the train is running :
- Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday in april, may, june, september and october
- From Sunday to Wednesday in July and August
- Everyday from 4.08 to 19.08
Around Le Cheylard
A 15 km ride with total uphill 110metres. Level 2/5. Duration around 2hrs.
A superb circuit with wonderful views. First you follow the former railtrack along the banks of the river Eyrieux. Gaining height progressively, you move into fine countryside made up of small fields and orchards.
There is a variant available for those who wish: 25.5 km with total uphill 250 metres.
Dinner and night at the hotel.
From Le Cheylard to Saint Barthélémy le Meil
19,6 km with total uphill 215 metres. Level 2/5. Duration around 2hrs.
The morning is spent in the town of Le Cheylard. The church, the castle and (on Wednesdays) the market are worth a good look. You may like to visit the "Arche des Métiers" the "Ark of trades"- industry science and technology as you have perhaps never seen them - in the centre of La Cheylard. (You will have received a token you can use for this visit.)
In the afternoon you cycle to Saint Barthélémy le Meil, by following the river downstream. You'll see several watermills with millraces supplied by the river.
And you might like to enjoy a dip in the pool of Saint Barthélémy le Meil (open 1st July - 31st August from 13.00 hours to 18.00hrs.
Evening meal and night in B+B in a real farmhouse.
Around Saint Barthélémy le Meil
49,3km with total uphill 720 metres. Level 3/5. Duration about 4hrs.
Today you go up to the plateau of Mézilhac. From there you can admire splendid views over the extinct volcanoes of Mont Mézenc and Le Gerbier des Joncs, both in the Massif Central mountain range. In fine dry weather you can see Mont Ventoux 150 km away and even the distant Mont Blanc.
Cycling is along tarmacked roads, but you see few other people, just some sheep, goats and a handful of hamlets with 20 or so inhabitants...
Dinner and night at the guesthouse.
From Saint Barthélémy le Meil to Les Ollières
23 km with total uphill 100 metres. Level 2/5. Duration around 2hrs30.
You descend the Valley of the Eyrieux to come to the former railway track. This is certainly the wildest countryside traversed by the old railway. Sometimes the going is rough and you have to dismount and walk a little. Just take your time; the scenery is great, the terraced countryside is impressive and there are abundant orchards on this fertile terrain. Mouthwatering!
Dinner and night in guesthouse along.
Around Les Ollières
A nice easy day to enjoy messing about by the river.
Two activities are suggested:
1) a row down the river in a kayak from Les Ollières - a 4.5 km family-friendly paddle.
For this you should contact Eyrieux Sports, shop opposite the Post Office ("La Poste"). Ring 00 33 686 575 631 if using an overseas mobile,
or from a French phone, 06 86 57 56 31.
Children must be able to swim.
2) A bike ride to a very nice designated bathing spot.
Accommodation is half-board, in 2 and 3 star hotels or 3 'épis' guest houses.
Detailed road-book and maps are provided.
We provide technical and logistical support.
Baggage transfers are organised by us.
Transfer from Tournon to Lamastre by steam train* or by taxi
* See train schedule in the programme on day 2
Return transfer from Les Ollières to Tournon
Picnics for the whole trip from :
Adult or junior : 66 €
Child : 42 €
Bike rental from :
Bike rental for adult or junior : 100 €
Mountain bike for child : 60 €
Trailer bike or bike cart for child : 60 €
Child seat : 10 €
Electric power bike for adult or junior: 160 €
What's not included ?
Parking for your vehicle throughout the holiday : to pay directly
Beverage and extra
Return transfer from Home to the first accomodation
Facultative cancellation and repatriation insurance
Characteristics of circuits
A to B itinerary suitable for family groups.
Daily stages from 15 - 35 kilometres, between 2 and 4 hours cycling at your own pace.
Total uphill between 50 and 515 metres.
Altitudes from 350- 700 metres
Cycling is mainly along the former railway trail and small country roads.
Suitable for country- or mountain bikes.
The rides are much more about relaxed exploration than athletic performance. We transport your luggage to each stopover location. A detailed roadbook will be your guide throughout your trip. We also provide the logistical and technical support necessary.
On long-stay holidays, you change accommodation every other day, which gives you time to discover your surroundings, or simply take it easy.
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
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