Top Biking Routes in the Alpilles
My wife and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town that sits at the foot of the Alpilles mountains. We love to bike in and around the Alpilles on routes that range from easy to moderately difficult.
If you stay off the busy main roads, biking in the Alpilles is easy and safe. Several shops rent bikes in St-Rémy and nearby. I’ve had success renting regular bikes at Vélo Passion, near the Intermarché supermarket in St-Rémy, and Sun e-bike is known for electric bike rentals.
Here are some of our favourite routes, from easiest to hardest. There are more challenging circuits, with markings showing the route—check at the tourist office for more information.
From St-Rémy to the Romanin Aerodrome
This route is about 6 miles round trip. It’s a nice, flat ride, and the best part is watching gliders and airplanes take off and land at the aerodrome.
Start by going east on Avenue Folco de Baroncelli. This road changes names a few times and eventually becomes Ancien Voie Aurelia, which will take you almost all the way to the aerodrome. There’s one tricky part, where the road makes a jog. You can easily miss it; here’s how to make sure you don’t.
After you’ve gone about a mile and a half and you see a vineyard on your left, be alert. At the far end of the vineyard, turn right at Cours des Guillots and take an immediate left to stay on the Ancien Voie Aurelia. Follow this to an intersection where you can see that, just beyond the intersection, it becomes a dirt road. Don’t continue onto the dirt part but instead take the road to the right, which takes you into the aerodrome.
If you look up, you’ll see one of the best wineries in the area, Château Romanin, in the hills above the aerodrome.
From St-Rémy to Saint-Étienne-du-Grès
This route is about 6 miles round trip. Saint-Étienne is west of St-Rémy, and the road is mostly flat. It’s a nice ride, past orchards and vineyards, and in the springtime, you’ll see fields of poppies. The very last stretch is a moderately steep descent, so if you don’t want to climb up on the return, turn around when you get to the downhill.
The majority of the route is along the Vieux Chemin d’Arles (Old Arles Road). To get there, go to the parking lot across from the church in St-Rémy and take the Chemin de la Combette until it intersects the Vieux Chemin d’Arles, then turn right.
From Eygalières to Aureille
This route is about 13 miles round trip and has wonderful views of the Alpilles, plus a chance to see rock climbers scaling the heights.
From Eygalières, take the D248 west until it dead-ends at the D24. Turn left. You’ll start a gradual ascent where you’ll have a great view of the Alpilles as you approach them. Follow this for about a mile, where you’ll come to the intersection of the D24 and the D25. Stay left to get on the D25 (you stay on the same road; it changes numbers.)
Follow this for another mile until the D25A goes off to the right with signs pointing to Aureille. This begins a steep section that’s about a quarter-mile long. Continue for another mile or so beyond that, through a section that feels narrow because of the rock wall on one side, and then emerge into a part with great views of the mountains.
On your left, look for a little dirt parking lot that usually has a few cars in it. If you stand in the lot with your back to the road and look up into the mountains to your left, you can often see climbers on the rocks. Very cool! My wife and I sometimes picnic here, in the grassy areas under the olive trees next to the parking lot, and enjoy the view.
If you continue another mile, you’ll get to Aureille, a cute little town with the ruins of a medieval château looming over the place. There are several places here to get something to eat or drink.
From Eygalières to Eyguières
This route is about 20 miles long and begins the same way as the Eygalières to Aureille route. But instead of turning off the D25 onto the D25A to go to Aureille, you continue straight on the D25.
There are great mountain views here, and I love this ride because it makes me feel like I’m right in the middle of the Alpilles. One caution on the route: there’s a big, looping curve about a half mile past the Aureille turnoff. The views are great, but it’s a blind curve, and cars sometimes take it too fast, so proceed with caution on this stretch.
After the big curve, you’ll climb for a while and then descend, followed by a flat stretch leading to Eyguières. I find the flat stretch boring, so I usually turn around when the descent begins.
To Hell and Back (St-Rémy to the Val d’Enfer)
If you are feeling energetic, you can do some climbing and get one of the best views in Provence at the Val d’Enfer (Hell Valley.) This route is about 10 miles round trip, or 16 if you go all the way to Maussane-les-Alpilles.
To get to the view spot, follow the route from St-Rémy to Saint-Étienne-du-Grès. When you are a bit over a mile from St-Rémy, you’ll come to a stop sign at the Route des Baux. Turn left, and you’ll soon start climbing. The ascent gets steeper as you go, with some switchbacks near the top, and if you are like me, you might stop a few times to catch your breath.
After about 3 miles, you hit the top (hurray!) with some very nice views off to the right. Enjoy them, then keep going a little further for the great view. The road will descend steeply and make a sharp right turn. Park your bike at the turn and cross the road for a fabulous view of Les Baux-de-Provence. There might be other people there because it’s a popular view spot.
You can continue a bit further along the road to see the craggy rock formations that give Hell Valley its name, but be aware that you’ll soon come to the very popular Carrières de Lumière immersive art show. This draws a lot of traffic, so you might want to turn around before you get here. If you want to continue, you can go to Maussane-les-Alpilles, which is about 3 miles away.
To do this, pass the Carrières de Lumière and stay right at the fork a few hundred yards later. This is the D27, and you’ll begin a descent that’s about a mile long. Enjoy the views on both sides—up to Les Baux on your left and down to the rocky valley on your right.
At the bottom of the hill, turn left to stay on the D27 and follow it for about a mile and a half to Maussane.
You’ve now gone up and over the Alpilles and will need to do it again on your return. It might be time for some sustenance! The good news is that Maussane is full of great cafés and restaurants; my favourite is Le Clos Saint Roch.
From Maussane-les-Alpilles to Eygalières
This route is about 22 miles round trip, with some hills, but you can go as far as you want and then turn around. I like it because it’s got everything—olive groves, vineyards, forests, the Alpilles. It goes past Mas de Gourgonnier if you want to do some wine tasting along the way.
The route passes the famous spot where Resistance hero Jean Moulin parachute-landed in the middle of a cold winter’s night. Sometimes you see the giant letters JM carved into the foliage on a hillside, commemorating the event.
Start at the intersection of the D5 and the D17 in Maussane and head east towards Mouriès. Get off this road after about 200 yards because it’s busy, and take the D5 off to the left. The first thing you pass is a big barn with farmyard animals—you might smell them before you see them. Then, after about half a mile, there’s a road that goes off to the right. Please ignore it and go straight, where the D5 changes to the D78.
Take this for about 4 miles, through olive groves and vineyards, with one short, steep section where I sometimes walk my bike. The D78 then dead-ends at the D24, where you turn left and are soon in a forest. I once saw a shepherd and his sheep along the side of the road, along with a couple of sheepdogs that kept an eye on me.
This part climbs for about two miles and then starts a descent. After about a mile, there is an intersection where you go left to stay on the D24. Follow this for another mile or so and enjoy the nice downhill glide, then follow the signs and turn right to go to Eygalières. There are plenty of cafés in town if you’d like to stop for lunch before you begin your return trip, my favourite is Restaurant Paulette.
Addresses for Trip Planning
2 rue Camille Pelletan
Telephone: +33 (0)4 32 62 08 39
Route de Cavaillon
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 92 69 57
Le Clos Saint Roch
87 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 98 77 15
Mas de Gourgonnier
Telephone:+33 (0)4 90 47 50 45
Rue de la République
Telephone: +33 (0)4 32 62 18 19
And, a few other ideas for places to eat in Eygalieres.
This article is based on content that Keith is collecting for his third book, “An Insiders Guide to Provence,” with a publication date of December 2021. Click here to pre-order the book.
Keith Van Sickle: Mas de Sainte Berthe, Aerodrome, JM initials, sheep
Chateau Romanin: vines and tractor
Le Clos Saint Roch: Restaurant Terrace
Perfectly Provence: Eygalieres old village, Les Baux de Provence, Maussane plaza