It’s that time of year when the vibrant purple hues of French lavender overtake your field of vision and the air is filled with their intoxicating fragrance. There’s a lot to take in when you’re cycling through lavender in Provence! And even in the off-season, there’s much to do in Upper Provence, such as visiting the Gorges du Verdon and a myriad of pretty villages.
But first — you must get to Manosque to begin your tour.
GETTING TO MANOSQUE AND FROM THERE, TO FORCALQUIER
Your first hotel of “Cycling Through Lavender” is in Forcalquier. The closest train station is in nearby Manosque, so you must arrive there first. Here’s what we recommend:
Once you’ve arrived in Manosque, Cyclomundo makes it much simpler to get to your hotel in Forcalquier. We will arrange an included transfer from Manosque (either the train station or bus station) directly to your hotel!
Your hotel in Forcalquier is located 1 mile from the center of town and about 17 miles from Manosque. You couldn’t ask for a more charming environment, but it means that you are a bit removed from civilization. (This is why we will arrange your transport from Manosque — it cuts down the time and number of transfers!)
If your bus or train arrives in Manosque before or by lunchtime, we recommend bringing some snacks, as your hotel in Forcalquier does not have a restaurant. (You’ll have the option to enjoy a light “country platter” at the hotel.) If time allows and you’d like to visit Manosque before you go to Forcalquier, we can delay the transfer to your hotel (just inform us of your preferred pick-up time). Be aware, however, that there is nowhere to store your luggage while you wander through Manosque.
Upon check-in at your hotel, be sure to have a chat with the staff at the reception. They will arrange for your transfer to the town center for dinner that will be served at one of the hotel’s restaurant partners.
While you’re in town, spend some time strolling around, as you may not have much time to explore it before you ride to Digne the next day!
If you have to spare, you can take a dip in the hotel pool or wander the grounds… and of course, unwind before your cycling tour begins.
ATTRACTIONS WHILE ON TOUR
You’ll find a number of local attractions in the route notes provided by our local representative, but we figure you might want to choose your travel dates by knowing in advance what there is to see and do. (And also, of course, to see the lavender in bloom in July…)
If your goal is to immerse yourself in the land of lavender, olive oil, and herbs, don’t leave Manosque without a visit to the L’Occitane factory and museum! Get the inside scoop on their world-renowned fragrances and skincare products —and grab a few souvenirs at the store.
The factory is open from Monday to Friday for tours; however, you must make reservations in advance for guided tours in English. Please note that the website is actually out-of-date as we’ve learned the tourist information desks in Manosque and Gréoux-les-Bains no longer take reservations. Please call L’Occitane directly at +33 4 92 70 32 08 to make a reservation. You can visit the museum and store from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm, at will; prices at the factory store are 10% lower than you’ll find elsewhere!
The factory is located outside of the town center, so you will need to take a taxi there. Before your cycling tour, you could take a taxi directly there (at your own expense) from Manosque and we’ll arrange your included transfer to Forcalquier after your visit, Or, to visit after your cycling tour, we can arrange your included transfer from your final hotel to L’Occitane, and from there you could arrange your own transfer to Manosque’s train station.
Learn more about lavender distillation on this organic farm in Thoard. Free visits are possible from 10:00 am to noon and from 2:00 to 5:00 pm every day in the summer; in the winter, you must make an appointment. We recommend calling to check availability in advance!
Meet the owners of this distillery during a store visit in July and August, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. In the off-season, call ahead at +33 4 92 74 80 53. Their website is in French only.
Spas, Thermal Baths, and Massages
There are thermal baths open to the public in both Digne and Gréoux-les-Bains. In France, healthcare will often cover “cures” for arthritis and respiratory issues at thermal spas, and so some treatments offered at local spas require prescriptions and take place over the course of a few days. These are not the types of services you should look at, but rather, consider massages, aromatherapy, and of course, a chance to relax in the baths.
WEEKLY MARKETS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Festivals and Special Events
In many cases, these special events can only be found online en français, or not at all. If you’re in town, look for posted signs saying “Fête” or “Festival” de la / du [name of event] and the dates — that’s how you know an event is going on. Also, check with the local tourist office and your local representative!
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