A week long womens cycling holiday taking in the beautiful scenery around St Antonin and the spectacular autumn colours. Easy paced sociable riding.
Here in Southwest France the good weather extends well into the autumn, and we’re usually riding in shorts until November. What’s more, the autumn colours here are spectacular with trees lining the Aveyron gorge and the magnificent Gresigne Forest on our doorstep. We’ve decided to take advantage of this great time of the year to run our inaugural womens cycling holiday. The week will take in dramatic gorges, tranquil green valleys, austere limestone plateaux, vineyards and medieval villages, with leisurely lunch stops in typical village restaurants.
The emphasis will be on sociable riding, fantastic scenery and fabulous food in this forgotten corner of France, which we think has some of the best riding available anywhere. The terrain is quite hilly, but the tends to be gentle; 5% is typical, more than 10% is rare and there are lots of quiet valley roads to keep the climbing under control. This means the week isn’t suitable for beginners, but you don’t need to be race fit either. Pace is gentle with no-one left behind. If you cycle regularly and maybe do the odd sportive, you’ll be fine. There’s so little traffic, especially out of season, it feels like riding on closed roads!
Programme for the St Antonin Noble Velo Womens Cycling Holiday
Arrival, settling in, sorting out the bikes, with a quick spin up the Aveyron gorge if time permits. Natalie will also cook an evening meal.
The ride starts with the Aveyron gorge downstream from St Antonin with its sheer cliffs and spectacular chateaux. After a quick coffee stop at the medieval village of Bruniquel, we head up the Vere valley to our lunch stop at the bastide town of Castelnau de Montmiral.
After lunch we climb gently through the northern reaches of the Gaillac vineyards and into the forested slopes above St Antonin. The day ends with the exhilarating descent into the gorge.
More details and photos of this ride are on my blog.
80 km, 800m of climbing.
This promises to be a rather indulgent! It’s market day in St Antonin which is one of the best in the region and a treat not to be missed. We’ll spend a couple of hours wandering around the market, drinking coffee and enjoying local delicacies. Then we’ll head off on the short ride to Puylaroque, a medieval hilltop village which is home to one of the best restaurants in the region. Like us, the chef, Thierry left the big city (Paris in his case) for a quiet life in this tranquil corner of France. After a very long, leisurely lunch we’ll head back to St Antonin with a choice of routes depending on how energetic we’re feeling.
Today starts with a ride up the Aveyron valley, which is much gentler than the dramatic gorge downstream. It’s the ideal warm-up for the only climb of the day, which takes up up to a spectacular ridge ride with views in all directions. On a clear day the mountains of the Massif Central are visible; at the very least we’ll be able to look across the valley to the dramatically sited Najac.
Then we descend to re-join the Aveyron and follow it to our lunch stop at Villefranche de Rouergue. Villefranche has a large, well preserved medieval centre, but sees few tourists, which means it’s largely unrestored, and I think all the more charming for it. We’ll have lunch in a wonderful family run restaurant before leaving town up a dry desert-like valley which takes us up to the Limestone Quercy plateau.
The finale of the ride is the long descent down the Bonnette valley back to St Antonin. It has more water mills than any other valley in France and is simply stunning. We’ll also pass a waterfall so perfect it almost looks fake…
Rest day. If you want to ride, we can give you routes + a GPS. If you fancy a day off the bike we can organise outdoor activities for you (although these are not included in the price), or you can just do your own thing in and around St Antonin.
Todays ride takes us up a tributory of the Aveyron, the beautifully winding Cérou. We’ll pass the tourist hotspot of Cordes sur Ciel perched on its rocky hilltop before stopping for lunch stop in the sleepy medieval village of Monestiés. After lunch we climb up and over to another tributory of the Aveyron, the remote and little visited Viaur, which we follow back to St Antonin.
The final ride of the week takes a tour of the green hills surrounding St Antonin. We start by riding down the gorge for a few km before a coffee stop at the medieval village of Penne, looking across to its ruined clifftop chateau. We’ll then climb up the wooded sides of the gorge to the Pas de Cabal, from where the Pyrenees are visible on a clear day. We’ll follow the ridge above the gorge before dropping down to the one-time stronghold of the Kinghts Templar, Vaour. From there, the ridge continues, before we drop sharply down to the valley floor and our lunch stop in the village of Milhars. In the afternoon we make our way up the intensely green Seye valley past the ancient Beaulieu Abbey before climbing up to the ridge above St Antonin. We finish with the spectacular winding descent into town with breathtaking views of the vertical gorge walls.
As this is the last night, we’ll be providing an evening meal for the group to eat together.
Departure day. Packing up, a last look around St Antonin, then off to the airport.
Transfer to and from Toulouse Airport (or Caussade, Lexos or Montauban stations)
Breakfast every day and evening meal on the first and last nights
Energy bars and gels
Prices for this womens cycling holiday are based on sharing a room, so if you come with a friend, you’ll be able to choose who you share with.
Our house is an award winning recently restored 16th century Auberge. It has 4 ensuite guest rooms which are configured as follows:
We’ll allocate the rooms taking into account people’s preferences but giving priority to those who book first.
Our maximum capacity is 10 people. There are more details on our accommodation site here.
We include breakfast, 2 evening meals and home made energy bars. All other food and drink isn’t included in the price but we always make sure there’s somewhere good to eat for lunch and dinner.
We can accommodate vegetarians on our womens cycling holiday. Get in touch if you have other dietary requirements.
This all sounds great but….
If you’d love to ride with us, but the dates don’t suit, get in touch. If you’re a group of at least 6 we can run this womens cycling holiday at a time to suit you if we have availability in our accommodation. If you’re a smaller group, we can always do self-guided breaks, and out of season might consider running a guided trip for smaller numbers.
If the riding in this programme is too hard or too easy for you, we’ll consider changing it if there are at least 6 of you, or we could run a bespoke trip another time.
Is €500 per person based on 4 sharing each room. There’s a €50 supplement for 2 sharing subject to availability, which we think is a bargain! If you want a single room, we may be able to accommodate you depending on how many other bookings we get, and there may be a surcharge. Of course if you book as a group you can choose who you share with.