CYCLING IN THE L'ISLE SUR LA SORGUE AREA
Here are some biking thoughts from Margaret Mary and Philip from New Zealand (Guests - June 2014)
1. Always check with office de tourisme for directions on the starting places of the velo routes. The routes are premised on starting at a particular place and going in one direction. This can make "picking up" the route mid circuit very difficult.
2. Some towns have several routes converging and this can create confusion because they are all marked with the same green bike symbol but almost never show the name of the next village, or town.
3. L'Isle sur la Sorgue has four obvious routes (generally shown on the velo route maps) but also has some other bike trails, such as a commuter route to Le Thor, just behind the railway station.
4. The velo routes are reasonably well signed once you are on them and going in the correct direction of that particular route. However some signs are missing or angled away from sight if coming from the other direction. The routes are fine if you are just looking for a ride. If you want to get somewhere, they have a limited use unless you are prepared to spend some time beforehand connecting up the routes on your map and once on your bike locating the correct departure points. Travelling on the quieter roads or the main roads (best very early) can be a more efficient and easier option to navigate (there are lots of sign posts etc) and motorists including trucks are very considerate.
5. As well as the velo routes we also used the following other options:
Train - we took our bikes to both Orange and Avignon and biked back to L'Isle sur la Sorgue using a mixture of main roads and velo routes where we managed to pick them up
Bus - the 15.1 bus line can be caught at Robion and takes you and bike to Apt. From Apt you can take velo route back (very nice) or the back road via Bonnieux and Menerbe ete (also very nice). Robion is an easy ride via the Petit Palais velo route. The office de tourisme was helpful with the bus times and stops. At the time of writing (June 2014) the bus that takes bikes only comes through at 1pm. The bike rack on the back of the bus looks fearsome but is OK. Some drivers will help, but not all.
L'Isle sur la Sorgue to Gordes to Rousillon via Lagnes and Cabrieres d'Avignon (approx 60 kms)
L'Isle sur la Sorgue to Gordes to Venasque/St Didier/Pernes des Fontaines (approx 60 kms). This took in the Cistercian Monastery.
6. There is no velo route as such to get to the Pont du Gard. We took the motorway which wasn't too dangerous but also wasn't particulalry scenic or relaxing. Despite assurances from the Remoulins office de tourisme, there is no cycleway round the Pont du Gard and you have to pay the entrance fee. The river is great for a swim. There are some buses from Remoulins to Avignon that take bikes but these are infrequent. The Remoulins office de tourisme has the suggested cycling route Avignon to Remoulins and return loop details. It might be easiest not to cycle but to catch the bus from Avignon and return from Remoulins. From Remoulins to Pont du Gard is approx 35 kms.
We biked from Orange back to Sorgue and tried to connect with the cycleway at Jonquieres but just could not locate start.
Despite some frustrations, particularly in locating the start of the advertised velo routes, we had some great cycling adventures. The French were unfailing helpful any time we asked for directions and their courtesy on the roads towards cyclists is exemplary.