Bicycling the Hill Towns of Provence Effortlessly

By Maggie LaCoste E-Bikes.  Who would think that these six letters would help bring about revolution in recreational bicycling in hilly parts of France?  In areas such as the Vaucluse region of Provence, recreational cyclists are enjoying the exhileration of cycling to gorgeous hill towns such as Bonnieux, Lacoste and Menerbes effortlessly, the e-bike way. Sun-e-Bike, located in Bonnieux and St-Remy-de Provence is one of the leaders of this revolution.  Not only has this company set up a service network where cyclists can exchange batteries, but they provide every kind of assistance you may need to have a great bicycling experience.  I’ve been so impressed with the service network set up by this company, that I’ll be trying out one of their e-bikes on my upcoming trip to Provence this summer.  I can’t wait for this experience.

Sun-e-Bike electric bicycle

Sun-e-Bike electric bicycle

First, a bit about the bikes.  They are bikes in which a battery, motor and electric circuit have been added.  Electric Assist Bike is the term used to describe the bikes because the rider needs to pedal to activate the motor. The motor automatically stops when you stop pedaling or when the bike reaches a speed of 25 km/h.  Compared to a normal bike, these particular e-bikes make hill climbing and pedaling against the wind much easier.  For those of us who love cycling the flats, the e-bike provides this type of experience even on hills.  What a brilliant idea! The battery has a range of 40km, which means that bicyclists can enjoy a full day of cycling with no problem.  When the battery is low, you simply exchange it for a new one at one of the 18 battery exchange locations throughout the Luberon.  Partners are located no farther than 20 km apart, so there is never a chance that you will get stranded with a dead battery.  No effort is needed on the users part, just pick up a new battery and go!

Locations to exchange batteries

Locations to exchange batteries

Next, a bit about the itineraries. Sun-e-Bike has designed specific itineraries for exploring the best parts of the Luberon and Alpilles region.  Itineraries are provided when you leave the rental agency either in the form of a roadbook or as a download onto your Smartphone.

Sun-e-Bike itineraries

Sun-e-Bike itineraries

Other services available include pickup from the Marseille Airport, the Avignon TGV Station or the Aix-en-Provence Station to one of the rental points where you can pick up your e-bike.  The company also provides a luggage transfer service. The cost for e-bike rental is 35 Euro/day and 2 Euro/day for insurance.  A baby seat is available for 10 Euro/day and the company also rents a trailer which allows 2 children between 5 and 10 to ride behind a parent. Sun-e-Bikes has put together a great package of services geared to recreational cyclists in the Luberon and Apilles.  I can’t wait to try them out and report back to you on my experience.  In the meantime, I will also be on the lookout for other similar services in other areas of Provence, especially agencies that are close to the itineraries near Mont Ventoux. ©2013 Experience France by Bike.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Maggie LACoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.

  1. Hi Maggie,
    It’s Kevin, from Trailsnet, again.
    As usual, you’ve written a very helpful post. In addition to my Trailsnet website, I also run the websites http://www.ActiveTravelTours.com, http://www.PersonalTransportationVehicle.com & http://www.PTVshow.com.
    So I have a related question for you. Are any of the electric bicycle rentals &/or battery replacement stations near/alongside bike paths? I’d love to take a group of electric bike fans on a “French Tour” using electric bikes. My first preference would be to do that via mostly bike paths, but that’s not absolutely necessary.
    Any information you could share would be appreciated.

    1. HI Kevin!

      As mentioned, I won’t be sure what these routes are like until I explore them in July, but I do know that they are low traffic roads, not as good as no traffic, but hoping that they will be safe and easy to ride on. I love the network that Sun-e-Bike has set up. It’s unlike anything I have found anywhere, so thought it merited some investigation. Anyway, I would take a look at some of the itineraries from the following page. Click on the buttons and it will give you a downloadable file on each ride, including elevations and things to see. I will remember to follow up with you after my trip, and will send along anything else that I think might be of interest!

      http://www.location-velo-provence.com/en/itineraire-velos/

      Maggie

    2. Hi Kevin and thank you for your interest in Sun-e-Bike !
      I’m working there so I can answer your questions.

      There’s only one bike path in the Luberon which is not always very nice because it is close to the main road… That’s why our clients take backroads where they are not bothered by cars.

      Even better, the Cedar Forest is forbidden to cars and from there you will be able to enjoy the amazing views on both sides of the Luberon. Hills are no longer a problem with our electric bikes !

      Anyway, you can find all the roadbooks of our routes, in the Luberon and the Alpilles, by clicking on the following link.
      http://www.location-velo-provence.com/en/itineraire-velos/

      Hope this was helpful, don’t hesitate to contact us directly to organize your trip : we are also a travel agency and we can create your tour depending on your needs.

      See you soon on our bikes !

      1. Hi Elsa,

        Thanks for the great information. I just sent you an email and another correspondence via the contact page on your website. It’s nice getting to know you and your company.

        1. I am so looking forward to renting an e-bike during my upcoming trip! I have gotten so many responses to this article that it will be great to follow up with some real reviews of what it’s like maneuvering the hills of the Luberon with these bikes! Also looking forward to meeting the folks at Sun-e-Bike to learn more about the range of services that they offer. Stay tuned for more!

  2. Hello, like you, I am a bicycle lover and I have found your article very detailed and interesting! I had the opportunity to travel by bike in France last year; the Atlantic coast is particularly beautiful. I have found some very useful information on this website: http://www.visit-poitou-charentes.com/en/Cycling/Bike-rentals. I hope you will find it helpful!

  3. Hi Clarisse!

    Thanks for the note and I am very happy that you enjoy reading Experience France by Bike! I used the Poitou Charentes website a lot last year when I was preparing for my trip along the Atlantic Coast, and I agree that it is full of information on places to go, things to see, and resources such as bicycle rentals! Thanks so much for your note and for reminding everyone about this great resource!

    Maggie LaCoste
    Experience France by Bike