Exploring Provence By Sun-e-Bike

I’ll never forget the first time I mentioned the idea of renting an electric bike for a couple of days in Provence to my husband.  Interesting he responded, certainly something that might be good for me to write about, but definitely not something he envisioned doing himself.  After all, he was a guy who did triathlons and was comfortable riding bikes with skinny tires and cleated shoes.  But ride an electric bike?  Not really.  I could try out the e-bike and he would use his traditional bike.  I tabled the conversation for the time being. It was still three months until our trip to France and I was confident I would be able to build a compelling case for him to join me in my e-bike adventure.  Assuming I would prevail, I went ahead and reserved electric bikes from Sun-e Bike in Bonnieux for both of us.

In preparing for my trip, I had many conversations with Florian Machayekhi, the local representative for Sun-e-Bike about the benefits of bicycling the hilly terrain of Provence on an electric bike.  We also talked about the unique network that the company had created to make traveling via their e-bikes effortless:  from the detailed cycling itineraries, to the network of partners where batteries can easily be exchanged, to how easy it is to remove and replace the battery, to very affordable package tours.  The more I learned, the more intent I was on convincing my husband to join me on the Sun-e-Bike adventure.  How could he refuse, and what exactly was it about using an electric bike that was considered unmanly or even dorky?  If I could convert my husband to an e-bike advocate, I felt I could convince anyone.

Fast forward to the third week of our bicycling vacation, our arrival in Provence. I’d been to Provence many times before, but the hills never looked as quite as steep as they looked riding a bike!  The ride uphill to Bonnieux in the late June heat on our traditional bikes with panniers was challenging, to say the least.  The view from Bonnieux was amazing, but the hilly terrain was definitely a bit intimidating to a normal bicyclist like me. I worried about whether bicycling this hilly terrain would really be that different on an e-bike.  That answer would come soon enough the next morning when we met Florian at the Sun-e-Bike shop on a quiet little street in Bonnieux.

Easy to find in Bonnieux

Easy to find in Bonnieux

My husband was instantly captivated by the mechanics of the Sun-e-Bike and before I knew it, he was taking the e-bike for a test run. So much for his skepticism of electric bikes! After only a  few minutes on the e-bike, he was urging me to get organized so that we could be on our way!

Just a few instructions from Florian and my husband was on his way!

Just a few instructions from Florian and my husband was on his way!

It took only a few minutes to get the swing of how to use the controls. Before you knew it, we were off on a totally new kind of bicycling adventure, unlike anything I had ever known before, with my e-bike skeptical husband Russ leading the way!  I will always remember the look on his face that morning when he first stepped on the e-bike.  It was the kind of look of excitement normally reserved for Christmas morning,  It was a signal of the kind of fun and excitement we would have over the next couple of days, exploring Provence on our Sun-e-Bikes.

Who knew that exploring Provence on an e-bike could be so much fun!

Who knew that exploring Provence on an e-bike could be so much fun!

For several days we explored itineraries with names like The Road to the Perched Villages, The Buoux Canyon which goes through the heart of the area’s lavender fields, Roussillon’s Ochres and The Provencal Colorado.  From Bonnieux there are eight different itineraries, enough to easily spend a week slowly exploring some of the most gorgeous villages in Provence.  What made this experience so special and should you consider a Sun-e-Bike experience for an upcoming trip to Provence?  Take a look at our Top 10 reasons and then decide for yourself!

  1. Riding a Sun-e-Bike is fun, exciting, exhilerating, empowering
  2. Riding a Sun-e-bike takes at least 10 years off your life and your attitude
  3. The surge of power is a thrilling sensation–as much or as little as you want, with three levels of optional power
  4. Hills are no challenge and you can laugh at the wind when you are riding a Sun-e-Bike because pedaling against the wind is much easier
  5. The custom developed itineraries enable you to truly experience Provence through the back door, seeing a side of Provence experienced by few ordinary tourists
  6. You have the ability to visit more of Provence’s hill towns in less time than you ever would on a regular bike
  7. The Sun-e-Bike make this challenging terrain, previously out of reach to all but the most expert of cyclists, accessible to everyone–the young, old and families
  8. The power only works when you are pedaling, and you can bike uphill at a lower power level, so you still get plenty of exercise
  9. The rider-friendly design of the French Gitane bike make it perfectly suited to day touring in the Luberon
  10. No battery charging is required:  users simply visit one of 12 local partners in the Luberon to exchange a used battery for a fully-charged battery

I really had no idea what to expect from my first e-bike experience in Provence, but I am happy to report that it was one of my favorite bicycling adventures of all times, and I know my husband would agree.

My husband Russ and I in Roussillon with our Sun-e-Bikes

My husband Russ and I in Roussillon with our Sun-e-Bikes

I’m not sure that all e-bike experiences are like our Sun-e-Bike experience.  I think that this company really has a novel business model and I can’t wait for them to expand into other areas with equally challenging terrain. In the meantime, neither my husband or I have any interest in trading in our hybrid touring bikes for e-bikes for most itineraries in France.  But for hilly areas like Provence, I wouldn’t do it any other way. If Sun-e-Bike had a location in the Upper Vaucluse, near Mont Ventoux, there’s no doubt that I would be renting one of their bikes for my upcoming visit to that area.  In the meantime, I will have to tackle this area the old fashioned way, maybe just not visiting as many hill towns as I would like.

If you are planning a trip to Provence and would like more information on the Sun-e-Bike network or bike rentals, contact Florian Machayekhi at contact@sun-e-bike.com. The company also has a second location in St. Remy-de-Provence in the Alpilles.  You can get more information on itineraries in this area on the Sun-e-Bike website.

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.