Re:Cycling in France

One of the liveliest festivals of the year, the Feria de Pentecôte (Pentecostal Fair), takes place in the Languedoc region of southwestern France in Nimes, May 23-28, 2012.  Positioned between the Atlantic and Mediterranean this region is a sexy mix of French and Spanish cultures dotted with vestiges of local Roman history.

Mingle with the locals to watch the grand Pégoulade (procession) — a giant snake of dancers, singers and illuminated floats undulating through the streets. The air is filled with music of the peñas (small brass bands), everyone dances the ‘Sévillane’ ‘til the wee hours, eats paella, watches water-jousting in the Canal de la Fontaine, snoops around in the evening market, and goes to mass in the cathedral. It’s one big outdoor Spanish-accented French soirée, complete with fireworks and Provençal-style bullfights in Nimes’ Roman amphitheater, the best-preserved in the country.

One way to “get under the skin” and feel more of a participant and less a spectator is to pump your pedals in a cycling tour in the Languedoc timed to connect with this ethnic fair.

ExperiencePlus!, the first North American tour company to offer cycling tours in Europe starting in 1972, offers two new spectacular tours aimed to take advantage of the Feria de Pentecôte: an 11-day journey of over 430 miles for $4,550 per person (double) that begins and ends in Nimes/Perpignan. Or an 8-day version for $3,595 that ends in Carcassone, an awesomely intact medieval fortress town.

ExperiencePlus! Is the winner of two recent National Geographic Traveler “50 Tours of a Lifetime,” and features Maria Elena Price and Monica Price, co-owners, among its “World’s Top 10 Tour Guides.” Click or call them in Colorado: 800-685-4565.