See below for the local train map for Provence and information on taking your bikes on trains in Provence.
Provence is one of French cycling's showcase regions, thanks in no small part to the legend that is Ventoux. But regardless of your ability to climb big, mythical Tour de France mountains, there is something in Provence for everyone – and this is what makes it so great. Consider the vineyards of the Rhone Valley, famous lavender fields, gorges and Roman treasures, and Nice and the Cote d'Azur – playground of the rich and famous. And I haven't even mentioned the weather yet!
The first thing you need to know is that TGV fast train services to Provence do not take fully assembled bikes. They only accept bagged or boxed bikes. This is a problem that appears regularly in my email box – people who have booked a Eurostar to Paris regularly email to say they are stuck because they cannot get their bike on a TGV to Provence
So to confirm: the Paris-Avignon TGV and the Paris-Nice TGV do not take bikes unless they are bagged/boxed. It's the same for fast train services to Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and other major jumping off points. The overnight train (apparently) takes fully assembled bikes but these spaces are notoriously hard to find/book and I have never been able to find a space when I've needed it.
You can instead use a combination of local trains, such as go from Paris Bercy station to Lyon Part-Dieu and then on to Avignon/Marseille/Nice - all on local TER trains. You could also take the TGV Paris-Toulouse and head east from there on regional trains via Nimes/Montpellier. Alternatively you could take a combination of TER and Intercites trains from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand and then south to Nimes and into Provence via Avignon or Marseille – all on local trains with a fully assembled bike.
You should search each of these legs separately on the OUI.sncf website as the booking system cannot handle multiple changes. Putting 'Paris to Avignon' in the search without the bike box ticked will show you TGVs that don't take bikes; ticking the 'travel with a bike' box will tell you it's not possible to find a route. You need to search Paris-Lyon and then Lyon-Avignon and then Avignon-Nice separately. You can use the map below to plan your segments.
Once in Provence, bike-rail travel is relatively easy as all local TERs take bicycles – just buy your own ticket and walk the bike on. Search the OUI.sncf website - you can tick the 'travelling with a velo' box or just do a regular search, which will have a bike icon next to trains that take bikes. Intercites trains (interegional trains) that accept bikes will appear with a bike symbol on a normal search, but not all TERs may have the symbol. But know that you CAN take bikes on all TER services even if the SNCF website does not have a bike symbol.
For Ventoux, there is no train station in any of the three villages that form the start of Ventoux ascents (see here for the three routes). The nearest station with regular services is Carpentras (7km from Mazan, 15km to Bedoin, 18m to Malaucène, 34km to Sault). You can use my bespoke planning service if you need help with a local transfer service from Carpentras, Avignon or farther afield, or if you need road support/bike hire/accommodation for Ventoux generally.
For the ViaRhona, riding one-way from Lyon to Avignon is popular. If you need to return to your point of departure (or skip sections to save time/escape poor weather), the route shadows the train line for much of the way. See also here for info on cycling the Rhone vineyards.
Note that bikes are not allowed on SNCF-run bus services or train replacement services.
Local Provence train map
You can click here or on the map for a higher quality downloadable PDF (large file - may take a few seconds).
Accommodation, bikes hire and tours in Provence
If taking your own bike is just too much hassle, you can use our bespoke bike hire service to find bike hire in Provence.
You can find accommodation by searching here.