Sunday 10 June 2012

La Provence on an Electric Bicycle

1.Cycling in the summer heat is not everyone’s idea of a great vacation experience. It’s just too much effort, too sweaty and when that all important moment of relaxation in front of a cold glass of white wine comes, all you want to do is go to bed and sleep hoping that the aches and pains will have subsided by the next morning.
2.However it has to be said that despite the above it’s a great way to get around. Not just for the healthy side, but there’s the ecological angle of course. There’s the pleasure of being able to hear and smell and miss nothing of your surroundings as you pass them by. The freedom to stop off and have a drink, buy some fruit from a road side stall, take a photo when YOU want to, and not when the tour bus stops… but when you see that hill in front of you, well return to paragraph N°1!
Electric Bike in ProvenceSo if you want the entire 2nd paragraph and none of the 1st (except the bit with the glass of wine) then look no further, for we have found the answer. Electrically assisted bikes. They are not built for speed, nor do they have a sleek “Tour de France” look about them, they are just normal 7 speed bicycles that have a motor that kicks in when you need it. Tried and tested and definitely adopted.
With an autonomy of 40kms (electric motor running) a day’s cycling on one battery is no problem at all, but just in case spare batteries are available in restaurants and hotels who work with the bike company should you require a new one. We tested the bikes from Lauris and cycled to Lourmarin had a spot of lunch, a bit of a visit and then back. Not a huge outing, but enough to appreciate the qualities of these eco-friendly cycles.
The bicycles themselves are new (so is the hire company) and so are in perfect condition and they are plentiful, with a fleet of 200 in the Luberon area alone. After all the adjustments and explanations by the very helpful staff (who didn’t speak English, that’s where we come in!), it’s time to set off.
The bicycles have wide soft comfortable seats, 7 gears and a simple interface for the electric motor control; On/Off and three settings for the power level, on the flat/medium climb/steep climb. Generally the best idea is to leave it on the lowest setting, which will assist you a little, but on the flat it will be your legs doing most of the work. As soon as a small incline is encountered the electric motor kicks in and if the incline is steeper you just adjust the power level with a touch of a button and soon you are overtaking all those who have opted for normal, leg powered bicycles. It’s great!
Another great feature of cycling in Provence is the VĂ©lo Loisir Luberon bicycle routes that are mapped out and well-marked so you can avoid the busy roads, and thus benefit from quiet back roads which you would not otherwise find alone.
So, is this just another Eco friendly gimmick? Well considering that the temperature at 10am was 25°C at the end of May, and I hardly broke a sweat, no, this is not a gimmick, it’s a brilliant way to get a little bit of exercise, but most of all to discover La Belle Provence at the pace it deserves.
If you are interested in renting an electric bike on your next trip to Provence, or would like us to map out an itinerary or even provide you with a guide then contact us, and we will get back to you by return mail.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Philip,
    I do appreciate your writing in this topic.



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