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Beaucaire

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Beaucaire and Tarascon are interesting villages facing each other from opposite banks of the Rhone River. Tarascon has a nice castle and is a river cruise port, but Beaucaire has a particularly fascinating history.

As a rocky prominence surrounded by river lowlands, Beaucaire has attracted human inhabitants since pre-history. Hannibal and his army followed the mythical route of Heracles here, crossing the river with their elephants in 218BC on the way to attack Rome during the second Punic War. The Romans later formalized this track as the Via Domitia, first road in Roman Gaul. You can see vestiges of this straight ancient route in Beaucaire, including mile-marker stones engraved with the names of the emperors who commissioned the work.

Eremite Christian monks moved into the Abbaye Saint-Roman hills by the 5th century, carving chapels and eerie tombs into the bedrock. There is a mesh of fire roads and singletracks for good MTB riding in the hills surrounding the abbey, which lies a short pedal north from Beaucaire on the Voie Verte bike path.

In the Middle Ages, the Counts of Beaucaire and Toulouse built the Beaucaire castle atop a Roman ruin, and led the First Crusade to the Holy Land. Later, they found themselves and their castle a target of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heretics in the region.

At the end of the Hundred Years War, Charles VII declared the "Fair of the Madeleine" in Beaucaire. This trade fair ran for 6-weeks a year for over 200 years, doing more business volume than the city of Marseilles did all year. The great wealth accumulated by the international merchants went into building the city's famous golden stone "Hôtel particulier" mansions. The fair survives today in the form of summer festivals, bullfights and events.

Across the river lie two other massifs that offer good MTB riding: La Montagnette and Les Alpilles. Both have extensive networks of fire roads and singletracks, lovely villages, historic sites and great vistas. Les Alpilles also offers good, unpolished limestone climbing at several crags. The area was made famous by Van Gogh, who produced many of his most famous paintings here and in nearby Arles, spending time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence's sanitorium after cutting off his own ear. Arles is a short ride south of Beaucaire on the marked Via Rhona bike route, which continues south to the Camargue, a vast river delta with wild white horses and native black bulls, migratory birds (including lots of flamingos), and excellent, undeveloped Mediterranean beaches.

The red wines of the mapped area are affordable, sun-soaked and rich, often more like big California reds in style. But it's the rosés that will blow your socks off. Forget your "White Zinfandel" trauma: these wines are highly varied, fresh and just lovely in color. Use the Hachette Guides to find good ones to taste, but the Vignerons Createurs wine cooperative in Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, or the rosé capitol of Tavel are good places to start. A local Beaucaire winery, Mas de Tourelles, is a fun detour: located on the site of an ancient Roman amphora factory, they still make wine with ancient techniques, using funky recipes from Pliny and Cato that are fascinating (if not delicious).

Recommended Routes in Beaucaire - 1

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Favorite First startling glimpse of the Abbaye Saint Michel de Frigolet
Difficult

Saint-Michel-de-Frigolet Loop

12.2 mi 19.7 km 1,098' Up 334.78 m Up 1,092' Down 332.81 m Down

Boulbon, FR

Beaucaire Biking

  • 26 Miles 41 Kilometers of Trail
  • 1 Recommended Route
  • 3 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 1 Intermediate Trail Intermediate Trails
  • 4 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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Trails in Beaucaire - 7

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1.5 mi 2.5 km #1Abbaye Saint-Michel de Frigolet Singletrack
Very Difficult
Boulbon, FR
Very Difficult
Boulbon, FR
2.1 mi 3.3 km #2Beaucaire River Path
Intermediate
Beaucaire, FR
Intermediate
Beaucaire, FR
1.8 mi 2.9 km #3Beaucaire Bike Path
Easy
Beaucaire, FR
Easy
Beaucaire, FR
0.9 mi 1.4 km #4Boulbon Singletrack
Difficult
Boulbon, FR
Difficult
Boulbon, FR
0.2 mi 0.3 km #5Bonnet Mill
Easy
Boulbon, FR
Easy
Boulbon, FR
4.4 mi 7.0 km #6Les Collines de Saint-Roman
Difficult
Comps, FR
Difficult
Comps, FR
2.7 mi 4.3 km #7Tarascon-Les Alpilles Bike Path
Easy
Tarascon, FR
Easy
Tarascon, FR

Photos of Beaucaire - 6

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First startling glimpse of the Abbaye Saint Michel de Frigolet
Mar 19, 2019 near Boulbon, FR
The restored Moulin Bonnet (Boulbon windmill), open on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, and a worthy detour.
Mar 19, 2019 near Boulbon, FR
Watch for yellow trail markers, seldom this obvious.
Mar 19, 2019 near Boulbon, FR
Looking south at the crossroads, with the indistinct start of the singletrack leading to Boulbon on the right.
Mar 18, 2019 near Boulbon, FR
Looking north at the top of the singletrack section leading from the crest down to Boulbon (on left). It doesn't look very narrow at the top, but it quickly thins down.
Mar 18, 2019 near Boulbon, FR
Monk's tombs, carved into the bedrock of the Saint-Roman Abbey.
Mar 28, 2019 near Comps, FR