Day 1 — Santana’s July 2024 embark in Nice is a short distance from NCE Airport, where our petite-dimensioned cruise ship will be nestled among the glitzy yachts of the waterfront.
Santana’s mechanics will host a bike-building session prior to our overview of tomorrow’s ride and a welcoming banquet dinner. As our ship remains in Nice overnight, you’re also welcome to take in the local nightlife of the Côte d’Azur.
Day 2 — This morning we’ll pedal a classic route from the annual Paris-Nice bike race which traces the coastline of the French Riviera through Eze to reach Monaco.
With the Tour de France Finale and celebrations tomorrow, we will undoubtedly share this course with hundreds of French cyclists who are arriving in Nice to witness this historic finish of Le Tour 2024.
Day 3 — Since 1905, the finale of the Tour de France has always been held on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. In 2024, the finish line will be only a few hundred yards from where La Belle des Océans will be docked in Nice.
The final stage promises to be a tension-filled time trial which hasn’t been done since 1989—when Greg LeMond trimmed 8 seconds off of Laurent Fignon’s time to win Le Tour. Our ship will remain in Nice until the early evening, which allows our participants to watch the Tour de France closing celebrations located just down the pier.
This evening, La Belle des Océans will glide across the Mediterranean to reach a cyclists paradise… Corsica.
Day 4 — Our first day of cycling in Corsica — After breakfast we’ll hop on our bikes in L’ile Rousse with a selection of routes from mild to wild.
Today’s shortest route traces the tracks of a famous narrow-gauge beach train on a scenic rail trail to reach the photogenic Citadel of Calvi, perched on the cliffs over the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.
Riding from Calvi, we’ll pause for a wine tasting experience at a family-owned castle that was once owned by a member of the Bonaparte family. This afternoon, all of our routes use a traffic-free coastal road that links Calvi with Galeria, where our cruise ship awaits our arrival.
If some of these names sound more Italian than French, it’s because although Corsica has been part of France since 1769, throughout the past 2000 years, the island has been ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Germans, Spanish, Italians, and… Pirates—making Corsica a melting pot of Mediterranean and central European culture and architecture.
Day 5 — The most spectacular day of cycling in all of Europe.
Starting our ride from the small beachside town of Galeria, today’s routes take in the natural beauty of Osani and the quaint town of Porto.
The long routes will climb through an iconic gorge, which happens to be a Michelin 3-Star attraction, to reach the villages of Fiuminale & Ota.
All of the afternoon routes experience an unforgettable ride through a second Michelin 3-Star attraction—The Calanches of Corsica, where the tri-color of emerald green forests, vibrant red rocks, and turquoise blue seas is unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Don’t forget to say hello to a few of the resident goats that have made the Calanches their home.
All routes end in Cargese, a Greek village founded by members of the Greek Orthodox church in the 1600’s. A large amount of the local population still speaks Greek to this day.
Day 6 — Today’s rides start in Bastia and trace the entire coastline of Cap Corse, a spectacularly idyllic road around the peninsula. Due to a shorter road over the hillside, Cap Corse is perfect for a day of traffic-free cycling.
While the longer routes will ride from port to port along the coast, the shorter routes will ride down the western shore after a morning boost.
Whether you choose mild or wild, we’ll pedal along the coast to be greeted by La Belle des Oceans nestled amongst the yachts of St Florent, where the town has created a vibrant nightlife to entertain the elite of Southern Europe.
Day 7 — When Jan and I accepted our cycling-blogger friend’s invitation to visit Corsica and see if it lived up to his title of “Europe’s Best Cycling,” he designed a route to show us just how spectacular and unique this island is.
Unlike the rides on previous days, this route turns inland and rides through centuries-old stone villages perched on the hilltops over the Mediterranean. As with Santana Adventures’ other cycling cruises—a morning boost will be available on any day that starts with a long climb. E-bike rentals will also be available.
Between each of the six villages, we’ll ride through vibrant forests, cross over gentle streams on old stone bridges, and glide down the hillsides as we return to the coast.
Day 8 — The following morning we’ll disembark in Nice for a short shuttle ride to NCE airport.
Corsica and the French Riviera Cycling Cruise
La Belle des Océans
Corsica, French Riviera, Monaco, & Tour de France Finale
We’ve chartered “The Beauty of the Oceans” for Santana’s Corsica & the French Riviera itinerary. A 103-meter (yacht-dimensioned) vessel specifically designed for boutique cruises in the Mediterranean, and outfitted with with advanced stabilization & ultra-green power plants. La Belle des Oceans’ petite size enables it dock within the small harbors that larger cruise ships can’t access.
Purchased by CroisiEurope in 2019, this unique small cruise ship has only 65 soundproofed staterooms in six categories.
All have private bathrooms, spacious floor plans, king-width beds that can convert into separate full-width twins, individually-controlled A/C, and large view windows. The floor plans of the Horizon Staterooms on Deck 3, 4, & 5 are identical, the only difference is which deck they are located on.
Three styles of suites are available on Deck 6. The Panorama Suites, Riviera Balcony Suites, and Ocean Balcony Suite.
The cuisine is exceptional. Breakfast includes bountiful buffets created by our 5-star chef. Each evening your waiter will present a new five course menu—listing an array of choices for you to select from.
Is beer & wine included with dinner? Of course!
Both Lounges have seating for all our guests and are a great place to relax, mingle with your fellow cyclists, catch up on emails, or read a nice book.
The Lounge Deck Pool is a great place to relax after a long day of cycling!
The bar, located on the Sun Deck, enjoys breathtaking 360-degree views.
Onboard wi-fi is included, as is expert wash-and-fold laundering of your valuable cycling wear.
Corsica and the French Riviera
Frequently Asked Questions
Corsica, French Riviera, Monaco, & Tour de France Finale
Q: What are the exact dates?
A: Santana’s 8-Day/7-night Corsica and the French Riviera Cycling Cruise will take place July 19 to 26, 2024. July is the perfect time to cycle Corsica and the French Riviera. Inland temperatures can reach the low 80s, but along the coast the ocean breeze holds temperatures in the mid-70s. July has the lowest rainfall of the year for both regions, so we’ll enjoy more sunny days and short sleeve rides than any other time of year.
Q: What’s the cost?
A: Due to the current strength of the dollar, our per-person double-occupancy pricing for this 8-day cycling cruise starts at $4,999. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.
Q: Traveling Solo?
A: While some of the ships Santana charters have a small number of single rooms, this one doesn’t. If you can’t convince someone to join you, the single supplement for Horizon Staterooms is 60%.
Q: What’s “Early-In” Pricing?
A: To manage the risk of chartering entire cruise ships, couples who commit early are rewarded with lower pricing. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE.
Q: What about tipping?
A: Jan and I don’t accept tips. A comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $500 per person includes a long list of off-ship activities, tours, admissions, interpretive guides, site fees, non-rider touring coach, and ride support (gps route files and a pair of SOS vans driven by pro mechanics). Government mandated port fees are $250 per-person. Note that this is less than the average cruise passenger pays for a week of “deluxe excursions.” Shipboard gratuities of $150 per person includes wash & fold laundry and valet bike handling.
Q: Are all staterooms the same?
A: The efficiently-scaled La Belle des Océans has 65 double occupancy staterooms in six categories (sorry, no singles or triples). All rooms in all categories feature exterior view and private bath. The Horizon Staterooms on decks 3, 4, & 5 are identical ocean-view staterooms other than which deck they are located on. The Panorama Suite has a larger floorplan and ocean view windows. The Ocean Suite and Riviera Suites have the largest floorplans and feature private balconies.
Q: How are staterooms assigned?
A: In any sub-category all rooms are identical. Using the PayPal timestamp, those who reserve earliest get the conveniently located staterooms closest to the front of the ship. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. In short, out of fairness to all our guests, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.
Q: Are rental bikes available? Are e-bike rentals available?
A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. Lightweight road bike rentals are about $450 per-person for the duration of the cruise, and E-Bike rentals are about $200 more. Corsica rentals include delivery on embark day and retrieval at the end of the final ride. More info on our “Welcome Aboard” page.
Q: How do we get to and from the tour?
A: Detailed info on the best days and times to fly to and from Nice will be emailed a year in advance. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and disembark days will receive free airport transfers.
Q: How many miles each day?
A: In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (remaining on the ship or reaching prime attractions via Santana’s non-rider touring coach), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride 30 flat miles will be able to enjoy multiple days of cycling. Longer routes are available, and often provide 60 or more miles. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s attractions. Santana’s vets have learned to love and rely on their handlebar-mounted GPS units. Available for less than $170, these touch-screen marvels prevent the age-old problem of getting lost or riding unplanned miles. Want to use your smartphone? Use the tips in our GPS Guide to make sure you’re ready to go. Santana supplies free electronic mapping and route files. Simply select the route and follow the highlighted map.
Q: What’s the next step?
A: A near-immediate sell-out of the Greek Isles is anticipated. Pricing listed on the Stateroom Reservations section is the current pricing. Refresh your browser to see any changes that may have occurred if you delay booking after loading this page. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our PayPal portal. PayPal’s secure website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the timestamp of your booking.
Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?
A: When you use your credit card and book through PayPal, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Cancellations@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the PayPal transaction and obtain a full refund. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?
A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-PayPal commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all except one of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises (this charter will be our 76th!). While preparing for our 2009 Danube event I neglected to include the following proviso. That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned! Here it is (again) in writing:
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 25 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?
A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $1,000 per stateroom—which is waived when vacating participants found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $500,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans?
A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s pair of SOS vans are driven by pro bike mechanics who bring tools and spares. When you phone one of our drivers with the coordinates from your GPS, they’ll arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.
Q: Are beverages included?
A: Beer & Wine are included at dinner. Other alcohol is not included but can be charged to your room. Soft Drinks, Coffee, Espresso Drinks, and Juice are all complimentary at meal times.
Q: Which meals are included?
A: During Santana’s earlier charters from Croisi Cruises the culinary staff appreciated our appetites as much as we appreciated their multi-course gourmet meals. Croisi’s 5-star chef will curate a new menu for each meal, and will always include a surprising selection of local fruits and produce, regional specialties, the freshest-possible seafood, vegetarian options, and grilled-to-order meats. A changing assortment of desserts and pastries are produced aboard each day. Breakfast and Lunch are served buffet style, perfect for active cyclists. Dinner is a plated multi-course menu with plenty of gourmet options for all of our participants.
Q: Does La Belle offer WiFi?
Q: Does the ship have an elevator?
Q: Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?
A: Yes to all of the above.
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: The quickest and easiest way to get help is to use Santana’s Contact Form. One of our team members will follow up with you as soon as possible.