Want a change of scene, landscapes that vary from sea to mountains, and sports challenges that echo the Tour de France? You have found the best destination for your future adventure bike holidays: the south of France.
Here are the top 5 sports cycling routes for exploring the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
THE SEVEN PASSES OF THE VALLÉE DE L’UBAYE
See how you rate against the best riders of the Tour de France
Col de la Bonette (2,715 metres)
Col de Vars (2,108 metres)
Col de la Cayolle (2,326 metres)
Col Saint-Jean (1,333 metres)
Col d’Allos (2,250 metres)
The Sainte-Anne Climb (1,840 metres)
Col de Pontis (1,301 metres)
Do you know what Eddy Merckx, Federico Bahamontes, and Fausto Coppi have in common? These three great champions of the Tour de France won a stage leading to one of the Vallée de l’Ubaye’s passes.
This valley allows you to climb as many as seven passes. Each one is completely signposted – find markers that show kilometres, altitude, the remaining distance to the summit, the slope percentage for the following kilometre, and more. You will find a multitude of information to help you effectively manage your physical effort.
Nature lovers – you won’t be left out: this valley is worth a look! Meandering between the dry and wild landscapes of the Col d’Allos, you will be enchanted by the sounds of the Gorges du Bachelard from the Col de Cayolle road.
Dedicated to the valley’s passes, the Follow Racer app is available to measure your sports performance and obtain your ranking and a certificate once you have climbed the seven passes.
Good to know: some passes are sometimes closed to traffic other than cyclists. Find information and which passes are scheduled for these “car-free” days. Ready to take on the challenge?
THE TOUR OF MONT VENTOUX BY BIKE
Immersed at the heart of a nature reserve
Distance: 120 kms
Does climbing Mont Ventoux intimidate you? Go for the Tour du Ventoux, a more authentic alternative! This 120-kilometre route will show you the wealth of the Parc Naturel Régional du Mont Ventoux. You start the route in the Comtat Venaissin vineyard, AOC Ventoux, and then continue on to the Gorges de la Nesque and the spectacular viewpoint of Le Rocher du Cire.
Next, cross the rural areas of the Vaucluse and discover the Pays des Aiguiers [aka “the land of reservoirs”]. Typical in Provence, these tanks are dug into the rock to enable the collection of runoff water.
You will then reach the Sault plateau, famous for its lavender season that renders the view spectacular in late June. At the heart of the Vallée du Toulourenc, the road that is carved into the flank of the Gorges offers dramatic views of the picturesque villages. They resemble life-size crèches provençales (nativity scenes) hanging from the mountain.
Wander through the little streets in the village of Brantes, an ideal stop to discover local crafts.
Finally, you can admire the eight-kilometre-long Massif des Dentelles de Montmirail, whose peak is the Saint-Amand ridge. These amazing limestone cliffs are worth a look. With a bit of luck, you might see some Egyptian vultures there.
More than a bike ride, this outing offers you a genuine immersion in the heart of the Mont Ventoux biosphere.
LA CORNICHE D’OR AND LE MASSIF DE L’ESTÉREL BY BIKE
Land or sea: you don’t need to choose!
Distance: 60 kms
Climb: 700 metres
This 60-kilometre route follows the Corniche d’Or, one of the most beautiful routes in the Côte d’Azur. On it you will explore the Estérel massif and its volcanic rocks that are around 250 million years old. The ochre colour of the Estérel rocks offers exceptional and colourful panoramic views of the region. Two options are possible: depart from Saint-Raphaël or from Mandelieu-la-Napoule. Take the seaside route to enjoy the top sites of the Côte d’Azur, like La Pointe de l’Aiguille, the locality of Agay. The second part of the route leads to the massif and has some climbs, particularly the Col du Testanier, the route’s most physically demanding challenge.
Like on the plate, the mix of land and sea works with cycling, too!
LOOP AROUND SAINTE-VICTOIRE
From , a glance is enough to understand why Paul Cézanne made it the main subject of more than 60 paintings. Montagne Sainte-Victoire – in its mineral, blue-toned majesty – is there to welcome you with open arms. That’s why we suggest a 62-km route, with a climb of a bit more than 400 m, around this inspiring mountain.
From Aix, head east. This sunny little road climbs to the Col des Portes (631 m) on the northern foothills of Sainte-Victoire. To reach it, you cross Saint-Marc-Jaumegarde, a hilly hamlet in the heart of the vines. A seven-kilometre climbing section marked by the Lac du Bimont then separates you from Vauvenargues. Spare a thought for another great painter, Picasso, who bought the village castle in 1958 and made it his final residence.
Once you are over the pass, the descent to Pourrières offers you a bit of respite. Take advantage of it to admire the southern face of the mountain. Once again, your calves are put to work to reach Puyloubier, a hilltop village on a rocky spur that is the motherland of AOC Côtes-de-Provence Sainte-Victoire.
The worst is behind you! The final part of the route is slightly downhill or flat. It passes through Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon, one of the main sites at Sainte-Victoire, then leads to Tholonet. From there, the Cézanne route of 4.6 km starts and leads you gently back to Aix-en-Provence.
OLIVE TREES AND MIMOSAS
Attacking Le Tanneron from Mandelieu-la-Napoule
Distance: 75 kms
Climb: 1714 metres
From olive trees to mimosas, explore a concentration of local heritage between the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var for 75 kilometres.
Take your first break in the Grasse region: the world capital of perfume. Here, you will observe many olive groves used to produce the olive oil that is so essential to Mediterranean cuisine.
Then, ride a section of the Route du Mimosa.
Stop in the picturesque village of Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne, which overlooks the river and offers magnificent views.
The route takes you a few kilometres further into the Pays de Fayence and the Lac de Saint-Cassien. Nature lovers, make a loop to the Fondurane Biological Reserve, home to a multitude of birds.
Finally, attack the Tanneron Massif and the hinterland of the Pays de Cannes will no longer remain secret to you.
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THE TOP CYCLING EVENTS IN THE RÉGION SUD
Events are subject to change and cancellation.
Road cycling races, mountain bike rallies, public timed trials, and more. Région Sud is a mecca for sports enthusiasts. We selected the top cycling events in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, which will delight those taking part as much as the spectators.
WHAT’S NEW FOR BIKES... NOT TO BE MISSED!
In Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, there is always something new and original to please biking fans. The Région Sud features many perks that secure its standing as a top destination for bike vacations. Explore the latest innovations that have made this region one of the best spots for cycling holidays in France!