Want to ride the legendary stages of the Tour de France by bike? The Région Sud is without a doubt the perfect place for passionate sports cyclists like you. Get in low gear and head off to explore the top five places for sports cycling!
Attack the Giant of Provence
Mont Ventoux‘s reputation needs no introduction in the cycling world.
Are you up for the challenge? There are three possible climbs: Malaucène, Bédoin or Sault, with distances of 21, 22 and 26 km respectively. In total, trained cyclists should expect the climbs to take 90 minutes to 3 ½ hours.
As you pedal towards the giant, you can admire the Mont Ventoux Biosphere Reserve.
Choose the route that best suits you:
- the great coniferous forests and the view of the Baronnies Provençales, starting from Malaucène
- crossing the lavender fields from Sault
- the mythical Tour de France climb from Bédoin
Whatever your route, don’t forget about the heat or the mistral.
Immortalise your arrival at the top by taking a selfie in front of the landmark sign. And if you have any energy left, prolong this fine climb with our great itinerary around Mont Ventoux.
Le col du Galibier
The legendary climb
Another famous pass, the Col du Galibier, is the one that is the most frequently used by Tour de France riders.
Using the northern slope from Valloire, climb the Col du Télégraphe then the Galibier for a total of 18 kilometres. For its part, the southern slope from Briançon is considered to be the most legendary route. Here, you climb the Col du Lautaret before the Galibier, for almost 35 kilometres.
En route, catch your breath at the monument of Henri Desgrange, the founder of the Tour de France, at the entrance to the tunnel on the Briançon side.
You can also admire the lovely view of the Rochilles – the jagged, needle-like rock face – visible on the opposite slope.
Le col de l’Izoard
The Col de l’Izoard is also one of the highlights of the Tour de France. Many amateur cyclists dream of one day climbing its 1,300 metres.
At 2,360 metres high, the Col de l’Izoard is one of the region’s key sites. Two commemorative plaques still recall the sporting exploits of two Izoard heroes: Coppi and Bobet. In July and August, it’s best to make the climb in the early morning or the late evening. Keep in mind that the pass is closed from the end of November to the beginning of May.
The scenery is apt for this epic climb. Near the finish at the abandoned Casse site, an almost lunar crater with bare slopes serves up a spectacular view.
Le col de la Bonette
Climb the highest road in Europe!
You need to ascend 32 kilometres to reach the top. From Barcelonnette to the finish at La Bonette summit, an average gradient of 6.6% awaits you. In the hardest parts, it can slope as high as 9%..
From the first hairpin turns, plunge into landscapes of green pastures amid herds of sheep. Their bleats and the roar of the mountain streams then give way to a lunar setting filled with greyish stone blocks. Once you’ve reached the top, snap a souvenir photo in front of the monumental stone. Take a break on the footpath that leads to a height of 2,860 metres and observe the Viso, Mont Pelat or Italy from the viewpoint indicator.
Want to rise to another challenge during your holidays? Try the athletic feat of the Vallée de l’Ubaye’s seven passes.
THE TURINI HAIRPINS
A change of scene on the Italian border
A final adventure takes you to the slopes of the Col de Turini. Follow these steep routes traced in the heart of the Parc Naturel du Mercantour and climb the hairpin turns of the legendary Col du Turini.
This Alpes-Maritimes pass is accessible by four different routes. Go for the climb via the Vallée de la Bévéra from Sospel (1,244 metres climb over a 24-kilometre route). This route offers you magnificent mountain landscapes, which the Mercantour has in abundance. Halfway, you cross the Madone de la Menour, perched on a rock that overlooks the Gorges de la Bévéra.
One for thrill-seekers, this pass will make you weak in the knees just like it does to drivers on the Monte-Carlo Rally.