The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is a stunning region of France known for its Mediterranean coastline, charming towns, and stunning natural beauty.
It’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for cyclists. From the winding roads through the hills of the Arrière-Pays to the flat seaside paths along the coast, the French Riviera offers a diverse terrain for cycling enthusiasts of all levels.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best cycling routes on the French Riviera and provide tips on where to stay and when to go to make the most of your trip to this beautiful region.
Where is the French Rivera located?
It stretches from Menton in the east to Toulon in the west. The French Riviera has a mild climate and is renowned for its natural beauty. It is a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, sailing, and cycling.
Monaco, Nice, and Cannes are the most popular towns along the Mediterranean Sea coastline.
Many top professional cyclists such as Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews, and Peter Sagan have all based themselves in Monaco during their cycling careers. So, without a doubt, some of the best cycling routes in France can be found around the French Riviera.
The Milan-San Remo, one of the five Monuments in cycling, finishes in San Remo, just 28km across the French-Italian border from Menton. It’s also the longest one-day professional cycling race at 298km.
Why cyclists love the French Riviera
Beautiful Mediterranean climate
The French Riviera has a beautiful Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. This makes it an excellent destination for year-round cycling, with warm temperatures that allow for comfortable rides even in the winter.
Stunning coastline and varied terrain
The French Riviera is known for its stunning coastline and varied terrain. Whether riding along the Promenade des Anglais or tackling one of the nearby climbs, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the surrounding region.
This makes it an excellent destination for road, mountain biking, and gravel cycling, with routes and trails that offer something for every type of rider.
Wide variety of cycling routes and trails
The French Riviera has many cycling routes and trails, including the Promenade des Anglais, a 7km (4.3-mile) seaside walkway that stretches along the Bay of Angels, and the Col de la Madone, a popular climb just outside of Nice.
Opportunity to ride with professional cyclists
Nice and Monaco are home to many professional cyclists. If you’re lucky, you might be able to join them for a training ride and get a chance to ride with a pro.
Delicious French cuisine
The French Riviera is known for its delicious cuisine, including dishes like socca, a type of flatbread made with chickpea flour, and pissaladière, a pizza topped with caramelized onions, olives, and anchovies.
An abundance of coffee shops and cafes
The French Riviera is home to many coffee shops and cafes where you can stop for a break during your ride. Whether you’re looking for a quick espresso or a longer break to sit and relax, you’ll find a cafe in Nice and Monaco that suits your needs.
When is the best time to cycle on the French Riviera?
The French Riviera has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers. The average temperature ranges from around 25 to 30°C (77 to 86°F) in the summer and 10 to 15°C (50 to 59°F) in the winter
- The best time of year to visit the French Riviera for cycling is in the summer months of June, July, and August, when the weather is hot, dry, and sunny.
- The fall and spring can also be good, especially in September and April, when the weather is typically warm and sunny.
- The winter months of December, January, and February may not be the best time for cycling due to the cooler and wetter weather, but it can still be possible to enjoy cycling on dry, sunny days.
What are the most popular climbs on the French Rivera?
Located on the French Riviera, Nice is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking and challenging cycling climbs. From winding mountain roads to steep hills with panoramic views, there’s no shortage of breathtaking routes to explore.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to improve your cycling skills, these climbs are sure to provide an unforgettable cycling experience.
Col de la Madone
- Distance : 12.7km
- Elevation gain : 968m
- Average gradient : 6.5%
- Difficulty : Moderate to challenging
- Highlights : Stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, challenging climbs, quiet roads
The Col de la Madone is a popular cycling route located in the hills above Nice, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and challenging climbs.
The route begins in Menton and climbs up through the mountains to the Col de la Madone, reaching an elevation of 968m.
- Distance : 9.8km
- Elevation gain : 513m
- Average gradient : 5.1%
- Difficulty : Moderate to challenging
- Highlights : Stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, challenging climbs, and historic villages
The Col d’Eze is another popular cycling route located in the hills above Nice, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and challenging climbs. The road is well-maintained and relatively quiet, making it a great option for cycling.
The route begins in Nice, reaching an elevation of 513m. Along the way, you’ll pass through charming villages and experience breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
Col de Turini
- Distance : 15.3km
- Elevation gain : 1,106m
- Average gradient : 7.2%
- Difficulty : Challenging
- Highlights : Stunning mountain scenery, challenging climbs, historic villages
The Col de Turini is a challenging cycling route in the mountains above Nice. It’s a long and hard climb with an average gradient of 7.2% over 15.3km.
Which town to stay on the French Riviera?
There are many charming towns to stay in along the French Riviera, so it depends on your preferences and what you are looking for in a vacation destination.
- Nice is a popular choice for tourists and has a lively atmosphere with a mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. It is known for its beautiful beaches and promenade, as well as its art museums and historical landmarks.
- Monaco is a tiny city-state that is known for its luxury and glamour. It is home to the Monte Carlo Casino and the Formula 1 Grand Prix and is a popular destination for the wealthy.
- Cannes is another popular destination on the French Riviera, known for its luxurious atmosphere and high-end shopping. It is home to the Cannes Film Festival and has a glamorous reputation.
- Antibes is a smaller town with a charming old town and a large market. It is known for its beautiful beaches and is an excellent choice for those looking for a more laid-back atmosphere.