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Mountain Biking in the South of France

Mountain Biking in the South of France

The Best Mountain Biking in the South of France

Provence and the Southern Alps have attracted mountain bikers from all over France for a long time now, but it’s only in recent years that the region has drawn visitors from further afield. With its dry trails, winter sun and easy transport links, the south of France truly is paradise for mountain bikers.

The climate and geography of the south of France means there’s superb riding to be had year round – in summer, choose a higher resort and ride in the cool alpine air. Spend the rest of the year on lower ground, riding trails facing the sea. You’ll find the terrain in the south of France incredibly varied with singletrack through limestone, wooded areas, and steep mountainous terrain that will satisfy the most extreme riders.

South of France MTB Holidays

Guided and self-guided multi-day mountain biking trips in the Southern Alps and Provence.

 

Where to go mountain biking in the South of France

Alpes Maritimes Map

Alpes-Maritimes mountain biking

The mountains behind Nice provide high altitude riding and uplifts in the resorts. Be sure to check out the Mercantour National Park, La Haute Roya around Tende, and Peille – ten-time Downhill World Champion, Nicolas Vouilloz’s training ground.

Mountain biking in Nice, Cote d'Azur, France

©Greg Germain / www.1001sentiers.fr

1. Mountain biking in Nice Côte d’Azur

Where the mountains meet the sea, discover the Nice backcountry, a land of contrasts and a unique place to ride. 335 kms of trails including 16 graded trails all with breathtaking views over the Côte d’Azur. Pick the trails up in Levens, about 26 kms from Nice.

Amaury Magnin goes skyward at the Isola 2000 bike park

© Photos CR

Mountain biking in Isola 2000 | Go >

With 3 lovely red tracks, an insanely good black aimed squarely at downhill freaks who love getting airborne and 2 long top-to-bottom blue trails, Isola 2000 is fulfilling its promise to become one of the hotspots for biking in the Alpes Maritimes. Just an hour and a half from Nice the Mercantour cablecar will whisk you up to 2400 m giving access to a huge 1200 m vertical drop.

Haute Roya Mountain Biking

2. Mountain biking in Haute Roya

The Haute Roya mountain bike area comprises 360 kms of trails graded from green to black. Situated on the border of the Mercantour National Park, there’s way-marked singletrack looping from La Brigue, Tende, Castérino and Col de Tende, which is the starting point for the 70 km black-graded xc Route du Sel.

Downhill Mountain Biking in Sospel, France

©Greg Germain / www.1001sentiers.fr

3. Mountain biking in Sospel | Go >

A mountainous mountain biking area just half an hour from the Mediterranean which enjoys warm temperatures and dry terrain year-round. You’ll find nice easy climbs on forest tracks and more technical singletrack descents. You can link in to the Paillon valley and the village of Peille, training ground for some of the world’s best riders.

Peille Downhill Mountain Biking

4. Mountain biking in Peille, Pays des Paillons

Just 20 minutes from Nice, the Pays des Paillons has 265 kms of mountain bike trails and 20 graded routes from green to black with an equal split of terrain for novice and expert riders. Enjoy the stunning landscape, as you ride the dry trails of this coastal mountain range. Open year round.

Auron Mountain Biking Trails

©Robert Palomba

Mountain biking in Auron-Saint Etienne de Tinée | Go >

Situated in the Mercantour National Park just 90 kms from Nice, Auron-Saint Etienne de Tinée has 60 kms of downhill mountain bike trails and 18 graded routes from green to black with an emphasis on trails suitable for intermediate riders. Ride fast open blues and steeper more technical reds, plus some outstanding XC loops. Lifts open June to September.
Highest lift: 2270 m Vertical drop: 1120 m
Km of trails: 60 Best for: Downhill/XC

Roubion-Les-Buisses Mountain Biking

Mountain biking in Roubion-Les Buisses | Go >

A super little bike park just 1 hour 15 mins from Nice. A good mix of trails for all abilities make Roubion an easy trail centre to enjoy from the off. The blue running under the 2-man chairlift pure fun. Lifts open May to October.
Highest lift: 1710 m Vertical drop: 310 m
Km of trails: 30 Best for: Downhill/Enduro

Big mountain MTB in Valberg

© Greg Germain | 1001sentiers.fr

Mountain biking in Valberg | Go >

With dry trails and a lovely gradient in a big mountain setting, Valberg in the south-eastern France has been quietly earning itself a reputation as a hot spot for Enduro mountain biking. For the last five years the resort has hosted the Enduro des Portes du Mercantour and in September 2016, Valberg-Guillaumes will host the Enduro World Series.
Highest lift: 2060 m Vertical drop: 660 m
Km of trails: 65 Best for: Enduro/XC

Rocky MTB trails in La Moulière

© Roc Vtt Oz-en-Oisans

Mountain biking in La Moulière | Go >

The little resort of La Moulière in the Audibergue mountains in south-east France may have a chairlift from a bygone era, but the mountain biking on offer is well worth the detour. Just an hour inland from Cannes, La Moulière is easy to get to and has 12 graded trails through natural terrain in a beautiful mid-mountain setting. Great fun for a day.
Highest lift: 1640 m Vertical drop: 290 m
Km of trails: 28 Best for: Downhill

Alpes de Haute Provence Map

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence mountain biking

In the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, you can mountain bike through terrain that varies from easy trails through fields of lavender to high-alpine technical singletrack. The close proximity of resorts like Val d’Allos, Pra Loup and Les Orres makes this region of the southern French Alps a great option for a mountain biking holiday. Don’t miss the moab-style terrain of the Terres Noires, the dry dusty downhill tracks of Pra Loup and Les Orres or the epic cross-country routes of the Ubaye Valley.

Val d’Allos – Haut-Verdon

5. Mountain biking in Val d’Allos | Go >

Val d’Allos is where Enduro mountain biking was born! 24 different graded trails with chair-lift access criss-cross the Upper Verdon Valley, plus there’s a bike park and huge scope for striking out on a cross-country adventure.
Highest lift: 2371 m Vertical drop: 870 m
Km of trails: 200 Best for: Downhill/Enduro/XC

Vallée de l’Ubaye Mountain Biking

6. Mountain biking in the Ubaye Valley | Go >

The Ubaye Valley (Vallée de l’Ubaye) is mountain biking heaven for cross-country and all-mountain riders – more than 340 kilometres of waymarked trails and home to the legendary 100 km Transubayenne trail. Find trails for a great day out right through to a multi-day singletrack expedition, and all set to a stunning Southern Alps backdrop. Downhill and enduro riders are well catered for too with the Pra Loup bikepark, Le Sauze, Vars and Val d’Allos trails nearby.

Hitting a jump in the Pra Loup Bikepark

© praloup.com

7. Mountain biking in Pra Loup | Go >

Pra Loup is the main downhill mountain biking area in the Ubaye Valley and blends fast and technical trails in a way that will delight purist downhillers. The resort’s main gondola brings you swiftly to 2000m where you can access all 6 downhill trails. Don’t miss the black Rock n’ Run with it’s fast open sections and more technical singletrack through the trees.
Highest lift: 2130 m Vertical drop: 530 m
Km of trails: 51 Best for: Downhill

Terres Noires Mountain Biking

8. Mountain biking in Verdon & Des Vallées de l’Asse | Go >

The Verdon et des Vallées de l’Asse mountain bike area offers a network of 341 km of trails split into 20 way-marked routes ranging from easy 3 km loops to challenging 30 km rides with over 1000 m of vertical drop. The trails start from 4 towns in Verdon; Castellane, Saint-André-les-Alpes, Barrême et Tartonne. You’ll ride a mixture of singletrack and wider trails, high altitude traverses and fast, technical descents through forests of beech and boxwood.

Digne-les-Bains Mountain Biking

9. Mountain biking in Digne-les-Bains and the Terres Noires

Digne-les-Bains is located where Haute-Provence meets the Alps. 310 kms of MTB trails provide a huge choice of riding suitable for every level. The famous Terres Noires area offers Moab-style thrills.

Buech-Sisteronais Mountain Biking

10. Mountain biking in Buech-Sisteronais

With nearly 1,500 km of trails including 490 km of way-marked trails in the Alpes de Haute Provence, this is the third largest dedicated mountain biking area in France. Ride rocky trails, ridges and through fields of lavender. Peaceful wilderness in the Provençal sunshine.

Val de Durance Mountain Biking

11. Mountain biking in Val de Durance

With 22 routes totalling 550km of way-marked trails, the Durance Valley is a paradise for mountain bikers. A huge area rising from 400m to 1400m in altitude, offers something for all abilities. Biking in Val de Durance is year round and is one of the most beautiful spots to mountain bike in France.

Verdon des Collines Mountain Biking

12. Mountain biking in Verdon des Collines

Located within the awesome Gorges du Verdon National Park, the villages of Esparron-de-Verdon and Gréoux-les-Bains are your gateway to 460 kms of trails, including 17 loops from 3 to 60 kms. This is a year round mountain bike destination with trails suitable for all skill levels.

Chabanon Downhill Mountain Biking

13. Mountain biking in Vallée de la Blanche – Bès – Serre-Ponçon

With 370 kms of cross-country trails to suit all levels, a world-class downhill run, a bike park and even an airbag, this mountain bike area is pure fun. The Chabanon downhill run drops 2000 meters in 2.5 kms of trail, has chairlift access in summer and is reputed to be one of the best downhill tracks in France.

Montagne de Lure MTB

14. Mountain biking in Forcalquier-Montagne de Lure

Located between the southern Alps and Provence, the Forcalquier-Montagne de Lure mountain bike area has 194 kms of trails including 11 graded tracks from green to black. Ride a wonderfully diverse landscape, along the ridges and steep tracks of the Lure mountain, through villages and the intriguing Mourres rock formations.

Hautes Alpes Map

Hautes-Alpes mountain biking

The Hautes-Alpes is a playground for mountain bikers with many trail centres operating chairlifts during the summer months. Don’t miss the bikeparks of Montgenèvre and Les Orres, and the cross country trails of the Vallées du Gapençais, Queyras escarpment, Embrun and the Col du Briançonnais.

Mountain Biking in Montgenèvre

15. Mountain biking in Montgenèvre | Go >

With graded runs from green to black, Montgenèvre has some great high altitude riding for all levels. XC riders can ride the unspoilt natural terrain across the border into Italy. Downhillers will love the red and black runs under the chairlifts, and freeriders can head to the Chalvet area and ride the jumps, drops and northshore.
Highest lift: 2760 m. Vertical drop: 900 m.
Km of trails: 100. Best for: Downhill

Mountain Biking in Les Orres

16. Mountain biking in Les Orres | Go >

With consistently good weather and nearly 1000 m of accessible vertical drop, Les Orres is a hidden gem. Two chairlifts provide access to red and black downhill tracks, whilst blue trails snake down with fast berms and low-profile jumps. Recent work to make the bikepark more accessible to beginner and intermediate riders compliments the more extreme northshore, drops, gaps and wall-rides.
Highest lift: 2530 m. Vertical drop: 960 m.
Km of trails: 80. Best for: Downhill

Les Vallées du Gapençais Mountain Biking

17. Mountain biking in Les Vallées du Gapençais

The new Vallées du Gapencais mountain bike area offers more than 800 kms of trails with 40 graded routes starting from 9 separate points between 500 and 2000 meters of altitude. Ride incredibly varied terrain through mountains, forests, meadows, lakes and streams.

Freeride mountain biking in Orcières, Ecrins National Park

© OT Orcières

18. Mountain biking in Orcières | Go >

Located in the Southern French Alps in the heart of the spectacular Ecrins National Park, Orcières has 8 downhill tracks, 5 enduro trails and access to some 750 km of FFC waymarked XC trails. 3 lifts whisk bikers up to 2650 m and if you ride all the way to the bottom of the valley there’s some 1800 m vertical drop. Although the bike park’s not huge, there’s plenty of riding to keep intermediate and advanced riders entertained for a few days. XC riders can explore the network of FFC trails in the Champsaur Valley – see below.

Champsaur & Valgaudemar Mountain Biking

18. Mountain biking in Champsaur & Valgaudemar

The Champsaur & Valgaudemar mountain bike area is not to be missed. From the Orcières 1850 bike park to the miles of flowing single track in the valley, there’s something for everyone. For a multi-day cross-country epic, try the 230 km Tour de la Vagaude.

Mountain biking in Serre Chevalier

19. Mountain biking in Serre Chevalier | Go >

The trails in Serre Chevalier really take advantage of the perfect gradient for mountain biking. You’ll find 10 downhill trails with chairlift access between Chantemerle and Villeneuve la Salle, with the cross-country loops just across the valley. Let the brakes off and ride the flowy La Ricelle and L’Orée du Bois trails flat out.
Highest lift: 2492 m. Vertical drop: 1142 m.
Km of trails: 193. Best for: Downhill/XC

Mountain Biking in Pays des Ecrins

20. Mountain Biking in Pays des Ecrins

Mountain biking in the Ecrins is a true mountain experience. Bike through the picturesque villages of the Vallouise valley to the wilderness of Freissinières and the banks of the upper Durance river. With 200 kms of riding including 15 graded trails, you’ll find everything from downhill runs to easy family loops.

Mountain biking in Vars

21. Mountain Biking in Vars | Go >

Vars has some amazing enduro style downhill trails, the best of which is the Balcon de Vars which involves a bit of pedaling but the reward is an outstanding singletrack traverse with stunning views across the valley. If you like to ride fast downhill, you’ll love the flow of the Taillefer trail.
Highest lift: 2580 m. Vertical drop: 930 m.
Km of trails: 111. Best for: Downhill/Enduro/XC

lac de Serre-Ponçon mountain biking

22. Mountain Biking in Embrunais – Savinois

On the edge of the Ecrins National Park, along the Serre-Ponçon lake this superb mountain biking area links 15 villages and takes in forests, meadows and rivers. The designated MTB area offers 380 km of way-marked trails, including 31 graded trails and a 30 km long descent! If you’re feeling fit you could tackle the 180 km Tour de l’Embrunais.

Grand Briançonnais Mountain Biking

23. Mountain Biking in Grand Briançonnais

Where the Hautes-Alpes meet Savoie, 36 kms north west of Briançon, the Grand Briançonnais is a fantastic mountain bike area with 589 kms of waymarked trails including 46 graded trails. Ride high altitude trails through the beautiful valley of La Guisane and snake down singletrack through the Sestrière forest towards Italian border.

Downhill mountain biking in Le Dévoluy, Hautes Alpes

© OT du Dévoluy

24. Mountain Biking in Le Dévoluy | Go >

262 kilometres of waymarked cross-country trails including 16 graded trails from green to black, plus 6 super-fun downhill tracks accessible from Superdévoluy and La Joue du Loup and a 12 km enduro trail. Ride through majestic mountainous terrain, forests and meadows, or enjoy chairlift access in summer and hit the downhill mountain bike trails and northshore tracks.

Guillestrois Mountain Biking

©Stephan Neuhauser

25. Mountain Biking in Guillestrois

Epic cross-country mountain bike trails between the Ecrins and the Queyras ranges. Ride on mountain tracks and climb through forests of larch trees before picking up pace through green alpine meadowns. For an XC adventure, try the superb 3-day tour du Guillestrois, or the easier Tour de la Durance which runs along the banks of the Durance river.

High Alpine mountain biking in the Queyras

© france-bike-trips.com

26. Mountain Biking in the Queyras | Go >

Right on the border with Italy, the Queyras and Val Varaita mountain bike area has 354 kms of trails including 21 graded tracks. Challenging climbs, technical descents, exposed ridges and fast flowy forest runs. This is high alpine mountain biking at it’s best.

Var Map

Var mountain biking

Var stretches north from the gulf of St Tropez to the Gorges du Verdon and west from the Esterel mountains to the lavender fields of Provence. Ride the dry, rocky trails of the Saint Tropez backcountry, on an island off Hyères or find more challenging terrain in the Drailles et Bancaus du Verdon.

Gorges du Verdon Mountain Biking

27. Mountain biking in Drailles et Bancaus du Verdon

Linking 3 villages, Ginasservis, Saint Julien le Montagnier and Vinon sur Verdon, Vinon-sur-Verdon, the Drailles et Bancaus du Verdon mountain bike area offers 218 kms of mtb trails including 31 graded trails from green to black. A 40 km cross-country route links the 3 villages.

Ile de Porquerolles Mountain Biking

28. Mountain Biking in Hyères – Les Iles d’Or

5 separate dedicated mountain bike areas make up the total 95 kms of graded trails from green to red. The biking is split between the mainland and the beautiful Ile de Porquerolles.

Bouches-du-Rhône Map

Bouches-du-Rhône mountain biking

You have the rolling hills of lower Provence and the beautiful countryside of Sainte-Victoire, Sainte-Baume, Garlaban (the Pagnol hills) between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. Not forgetting the picturesque Luberon and Les Alpilles in the Bouches-du-Rhône.

Les Alpilles

29. Mountain biking in Les Alpilles

Les Alpilles is a Regional Natural Parc roughly 25 kms by 10 kms in the heart of the Bouches-du-Rhône and made up of forested limestone pinnacles criss-crossed with an extensive network of mountain bike trails. Real mountains and outstanding cross-country riding half way between the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Garlaban Mountain Biking

30. Mountain biking in Garlaban

Located in the heart of Provence between Marseille, Aubagne and Allauch, the Garlaban range is renowned for its association with Marcel Pagnol and attracts mountain bikers who enjoy the picturesque escarpments, dry, rocky trails and challenging climbs.

Sainte Victoire Mountain Biking

31. Mountain Biking in Le Grand Site Sainte-Victoire

Located between the Vallée de la Durance to the north and the Vallée de l’Arc to the south, Le Grand Site Sainte-Victoire covers 34,000 hectares east of Aix-en-Provence. You can pick up way-marked mountain bike loops from Saint-Marc-Jaumegarde and Vauvenargues. With 24 graded trails, all levels are catered for but there’s an abundance of technical rocky descents and fast singletrack.

Mountain Biking in the Colorado Provencal

© Damien Rosso

32. Mountain Biking in the Colorado Provencal

At Rustrel, north-east of the town of Apt in the Luberon there’s a stunning and unique landscape of red-ochre rock known as the Colorado Provençal. This, the birthplace of freeriding in France, is famous for its dry dusty trails peppered with jumps, drop-offs and berms. Ride through mini canyons complete with weird towering rock formations and fast, technical forested runs.

Map showing the position of Drôme in the South of France

Drôme mountain biking

Drôme is the region where Provence meets the Alps. Home to some of the best all-mountain/enduro riding in France you’ve got dry, rocky trails, huge vertical drop and epic multi-day itineraries including the part of the renowned Chemins du Soleil.

Trail with a view in the Pays Diois

© France Bike Trips

32. Mountain Biking in the Pays Diois | Go >

The Pays Diois in the Drôme Provençale is without doubt one of the top locations in southern France for enduro mountain biking. Epic pre-Alp terrain harbours superb dry and rocky singletrack that can be ridden year-round. With 29 FFC waymarked trails graded from green to black, Le Pays Diois has a total of 686 km riding. The Diois is also home to the Clairette de Die (a refreshing sparkling wine), perfect after a long day’s riding in the sun.

Mountain Biking in Tignes

Mountain Biking in the French Alps

If you like fast trails, endless lifts and high-altitude technical terrain, it’s hard to beat the Alps of Haute-Savoie, Isère and Savoie. Make sure you check out resorts like Les Deux Alpes, Chamonix, Morzine and Les Gets:

Mountain Biking in the French Alps | Go >

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur weather and trail conditions

You’re pretty much guaranteed blue skies and sunshine during the summer months in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of the south of France, and a good number of trail centers at lower altitude are open for mountain biking right through the year. Good weather means dry, dusty trails and the trails in this part of France tend to be much quieter than in the big resorts further north meaning smaller queues for lifts and less braking bumps. The gradients in resorts like Les Orres and Val d’Allos aren’t too steep and just right for picking up some good speed without having to go hard on the brakes.

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  • Cosette Crane

    Hi– we would like to schedule mountain biking on March 19 near nice/ or the surrounding area. Are you booking reservations yet? We need reservations for two adults.

    Please get back to us– if this is a possibility!

    Thanks– Cosette

    • Matt

      Hi Cosette,

      Thanks for your enquiry. Unfortunately we’re not running trips yet, however you could try 1001 Sentiers, their guide Greg Germain runs trips year round.

      Hope that helps,

      Matt

  • Hi there, great description.
    I am planning a trip next week to South of France. But I have difficulties finding out which place is best for family off-road loops (wife + two girls). Enough of them for a week plus some red and black for me?

    Thanks!

    • Matt

      Hi Marjan, thanks for your message.
      If you don’t mind a bit of driving, about an hour and a half from Nice you have the Mercantour National Park which has some of the region’s best trails. You could do an itinerary over a week taking in La Colmiane, Roubion, Auron, Val d’Allos and Valberg, all of which offer trails suitable for the family and more advanced tracks for you. If you plan to stay nearer the coast, try the Peille, Sospel area behind Nice http://www.espace-vtt-sospel.com/.
      Hope that helps,
      Matt

  • Ghosttown

    Hi,
    I am thinking of a long weekend doping XC or MTB in south or alps. Living in Paris, doing about 40 km each week. Looking for something not to hard and not to easy… In the range of 30 – 50 km each day on a three day loop. PS middle aged ….

    Any recommendation?

    • Hi there, I would recommend the Mercantour National Park and the Vallée de la Tinée to the north (about 90 km from Nice). You can ride trails that vary between 500 and 2500m in altitude and you could ride Roubion, Auron and Clans in a long weekend. You can find details of the trails in the VTOPO 06 map. If you wanted to join a group, you could try a 1001 Sentiers itinerary and ride from Mercantour to the Mediterranean in 3 days (http://www.1001sentiers.fr/stages/traversees-enduro.html).

      I hope that helps, have a great trip,

      Matt

  • Mark Critchley

    Hi, I am working at the ship yard in La Ciota and am looking for some weekend mountain biking. I see there is some rides near Aix, but how do I find a map of the trails?

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for getting in touch. There’s a few options around Aix. Nearest to La Ciotat is the Garlaban, here’s a link to what looks like a nice loop: http://www.utagawavtt.com/randonnee-vtt-gps?topo=5577.

      Then there’s Saint Victoire where there’s a number of FFC waymarked trails: http://www.grandsitesaintevictoire.com/Carte-interactive/Depart-circuit-VTT.

      And a bit further away towards Arles, the Alpilles: http://www.utagawavtt.com/circuits-vtt-proches?topo=1864&dist=20. For a selection of routes in the Bouches du Rhone try: http://www.vttour.fr/topos/recherche.php?d=13.

      Another option if you don’t mind a bit more driving is to head to Rustrel above Apt and ride Le Colorado Provencal, which has some great XC loops and freeride trails: http://www.vttour.fr/sorties/le-colorado-provencal,5921.html

      Hope that helps, have fun and let us know how you get on!

      Matt

      • Mark Critchley

        Hi Matt, trying to organised for a trip this weekend. I don’t suppose you have any idea how to get one of the maps from the links into a Garmin computer? Thanks

        Mark

        • Hi Mark,

          Just guessing here – if you create an account on utagawavtt.com, you can then download a GPX file of the route by clicking on ‘Télécharger le fichier GPS’. Then you may be able to import it directly into the New Files folder on the Garmin device, or you may need to convert it first into a .tcx file using online software such as gpsies.com.

          Let me know if that works for you.

          Matt

      • Mark Critchley

        Hi Matt, went to Garlaban today. Its pretty good riding, gets hairy in places if you got of the main tracks, but all manageable. Lots of sign posting which makes it easy. Thnaks for the tip. Might have to go and have another look, less than an hour from La Ciota. I have some friends who to have a go, is there anywhere you recommend to rent bikes from? Thanks again.

        Mark

        • Hi Mark, good to hear you found some decent tracks so close to home!

          With regards to mountain bike hire, outside of the mountain resorts it’s actually quite hard find anywhere with full suspension mountain bikes for rent. Cote Bleu in Martigues have hardtails available for 15 EUR per day (http://www.cotebleue-velobike.fr/), Culture Velo in Aubagne may be able to help, but looking at their site it’s just electric bikes (http://www.culturevelo.com/-Marseille-). Otherwise there’s a website called Zilok where you can rent bikes from individuals (http://fr.zilok.com/), but clearly not ideal if there’s a group of you. The other option is to contact the Garlaban mountain bike club and see if they can help you out (http://www.vttdugarlaban.com/). Best of luck sorting that out, sorry I can’t be of more help this time…

          Matt

  • Robin Zane-Burger

    I am a beginner mountain biker preferring more of a cross country ride , sweeping meadows and climb not very technical terrain,
    My husband however is an advanced intermediate rider and welcomes challenging terrain.
    When we travel we usually hire a mountain biking guide who shows us the trails and works on techniques with both of us.
    That said I am looking for an area with a large selection of green/ blue trails.
    We don’t enjoy the downhills and prefer the climbs .
    Any recommendations?

    • Hi Robin,

      Thanks for getting in touch! I would recommend the Haute Roya and the Mercantour National Park which has some superb terrain for cross country riding. Roya Evasion based in Breil sur Roya offer a 3 to 6 day itinerary called the VTT Easy Mercantour which uses flowy tracks rather than technical single track. They also offer bespoke tours according to your specific needs.

      Otherwise, further north near Annecy there is a resort called La Clusaz that has a whole network of XC trails from mellow family trails to intermediate and advanced trails that interlink surrounding resorts. Evolution 2 based out of the Sport Boutique shop in La Clusaz offer MTB instruction and guiding.

      I hope that helps, have a great trip,

      Matt

  • J Hamilton

    Hi, I’m going to have the month of October in France. I’m a advanced & competent rider that likes a bit of everything particularly XC with a great view. I’m not that interested in busy resorts. Hoping to choose at least 3 seperate areas any where in France & spending a few days at each area. Seems there is a lot to choose from, could you give me a short list of any you would recommend to help me out?

    Thanks

  • Roxy

    Hey guys, we are advanced enduro/dh riders from Switzerland and would like to check out the best Singletrails with lift/bike shuttle access in South France. We do have 4-5 days. What should we have to see and with whom should we get in contact with regarding guiding/bike shuttle e.g.? Best regards, Roxy

  • Omer

    Hi guys

    first, thanks for all your help and information.

    having travelled in southern France this summer, I wanted to get
    the opportunity to do some MTB in the beautiful sceneries I witnessed while
    being there. I ride and enjoy all mountain style.

    i had in mind (but am open to other suggestions) a central place
    (Nice) from which i will drive each day to a riding destination for a whole day
    ride.

    i have one week in Nice, starting this Friday and would
    appreciate your advice on the following:

    1. recommended single trails near Nice (max 2-1.5 hrs from NIce
    by car) that are good for the current season, also alternatives in case of
    rain/after rain.

    2. are there any bikeparks with operating shuttles/chairlifts
    considering it’s October?

    3. can i manage with local taxis to get me to high starting
    points and descend endlessly from there:)?

    4. where can i get maps with trails? E-version or hard copy?

    5. recommendations for repair locations in case needed

    6. rental recommendation location for full suspension
    bikes+costs

    7. how are the trails marked?

    8. is it possible to get to the starting area of the trail,
    meet other riders and join?

    regards

    Omer

    regards

    Omer

    • Hi Omer, thanks for getting in touch, great to hear you’re planning some biking in the south of France!

      I would recommend you head to Sospel, it’s about 45 minutes from Nice and has some great riding. Alternatively, across the border in Italy you have San Remo which is an hour from Nice and Finale Ligure which is an hour and a half away.

      The chairlifts in the ski resorts close at the end of September unfortunately, so you are going to have to rely on finding an uplift service. For Sospel, you can try Roya Evasion (https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/roya-evasion-mountain-biking-breil-sur-roya/) and in San Remo you can try contacting Life Cycle Events (www.facebook.com/LifeCycleTeam).

      In Sospel, the trails are waymarked – here’s a link to bikepark website: http://www.espace-vtt-sospel.com/parcours.html

      For bike hire and guiding around Nice/Sospel, contact Greg at 1001 Sentiers: https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/1001-sentiers-mountain-bike-guiding-nice

      In terms of meeting others for a ride, you could try contacting Franck Midière at Club Sospel VTT on +33 (0)6 24 73 58 25. Otherwise, there are loads of GPS routes and a community of mountain bikers on this site: http://www.utagawavtt.com/

      I hope that gives you something to go on, have a great trip!

      Matt

      • Omer

        thanks Matt!

        looks like the season and weather are not too greeting for me

        i couldn’t find full suspension for rent so i will bring my good old Cube Stereo, i hope that the trails will be OK considering the rain. if you see me hitchiking my way back to the top of the mountain (no available shuttles) please stop:)

        cheers
        omer

  • Hans Ljøen

    Is there any Company in provence offering full sus for rent? Best regards Hans Ljoen

    • Hi Hans, thanks for getting in touch!

      In the ski resorts during the summer months you’ll find shops offering full sus bikes for hire. Resorts like Val d’Allos, Pra Loup, Les Orres all have downhill and enduro bikes available.

      Along the coast it’s a bit trickier. If you book some MTB guiding with Greg at 1001 Sentiers he’ll help find you a bike (https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/1001-sentiers-mountain-bike-guiding-nice). Or, if you head to Finale Ligure across the border in Italy you’ll be able to hire full sus bikes. Otherwise you’re looking at only being able to rent low spec hardtail mountain bikes from the likes of Holiday Bikes and Culture Velo.

      I hope that helps a bit. If you let me know where exactly you plan to ride, I’ll do my best to help further…

      Matt

      • Hans Ljøen

        Hi Matt, thanks for a very thorough feedback.
        I will be staying in Gordes (Vaucluse) for a week in the begining of May. Do you know if there are any full sus /enduro available for hire in that region? Furthermore, where can I get GPS tracks /routes for this region?
        Hans

        • Hi Hans, you’re very welcome!

          I called Xtrem Bike Shop in Apt and they referred me to Luberon Cycles (http://www.velo-apt-luberoncycles.fr/) who do rent entry level full suspension bikes. Alternatively, you can rent a Specialized Rockhopper hardtail in either 26″ or 29″ from Luberon Biking (http://luberon-biking.fr/) and you can pick it up in Roussillon, just 15 minutes from Gordes. Not ideal, I know…

          With regards to GPS routes, your best resource is utagawavtt.com. Here’s a link to a ride near Gordes that looks great: http://www.utagawavtt.com/randonnee-vtt-gps/Les-Calades-de-Gordes-2012-38-km-6373. And, make sure you check out the Colorado Provencal near Rustrel.

          Hope that gives you a bit more to go on, sorry I couldn’t be of more help with the bike hire,

          Matt

  • Ian

    Hi, is there anywhere close to the Pays des Paillons where we can rent full sus bikes?
    cheers
    Ian

    • Hi Ian, thanks for your message!

      Unfortunately, it’s a bit tricky around Nice for full-suspension mountain bike hire. Outside of the ski resorts, there’s nowhere that I know of. If you contact Greg Germain at 1001 Sentiers and book some guiding, he can source some hire bikes for you (https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/1001-sentiers-mountain-bike-guiding-nice). Otherwise, there is a new shop in Nice called Newteon that has electric full suspension bikes for sale and I believe for rent as well. 5 Sens Rando run a popular electric MTB tour from Breil, and Odyssee Verticale based in Nice run a hardtail MTB tour.

      Not very helpful I know..! Car hire companies in Nice can provide a bike rack, so it may be worth thinking about bringing your own bikes…

      Best of luck planning your trip,

      Matt

      • Ian

        Hi Matt,
        Many thanks for the reply…would it be easier to hire hardtails? Where would you recommend in terms of ski reports (reasonably) close to Nice? Bringing bikes isn’t an option at this stage but travelling out of Nice isn’t a problem.
        cheers
        Ian

        • Hi Ian,

          Yes, you can hire low-end hardtails reasonably easily from outlets like Decathlon, Holiday Bikes, Culture Vélo and Elite Rent A Bike in Cannes and Nice ( http://www.elite-rentabike.com/ ). With regards to ski resorts, Roubion, Auron and a bit further Val d’Allos are all fun for a day or two. A bit further still, Pra Loup in the Ubaye Valley has some great trails as well.

          Hope that helps..!

          Matt

  • Bergur Bergsson

    Hi Matt

    We are A few friends from Iceland which are coming to the euro 2016 and are staying in marseille from 15/6 to 18/6, we would really like to take a downhill or just a mountain bike day to enjoy south France, we do need to rent bikes. What do you recommend for us that’s super fun and beautiful in middle of June

  • Kari Young

    Hi Matt, I’ve been scouring your site and it is so helpful…and so many choices! We are are starting our trip mountain biking in Morzine and then will drive to Provence. We are looking for 4 days of something different in Provence that still involves biking, but maybe with a mix of cross-country on farm tracks with plenty of villages, farms, wineries (?) good food and then a few days of more traditional single track as well. Is there a village you would recommend us to base in or someone who can point us in the right direction once we arrive? We’ve been looking at the Vaucluse/Luberon or even Cotes du Rhone valley because it is a shorter drive… We will be on full suspension bikes. Thanks!!

    • Hi Kari, thanks for getting in touch, sounds like a great trip you’ve got planned!

      After Morzine why don’t you head to Verdon – you could stay around the Lac de Castillon in either Castellane or Saint-André-les-Alpes and ride the FFC trails. There’s everything from epic cross-country loops, including the Tour du Lac de Castillon, to great enduro riding with some fantastic singletrack descents. If you want a day in a trail centre, you could head up to Val d’Allos which is about 40 mins up the road from St-André. And, across the other side of the Gorges around Gréoux-les-Bains you have gentler terrain and lavender fields. Here’s a couple of links:

      Verdon: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/south-france/verdon
      Val d’Allos: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/south-france/val-dallos

      The great thing about the Verdon area is that there’s loads to do besides biking, including rafting, canyoning, via ferrata and paragliding. Mark Taggart runs a gite in Saint André (flystandre.com) and would be a good contact on the ground. Otherwise, you can pick up maps of the trails from the tourist offices.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Christian Yap

    Hello Matt, we plan on doing a trip to Provence in the end of March. My friend and I our interested to do some aggressive all mountain bike trails during that time… Are there tour operators during that time of the year and what areas would you recommend? We plan to bring our bikes and we will be with family so possibly an area they could do some site seeing tourist stuff while we going biking….

  • Cesare Alessandro Carminati

    Hi Matt, we’re planning on doing a bike trip in Rustler, in August. Can you recommend some trips and place to rent electric mountain bike around there. cheers, Cece

    • Hi Cece, thanks for your message!

      Here’s a nice route from Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt: https://www.utagawavtt.com/randonnee-vtt-gps/Descente-Enduro-a-Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt-3893

      From Rustrel, you can explore the Colorado Provençal park, but please make sure you stick to the trails – mountain bikers have been getting in trouble recently for venturing off the trails and causing erosion…

      You also have the Forcalquier-Montagne de Lure FFC trail centre close by which has 11 waymarked loops graded from green to black and a total of nearly 200 km of trails: http://sitesvtt.ffc.fr/trace-vtt/forcalquier-montagne-de-lure-6/

      With regards to electric bike hire, sun e bike in Bonnieux have hybrid e-bikes for rent, and they can suggest itineraries. Rent Bike Luberon also in Bonnieux have a bigger range of bikes including electric bikes. And, Cyclix and Culture Vélo in Cavaillon also have a wide range, but you would need to check with regards to e-bikes.

      I hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

  • Thomas

    Hi Matt, I want to go on a budget weekend mountain biking trip. Do you have any recommendations for areas which are relatively accessible from UK airports and have nearby hotels and bike rental shops? Thank you.

  • Nick Kennedy

    Hi,

    This is an awesome resource! Thanks very much.

    I’m thinking about coming down to Provence for a family holiday in mid sept and one of the goals is getting my girlfriend more confident on her bike. She can go along but she’s pretty wobbly but really enjoys the tarmac’d family loops and canal side cycle path scene. Doesn’t mind a bit of a hill etc but not too many people! The circular routes are often better than the A-B of the tow paths, and as we’ll have a 2 year old on board we aren’t going to be going too far on any ride.

    I’m hoping to find a base and a gite that is close to some really family stuff through pretty landscapes as well as being a drive to some gnarlier stuff (good red’s) for me to go and check out for a little bit too now and then. And a base that is generally in a nice town/village/place to hang out!

    I’d probably bring my bike with us but we’d look to hire my girlfriend a bike and child seat (if such a thing is possible! I could always try and bring ours if not).

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Nick

    • Hi Nick, thanks for your message and for bigging up the site!

      There are lots of options, but weighing up all your requirements, I would suggest you take a look at Castellane in the Gorges du Verdon. The landscapes are stunning and there are some great trails for the family and for you. You can rent bikes from ESC Bikes who are set up in the Casino supermarket carpark next to the FFC waymarked trails. I assume they would have child seats, but perhaps drop them a line first just in case. Here’s a couple of links with more information:

      ESC Bikes: https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/esc-bikes-cycle-rental-castellane
      Verdon MTB: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/south-france/verdon

      The other area I thought could be good is around Forcalquier a bit further west in the Luberon. Again it’s a beautiful area with a network of waymarked trails including 3 green loops and 4 reds. bachelas-cycles.com rent bikes in Forcalquier. There’s more info on the trails on the FFC website: http://sitesvtt.ffc.fr/trace-vtt/forcalquier-montagne-de-lure-6/

      Hope that gives you a bit more to go on. Have a great trip!

      Matt

      • Nick Kennedy

        Brilliant, thanks so much we’ll check it out tonight and try and get something booked up! (I’ve been looking at Trailforks too, the whole area looks AWESOME!)

        • You’re very welcome Nick. You’re right, the whole area is pretty awesome! Best of luck with the trip planning,

          Matt

          • Nick Kennedy

            We’re here and it’s beautiful, had one good red loop the other day and planning a couple more trips out, but wanted to check what you thought. If you were planning a day out to a lift access near by which would you recommend. I’m happiest going faster on reds than limping down blacks! I’ll have a family with me too so be good to find somewhere that’s nice to hang out. And if you were going to do one other half day trip from castellane where would you recommend as unmissiable, within about 1 hours drive from castellane (without family!)

          • Hi Nick, great to hear you’ve found some good riding already!

            The lifts in most resorts tend to close at the end of August, but in La Moulière they stay open during weekends through September. It’s 40 minutes drive from Castellane and although it’s a small resort there’s enough for the family to enjoy including some nice walks and a Go Ape adventure course in the forest called Arbre & Aventure. Here’s a link to more info on the biking in La Moulière: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/south-france/la-mouliere

            For a half-day trip from Castellane, you could drive up to Gite des Robines (45 mins) and try either the black #20 or the red #19. The black loop is called Pas de la Faye and is renowned to be one of the best rides in the area. It’s an FFC XC loop, so the grade is more representative of the toughness of the climb than how technical the descending is.

            Alternatively, you could drive up to Saint-André-les-Alpes and do the red Le Tour du Villard (FFC ride #13) which includes an epic descent through the woods called “the 70 switchbacks”. The ride starts and ends at the St André tourist office.

            Hope that gives you some ideas, enjoy the rest of your holiday!

            Matt

          • Nick Kennedy

            Hi Matt,

            Thanks for the tips, didn’t quite have time to get to gite de robines but that 70 switch back was pretty epic. I reckon I got about half of them without dabbing a foot! It’s a super sweet ride though, taxing up and down, but super beautiful and satisfying.

            We ended up trying to got to Val allos before you replied and got caught out by the early closures, still had a good walk.

            Thanks for your help and I hope we’ll all be back.

            Cheers

          • Hi Nick,

            Sorry to hear you were caught out by the early lift closure in Val d’Allos! But, great to hear you hit the 70 Switchbacks descent! And, no dabs ’til half way – that’s impressive, you must have your stoppie cornering technique down pat!

            Hopefully you’ll be back to France in the future for more of the same.

            Cheers,

            Matt

  • David McCarthy

    Hi there. I am having a short holiday in March in St Pierre de Serjac (near Montpellier). Are there any guides I can hire or trail centres in the Parc National du Haut Languedoc? Thanks in advance! (Great resource btw).

    • Hi David, thanks for commenting!

      Some of the best riding is over near Citou (43.375277, 2.541463). They run an enduro event there every year called the Randuro de Citou. Contact Vélo Caroux Haut-Languedoc (velo-caroux.fr) for guiding and bike hire.

      Otherwise, there’s some fun trails on the Cap d’Agde, more technical singletrack at Bize-Minervois and a mini-enduro suitable for intermediate and expert riders at Montagne d’Alaric. Contact Languedoc VTT Evasion (languedocvttevasion.over-blog.com) for guiding and bike hire.

      Close to St Pierre de Serjac in Corneilhan, you have a company called Azimut Aventures (azimut-aventure.com) who specialise in canyoning, but can also organise guided MTB trips.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

      • David McCarthy

        Hi Matt, that is really super helpful, thanks a million! If you ever need advice on riding in Luxembourg or Ireland let me know. Not the most mountainous areas but some great riding!

        • You’re very welcome David! Thanks for the offer – I’ll be in Ireland this summer, so I’ll hopefully get some riding in! All the best, Matt

  • jack

    Hi, my friend and I are planning a couple of weeks in France this May for some snowboarding and a few days mountain biking. have you any recommendations of where we should go biking at the beginning of may? it would be ideal if there were chairlifts so we can spend most of the days we have heading down hill 🙂 Intermediate riders.

    • Hi Jack, thanks for your message!

      I think you’re going to struggle to find a chairlift open for bikes at the beginning of May. Most of the big ski resorts open for biking between mid-June and the beginning of July. Even the Les Arcs funiculaire which operates one of the longest seasons isn’t open until the end of June.

      You’ll have more luck further south where the snow melts a bit earlier. Roubion near Valberg (of EWS fame), about an hour north of Nice is a small, super-fun bike park that opens at the weekends in May:

      https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/south-france/roubion

      If Roubion doesn’t cut it, you could look for an uplift service in the southern Alps. Roya Evasion run uplifts and have some nice trips in the Côte d’Azur backcountry, or you could head across the Italian border to Finale Ligure where there’s a great enduro set up.

      Roya Evasion: https://www.activeazur.com/directory/listing/roya-evasion-mountain-biking-breil-sur-roya
      Finale Ligure: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/northern-italy/finale-ligure

      Hope that helps, good luck planning your trip!

      Matt

      • jack

        Hi Matt,

        Your info is absolutely spot on the money! You should start charging for this kind of stuff! 😀

        Many thanks,

        Jack

        • Ha, thanks, you’re very welcome Jack!

          Have a great holiday!

          Matt

  • Pete Price

    Hello! We will be spending a week near a small village named Jouques around the 3rd week of May, 2017. Do you have any recommendations for moderate cross-country mountain biking in the area.

    • Hi Pete, thanks for your message!

      There’s some excellent XC riding really close to Jouques. To the south you have the Montagne Sainte Victoire and the natural reserve by the same name. You can pick up waymarked mountain bike loops from Saint-Marc-Jaumegarde, Vauvenargues and Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon where you can also pick up maps from Maison Sainte-Victoire. There’s 288 km of riding including 7 itineraries graded blue and 5 graded red.

      Head north to Gréoux-les-Bains and there’s lots more good riding in an area called Verdon des Collines. Here’s a link to the tourist office site where you can download a map of the trails: http://www.greoux-les-bains.com/greoux-les-bains/fr/24/vtt.html

      There are also some easy loops around Pertuis which is about 20 minutes from Jouques. Ask in the tourist office for route maps.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt

      • Peter Price

        Matt- Thanks very much for taking the time to reply! Your information is very helpful! We’re looking forward to some great mountain biking!
        Sincerely,
        Pete Price

        • You’re very welcome Pete! Enjoy the trip!

          Matt

  • Tim Pointer

    Hi. I am thinking of moving to a city in SE France to live for a year and learn French. I am attracted towards Montpellier as a city. Does Montpellier offer good mountain biking (enduro/all mountain) nearby ? Ideally I would like to be able to access trails from the city (within 10-20km). I read about Clapiers and Gardiole – what are they like? I can see there is great stuff further afield for weekend trips. Or maybe I should think about Marseille or Aix? Thanks

    • Hi Tim, thanks for your message!

      Great to hear that you’re moving to France for a year. If you’re into mountain biking, out of the three cities you mention I would choose Aix-en-Provence. From there you have easy access to Sainte-Victoire, Vauvenargues, plus the Alpilles, the Luberon and Gréoux-les-Bains a bit further afield.

      If you really want to be by the sea, Marseille probably has a better mountain biking scene than Montpellier, bearing in mind that it’s a much bigger city than either Montpellier or Aix. This year, the French XC Championships were held in Allauch in the hills behind Marseille. From Montpellier, you’d need to head into the Haute Languedoc to get the same kind of vertical drop.

      Hope that helps, best of luck with your move!

      Matt