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Mountain Biking in Verdon & Des Vallées de l’Asse

The area to the north of the Gorges du Verdon in the Alpes de Haute-Provence is a true mountain biking paradise. Over 340 km of waymarked cross-country mtb trails wind their way over the rural Provencal landscape from the Cheval Blanc mountain near Digne south to the Verdon Grand Canyon. From easy 10 km loops out of Castellane to the epic black XC loop around the Lac de Castillon, there are 20 itineraries aimed at everyone from families to advanced riders.

Mountain Biking - Verdon, Haute Provence

Downhill
Enduro
Wild, sun-baked terrain. Hundreds of kilometres of epic singletrack.
Roasting hot in July and August. Some parts are very remote.

Elevation

Summit 1533 m (Mont Chalvet)

Vertical Drop 894 m

Base 639 m (Castellane)

Lifts (0)

Cable Cars 0

Chair Lifts 0

MTB Trails

XC Excellent, beginner to advanced

Downhill n/a

Enduro n/a

Total Riding 340 km

Bike Park No

Bike Wash No

Beginner Trails 2

Intermediate Trails 5

Advanced Trails 9

Expert Trails 4

Location Map

Practical Information

Opening times

Year round

Resort prices

N/A

Nearest airport

Nice Côte d'Azur (1 h 35 min)

Tourist Office

Office de Tourisme de Castellane
Rue nationale
04120 Castellane
France

Phone: +33 (0)4 92 83 61 14
Web: www.castellane-verdontourisme.com
Email: office@castellane.org

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Verdon MTB Gallery

  • Mountain biking around Tartonne in Verdon

    © Flickr | ADT 04

  • Moab-style mountain biking in the Terres Noires

    © Flickr | ADT 04

  • Mountain biking in the Terres Noires near Digne-les-Bains

    © Flickr | ADT 04

  • Mountain biking high in the Alpes de Haute-Provence

    © Flickr | ADT 04

  • Mountain biking above the village of Barrème in Verdon, Provence

    © Flickr | ADT 04

  • Mountain biking in Verdon et des Hautes Vallées de l'Asse

    © Flickr | ADT 04

  • Mountain bikers at the train station in Barrème

    © Flickr | ADT 04

Verdon MTB Videos

The Alpes de Haute Provence department in south-east France is home to a unique network of waymarked mountain bike trails. With 7 FFC (Fédération Française de Cyclisme) MTB centres and 3 major itinerary routes - the Trans-Verdon, the Chemins du Soleil and the Alpes-Provence, this area has one of the best offerings for XC mountain biking in France.

Verdon et des Vallées de l'Asse Trail Centre

The newly opened Verdon et des Vallées de l'Asse trail centre aims to connect up pre-existing trails across the Moyen Verdon area using the town of Castellane as a gateway. The trails extend from La Montagne du Cheval Blanc east of Digne-les-Bains down to the Verdon Grand Canyon. There's everything from leisurely loops suitable for families to hard-core black graded itineraries to satisfy the biggest MTB enthusiasts. The riding is a mixture of wide trails and singletrack occasionally borrowed from the TransVerdon and the Chemins du Soleil. The climbs are steep, the descents are epic and the views are breathtaking.

There are 20 MTB itineraries graded from green to black in the Verdon et des Vallées de l'Asse. Here's our pick of the best:

Pas de la Faye circuit from Tartonne (ride #20 on the map)

Departs from: Gîte des Robines, Tartonne. Duration: 2.5 to 3.5 hours. Distance: 24 km. Vertical drop: 790 m.

The Pas de la Faye loop is a highlight of mountain biking in Verdon. Stunning mountainous terrain in the heart of the Verdon Natural Regional Park provides the backdrop for this epic ride.

The departure point for this ride and a number of other great rides is the Gîte des Robines, in the village of Tartonne. A mountain escarpment called La Barre des Dourbes dominates the landscape, and behind this you're into Terres Noires country where the Moab-style terrain has been put firmly on the map by the annual Raid des Terres Noires enduro event.

Straight out of the gate you're into your first climb initially on tarmac, then on a wide trail, which makes the first 300 m of height gain easy enough. Even if the most spectacular scenery is still to come, there's a lot to appreciate in this wild region. Sightings of wolves are not that uncommon! The ride continues upwards towards La Barre des Dourbes on superb singletrack lined with fragrant Provencal shrubs and serviceberry trees. The climbing is more technical here and the last push to the ridge provides a decent workout!

The trail follows the ridge breaching the summit at Pas de la Faye. Here it's worth taking the time to do the quick there-and-back to a viewpoint with a breathtaking panorama over Digne-les-Bains and the foothills of the Alps.

The climb and traverse over, it's time to attack the descent. Dropping down the west side of the ridge you enter a forest of beech trees and a superb section of singletrack that links up with the outbound trail. It's down all the way back to Gîte des Robines.

Le Tour du Lac de Castillon (ride #7 on the map)

Departs from: Parking Saint-Michel, Castellane. Duration: 4 to 6 hours. Distance: 52 km. Vertical drop: 1700 m.

The luminescent blue of the Lac de Castillon is so vivid it looks like a kid has coloured it in with a felt tip pen. It's actually a reservoir that serves to regulate the flow of the Verdon river before it passes through the famous Grand Canyon.

A 50 km trail makes a complete loop around the lake. It's an epic ride, but if you haven't got the time to do the whole thing, you should at least aim to include the descent to the village of La Baume. It's one of the classic sections of trail in the region and provides a breathtaking panorama over the lake. From Saint-André-les-Alpes, a green lane allows you to uplift to Courchon. From here, it's twitchy singletrack through boulders and Haute-Provence shrubbery. The view over the lake is stunning.

From a mountain biking point of view it's just as grandiose. The riding's technical and edgy, almost trial-like and guaranteed to get the adrenalin flowing. If you plan to do the full circuit, the best place to start is Castellane and ride anti-clockwise, so you finish the ride with the epic descent into La Baume.

A bolt on to this ride and another classic Verdon MTB trail is La Descente des 70 Lacets (the 70 corner descent) located in the Forêt domaniale de l'Issole. To access the start of the run, you first have to climb to the top of Mont Chalvet, internationally renowned as a top paragliding site. In summer it's impressive to see the paragliders take off one after the other in quick succession. On a mountain bike the 600 m vertical ascent is a bit of a grind, but once you reach the view point, the red trail disappears into a pine forest and the start of the downhill. Seat down and you're all set for half an hour of pure downhill bliss. The corners flow beautifully one into the other and it's a great opportunity to practice your technique. Even if your riding style's not that elegant, you'll still have a great big smile on your face as you rake through the trees. If you're in the area, make sure you check this trail out!

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