Southern France’s best cycle climbs
Provence and the Côte d’Azur in the South of France is epic road cycling territory. Where the Southern French Alps meet the sea, steep tarmac leads to some legendary cols with a spectacular backdrop. Add to that a climate that allows year-round high altitude road cycling, great food and a culture that respects cyclists, and you really should be thinking about heading to the south of France for you next cycling holiday.
“The Ventoux isn’t a climb like any other”, Raphael Geminiani warned his team mate in the 1955 Tour de France. Standing alone, roughly half way between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the Mont Ventoux shines like a beacon, and its exposure to the elements particularly the Mistral winds and intense summer heat has helped the mountain achieve mythical status amongst cyclists. The road that zigzags up to the 1912 m summit is a regular highlight of the Tour de France and if you’re passionate about cycling this climb has to be tackled at least once. The climb from Bédoin is the most popular route.
Region: Provence. Length: 22.7 km. Height: 1912 m.
Altitude gain: 1622 m. Avg gradient: 7.2%. Max gradient: 10.8%.
This ride in the Côte d’Azur climbs out of Menton on the Italian border for nearly 15 km. With an average gradient of 7 per cent, you climb quickly away from the Mediterranean, and you’re treated to ever-more spectacular views. After Sainte-Agnès the ride really comes into its own. The road gets narrower and the backdrop is stunning. The road surface does deteriorate as you climb, but the grind to the top is helped by regular signs telling you the gradient and your current altitude.
Region: Alpes-Maritimes. Length: 14.7 km. Height: 925 m.
Altitude gain: 920 m. Avg gradient: 7.2%. Max gradient: 12.0%.