Why choose Nice & the Côte d’Azur for a road cycling holiday?
The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is where the mountains meet the Mediterranean. This makes for turquoise waters, sunshine and stunning scenery.
There is so much variety to be had on the bike, including some ‘tough’ riding. You can enjoy flattish rides along the glistening coast, whilst glancing up at the grand properties of the rich and famous and passing by the largest superyachts in the world. In contrast, you can head just a stone’s throw inland and wind your way through beautiful perched villages, where time has stood still and life is much slower, and you’re more likely to spot a few old men playing pétanque under the shade of a Plane tree. If it’s all about the climbing for you, then join the pro’s on the infamous cols of the Madone, Braus, Turini, Vence & Eze.
The Côte d’Azur is also a great place to come on holiday with the family. There is plenty for them to do whilst you’re out getting the miles in. There is an air of chic and sophistication, amazing food and cafes, the arts, the shopping…and of course, those beaches!
Nice is a small city with a laid back charm and of course is a great place to base yourself out of, particularly for its transport convenience. However, I personally really like the medieval town of Menton further along the coast towards Italy, the charming and authentic fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer or the quaint cobbled old town of Antibes to use as a base.
Where To Ride?
If you are staying in Nice then the first few kilometres of each ride, getting from your accommodation through the city or along the Promenade des Anglais, is likely to be a little busy. But as soon as you are clear, the roads become very quiet and the route options are endless!
Here are my favourite five rides from this region. All beautiful, but all so incredibly different from each other. Have your camera to hand, as you’re going to want to use it!
To view routes or download GPX files either click on the links on the map below or click here.
A few Additional Things to see and do if you have time
The hilltop village of Eze, just a stone’s throw from Monaco, has just the most incredible views over the coast. The village has a 12th century castle, a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets and tiny archways, as well as a beautiful exotic garden which is home to the best views of the coastline.
Sainte Agnès, just a few kilometres from Menton, is a ‘perched’ village offering stunning views of the med. It is also claimed to not only being one of the most ‘beautiful villages of France’ but also the highest coastal village in Europe.
If you like a market, then the charming Provencal market in Antibes each morning is definitely worth a visit. This covered market in the cobbled streets of the old town is said to be the best on the Côte d’Azur.
If you find yourself in the old town of Nice, then you should definitely recommend the local delicacy of Socca (chickpea flour pancakes). Try them in Chez Pipo, as they have been specialising in making Socca sine 1923!
Another stunning hilltop village is Saint Paul de Vence. It is one of the oldest medieval villages on the French Riviera and is known as the ‘artists’ village with its modern and contemporary art museums and galleries.
When To Visit?
With its 300 days of sunshine on average a year, it’s no wonder it is home to a number of professional riders like Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, as it allows them to train through all 4 seasons.
The best time of the year to visit is spring and autumn. In spring (April, May & June) the weather can be a little unpredictable early on, but you can expect temperatures between 16C – 24C.
In the peak of the summer (July & August) the weather is truly superb, but the coastal roads are very busy!! So if it’s a training camp you are after then you might want to avoid these months. However, if you are combining it with a family holiday and it needs to be July or August, then don’t fear, head into the hills and you will still find yourself some quiet roads, while the family are lapping up the sunshine on the beach.
September is a great month down on the coast, even early October. The tourists have gone, but the weather is still fantastic. The rainy days do start to creep back in mid to late October, so don’t leave it too late.
Have a great time, enjoy!
Feel free to ask me any questions, happy to help where I can.
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