Escape 'Velo'city

Perhaps you are coming down to the South of France on holiday with the family, or on business, and you’re looking to escape on the bike for a day, maybe even just a couple of hours? Perfect…hire a guide, and make the most of it!

 

To book, just contact us and let us know:

  • Your preferred date(s)
  • Ride timings: What time would you like to start and finish?
  • Where you are staying
  • Bike hire: Do you need to hire a bike? If so, what size (or your height), and what pedal type?
  • Level: At what level do you and your group ride? What kind of ride are you looking for e.g. how much climbing?

 

Village of Eze from the Grande CornicheEze Village viewed from the Grande Corniche

 

Eight reasons to hire one of our team:

 

1) Local knowledge: we’ll find the quietest roads, the most dramatic views, the most satisfying climbs, the most exhilarating descents, not to mention the best coffee! We also know where all the water fountains are, so you won’t go thirsty! You may not have a lot of time available, so spend your time turning the pedals and soaking up the scenery, not studying the map to work out which way you need to go, ending up on the busy main road, or getting lost in Monaco!

 

2) A route to suit: Let us know the kind of ride you are looking for, and we’ll suggest a route to suit. If there is a particular climb that you’d like to do, or a place you’d like to visit, just say…it’s your ride.

 

3) We come to you: your guide will come to where you are staying so you can ride from your doorstep, no need to worry about transport and parking.

 

4) Complete flexibility: Start when it suits you, get back when it suits you. Go for one hour, go for eight hours, or anything in between, it’s completely up to you.

 

5) Any size of group: Whether it’s just you, or your family, or a large group of friends…whatever the size of your group, we can organise it all for you. There is no maximum group size. If the people in your group ride at different levels, you may wish to consider hiring two or more guides so that the faster people do not have to wait, and the slower people do not feel under pressure. Even when people are at a similar level, we recommend no more than 8 people per guide, but ultimately it’s your decision.

 

6) All levels catered for: We’re as happy guiding you on flat easy roads, as we are guiding you on the most challenging climbs in the area.

 

7) Language: We all speak English, one of us is fluent in Italian, we all get by in French!

 

8) Bike hire: We can organise bike hire if you don’t have your own.

Looking towards the snow-capped Alps

 

Pricing:

  • You can choose to ride for any length of time, from one hour to eight hours, it’s completely up to you.
  • Per guide, the costs are 95 euros plus 25 euros per hour. For example, a 2-hour ride would be 95 + (2 x 25) = 145 euros.

 

  • 1 hour   = 120 euros
  • 2 hours = 145 euros
  • 3 hours = 170 euros
  • 4 hours = 195 euros
  • 5 hours = 220 euros
  • 6 hours = 245 euros
  • 7 hours = 270 euros
  • 8 hours = 295 euros

 

  • It’s the same price whether it’s just you or your family and friends
  • The duration of the ride is measured from the time your guide meets you to the time you return to your accommodation, so includes breaks for coffee and / or lunch where appropriate.
  • If we need to drive, rather than ride, to your accommodation – e.g. because we need to bring hire bikes for you, or because your accommodation is too far to reach by bike – there will be an additional charge to cover transport time and cost, and parking if necessary.
  • The price is agreed in advance, there is no need to “clock-watch” or rush things, we will not charge extra if we get back at bit later than expected.
  • Tips are not expected. If you stop for coffee and / or lunch, covering the cost for the guide is a much appreciated gesture.

 

  • Bike hire is extra – 55 euros for 1 day, 90 euros for 2 days and 30 euros per day thereafter
  • Because the bikes can be hired out only once each day, the full day cost is applied regardless of the length of the ride
  • Helmet, pedals and water bottle all included

 

  • E-bikes available at extra cost

 

Looking down on the town of Menton on the border with Italy from the hilltop village of Sainte Agnès

Looking down on the town of Menton on the border with Italy, from the village of Sainte Agnès. Ste Agnès sits at 700m elevation making it the highest coastal village in France.


It’s your ride. You choose the duration, when and where to start, and where to go.

To whet your appetite, we have listed below some ride ideas that have proved the most popular over the years.

Choose one of these rides if you wish, alternatively we can discuss other route options depending on your appetite for height gain, distance and time in the saddle.

 

All the rides listed below start and finish in Nice, but we can easily adapt routes to start and finish from wherever you are staying.


1) Cagnes, not Cannes!

Our easiest ride, following flat roads along the coast to the town of Cagnes-sur-mer, not to be confused with Cannes!

It’s virtually flat cycle path all the way, so a good choice for the less confident or experienced bike rider, along the Promenade des Anglais passing some of the famous Nice landmarks such as the Negresco Hotel on the right, with the Mediterranean glinting in the sun on our left.

We pass the airport and cross the River Var on the Napoleon Bridge, so-called to celebrate when this part of France transferred from the House of Savoy to France. Passing St Laurent du Var, we reach Cagnes-sur-mer with its elegant parade of shops, cafés and restaurants.

If you wish, a quick coffee stop at one of the seafront kiosks will power us back to Nice.

 

The elegant seafront town of Cagnes-sur-mer

Cagnes-sur-mer

1 hour

Difficulty 1/5

20km / 12 miles

+ 20m / 70ft

€120 (+bike hire if needed)


2) Fort du Mont Alban and Villefranche-sur-mer

A ride with about 275m of height gain

We climb out of Nice up through a quiet protected “Parc Naturel” to the Fort du Mont Alban, built in 1560 to defend Nice and Villefranche-sur-mer. The Fort sits at 200m elevation, so there is climbing to be done to get there, but the reward is spectacular views from this vantage point looking East to Beaulieu-sur-mer and the Tête du Chien peak which sits high above Monaco; South across the Baie de Villefranche to the Cap Ferrat peninsula; and West over the City of Nice to Cap d’Antibes, and even, on a clear day, Saint Tropez.

 

The view from the Fort du Mont Alban looking East over the bay of Villefranche to the Cap Ferrat peninsula, with the Tête du Chien headland which overlooks Monaco in the distance

The Fort du Mont Alban with the Bay of Villefranche and the Cap Ferrat peninsula behind. Monaco is just around the second headland, the Tête du Chien

There is a lovely descent to the coast and we make our way back to Nice via Villefranche-sur-mer.

1 hour

Difficulty 1.5/5

20km / 12 miles

+ 275m / 900ft

€120 (+bike hire if needed)


3) Antibes

A lovely ride on flat cycle paths virtually the whole way to the historic town of Antibes.

The flat coastal roads of the Côte d’Azur make this one of the most accessible rides available and, for virtually the entire distance, is ridden on cycle paths, so a good choice for the less confident or experienced bike rider (but note, it is a full 40km / 25 mile return ride!).

The ride takes in the Promenade des Anglais and the sweeping Bay of Angels (Baie des Anges), before reaching the beautiful and historic walled town of Antibes. We climb the ramparts, and ride past the famous covered market (Marché Provençale) before working our way back to Nice.

 

The walled town of Antibes

Vieil Antibes – ramparts protect the Old Town, with the Fort Carré behind the port, and the Alpes-Maritimes in the background

2 hours

Difficulty 1.5/5

40km / 25 miles

+ 50m / 160ft

€145 (+bike hire if needed)

 


4) Col d'Eze

Col d’Eze is one of the iconic local climbs, and it starts in Nice, so for “Col-baggers” with just a couple of hours to spare, this is the climb for you!

The climb was made famous by its inclusion in the Paris-Nice stage race, historically as a Time Trial, but more recently as the final and deciding climb at the end of a tough last-day road stage, and it has seen some thrilling attacks on the climb and desperate chases on the blistering descent back into Nice.

In 2020 it cemented its status by becoming a Tour de France climb, included at the end of that year’s stage 2, and that stage was also chosen for the Étape du Tour (delayed from 2020 to 2021 owing to Covid-19).

It’s a lovely climb too. It starts steeply out of Nice, 8-10% for the first couple of kilometres, and offers fantastic views back over the City and beyond. The gradient flattens out as it follows the contours around Mont Gros, then pitches up a second time as it reaches the coast,  this time offering superb views down over Beaulieu-sur-mer, the Bay of Villefranche, and the Cap Ferrat peninsula.

Once at the top, we follow the balcony road all the way to La Turbie, one of the most sublime stretches of road around, a shallow decline gives you the choice of a relaxed ride taking in the coastal panorama, or going full gas for some sustained high speed pedalling.

Once at La Turbie, we have a choice of descents down to the coast and the return to Nice.

 

Looking down on the village of Eze from the Grande Corniche with the Cap Ferrat peninsula in the background

The reward following the climb of Col d’Eze – a spectacular view down over the village of Eze from the Grande Corniche with the Cap Ferrat peninsula in the background

2 hours

Difficulty 2/5

42km / 26 miles

+ 600m / 1970ft

€145 (+bike hire if needed)


5) Les Collines Niçoises

This ride gets us well off the tourist trail with an exploration of the backcountry north of Nice.

Our route traces the western side of the Collines Niçoises (the Nice hills), so we get wonderful views over the valley of the River Var to the dramatic cliffs above St Jeannet and the plateau which surrounds the Col de Vence, as well as back over the Mediterranean over our left shoulder. The high mountains are visible to the north.

There is roughly 750m of climbing altogether, but it is split into three distinct sections, with chance to recover between each one.

We visit some of the famous villages perchées, villages perched on top of hills or clinging to steep hillsides, including Aspremont, Sainte Blaise and Levens, before a fast run back to Nice.

 

The village perchée of Tourrettes-Levens

The “village perchée” of Tourrettes-Levens

3 hours

Difficulty 2.5/5

56km / 35 miles

+ 750m / 2460ft

€170 (+bike hire if needed)


6) Col d'Eze and backcountry

This is an extension of the 2-hour Col d’Eze ride listed above, and the extra hour gives us the chance to continue on from La Turbie with a visit to one of the nicest, and quietest, villages within easy reach. After an initial pull out of La Turbie, the road there is mostly false flat, gaining a further 200m over several kms, with great views to the high mountains to the north.

Dating back to mediaeval times, the village is perfect for a coffee stop, it’s completely car free with narrow streets, and a surprisingly large and handsome 14th Century civic building from when the village was, rather implausibly, the regional capital, as well as a 12th Century church built in Romanesque style.

The run back to Nice is fun and fast, some wonderful sweeping corners, and it’s nice to see the sea again after spending time in the backcountry.

 

Towards the top of Col d'Eze

Towards the top of Col d’Eze

3 hours

Difficulty 2.5/5

56km / 35 miles

+ 800m / 2620ft

€170 (+bike hire if needed)


7) Col de la Madone

The Col de la Madone is the best-known climb in the region, but for all the wrong reasons! When Lance Armstrong lived and trained here, this was the climb he chose as his benchmark, where he would go to test his form before the Tour de France and other key races. He said that after an all-out effort on the Col de la Madone, he would know whether or not he was “ready”.

When Trek started sponsoring Armstrong’s team, they decided to brand their top road bike the Trek Madone, and wove the mountain into the Armstrong myth-making.

Association with fallen idols aside, the Col de la Madone is a fantastic climb, worthy of its renown. We reach the start in Menton via the undulating coast road, an opportunity to catch the glitz and glamour of Monaco along the way. There are several ways up the Madone, although they all converge by one-third distance up the climb; we take what is considered to be the classic route, crossing the small bridge where Lance would start his clock.

It’s one of those climbs which just gets better the higher you go. Starting by weaving around the giant legs of the motorway viaduct, the views back down over the coast become more and more spectacular until Sainte Agnès, the highest coastal village in France at 700m elevation comes into view.

This is the cue for a sharp left turn, and final coastal and village views, before the climb turns decisively away from the coast and heads north for the Col.

At 13km in length, and with 925m height gain from sea level in Menton, it’s a testing climb. The descent is sublime with great views of the Alpes Maritimes, and the chance for a well-deserved refreshment stop in a charming, car-free village which clings to the hillside, before a fast run back towards the coast, and a choice of descents back into Nice.

 

Final view of Menton and the coast as the climb heads North to the summit of the Col de la Madone

Final view of Menton and the coast as the climb heads North to the summit of the Col de la Madone

4 hours

Difficulty 3/5

80km / 50 miles

+ 1250m / 4100ft

€195 (+bike hire if needed)


8) Col de Vence and the Gorges du Loup

The riding to the West of Nice is very different to the North of Nice, so this ride offers a lovely contrast.

The Col de Vence starts steeply out of Vence but quickly settles into a more manageable gradient. The climb offers truly panoramic coastal views from near the top, before cresting the summit and a short descent on the other side. But we stay at close to 1000m elevation, before crossing over into the next valley and a lovely sustained descent through the spectacular Gorges du Loup and, if you know where to stop, a beautiful waterfall.

 

Waterfall in the Gorges du Loup

Gorges du Loup waterfall – easily missed but worth finding!

5 hours

Difficulty 3/5

91km / 57 miles

+ 1150m / 3800ft

€220 (+bike hire if needed)


9) Col de Braus

The Col de Braus is one of those climbs which deserves a higher profile. It has featured in the Tour de France no less than 21 times, but the most recent of those was as long ago as 1961! Whilst both sides of the climb are excellent, it’s the side with the stacked hairpins which is considered the classic climb.

We reach the start of the climb via a gorgeous quiet road through a gorge. This road is closed two mornings each week, an alternative route is available.

The climb itself is wonderful, very little traffic, great views, quite “pitchy” with changes in gradient, and with about 4km to go, that series of hairpins. It is with less than 2km to go that you can look over your right shoulder to see the dramatic shape the road has left on the landscape.

 

Stacked hairpins of the Col de Braus

The stacked hairpins of the Col de Braus

At the top is a monument to local legend René Vietto, one of the region’s best-loved cyclists who in 1934 sacrificed his own chances in the Tour de France when, as virtual leader on the road and at the bottom of the descent, he learnt his team captain had crashed. He turned around, climbed back up the mountain against the flow of riders coming down (it was legal to do so in those days), and handed his bike over to his team captain who managed to retain the race lead. Vietto still managed to finish 5th overall.

It’s a superb, fast and flowing descent in two distinct phases back down to the coast, and then a coastal return to Nice via Monaco.

5 hours

Difficulty 3.5/5

95km / 60 miles

+ 1350m / 4400ft

€220 (+bike hire if needed)


10) La Madone d'Utelle

Not to be confused with the Col de la Madone, La Madone d’Utelle is a sanctuary sitting atop a small plateau at the head of a fabulous climb which offers an amazing 360-degree panorama all the way to the Mediterranean to the South, and the Alpine peaks to the North.

The story goes that sailors in fear for their lives in the midst of a terrible storm made a promise to honour God if they survived. Survive they did, and were good to their word, building the sanctuary high above the village of Utelle.

Our route there includes one of the most sublime sections of road around, a wonderful descent starting high above a gorge and finishing on a bridge over the river.

 

A 360-degree panorama from La Madone d'Utelle

360-degree panorama from La Madone d’Utelle

6 hours

Difficulty 4/5

112km / 70 miles

+ 2150m / 7100ft

€245 (+bike hire if needed)


Three countries in a day!

monaco-monte-carlo