Distance Nice - Col de Vence/return: 70 km
Climb: 1.000 m+
Main routes: M118 from Saint-Laurent-du-Var, M2210 towards Vence, M2
Close to: Vence, Saint-Jeannet, Coursegoules, Gréolières, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, Gattières
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Season: All year, can get cold in February-March and very hot in July-September
Col de Vence is one of the most popular climbs in the Côte d’Azur. It is a journey that takes you from the villages in the lower mountains and up to moonlike landscape. A gateway to amazing cycling routes in the massive of les Alpes-Maritimes and a must do climb when in Nice for cycling.
When you start from Nice, you first of all have to cross the Var river in order to come up to Vence, where the official climb starts. Pass the airport and make your way to Saint-Laurent- du-Var. There are a few options for how to get to Vence. An easy way is to follow the main road through Saint-Laurent-du-Var and go left in a small round-about where you see a road sign towards La Gaude.
Another option is to follow the bigger road along the river Var and make the turn towards La Gaude from here. This road has more hectic traffic, but less traffic lights.
As you start rising up above Saint-Laurent-du-Var you get a view down to the valley (and the Allianz football stadium). You also start seeing the tops of the alps further inland. From November-March they are covered in snow and can make a super pretty landscape. Sometimes you can cycle in short sleeves and watch the snowy tops in the distance.
The first part up the mountain is a gentle climb. You will pass through the village la Gaude where there are a few shops and a bakery. Feel like a coffee? When you reach Saint-Jeannet there is a very cyclist friendly café in the roundabout.
You are now up at the M2210 and soon in Vence. As you pedal the curly road you can enjoy the view of green hills against the azur blue of the Mediterrenian Sea.
In Vence, you make a sharp right turn when you reach a fountain. Any wise woman and man will fill up their water bottles here as the climb can be really warm on a sunny day (of which there are many).
From here – the only way is up! As it is one of the most popular climbs in the region there are road signs every km telling you how many km you have left until the top and the average gradient of the road in the next km. The land will gradually become bare around you with bushes rather than than trees.
Welcome to 1000 m above sea level.
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Tina Baltzer, owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours.