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Cycling and sustainable city life
Distance: Nice - Aspremont - Tourette-Levens - Nice 50 km
Climb: 700 m+
Main routes: M714, M14, M719, M19
Close to: Col de Chateauneuf-Vielleville, Saint-Blaise, Levens, Mont Chauve d'Aspremont
Level of difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Tip: You can extend the tour and do an app. 70 km loop by following the road further North in Aspremont and cycle through Saint-Blaise/Levens before you hit the road M19 back to Nice. It is a very scenic loup! You can add more climb by including Col de Chateauneuf-Vielleville or Mont Chauve d'Aspremont. From this area you can also continue to the climbs further into the back country of Nice, e.g. Lucéram, Col de la Madone d'Utelle or Col de Turini.
One of the things that I love about living in the Nice area is that you only have to bike for a short time, before you reach small villages in the hills around Nice that have been there for ages and have an authentic Provence feel to them. Aspremont and Tourette-Levens are some of them. In a few hours, you can visit both of them in this 50 km loop from Nice.
Like Rome, you can go to Aspremont by quite a few ways. I would not say that all roads lead to Aspremont, but there are 3 entrance points to the village and it is at the center of a web of connecting smaller mountain roads. At the map-shot below Aspremont is where you see the icon from a photo taken when I rode the tour one day in June.
An easy way from central Nice is to follow the Promenade des Anglais towards West until you reach a city area called Magnan. Turn right and follow the main road: Boulevard de la Madelaine. You start cycling towards the mountains through a residential area. Soon you no longer feel like being in one of the biggest cities of France.
You will reach a creek and follow this for quite a while until you follow the road going uphill towards a hill-top area called Saint-Pancrace. You reach route d'Aspremont and do a left turn*. There will be signs that direct you to Aspremont at this point. Follow the smooth road and enjoy the view towards the Var valley.
*Tip to the climb-lovers: Nearby you can try out one of the local challenges, Mont Chauve d'Aspremont (834 m), which you can climb by making a right turn in the same intersection.
You will soon see Aspremont rise from the hills - it is a very pretty village that has reached towards the sky since Medieval times. Make sure to make a stop at the village square. The fountain in Aspremont is a popular meeting spot for cyclists, who are happy to chat with fellow cycling lovers. On the other side of the community house, you can grab a coffee at the café. On days where the café is closed, you can also go to the supermarket where the friendly owner is happy to serve a coffee and some pattiserie.
To go directly to Tourette-Levens from Aspremont, find the road that goes a slight bit more uphill from the parking area in the mid of the village. You do not have to climb much before you enter a valley and can slide down to the next village.
It is a stunning landscape here with rolling forest green hilltops and a peak through to the sea - enjoy it!
As you reach the main road in Tourette-Levens, make a right turn. You can follow this road all of the way back to Nice by a long and nice decent of the easier kind. You will travel through the outer areas of Nice; Falicon and Saint-André-de-la-Roche before you follow the Western river bank of Paillon river to downtown Nice.
Voila - 2 villages in a few hours ride! C'est magnifique <3
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Distance Nice - Antibes: 50 km return ride incl. Cap d'Antibes.
Main routes: The road along the coast. There are cycling paths Nice-Antibes. It is flat most of the way with a few hills at Cap d'Antibes.
Close to: Cannes, Biot, Valbonne, Vence, Tourettes-sur-Loup
Level of difficulty: Easy
Season: All year
Tip: You can cycle to Antibes/return by following the cycling path along the coast road without doing the tour around Cap d'Antibes. The cap is a unique landscape and definitely worth the ride.
Cycling to Antibes from Nice is for you who want a day cruising the flat roads next to the beautiful azur waters of the Côte d'Azur. You will find no mountains to climb on this road!
When you start in Nice, you find your way to the Promenade des Anglais. Simply start pedaling the cycling path towards the airport. It is a two-way cycling path all of the way to Villeneuve-Loubet. You can cycle on the road as well if you are prepared for sometimes heavy traffic and quite a few traffic lights.
When you reach Nice airport, the path will curl a bit along the airport area. Follow the path and pay attention to the intersections that cross the cycling path. Although a lot of drivers in Nice are friendly to cyclists, you will meet some who do not necessarily stop for cyclists in an intersection. Therefore, always be prepared to stop!
Keep the pace down as you pass the airport. There are often travelers, who cross the cycling path without being aware that there is one and that they may walk in front of a cyclist.
You will soon cross the bridge over Var river and enter Saint-Laurent-du-Var.
Keep following the cycling path. When you have passed through Saint-Laurent-du-Var, you come to Cagnes-sur-Mer with the cycling path surrounded by palmtrees.
On a sunny day there will be a lot of people walking, rollerblading, scooting, cycling on a one wheel cycle or the rentable cycle-cars. Basically you meet all sorts of traffic here and with a speed limit set for max. 10 km/hour! - you do need to pay a lot of attention for whatever is moving on the path. Sometimes even the police hiding behind palm trees to catch offenders of the 10km/hour rule! (Most often the police officers have better things to do).
If you feel like having a pause for a drink there are plenty of cafés and restaurants along Cagnes-sur-Mer beach front or in the Villeneuve-Loubet Marina (the landmark big white houses that are shaped like triangles).
The last stretch from Villeneuve-Loubet to Antibes offers a nice 5 km flat ride on a cycling path on the right side of the road with only a few traffic lights. It can be quite windy - on days where you have the wind in your back, you can get a good pace here! (When it is in your face, it is another story).
Embrace the rolling waves cheering for you on your left hand side. Before you know of it, you are in Antibes.
Antibes is a sweet town that has one of the biggest harbours in Europe. You often find some of the biggest yachts in the world here. Antibes also has an old charming town with a lot of restaurants and shops.
If you want to cruise around Cap d'Antibes, you can follow the road all the way along the coast passing the old chateau that now houses a Picasso Museum.
There is around 10-15 km cycling around the cap depending on which ways you choose. There are some great views and extraordinary big villas. If you miss a climb you can do a short one up to see the view from the lighthouse. You will eventually pass through Juan-les-Pins before you go back to Antibes.
To go back to Nice, you simply find the harbour in Antibes and follow the same road as you came.
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Distance Nice - Eze - La Turbie: 30 km return ride (Nice-Eze/return 20 km)
Altitude: 500 meters
Main routes: From Nice catch Corniche André de Joly (Moyenne Corniche M6007) that will take you to Eze Village. In Eze make a left turn at Route de la Turbie (M45) at the second crossing (you pass the entrance to the village).
Close to: Col d'Eze, Monaco, Peille, Col de la Madone, Menton
Level of difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Season: All year
Tip: The fountain in La Turbie is one of the most used fountains for refilling water bottles in the area. You often see professional top riders pass by in La Turbie on their way from Monaco (where a lot of the professional riders live) and to the routes in the Les Alpes-Maritimes. The fountain is nearly 200 years old, however young in architecture compared to the Roman ruin "Trophy of Augustus" in the town that dates back to year 6 B.C.
Cycling the mountains around Nice can feel like traveling back in time. Classic shorter rides from Nice are cycling to Eze Village and/or to La Turbie. People have lived in these areas for thousands of years. Eze Village is a medieval village built on a mountain top facing the Mediterranean Sea and some of the buildings date back to the 12th century.
When you pass through Eze and climb a bit more you reach the town La Turbie, where you find the remains of a Roman trophy that was built in honour of Octavius, Caecar's nephew later Emperor Augustus after the Roman's victory over the Alpine tribes. The trophy was part of a sanctuary devoted to the god Hercules Monoikos - which later gave rise to the name Monaco. Monaco is at the foot of the hill up to La Turbie.
Enough of the history lesson!
The Moyenne Corniche offers a more or less continuous climb by one of the main roads out of Nice. The gradients are moderate (3-5 %), the road is wide and the views are amazing! You will pass Villefranche-sur-Mer bay and get a spectacular view to the Cap Ferrat peninsula. Make sure shortly after to have a look down to Beaulieu-sur-Mer harbour and the azur water in Eze-sur-Mer.
Keep on going and before you know of it, you will see a bridge ahead of you and Eze Village on the other side of it.
On a Summer's day you will find a coffee-snack van at a look-out spot just before you reach Eze Village. A nice spot to stop and enjoy the coast view.
You pass the bridge and enter Eze Village that is up from the main road on cliffs to the right. The villlage itself is closed off for traffic and not really accessible by bike. So if you would like to visit the village, I recommend you to bring a lock to secure the bike and some shoes for walking the narrow streets. There is a lot of galleries, restaurants and different small shops for tourists. In Eze Village you also find a very special exotic garden.
Shortly after you have passed the entrance to Eze Village, you will find a road going uphill on your left. This is a nice few km of extra climb before you hit the Grand Corniche road and can spin the last stretch to La Turbie.
In La Turbie you have quite a few good cafés and restaurants that welcome cyclists. The fountain is a legendary water tap for cyclists in the area. You are very close to the roads to/from the classic climb Col de la Madone and you often meet a lot of cyclists passing through.
If you turn down the road left of the roman trophy and the historic old town, you come to a look-out spot with a beautiful view towards Monaco. You can also cycle through the town to another brilliant look-out spot called la Tête de Chien.
Take a minute to take in the scenery before heading back to Nice either the same way - or via the Grande Corniche and Col d'Eze. La Turbie is a an excellent gateway to some of the other great cycling nearby; Menton, Italy, Col de la Madone, Peille or further to l'Escarène and the mountains in the Mercantour Nationalpark.
In the last few posts, I have introduced you to 3 shorter routes East of Nice. In the next posts, I will guide you to some of the nice routes West of Nice.
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Distance Nice - Menton: 30 km one way by the coast road - so it is a 60 km return ride.
Climb: 300 meters climb one way by the coast road (rolling hills) - so 600 meters return.
Main routes: The coast road (Basse Corniche - M6098) from Nice that passes through the coast towns; Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eze-sur-Mer, Cap d'Ail, Monaco and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. You can also choose the roads that travel up the front mountain sides of les Alpes-Maritimes (Moyenne Corniche M6007 or Grande Corniche M2564). These roads offer more climbing and take you through either Eze and La Turbie (Moyenne) or Col d'Eze and La Turbie (Grande Corniche).
Close to: Monaco, La Turbie, Col de la Madone, Sospel, Italy // Ventigmiglia, Dolce Aqua, San Remo
Level of difficulty: Easy-Moderate (roads with traffic)
Season: Fall/Winter/Spring (October-May)
Tip: Cycling through Monaco can feel like cycling through a maze when you do not know how to find your way through the one-directed streets and tunnels. If you are happy for a bit of climbing, you can avoid Monaco by cycling up through La Turbie.
What more to wish for as a cyclist than a ride along the beautiful azur blue French Riviera and a lunch from one of the very Italian cuisines in the last town in France before you reach Italy: Menton?
Cycling from Nice to Menton is a very pleasant ride to do if you are in Nice in the Winter season and look for a good ride. While temperatures can fall quite a bit in the mountains from November-March you often find pleasant days at shore. Un a sunny day, it feels like Spring already in January. Cruise these roads at times of the year, where they are free of the thousands of tourists' cars that pass during Summer. Or in the early mornings, if you are here in the Summer season and want to do a ride on one of the more flat routes in the area.
I will describe the route that follows the coast through Monaco.
When you leave Nice - you can do a warm-up climb by following the scenic route through the harbour and La Réserve up to Mont Boron. It is a head start with gradients around 10%, but very short. You can also choose the less steep main road Boulevard Carnot/Basse Corniche to start with.
You pass the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer with its iconic view towards Cap Ferrat. Follow the road down through Beaulieu-sur-Mer, where you pass the beach, a casino, a small harbour and some of the Riviera's big villas. Soon you are in Eze-sur-Mer and follow the rail-tracks on your ride side. As you reach a tunnel, stay on the road to the ride hand side of the tunnel. Enjoy the view!
On the other side you start a section with a short climb before you reach a nice descend to Cap d'Ail. During rush hours this section can be quite busy from traffic to/from Monaco. Just take it easy!
Right after Cap d'Ail you reach a few bigger round-abouts - welcome to Monaco! Follow the road straight and soon after the round-abouts follow the road and the tunnel on your right. As you reach central Monaco it can be a bit tricky, but find your way to the road that passes the harbour front first. On the Eastern side of the harbour, follow the street signs towards Menton.
On the Eastern side of the harbour, you can follow the road on the right and cycle through the tunnel that is famous from Formula 1 and continues towards the beach side. Another option is to climb the steep road on the left of the East harbour and pass the casino.
Soon you are back in France and reach Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Follow the road and soon you are in Menton. The most scenic route you find by taking the road on your right around Cap Martin.
In Menton you find a lot of restaurants at the beautiful beach side that stretches all the way to the border of Italy. Here are plenty of options for a coffee or lunch before your return.
As you go back through Monaco you need to travel through a few tunnels. Follow the signs towards Cap d'Ail, do not be scared from cycling through the tunnels, but please do pay a lot of attention to and respect traffic.
You actually often go faster on your bike than the Ferraris through the tunnels in Monaco - Enjoy how much cooler you are !
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Tina Baltzer, owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours.