words to heartful action
Cycling and sustainable city life
15. June 2020 marks the day where most EU citizens again can cross borders to explore regions and countries after a very strange and bizar first 6 months in 2020. It is the real start of season for tourism where Lifesparkz Bike Tours is based in Nice in Southern France. It is also the 4th year birthday of our tiny one-woman-led bike tour company, which has so far welcomed hundreds of cyclists from all continents around the Globe.
I moved to Nice in 2015 from Copenhagen out of curiosity for life, the mild climate, the amazing Nature and the charming cultural landscapes in the Côte d'Azur. It did not strike me that I would create a bike tour company before I moved here and realized that people I met found it very special that I'd love to cycle everywhere!! It is a part of my culture and upbringing to cycle as my way to come around. First time I brought my road bike to Nice, I searched for a local bike guide, but could not find an English speaking guide for a reasonable price.
I moved here and I decided to be the one to guide visitors by bike! I started cycling, meeting fellow cyclists and learning routes. Eventually I persuaded some of my new friends to go for a guided bike tour with me as guineapigs. They are still my friends!
I started Lifesparkz Bike Tours out of a mission to make more people discover the Alpes Maritimes by bike! The mission did not change and I am happy to have shown a lot of wonderful people around in one of the World's best regions for especially road bike cycling.
I am a simple woman. Cycling in beautiful Nature, meeting and chatting with open-minded people from all over the world makes me happy. So bike guiding here is a perfect fit for me! Since 2016, I have organised and guided groups from 1-60 persons. The challenge of getting everything sorted out for big groups is exciting - however I have learned that guiding individuals or small groups is much more fun! In times of Covid-19 it is therefore only natural for me to offer tours for groups of max. 6 persons only this year.
When we cycle a few people together, we have a chance to share some hours of our lives. I feel that I meet new friends on every tour. I feel blessed that I am connected to lovely people all over the World with whom, I have had the pleasure of sharing some beautiful moments during a day or two by bike.
Cycling has become the new black for commuting in cities in 2020. I had set up for a big cycling season in Nice with a planned start of the Tour de France in June and one of the biggest sportive cycling races L'Etape du Tour taking place here. COVID-19 set an initial stop for it, but we are happy in the Côte d'Azur that the Tour de France start will still happen here in August. Meanwhile cycling tracks are being tested in towns all along our coastline from Menton to Cannes to make cycling even more appealing when visiting here.
Even if our season starts 3-4 months late in 2020 and we will miss out a good bunch of people from the continents furthest away from us for a bit longer - we hope to still make 2020 a cyclists blast!
4 more years....
A big thanks to all of you who keep supporting this cycling adventure. Fellow guides, family, friends, business partners, former guests and guests to be. The road is free.
Distance Nice - Agay/return: 125 km or Nice - Saint-Raphaël/return: 145 km
Climb: 730 m+
Main routes: M6098 and D6098 - coast road through Antibes and Cannes
Close to: Tanneron, Sainte-Maxime, Lac de Saint-Cassien
Level of difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Season: Best in the Fall, Winter or Spring (October-May)
Stunning landscapes are ahead of you when you set off for a ride to the preserved coast road in the Esterel massif. You enter volcanic soils with its distinct red-brown colours and dramatic rock formations.
As you cycle from Nice by the cycling paths towards Antibes, you are already on a seafront adventure of the French Riviera. You follow the paths all along the coast - and please pay attention to the traffic that cross the path at intersections. It is a lively route, so to say.
On your way, you will pass seaside restaurants in Cagnes-sur-Mer, the grand Marina in Villeneuve-Loubet and wide beaches before you see the old Vauban citadel of Antibes welcoming you to one of Europe's biggest marinas with yachts of all sizes.
You pass through Cap d'Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Golfe-Juan and before you know of it you are in Cannes. Keep going on the flat coast route and pass through Mandelieu-de-Napoule. From here you enter the country of red rocks and blue sea of the Estérel.
There are not enough Wauws and Wows in the world to cover the impressions you get in this place. You continue by the winding road, which takes you a bit up, then a bit down, while showing you a new magnificent landscape around the next bend.
You can continue all the way to Saint-Tropez by this road, the massif itself however ends around Agay.
Once you have cycled here there is not many places in the world that will beat this!
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
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
Distance Nice - San Remo/return: 120 km
Climb: 1.000 m+
Main routes: The coast road to Italy, passing through Monaco
Close to: Various French and Italian villages near the coast
Level of difficulty: Easy-Moderate.
Season: Recommended to cycle out of the main tourist season due to much traffic July-September.
Tip: Bring lights as you pass through multiple tunnels.
Do you dream of cycling cruising at both the French and the Italian Riviera?
It is absolutely a dream that can come true! Cyclists cruise these beautiful coast roads every day and cars are used to cyclists, although I do recommend that you avoid the crowds on the roads during the peak-tourist season in July and August.
The route from Nice, if you follow the coast, is taking you through varied sections of uphills, flats and downhills: Bigger towns, small coast towns, amazing landscape stretches, world-famous beaches and a few tunnels before you reach the outer skirts of Ventigmiglia. You can read about the route from Nice to Ventigmiglia here.
Every year in March, San Remo hosts the worlds longest one-day professional cycling race: Milan-San Remo. Love for cycling is integrated in the town that has created a 20 km long cycling path that follows the old train tracks along the coast and is closed off from 4-wheels traffic. On a warm day, it is like cycling through a cooling Spa, as you cycle through the iconic cycling/pedestrians' tunnel that is 1-2 km long and a part of the cycling path. Cycling stories from the region are displayed throughout the tunnel that has been designed by and for cycling lovers.
The path starts near Ospedaletti. Look out for the sign from the main road as it is a bit hidden. In San Remo you find several pretty located beach-side cafés designed for cyclists and their bikes! :)
If you want to combine the tour with more climbing - search for village routes in the back country or cycle from Nice-Menton via Col d'Eze and la Turbie. If you want to ease the cycling, you can easily make it shorter if you go back to Nice by train from Ventigmiglia (cycles are free to carry on the train - look for the special doors for bike-people).
Lifesparkz Bike Tours
Tina Baltzer, owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours.