5 Best Cycling Routes in France

By Martin Atanasov

Ah, France, the land of love, wine, and stinky cheeses. And cycling… let’s not forget about cycling. You remember that small annual event called the Tour de France, right? It’s that time when we are all glued to the TV, rooting for our idols. But I bet most of you have wished they could visit and ride along the same routes. And yes, France truly has some breath-taking (sometimes literally) roads.

So, if you can ever make this dream cycling vacation, don’t hesitate to go. Still, not everyone can allocate the time or budget to go to France. Thankfully, there’s an alternative. It’s a surprise, though, so we will reveal it in a bit. Just remember to act surprised when it’s time. But before we get to the alternatives, let us share the five best routes you simply must ride in France.

Along the Rhine

If you crave some time away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, the Alsace region is right up your alley. This historically rich part of France has some mesmerising views thanks to its proximity to the Alps. Alsace has some pretty sweet routes that can satisfy almost any need. Bergheim – Col haut de Ribeauville is perfect for those who enjoy casual climbing with up to a 10% gradient. However, when it comes to Alsace, the best route you can take, without any doubt, is along the Rhine. Well, if you decide to travel from Baden-Baden airport, you will technically go upstream of the Rhine, but that’s beside the point.

The entire journey along the French part of the Rhine is about 204km, as it starts from the small town of Beinhem, situated just a few kilometres from the Baden-Baden Airport to the French bank of the mighty river. You can decide to cycle the entire distance to Bassel in one go. Since the terrain is flat, it’s really not that huge of a distance. However, if you want to enjoy some of the sights along the way, including the mesmerising Strasbourg and the charming Colmar, also known as the French Venice, you need to plan at least three days for this journey. Along the way, you will go through dozens of small French villages, where you can enjoy some fresh, straight-out-of-the-oven traditional French dishes.

This route is for those who enjoy cycling just as much as they enjoy eating and drinking wine.

Vineyards in Alsace
The beautiful vineyards near Colmar. © Profimedia

Monaco tour

Cote d’Azur is well known as a cycling paradise, and many pro cyclists spend their winters near Nice. This Mediterranean city has a lot to offer, even if you’re not a cyclist, but if you are there, don’t miss the opportunity to take a quick tour of Monaco. On this round route, you will find some pretty steep climbs, as you will gain 840m during the 40-km ride. In the first 15km alone, you will climb more than 450m, which will be a bit gut-busting, but that will be the hardest part of the ride.

On the plus side, you will enjoy some exciting views from the panoramic road up the mountains. Your journey will start in the eastern parts of Nice at Square Theodore de Banville overlooking the entrance to the Nice port. After that, you will go straight up to the heights, with gradients going as high as 22%. This ride is definitely not for beginners, as the first 15km will truly test your strength and willpower. Although you will ride mostly along public roads, don’t worry about the traffic. Drivers are used to cyclists in this region and are more than tolerant. The higher you climb, the more beautiful the scenery will become. Still, make sure to keep your eyes on the road. When you stop to take a breather, you can snap some pictures for social media.

After you reach the highest point at La Turbie, you can enjoy some scenic views of the Mediterranean, Monaco and Nice. The sight is simply breath-taking. After, during the entire nearly 10-km descent, you will have a panoramic view of the whole country of Monaco. You will have the chance to go through the world-famous marina and continue along the Cote d’Azur back to Nice.

This ride is truly mesmerising, but it’s not for everyone. You need to be in top physical condition. Otherwise, a two-hour ride will turn into a half-a-day nightmare.

Bordeaux – Chartreuse de Valrose

This route will allow you to enjoy the charms of Bordeaux. © Profimedia

If you are hedonistic enough to mix the joy of cycling with the divine pleasure of drinking top-shelf wine, the Bordeaux region is your place. There are many exciting routes in this area, and no matter what you choose, you probably won’t have anything but a good time. Still, for this region, we think you should have a bit more time for drinking wine, so a shorter ride to Chartreuse de Valrose, with some scenic detours along the vineyards, will be perfect. The route is about 70km and is predominantly flat. You will have to climb about 370m over the whole tour. The toughest climb is around midway, as the gradients reach up to 7%.

At first, you will ride for about 20km along the east bank of La Garonne. Then, at Cambes, you will turn to the northeast and ride along the iconic Les Peupliers Road. During the ride, you will also visit the incredible Piste Roger Lapébie, as well as Bistrot au bord de la piste Roger Lapébie, where you can have a bite to eat. Finally, you can stop at the Chartreuse de Valrose. You would have passed it already at the beginning of your tour, but a stroll in the marvellous park surrounding the mansion will be the perfect end before you go back to Bordeaux.

The tour is relatively easy, yet if you haven’t ridden for more than 50km, you may find it a bit overwhelming. Still, if you don’t waste too much time taking pictures along this awesome road, you should finish it in about three hours.

Alpe d’Huez

Alpe d’Huez needs no introduction. Without a doubt, this is the most iconic climb in the entire world. With its legendary 21 switchbacks, it’s one of the most challenging climbs in the Tour de France, and naturally, any avid cyclist dreams of conquering this peak.

Your ride will begin at the coy little town of Le Bourg d’Oisans, situated right at the foot of the majestic mountain. The entire ride is about 14.3km and will take you more than nearly 1.1km up the mountain. The first km or so is relatively flat. After you cross the Romanche river and the two small ponds afterwards, you will start the sharp climb, which will average at an 8% gradient. The steepest part is around a 14% gradient, which is not that shocking as a number, but is still as tough as they come.

If you can lift your head during this torturous climb, you will see an absolutely astounding view. Sadly, this route is possible only during the summer months due to being at the heart of the Alps, so if you can’t wait this long, you’ll love our surprise. In the meantime, did you know that the current record lies at 37:30 minutes and is held by Stefan Kirchmair? So, if you’re up for a challenge, this is it.

Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux
Mt. Ventoux, aka the Giant of Provence, falls into a distinguished league of climbs labelled “HC”. These letters stand for “Hors Catégorie” in French, or “beyond categorisation” when translated directly. © Profimedia

Speaking of iconic climbs, we can’t forget about the toughest climb in the Tour de France: Mount Ventoux. This route is a true test of any rider’s physical and mental strength. The 17.12-km ride will take you through hell and back, and you better be prepared for what’s to come. You will begin climbing right from the start with a 5% grade. Soon enough, this will go into the double digits, and you will reach up to 19%. There is hardly any relief during the entire ride, as you will truly enjoy the moments when the gradient is only a single digit. Once you reach Tom Simpson’s Memorial, it’s time to gather all your reserved strength, as you have only a single km  to go. Unfortunately, the mountain is often covered with clouds, but that shouldn’t be a problem. One does not ride Mont Ventoux for entertainment or to enjoy the scenery. This is a trail, and you should treat it as such. The record climb on this monster is just under 50 minutes, so get your bike ready, and it’s time to beat the record.


We know far too well the itch of not being able to ride then and there. It’s frustrating and demotivating, and more often than not, we can only afford to ride one or two of these magnificent roads over our lifetime. Well, not anymore.

We Love Cycling always strives to provide the best places for riding, and this time, we joined forces with Rouvy to give you exactly what you’ve been dreaming of. Are you excited? We surely are.

Most importantly, if you don’t want to wait until the summer or you want to experience the mesmerising views without spending thousands to travel to France, you can enjoy some of these roads on the augmented reality platform Rouvy.

What is Rouvy?

Rouvy is an app that allows you to train, race, or just explore actual routes from the comfort of your home. The augmented reality (AR) will enable you to fully experience some of the most epic routes worldwide without ever leaving home. The platform offers more than 25,000 km of roads across six continents (yes, you still won’t be able to ride in Antarctica), on which you can cycle by yourself, train, or even race with buddies. It truly is the next best thing to riding in the real world. The app seamlessly connects to your intelligent trainers just as well as it does to non-smart ones. With the former, it changes resistance automatically, making the experience even more natural.

Rouvy is the best way to keep up with your training, even during the coldest weather. So, if you don’t want to wait for summer to check the five best places to ride in France, download the app now and let’s go.

We challenge you to conquer Paris

Rouvy Challenge Paris Route
Will you take on the challenge?

Since we wanted to celebrate our partnership the way we love to, we decided to address a challenge to our readers. Are you up for it? Our challenge will take you on a quick tour of the French capital. Well, there are actually many routes you can take in Paris, but none as iconic as “The City of Love.” It will take you on a short journey across the French capital as you see all the landmarks. First, you will start your ride going straight to the Eiffel Tower. Then you will ride along the Seine, reaching the ionic Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral. On your way, you will pass the Louvre, and finally, you will finish just like all Tour de France legends, on Champs Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe.

The entire 11-km route takes around 15-20 minutes. Still, prepare to be starstruck by the fantastic augmented reality, which will teleport you directly to the heart of Paris. The good news is that you can ride the route as many times as you like. So feel free to enjoy the sights before you put in all your effort and sprint along the Champs Elysees, just like so many legends have before you. Are you ready to answer our call?