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From Barcelonnette to Nice, this TransProvence trip takes us along the edge of the beautiful Mercantour National Park with its rocky peaks, high alpine meadows and larch forests. We make our way through the valleys of the Haut-Verdon, Cians and Tinée, climbing and descending on a superb network of singletrack trails. This area is a mountain biker's paradise with super long singletrack trails winding their way through red and grey marls, mountain pastures and thick forests. If we’re lucky we may even see traces of the famous wolves of the Mercantour... From Colmiane, we head due south to Nice following the route of the famous Transvésubienne (MTB endurance race), taking in the panoramic views from the top of the Brec d'Utelle.
Itinerary start: Rendezvous on the first day is at 1pm in front of Barcelonnette bus station.
Please arrive in your cycle clothing. We will be riding straight from the station.
Our first day is a bit special... it's almost all climbing!!! In order to leave the Vallée de l'Ubaye behind us and reach the Col d'Allos, one of the great cols of the Alps, we need to gain some altitude... Fortunately the itinerary is varied and fun, with more than half the climbing on singletrack. We warm up gently, along the banks of the Ubaye and the Bachelard. We then start tackling the climb on a winding forest track that leads us to Pra-Loup. We cross the ski station, deserted during the summer months, before heading into the larch forests. The serious climbing starts here, with a long section all on singletrack to the Col des Thuiles (75 % riding, 25 % hike-a-bike). The trail takes us past several alpine mountain huts, set in picturesque clearings in the forest. The sound of sheep and goat herds accompanies the climb… The Col des Thuiles offers a superb panorama of the Mercantour, as well as the traverse that awaits us. Our route leads us to a magnificent ridgeline which separates the valleys of the Ubaye and the Haut-Verdon, and offers great views of the surrounding mountains as far as the eye can see… A singletrack trail follows the ridgeline and leads us to the Col d'Allos, where we spend the night in a mountain refuge, at the entrance to the Mercantour National Park.
Distance covered: approx. 30 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1600 m
We start the day with a singletrack traverse and a long descent! The rollercoaster trail cuts its way through the alpine pastures, under the watchful eye of the jagged Mercantour peaks, before a superb descent through the larch forests. We reach the village of Allos, before tackling our first climb of the day, 1000 metres up to the Autapie Ridge. The panorama from the top offers great views of the surrounding 2500 metre peaks, as well as the deep valleys of the Haut-Verdon and the Chasse. Another great, long descent through the larch forests takes us to Colmars, where we take the time to visit its medieval forts and ramparts. We then tackle the climb up to the Col des Champs. The first half of the climb offers the chance to warm up on a small mountain road which winds through deciduous and coniferous forests, before switching to a wide track, then a singletrack trail for the last quarter of the climb. At the top the trail opens out on to a vast wild alpine plateau, offering great views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We then make the most of the third long descent of the day, alternating between open flowy sections and tighter, technical sections that lead into the narrow Entraunes Valley. Night in a gite.
Distance covered: approx. 45 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1900 m
The day begins with a climb up to the Col des Trente Souches, offering superb views of the Roche Grande (2752m). After warming up on a wide track, we join a great singletrack which winds its way up through the larch forests. A 20 minute hike-a-bike takes us along an extraordinary section where the trail has been cut into the rock face. Change of decor at the Col des Trente Souches, with golden alpine pastures and huge grey marl ravines. We descend on singletrack to the lost hamlet of Tourres. The many abandoned farmsteads testify to the area’s history of intense pastoral activity. The mountainside singletrack trail which leads to Châteauneuf d'Entraunes finishes with a superb section that winds its way down through the grey marls (a speciality of the area). We make the most of them by heading off on a second loop (or two if the legs are up to it!) from Châteauneuf… Night in a gite.
Distance covered: approx. 35 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1300 m
The beginning of today's ride means we need to be wide awake right from the word go! A rollercoaster singletrack trail, with a few surprise technical sections takes us to the village of Peone. Then it's time to start climbing, mostly on the road (no other choice!) to Valberg, with a last section on pretty singletrack high above the deep valley of Tuebi. We then set our course in the direction of the Crête des Moulines for a superb ridge ride with panoramic views of the Mercantour peaks. More great singletrack! From the Col de la Couillole, we launch into a descent on a smooth singletrack trail that winds its way down through the larch forests. One of the best descents of the week… We then make our way to our gite in the peaceful village of Les Launes.
Distance covered: approx. 30 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1200 m
This morning we take the time to visit the charming village of Beuil, which has a distinctly Provençal feel… From hamlet to hamlet, high above the Tinée Valley, we join a track that allows us to gain some altitude and the summits to the south of the Col de la Couillole. Grazing sheep herds and wild mountain pastures offer a picture postcard setting. We could half expect Manon des Sources to appear at any moment! Once at the Col de la Couillole, we launch into a descent that takes us down to the valley of the Tinée. We pass through the pretty village of Roubion, before a superb section of singletrack takes us to the stunning red rocks of the Tinée river bed. A climb on a track carved out of the rock and red earth sees us arrive in Rimplas, a village that clinging precariously to the mountainside. We make a well-deserved stop at the village fountain, before enjoying a singletrack descent that leads us to the final climb to our gite for the night.
Distance covered: approx. 40 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1600 m
Today we follow the itinerary of the famous Transvésubienne bike race! But first we need to climb up to the village of Colmiane where we join a north-south mountain range, which separates the valleys of the Tinée and the Vésubie, and which we will follow all the way to the sea. Stunning singletrack, on the climbs as well as the descents... The route offers great views of the valleys of the Vésubie, to the east, and the Tinée to the west. To the north, the ever-present jagged mineral peaks of the Mercantour. The singletrack trails are fairly smooth until we get to the rocky summit of the Brec d'Utelle, a local landmark. After the “Brec”, things get a little more complicated as the trail becomes more rocky and technical. The trail stays technical until the village of Utelle, with a superb bird’s eye view of the village from above on arrival. A pretty village square tempts us to take a break, before we set off again for a loop to the Madonne d'Utelle and its religious shrine. From the top we get our first view of the Mediterranean Sea, which we will reach tomorrow… A pretty last descent in the marls takes us back to the village and our gite for the night.
Distance covered: approx. 40 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1600 m
This morning we plunge to the bottom of the Vésubie Valley by way of a technical descent. The vegetation has turned distinctly Provençal… with a predominance of Maritime and Aleppo pines. Our route alternates sections of minor roads, tracks and singletrack, passing the foot of the Mont Cima and the Mont Chauve, before we make our final descent to Nice and the sea. After crossing the town, we reach the famous Promenade des Anglais and the beach, where a swim in the warm Mediterranean marks the end of our trip.
Distance covered. approx. 40 km/Altitude gain: approx. 1000 m
Distances are an indication only and may vary.
Itinerary end: Separation in Nice on the last day at around 3pm.
If you arrive by car we advise you to leave your vehicle in Digne-les-Bains on the first day, then take a bus Digne-les-Bains - Barcelonnette (departure: 9:45; arrival in Barcelonnette: 11:30). At the end of the circuit, you can then travel by bus from Nice to Digne-les-Bains (Nice departure: 14:00; arrival in Digne: 17:28). Note: In order to take your bike on the bus it needs to be in a bike bag. The bike bag will then be transported with your luggage for the duration of the trip.
Bus company: SCAL (please check bus times, as they may have been updated).
Digne-les-Bains - Barcelonnette: timetable
Nice - Digne-les-Bains: timetable
Average tour rating: