Provence and Maritime Alps

The mountain range known as the Alps is very spectacular end to end; the Swiss and Austrian Alps are known for their alpine beauty, the northern French Alps are well known for their famous Tour de France venues, but the southern French Alps, or Maritime Alps, have gone relatively unknown.

This is probably due to their location; they sit almost entirely in the region of Provence.  These mountains dominate almost all of Provence and are a large influence on the life in this wonderful region, but it is the lifestyle of the people, the charm of the villages, and the beauty of the coast that give Provence its well deserved reputation.  Although these mountains sit merely as a backdrop to the fabric of Provence, they are most certainly deserving of our awe and respect.  Tall, rugged, remote, beautiful, and most important, laced with small winding roads climbing and descending the cliffs, valleys, and gorges of these wild and wonderful mountains.
Actually, one does not ‘visit’ Provence; one is seduced, taken in, and absorbed by her warm luxurious light-bathed towns and landscapes. Hillsides pulsing with the scent of wild thyme and rosemary; fields of purple lavender juxtaposed with seas of graceful sunflowers undulating with the uninhibited caress of the wind; or vast barren rock outcroppings of the most amazing shades of rose and terra-cotta; these are just some of the natural visual riches of the countryside behind France’s Côte d’Azur. Of course, reveries of Provence inevitably turn to food and wine; bikes tucked away for the evening, we’ll spend a good portion of time at the table delighting in dishes made from local produce prepared in age-old country ways.
The Tour de France often challenges these roads and their cols.  The climb up Mont Ventoux is considered one of the hardest and most revered of the Tour.  The Col de la Bonette is the highest paved pass in Europe.  The Col d’Allos, Col de la Cayolle, Col de Vars, and the Col d’Izoard, are major climbs in many of the hardest stages of the Tour de France.  Impressive climbs, yes, but still it is the myriad of small roads with little or no traffic that make this one of the greatest cycling areas in Europe.

It is no wonder that the abundant palette of Provence’s wild and natural beauty has attracted and inspired the great artists of past and present. It is nearly impossible to escape a transformation of heart.

Itinerary

July 21 - Nice (Vence)

Arrive at Nice airport (NCE). Van transportation provided to our start hotel in the village of Vence.

July 22 - Castellane 46 miles, 3700 feet altitude gain

Daily descriptive details will be published soon.
Downloadable links to GPS routes with altitude profile will be available by May to clients confirmed on tour.

July 23 - Moissac-Ballevue 54 miles, 4800 feet

July 24 - Vaugines 50 miles, 2000 feet

July 25 - Vaugines 43 miles, 3800 feet

July 26 - Mazan 38 miles, 2650 feet or 53 miles, 3500 feet

July 27 - Vaison-La-Romaine 40 miles, 6000 feet (Mont Ventoux ascent) or 27 miles, 800 feet

July 28 - Orpierre 42 miles, 4100 feet or 65 miles, 9000 feet (Mont Ventoux ascent)

July 29 - Digne-Les-Bains 64 miles, 5900 feet

July 30 - Barcelonnette 80 miles, 8600 feet or 52 miles, 4100 feet

July 31 - Barcelonnette Loop rides

August 1 - Barcelonnette Loop rides

August 2 - Valberg 49 miles, 7200 feet

August 3 - Vence 69 miles, 5000 feet

August 4 - Departure

Van transportation provided to Nice Airport for your flight home