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Calais to Nice

Shortest Day - 49 miles / 79 km
Longest Day - 75 miles / 120 km
Total: 16 days; 893 miles (1,429 km).

What you can expect

A true classic journey, this 15 day voyage will leave you with a great impression of France as you see the landscape and architecture change as you head south. An average of 60 miles a day means this is a ride most cyclists can achieve, and there are some flat days to enjoy along the way as well as an option to climb Mont Ventoux.

More detail

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Cycling tour notes Calais to NIce

Highlights include:

  • Vimy Ridge
  • Historic Laon
  • Epernay and the Champagne vineyards
  • The mediaeval half-timbered city of Troyes
  • Dijon, capital of Burgundy
  • Beaune
  • Mont Ventoux (from afar, or option to climb!)
  • Gorges de Verdon
  • Promenade des Anglais in Nice
  • On our 2018 departures we are offering return bike transport to St Pancras at £50 per bike, allowing you to relax on the train home.

Day 1: We meet in the morning in Calais, give you a pre ride briefing and after leaving Calais head into the benign countryside of the Pas de Calais. This is a gentle day with little in the way of hills as we follow canals and quiet lanes to our hotel near Bethune, where your fine evening meal will include produce from the beautiful kitchen gardens. (66 miles / 106 km / 526m ascent).

Day 2: From our hotel the first major landmark is the Vimy Memorial which sits on a ridge with commanding views. The climb up to here is not particularly hard or long, and on a clear day the views are incredible. The monument itself remembers the Canadians who fell in the First World War and is a breathtaking piece of design and architecture. Several of our itineraries pass here and it is always quoted by clients as a highlight. Passing Arras, similar in style to Bethune and with two majestic squares, we pedal to Cambrai for the night. (53 miles / 84 km / 558 ascent).

Day 3: South from Cambrai the landscape immediately becomes more rural and you sense a change in the rhythm as the bustle of the north is left behind. We pass a very lovely Abbey set in a quiet river valley. It's worthy of a visit. The obvious lunchtime stop is in St Quintin, a town which was flattened in World War One but which is now in the heart of the Artois region. It's then an easy run to Laon for the night. This well preserved mediaeval town is off the beaten track and one of the highlights of the journey you are undertaking, with its intact walls and ancient gateways, spectacular cathedral and many old buildings and passageways making it a delight to explore. (60 miles / 95 km / 856m ascent).

Day 4: Laon to Epernay is a more undulating day but employs quiet lanes all the way. With a shorter distance there is plenty of time to enjoy the abbey ruins, underground caves and vineyards before arriving in the heart of the champagne producing region and the chance to visit a ‘cave’ and sample a glass of the bubbly stuff! (53 miles / 84 km / 1,050m ascent).

Day 5: Leaving Epernay our first stop is in the quaint town of Vertus, in the midst of the vines, where a coffee in the square is highly recommended. We then continue through more vineyards along a straightforward and very gentle route, eventually joining the Seine, to Troyes, one of the finest towns in France. You will have plenty of time to explore this mediaeval town. (64 miles / 102 km / 484m ascent).

Day 6: The exit from Troyes tracks the River Seine, and we follow the river valley for a good few miles, before leaving it where the road gets busier and following another smaller tributary. We then pass through the vineyards with a coupe of longer but gentle climbs. This is a day where the pleasure of riding your bike through small villages and unspoilt landscapes reminds you that you are now in the heart of France far away from everyday hustle and bustle! (53 miles / 85 km / 642m ascent).

Day 7: From Chatillon sur Seine there is a gentle climb for the first half of the day – but do not worry, it averages 5.1m per kilometre! Once again, quiet villages and roads are the order of the day as we make our way to Dijon, another of France’s finest cities, where the centre is historic and beautiful with multi-coloured roof tiles and cobbled streets and squares. The capital of the ancient Dukedom of Burgundy, this is a fine place to savour. (57 miles / 91 km / 590m ascent).

Day 8: Rest day in Dijon. Enjoy the pavement cafes in the main square, visit the Maille mustard shop or explore the magnificent public buildings in this elegant city. 

Day 9: The Burgundy vineyards are renowned the world over and for good reason. Having sampled some of the local wines last night we will pass through vineyards that have been in the same families for generations, via illustrious names such as Clos Vougeot, which was such a favourite of Napoleon that he ordered his soldiers to salute the vines when they passed. The highlight of the day is Beaune, where a visit to the Hotel Dieu is a must. This ancient hospital is still run as a charitable foundation and survives through auctioning off the grapes from the many vineyards that it has received in donations throughout the centuries. The town is worthy of a lengthy stop and stroll around its ancient streets. Continuing from here we pass many more famous names before arriving in our small village for the evening. In contrast to last night’s city stopover, this is France in her rural splendour. (62 miles / 98 km / 737m ascent).

Day 10: We proceed into the ‘Maconnais’ area today, but first pass the famous Cluny abbey, one of the most influential of all monastic establishments in the middle ages and beyond. The buildings are impressive and it is possible to visit this ‘National Monument’. From Cluny we follow the Saone river valley leaving the hills on our right (a continuation of the Cote d’Or seen on the stretch from Dijon the Beaune) to our stopover in Villefranche sur Saone. A gentle first half to the day with more ups and downs in the afternoon as we ride through the Beaujolais vineyards. (63 miles / 100 km / 1,103m ascent).

Day 11: From the Soane valley this morning, to the Rhone valley in the afternoon. Skirting Lyon, you will see the Alps in the far distance to your left on a clear day. There's a stiff but quite short climb first thing then undulations for the rest of the day before one last long climb and accompanying long descent down to the Rhone. It is amazing how wide the river is here and how blue it is too. (57 miles / 96 km / 1,448m ascent).

Day 12: A very straightforward day following the Rhone valley again, with the steep hills on the right showing off their terraced vineyards. There are lots of pretty villages again, and if you hadn’t noticed it already, you will really feel you are in the south now. We follow the Rhone cycleway through Crozes Hermitage and Valence to our overnight stop in a beautiful hilltop village - one of the 'Plus Beau Villages', the most beautiful villages of France, where out hotelier hosts are simply charming and provide an excellent meal on their terrace. (71 miles / 114 km / 649m ascent).

Day 13: The first half of the day is undulating and there is a good climb before lunch - and an equally good descent - with views of Mont Ventoux in the distance. Lunch in an historic town is followed by an easy run-in to the wonderful Vaison la Romaine for the night.  We are very much in Provence, an historic region with Roman remains and as well as the vines, you will pass many fruit orchards and olive groves, lending a distinctly Mediterranean feel. (51 miles / 82 km / 923m ascent).

Day 14: Today has an option to climb Mont Ventoux for the athletic (weather dependent). This is the longest day of the ride, but a very pretty ride around the side of the mountain. Although there’s more ascent than before, with sensible pacing and frequent breaks to indulge in the goodies from the van, there is no reason why you should not get to our overnight stop in time for a swim before dinner. (75 miles / 120 km / 2,228m ascent).

Day 15: One of the real highlights of the ride, we head for the Gorges de Verdon, France’s answer to the Grand Canyon. After very gradually gaining height you pass into the gorge with amazing views of the river and an ice-blue lake far far below. It is a wonderful ride along a road that clings to the hillside and offers endless photo opportunities. There is a lot of vertical ascent today but much of it is gained gradually over a long period and thus will not be noticed. The big hill comes at about half way after which it is flat or downhill most of the way to our evening stop. (49 miles / 78 km / 1,917 ascent).

Day 16: Yesterday we reached an altitude of approximately 750m above sea level and the good news is that today we have to descent to 0. There are several climbs to do first, but after the first one we are one a plateau of about 1,000m above sea level and continue along that for some time. There’s a descent off the plateau followed by another sharp hill – perhaps the hardest of the whole ride – but after that it is virtually all downhill for the last 15 miles as we start to pass nice villas on the run-in to Nice and our arrival point on the famous Promenade des Anglais. A celebratory dinner awaits and you can relax in the knowledge that there is no riding required tomorrow. 62 miles / 98 km / 1,723m ascent).

Day 17: Departure (a.m.)

On our 2018 departures we are offering return bike transport to St Pancras at £50 per bike, allowing you to relax on the train home.

We depart Calais at approximately 10am on the Monday morning and arrive in Nice on the Tuesday afternoon (usually about 3—4pm). Riders depart on the Wednesday, although it would be possible to catch a Tuesday evening flight if required.  

Transfers from (start): Calais-Frethun TGV / Eurostar station, Calais town station, Calais ferry port.

Transfers to (end):  Nice TGV station, Nice airport.

Requested Single Supplement (see our FAQ page): £595

BOOK ONLINE NOW

or enquire about specific dates by clicking 'Booking Enquiry' below.

Current dates for this tour:

Starts:
07.09.19
Ends:
23.09.19
Rating:
Difficult
Price:
£2,395

Travel Information

Start: Calais
Finish: Nice

Click here for our Travel Information page

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