5 bonnes raisons de faire du VTT sur la Côte d'Azur en hiverFaire du VTT en hiver sur la Côte d'Azur

5 good reasons to go mountain biking on the Côte d'Azur in winter

A privileged climate, trails full of character, the sea shining below you, famous champions, and a thousand and one good reasons to ride on the Côte d’Azur in winter.


On winter’s arrival, when the snow buries the Alps and a great many of France’s trails are bogged down in mud and fog, the Côte d’Azur naturally positions itself as the El Dorado of winter mountain biking.

With its generous sunshine levels all year round, its Indian summer, which often extends until December, its sunny winter days and its temperatures that regularly fluctuate around 15 degrees in the middle of January, the Alpes Maritimes has a privileged climate that guarantees perfect riding conditions and dry trails.

As a result, mountain biking enthusiasts can enjoy their passion all year round between the southern coastlines and the Mercantour foothills, while the rest of France and a good part of Europe has no choice in this season but to leave the bikes in the garage all winter long, unless of course they take a trip to department 06.

From the mountains to the sea

Even though the weather is particularly clement here in the low laying areas, the upper valleys of the Mercantour do not escape the snow in winter, and this is so much the better for winter sports enthusiasts. Mountain bikers are, however, not to be outdone as, overall, half of the Alpes-Maritime region is spared the snowfall, which means that half the trails remain open for mountain biking. And what a half! The most contrasting in the department is the one that has given it its name, where the mountains drop down to the Mediterranean.

From 0 to approximately 1500 m above sea level and facing south, there happily remains everything you need to go on a jaunt, explore, train, and enjoy the spectacular landscapes offered by the Côte d’Azur in winter: the shining sea on one side, the snowcapped heights of the Mercantour on the other, Corsica visible on the horizon in good weather, the mimosa in flower and all the magic of the colours and scents of the garrigue.

5-star trails

Forget the cliche that mountain biking is only practised in summer and in a bike park, in winter enthusiasts also have everything they need to enjoy themselves in the Alpes-Maritimes, and there’s something for everyone.

Forest paths for a trip as a family or a cross-country jaunt in the Côte d’Azur’s Alpine foothills, the hills of Nice and the Esterel; paths that criss-cross in the suburban forests of the coastal areas; expert-level Alpine trails in all the mountain ranges in the mid-country; iconic endurance tracks in the Nice hinterland; and even famous downhill runs for DH fans.

And the best of all this is that, thanks to the rocky or sandy surface that characterizes most of the paths, the water from the few winter rains is perfectly filtered, so it is rare to encounter mud, and even better, the grip in winter is often superior to that in summer (dusty and thus slippery).

The benchmark of champions

Sunshine, mountains, thousands of trails and optimum conditions all year round… It’s no surprise that the Alpes-Maritimes is a little corner of paradise for mountain biking, and the region is a true breeding ground of champions.

From Nicolas Vouilloz to Loïc Bruni, plus Fabien Barel, Loris Vergier, Jérôme Gilloux and many celebrities from the global mountain biking scene in all its disciplines, the champions from the Alpes-Maritimes have been dominating the international podiums for three decades. All these riders return to the Côte d’Azur as soon as the season ends in the autumn and train in the region all winter long.

So don’t be surprised if you come across one of these mountain biking stars along a trail, or another champion who is not local as, needless to say, many other top riders from all over the world are accustomed to coming to our mountains to train in the winter.

One does not exclude the other

Vous l’aurez compris, même si vous attendez chaque année l’hiver pour aller jouer dans la poudreuse, pas question pour autant de laisser votre VTT prendre la poussière, car cette saison vaut vraiment le détour : il y a moins de monde sur les sentiers, l’air pur rend les paysages encore plus beaux et les températures sont préférables pour aller s’amuser sur les spots du littoral où il fait trop chaud en été.

Et si entre les deux sports votre cœur balance, imitez ceux qui ont trouvé la solution ultime : ski le matin dans le Mercantour, VTT l’après-midi sur le pays côtier (et pourquoi pas un picnic sur la plage en fin de journée?!), ou mieux encore, allez rouler dans la neige !

You’ve got it, even if you wait for winter every year to go and enjoy the snow, there is no question of leaving your mountain bike to gather dust as this season is really worth the trip: there are fewer people on the trails, the fresh air makes the landscapes even more beautiful and the temperatures are better for going to enjoy yourself on the coastal spots where it is too hot in the summer.

And if you love both sports, do as those who have discovered the ultimate solution do: ski in the morning in the Mercantour, go mountain biking in the afternoon in the coastal region (and why not enjoy a picnic on the beach at the end of the day?!), or even better, go and ride in the snow!

Follow the guide

As the riding conditions are heavenly in winter, 1001sentiers does not take a winter break and continues to offer you several lessons, excursions, enduro sessions, coaching sessions and tailor-made trips, even in the middle of winter.

If you prefer riding your way, there are dozens of routes in the many mountain biking Topo Guides to the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, published by Editions Vtopo.

Go to www.1001sentiers.frto ride the best of the best of the Côte d’Azur in winter or any (sic)



5 good reasons to go mountain biking on the Côte d’Azur in winter

By Greg Germain

An enthusiastic cyclist from the get-go, a professional mountain bike guide, creator and coordinator of the website 1001sentiers.fr and author of several books, Greg Germain has been heavily involved in the mountain biking scene in the Alpes-Maritimes for over 15 years. As a Côte d’Azur France ambassador, he’s dead set on sharing his top mountain biking tips with you!