Nice is a gorgeous city in southern France, on the French Riviera. It’s perfect for cycling holidays/tours.
But rather than telling you why Nice is great for cyclists, this article focuses on how to pick the best cycling tours in Nice.
We speak to Rich, a local cycling guide in Nice. Rich lives and works in the greater Nice area. Here he shares an overview of what kind of organised bike tours and cycling holidays are available in and around Nice. He also shares information on the best places for bike rental in Nice.
If you’re looking for some support with planning your cycling holiday in Nice, this article is for you.
Looking for information on cycling Nice (inc routes, cycling-friendly accommodation and other tips)? Read this article.
Looking for information on cycling Nice (inc routes, cycling-friendly accommodation and other tips)? Read this article.
Part 1: Cycling tours in Nice (and the Côte d’Azur)
It’s useful to understand the different kinds of Nice bike tour that are available, so below I’ve set out an overview of what different operators offer.
1. What kind of Nice cycling tours are available?
1.1 Nice city-based sightseeing tours
These are mostly e-bike options, or cruiser style bikes, city tours.
There are locally-based operators – for example:
Azur Vibes Tours and Nice Cycle Tours
- Fold up bikes and/or ebike rentals (no road bike rentals)
- 3 hour city bike tour of Nice on cruiser bikes, e bike tour to wineries, walking food tour in central Nice, the old town, Mont Boron etc
- Possibly joined by other guests unless you book a private custom Nice bicycle tour
- Local guides (though can’t message them directly and limited information about them available online)
- Online booking option
Ebike the French Riviera
- Only electric bike tours available (no road bike rentals)
- Wine and exploratory Nice tours – an introduction to the region
- Limited information on guides, but English speaking guides are provided
- Cannot discuss options with your guide pre-tour, but options to discuss with the concierge with the company if you have questions.
There are also businesses that offer these kind of tours in locations all over the world. For example:
- City tours in multiple countries
- Tours are generally easy and uses ebikes or folding bikes, sticking to bike paths in Nice
- Can book online through website
- No information about the guides
- Likely will be joined with other cyclists, although private tours are available
Get Your Guide and Viator
- Huge global brands.
- Nice looking websites and booking options
- Focus is not only on bikes; there are multiple tour options in a city
- Search offers multiple ebike and city options, suited for the casual cyclist
1.2 Multi-day Nice cycle tours
A number of companies offer options for a more road cycling focused cycling tour in Nice. Examples include:
- US based company focused on the luxury market
- Fully catered and inclusive bike tours of Nice and the French Riviera
- Detailed itineraries with guides who work for the company
- Bikes included in most tour packages
- Usually quite rigid timelines and tours that are set for the week
- Mixed groups unless you book a custom trip
Azur Cycle Tours
- Based in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, 10km east of Nice
- 2 to 7 day trips available
- Packages include accommodation, breakfast, guided rides and airport transfers
A Canadian business, with an extremely local model: you book directly with a guide who lives and works in/around Nice.
Offer city tours and also multi-day “proper” cycling trips:
- On demand cycling trips from a few hours to a few weeks long, so you can fit a tour into your schedule rather than having to plan your schedule around your cycling tour.
- Guides are locals who live and cycle the area every day. They know all the cool viewpoints, coffee shops, and bike routes through the city.
- You can chat directly with a local bike guides, check out their bike tours prior to booking, discuss pricing, distance, options etc and get exactly what you want.
- You’ll find guides offering everything from leisure focused trips to gravel rides, mountain bike trips and full-on multi-day road cycling holidays.
- Your guide can help you source a great road bike and then meet them at the bike rental place (or your hotel) to get all set up
- Free concierge service, someone from VeloGuide who can help organise your accommodation, transfers and all the other arrangements.
2. Which are your favourite Nice and Cote d’Azur cycling tours?
There are so many cycling routes around Nice that it’s hard to pick my absolute favourite. But these are definitely up there!
Nice – Col d’Eze – Menton – Col de la Madone – Nice
This ride represents the classic must-do ride out of Nice. It links both cols along the beautiful coastline between Nice and Menton into a challenging day of stirring ascents and flowy descents. While challenging, your reward will be beautiful vistas overlooking the Mediterranean sea and local cafes and bakeries in the villages of Eze, La Turbie and Menton.
Col d’Eze is the most famous climb directly out of Nice, mostly because of its use in the last stage of the Paris-Nice stage race during the start of March. The event is nicknamed The Race to the Sun, as it usually starts in wintery conditions in Paris, and finishes in the sun and warmth on the Cote d’Azur.
Bradley Wiggins famously won the time trial up Col d’Eze in 19 minutes 12 seconds on his way to winning Paris-Nice in 2012. He then followed that up with winning the 2012 Tour de France and Olympic Gold in the London time trial. His direct route up “le Grand Corniche” is the most well known, but there are many other scenic ways to arrive at the top.
This tour will take you to some hidden photo ops on less traveled roads. Expect beautiful vistas as a reward for your climbing efforts. We’ll visit the quintessential French villages of Eze and La Turbie, both offering possibilities for a petit pause at local cafes for a cappuccino, espresso, croissant, pain au chocolat, or whatever else you’re in the mood for.
Nice – Col de Braus – Col de Turini – Nice
This is your chance to ride your bike up a mountain road in the French Alps that is used for the oldest Rally Car Championship Race! Rallye Monte-Carlo has run for 110 years and usually finishes up the treacherous Col de Turini.
This tour combines two of the most popular climbs in the mountains behind Nice, Col de Braus and Col de Turini. We climb both from my favourite sides in terms of beauty and photo ops.
Make no mistake, combining both of these in a trip from Nice means a big day. Expect 3,500m of climbing over 150km. I recommend this only for experienced cyclists, but if you have completed some big routes in the mountains, this may just be the challenge you’re looking for. I have hand-picked all the roads to avoid lights and traffic, sometimes at the “expense/joy” of a bit more climbing.
My favourite climb close to Nice is the Col de Braus. Why? Maybe it’s the constantly changing scenery, the sinuous switchbacks, or the beautiful views as you look back from where you came. But Braus is packed with all of this and more.
This tour starts to climb directly out of Nice to avoid stop lights and traffic and the return loop includes a few more surprises with more great views.
Nice – La Colmiane – Col de Turini – Nice
This tour is modelled after the L’Etape du Tour de France that was planned for both 2020 and 2021 before being abandoned due to Covid-19 restrictions.
If you’re interested to see what the organisers of the Tour de France had in mind, look no further than this beautiful tour of “l’arrière-pays niçois”.
This bike tour starts in a scenic valley on easy roads, followed by two hors categorie climbs of La Colmiane and Col de Turini.
It is followed by a return to Nice with an option to finish with le Col d’Eze as your legs see fit. Expect nothing less than epic, with photos and memories to boot.
This is the creme-de-la-creme of the routes from Nice and it is no wonder ASO included this route in it’s 2020 Tour de France.
Part 2: Bike rental in Nice
3. Where to rent a bike in Nice?
Nice is perfectly suited for many types of riding, from recreational city touring to more advanced road cycling and mountain biking.
While many businesses cater to the touristy crowds, with step-through bikes and e-cycles, sourcing a road bike can be tougher.
I recommend Cafe du Cycliste, a VeloGuide Hub, as your first stop. They’re centrally located on the old port in the heart of Nice, and have excellent Cervelo bikes for rent, French-designed cycling apparel and amazing coffee.
Golden Cycles in Golfe-Juan on the Cote d’Azur also offers high quality road bike rentals and would be a bike shop I’d recommend as well. They have Basso and Bianchi bikes for rent along with a Bianchi electric road bike for those that need an extra boost up the big mountain climbs in the region. Specializing in the higher-end segment, they offer a wide range of products and quality services, including bike fitting, should you need that after unpacking your bike after your flight. Their store concept showcases a compromise between a sleek, luxury store and a place where you will find the latest and greatest.
4. Where to rent leisure and e-bikes in Nice?
Many of the bike tour companies mentioned above (for example Nice Cycle Tours and Azur Vibes Nice) offer rentals of step-through foldable e-bikes like.
Other options include cruiser bikes from Holland Bikes with their easy pick and go offerings, which are perfectly suited for riding the coastline in Nice and stopping at the local cafes.
You’ll also notice a bunch of VéloBleu bike racks around central Nice. You can download their app to get a handle on availability and prices. See below for a further description of the service.
5. Where to rent kids bikes in Nice?
Many Nice bike hire shops have available kids-sized bikes, trailers for young children, and e-bikes for teenagers.
For example, Nice Cycle Tours have a list of options for families, including bikes to suit children of all ages (children’s bikes, baby seats, tow bikes).
Most places will add a lock, puncture repair spray, and a map with recommended sites and itineraries for the independent traveller.
6. Things to consider when renting a bike in Nice
Nice is a world class cycling destination, and you’ll find many high quality road bikes available from Colnago’s to Cervelo’s and Basso’s to Bianchi’s. There is a great chance you can rent exactly what you ride at home (or something even better?!).
In the busy season, I recommend you reserve a bike a few days in advance to make sure you aren’t disappointed on the day of your tour.
Most of the bicycle shops in Nice will require a driver’s licence or passport along with a credit card as a deposit, so make sure you bring this along with you.
Depending on what type of tour you’ve booked, delivery options are available as long as you know what size bike you need. VeloGuide can help you out with this, and one of the guides could meet you at your hotel.
Most shops renting road bikes in Nice will ensure the bike is in great condition for you before your tour, but it’s always good to check that you know how to change gears (Shimano vs Campagnolo), the brakes aren’t rubbing, and that there is a space tube and/or patch kit included.
Make sure you know the details of how the Nice bike shop will charge you. For example if you keep the bike overnight, do you get charged for another day? What time do they close in the evening? Don’t get stuck with an extra day charge on your credit card that wasn’t necessary. A VeloGuide can ensure you always get the best price and never miss closing time.
And finally, it doesn’t really need to be said, but of course the weather can change quickly in the southern alps above Nice. Tucking some sleeves or a light jacket in your jersey pocket can go a long way to improving your experience in the event of a rainstorm or on a descent from one of the cols.
7. What does the VéloBleu system offer?
Last but not least, it’s important to mention the VéloBleu bike rental system in Nice. VéloBleu (blue bike) is a system of on-the-spot bike rentals that allow locals and tourists to pick up a bike at one docking station and return it to another around Nice.
There are currently around 175 locations throughout Nice and Cagnes-sur-Mer. The docking stations are dotted along the length of the Promenade des Anglais from Nice Airport to the Port and beyond.
Prices are very reasonable (1.50 Euros to rent, and up to 4 Euros if you keep one all day), but ensure you pick one that isn’t broken as many are in need of maintenance from time to time.
With your smartphone, you can download the VéloBleu app, which will give you real-time availability of bikes. This is essential during busy times as sometimes the stations are full, or no bikes will be available when you need one.
The bikes are a good option for a quick trip up and down the promenade, but they are very heavy and will have you gasping for air if you try to get out on any of the longer routes we’ve listed above! They aren’t recommended for any VeloGuide tours; instead let us help you find a bike that’s more fun to ride!
8. Final words
I hope this has provided a good overview of the cycle tour and bike rental options available in Nice and the Cote d’Azur. I love living in Nice and would love to show you the best places to ride.
A big thank you to Rich for providing such useful information on Nice bike tours. We love the flexibility and personal touch that VeloGuide offers and will certainly be looking them up ourselves next time we’re in Nice!
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