The South of France is well known for its cycling, and the pretty Mediterranean city of Cannes is a splendid place to jump on your bike and explore in either direction along the coast, or up into the cool hills that rise above the Mediterranean.
All of these rides are best enjoyed in spring and autumn- light snow may well slow you down on the higher routes in winter, while the blazing heat and traffic snarls of July and August on the Riviera certainly will. If you’re riding in warm weather, take advantage of the cooler and quieter early hours, and the long summer twilights when the Mediterranean landscape turns soft pinks and hazy blues.
For the super-keen cyclist, you can ride the entire French Riviera on an epic cycling route (which we’ve written about here), but for the purposes of this short feature we’ll only touch on the legs that are close to Cannes. Four of the routes are road biking, but we’ve included one mountain biking route near Cannes for those who want to get off-road.
Cannes to Nice via Antibes
What a place to be alive and out on a bike. Take a ride from Cannes down the pretty esplanade of Juan les Pins, with its famous pines and seaside holiday feel. Then ride around the truly spectacular Cap d’Antibes, with its vast villas owned by Russian oligarchs and the old French aristocracy. With perfect pebbled coves, rockpools and stupendous views across the Bay of Angels towards the Alps, this is a truly lovely bit of riding- although you’ll have to share the road with traffic.
A flat beachfront bike path will then take you all the way from the far side of Antibes through to Nice’s palm-lined Promenade des Anglais. Of course, if you wanted to go further from here the Grand Corniche beckons...
Cannes to Saint-Raphael
Unless you’re out pretty early, the traffic can make the first part of this journey a bit painful, but it’s worth it. As soon as you clear the traffic you’ll discover a stellar bit of road cycling- with the Esterel mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. This part of the coast has deep red rocks that contrast beautifully with the cobalt-blue sea- and on a nice day, this ride is heaven. Unfortunately it’s all on highway, but what a pretty highway it is, and there are lots of places to stop off at a beach and drink in the view.
Cannes to Gorge du Loup
This ride offers you the best of both worlds, taking in both Mediterranean beachfront and the hill villages of the Alpes Maritimes. Take the coast path in the direction of Nice (as in route 1 above) as far as St Laurent du Var, and then head inland and upwards to the beautiful village of Vence and on to Col de Vence. Then it’s through the isolated medieval village of Coursegoules and finally to the wild and wonderful Gorge du Loup.
Cannes to Cabris via La Napoule
This route will take you up into the hills behind Cannes and Grasse to the perched village of Cabris, and offer stunning views back across the coast. Beginning by the sea, you’ll leave Cannes and head to La Napoule, where you’ll head inland and rise to take the road across the Massif Taneron- the views back across the Bay of Cannes are exquisite from here, and the forest will be cloaked in vivid yellow mimosa if you ride in Jan or Feb. You’ll then pass through the pretty hilltop villages of Montauroux, Callian and St Césaire sur Siagne, before finally coming to the destination- the perched village of Cabris. From up here you can admire the panoramic view back down to the sea where you started- you can see the Cannes Islands, as well as Lake Saint Cassien from here.
Mountain Biking Tour of the Mimosa – a loop from Pégomas
Leave the road behind on this easy mountain biking trail, taking in the best of the mimosa flowers, vineyards and olive groves in the rolling hills. Head to Pégomas, 16kms outside Nice, and pick up the mountain bike route, which will take you across the Siagne River, past the tiny hamlets of Sausses and Cabrol, before coming back to Pégomas. To see the landscape in its full glory, aim to ride this trail in January or February when the vivid yellow mimosa is in full bloom.
These are our 5 picks of the best rides around Cannes, but this is prime cycling country so there’s plenty more great rides in the area to be enjoyed. Check out our Cycling Guide page for more information.