Before moving to France in 2008, I had never climbed a hill lasting longer than 15 minutes.
On my local group rides around Nîmes, riding buddies would point to the horizon and say “That is the Mont Ventoux” or “On a clear day, we can see the Pyrenees from here.”
The importance of the mountains was evident. Their countenance changed and you could see the pride and sense of accomplishment climbing those meant for each cyclist.
I had not thought of climbing mountains by bike as something I wanted to do, until I one day in 2009, I climbed the Mont Ventoux for the first time.
While I was toiling up the hill, it seemed neverending. Making it to the top made it worth every moment.
Every summer since then, I take the time to discover new mountains by bike, each climb unique in character and difficulty.
Such is the appeal of mountains for cyclists, that entire websites have been dedicated to classifying climbs around the world. There are literally hundreds of climbs scattered among the 6 main mountain ranges of France.
Some of our favorite climbs are included below. For the diehard cycling fans, we can even combine them for the ultimate French Cols experience.
Check off bucket list climbs in the Alps
Alpe d’Huez, Col du Gabilier, Col de la Croix de Fer are names of climbs that are frequently featured in the most important stages of the Tour de France.
During the summer months, hundreds, if not thousands of cyclists climb to the top on any given day.
This cycling tour is ideal for avid cyclists who want to experience a large number of mythical Tour de France climbs in less than a week.
Iconic Climbs in the Alps & Mont Ventoux in Provence
In little over a week, experience a number of famous climbs in the Alps as well as the Mont Ventoux in Provence.
The first 4 days are dedicated to many of the same iconic climbs as in our Alps Cols Trophy. The last half of the trip is spent in Provence, at the foot of the mighty Mont Ventoux.
In our introduction, we spoke about how climbs differ in character and difficulty. This is an ideal tour to discover what that means in practice.
Pyrénées – the natural border between France and Spain
There is something about the Pyrénées that is different from the Alps.
Cycling through the villages and over climbs like Col d’Aubisque, Hautacam and Tourmalet, the authenticity of the Pyrénées shines through.
The charm of the Pyrénées has to be experienced. It is a certain calmness that dominates the scenery and the general pace of life.
The contrasts in scenery and the beautiful routes are bound to leave a lasting impression.
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