by D’Arcy Kavanagh
The 20 kilometres of the French Riviera from bustling Nice to hyper-expensive Monaco are jammed with people, buildings and vehicles.
But what a place to cycle!
Yes, you read that correctly. This busy, overpriced chunk of coast offers some wonderful riding, for the average cyclist to the racer interested in testing legs and lungs.
The reasons are varied. First, you have the weather which is usually warm and sunny from late April to mid October. Then you have the neighbouring sea which is stunningly azure in colour. Now, add in some small towns that are great for visiting. For example, Eze, stuffed on a hilltop and minutes from Monaco, is renowned for its perfume, but provides some wonderful views of the rugged terrain.
Finally, there are the different routes. For example, you can take the low road from Nice through Villefranche sur Mer onto Beaulieu and then follow it all the way to Monaco; the route has a couple of hills but nothing that causes any pain. The Middle Corniche is much more demanding, but provides stunning vistas. Then you have the High Corniche where some of the world’s greatest cyclists train; the climbs are tough but the views are simply world class.
With some planning, you can ride 60 or 70 km in a day without covering the same terrain. You’ll do some hills, including the occasional steep one, but you’ll won’t mind when you have so much beauty around you.
And if you’re wondering how cycling mixes with all that traffic, don’t fret. The French love cycling and you can ride on a series of bikepaths beside most main arteries. Surprisingly, if you don’t mind some climbing, you can take detours and soon find yourself in a quiet, secluded area that seems a world removed from downtown Nice or the harbour of Monaco.
Then at the end of a good day’s riding in this part of France, you can relax at a nice, inexpensive café – by Riviera standards – and tell yourself, as you bathe in the warmth and enjoy the glorious coastal scenes before you, that life can be just fine.