Alps to Provence Mountain Biking


Holiday Overview

A spectacular mountain bike ride with varied scenery and a choice of routes for intermediate to advanced bikers. From the snow capped mountains of the Ecrins National Park to the lavender fields of Provence - it's a real journey.

Start in the snow capped mountains of one of the most dramatic mountain ranges of the French Alps, the Ecrins, and end up in the lavender fields of Provence.

This varied route starts off in the Champoleon valley with the dramatic snowcapped mountains of the Ecrins massif all around you.

The golden eagles, marmots, chamois and ibex will be watching you with curiosity as you descend the mountains and traverse the magnificent Champsaur and Gapencais valleys.

All your hard work will be rewarded as you arrive in Le Buech as the scent of lavender wafts past your nose.

The final destination is the site of the Meouge gorge - a beautiful conservation area in the heart of Provence. The gorge is 7km long with dramatic limestone sides. The water is crystal clear and there are sand beaches, waterfalls and waterholes along its length.

You finish the tour in the beautiful, fortified, medieval town of Sisteron.

There are a variety of routes possible for this tour, but the true off road routes are better adapted to intermediate and advanced bikers with technical single tracks, spectacular mountain ridges with panoramic views mixed with some easy forest trails traversing beautiful alpine woods and meadows, river and lakeside paths, tracks and canal paths.

For less experienced riders, there are a reasonable amount of back road sections to avoid some of the harder single tracks.

When you enquire, we will ask you to tell us about your mountain biking experience and how much ascent, descent and number of kms you expect to do each day. We will then suggest an itinerary based on the one described below and subject to accommodation availability (which can change!!).

We work with a well respected, local mountain bike expert with in depth knowledge and experience of the routes and variations possible to ensure we provide you with the best route possible for your party.

Once the general route has been agreed and you have booked, we will then look after all the logistics for you, make the accommodation reservations, arrange your baggage transfers and give you the maps and GPS tracks you need for your trip.

This is a self guided trip, so you do need to be self sufficient and capable of doing your own basic repairs. You must be able to read a map and follow GPS tracks as the routes we use are not always way marked.

We are available throughout your trip for emergencies and can help you find bike shops, taxis or other things you may need. Please note any call outs, taxis, bike parts or other extra items arranged by us are not included in the price and are payable as extras.

Have a look at our mountain biking kit list for advice on what to bring and our blog article on top tips for mountain biking!

You may also be interested in our downhill mountain biking trip or our Champsaur and Valgaudemar trip.

Itinerary

Itinerary Overview

The Alps to Provence is a fabulous mountain biking adventure taking you from the snow capped mountains of the Ecrins to the lavender fields, apricots and peaches of Provence.

There are a few variations on this route and it is even possible for the same group to have different routes that end up at the same accommodation each night. So if you have mixed abilities or are a family with a mountain bike mad dad or teenagers (minimum age recommended is age 13) and a mum who wants a more gentle ride ...it's possible!

For less experienced riders, the route would be mainly on canal paths, forest trails and tracks and quiet back roads and the distances would be shorter with less ascent and descent. For serious mountain bikers, expect single track and much more technical routes with lots more distance and ascent and descent!

This itinerary is an example to give you an idea. We will fix the exact route at the time of booking subject to accommodation availability and final route choice.

When you enquire, we will ask you about your mountain biking experience and level and suggest the most suitable variation for you with what accommodation is available. Once we have agreed a general itinerary, we will send you the booking form and then get it organised for you!

Please note, this is a self guided holiday and the trails and routes we use are not waymarked routes so you will need to be comfortable reading a map and using GPS tracks.

Day 1 - Arrival

If you have chosen to take a transfer with us we will collect you from Gap train station and take you to your accommodation.

If not, you will make your way to the Auberge for the start of your adventure!

Day 2 - Champoleon to Ancelle

Easy Route:             Distance: 19km   Ascent: 500m      Descent: 500m 

Technical Route:    Distance: 40km   Ascent: 1559m     Descent: 1507m

The Champoleon valley is situated just on the edge of the Ecrins National park with a dramatic backdrop of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.

The area is rich in wildlife, with chamois and ibex frequenting the steep cliffs and mountain sides and marmots scurrying form burrow to burrow all around. There is even a pair of golden eagles who have made this valley their home. For committed mountain bikers on the technical itinerary there is a beautiful single track route traversing the mountainside with panoramic views of the valley.

There is a physically demanding technical ascent up to the Tante Yvonne cabin and then a beautiful long descent down to your accommodation for the night in Ancelle. For a more easy going day, it is the same start but instead of going up to tante Yvonne, there is a pretty canal path traversing the valley.

At the end of the canal path there is a track taking you up over the col and down into the village of Ancelle. Ancelle is a very pretty alpine village situated on a plateau surrounded by mountains.

Day 3 - Ancelle to Haut Correo

Easy Route:             Distance: 25km   Ascent: 600m      Descent: 750m 

Technical Route:     Distance: 31km    Ascent: 950m    Descent: 1114m

This is a fabulous leg taking you from the Champsaur valley with it's spectacular high mountain backdrop and pretty alpine villages.

For technical riders, this is a challenging ascent up to the col de Moissiere where you will be rewarded with spectacular views over the Durance valley. After that there is a fantastic traverse to the col de Manse with panoramic views all the way along on a mixture of single track and canal paths to Rabou. For mountain bikers who want a challenge, there is a fantastic variant up to the col de Gleize with a great single track descent into Rabou.

The easy route starts with a quiet road and then a path to get to the col de Manse where, if you were in a mixed group, you could meet up with the sporty riders and ride together with panoramic views and plenty of photo and picnic opportunities to share along the way. The route then descends to Rabou.

Day 4 - Haut Correo to Veynes

Easy Route:             Distance: 26km   Ascent: 450m      Descent: 450m 

Technical Route:     Distance: 40km   Ascent: 2000m     Descent: 2000m

A beautiful route through the pre-Alps crossing cols, forest, fields and mountains. For the hard core mountain bikers this is a long leg with several passages over cols including a magnificent single track descent into Montmaur.

The easy version is mainly on small roads and paths traversing the same countryside but omitting the big ascents and descents! The last climb up to your accommodation is a challenge at the end of your day but allows you to ride through beautiful countryside in peace and quiet!

 

Day 5 - Veynes to Serres

Easy Route:             Distance: 25km   Ascent: 700m      Descent: 700m 

Technical Route:     Distance: 37km   Ascent: 700m     Descent: 700m

A wonderful route following the river Buech as it winds down the valley. You will pass fields of lavender, apricots and peaches.... mmmmmmmm!

For experienced mountain bikers riding the technical route, this is a relative rest day starting with a nice descent down past Veynes. Afterwards you continue up to the col de la Croix near Savournon where you will be staying for the night.

For the easy mountain bikers, your day starts on a quiet tarmac road and takes you though pretty villages of Aspres St Buech, Aspremont, Sigottier and Serres. Towards the end of your day you end up at a swimming lake where a welcome swim and sunbathe might be in order, before you head to your accommodation.

Day 6 - Serres to Laragne

Easy Route:             Distance: 18km   Ascent: 800m      Descent: 800m 

Technical Route:     Distance: 30km   Ascent: 1300m     Descent: 1300m

Now in the heart of the Alpes Provence you will be riding through orchards, lavender fields and all those lovely 'provencal' scenes you dream about!

For the 'sportif' mountain bikers you start with a climb over the Montagne de St Genis ridge which is the last real barrier before you descend towards the Sisteron valley. After that there is another climb along a pretty path up to the Riou swimming lake where you can stop for a well deserved swim and sunbathe before continuing on to Laragne.

For the easy option, you conto the Montagne de St Genis for a more direct route towards the swimming lake where you have the choice of swimming in the lake or stopping off for a wilder, refreshing bath in the Riou gorges.

Save a bit of energy for your last climb to Vieil-Eyguians and the château d'Arzeliers !

Day 7 - Laragne to Sisteron

Easy Route:             Distance: 32km   Ascent: 500m      Descent: 500m 

Technical Route:     Distance: 43km   Ascent: 900m     Descent: 900m

The last leg of your Alps to Provence mountain bike trip!

This is a great finale to your trip with a varied route taking in dramatic mountain gorges, peach and apricot orchards and a spectacular finish in the citadel of Sisteron.

The hard core mountain biker route takes you on a circuit around the Mountain of St Cyr overlooking the beautiful Méouge Gorges with very tempting rock pools waiting to be jumped into! The end of the route takes you through the orchards of Sisteron where the sweet scent of peaches and apricots are a welcome distraction! On your arrival you will be rewarded with the dramatic view of the Sisteron citadel - the challenge - will you be able to walk all the way to the top!!?

For families and easy riders your route is almost the same without the mountain of St Cyr ascent but still with a quick visit to the beautiful Méouge Gorges - dramatic canyons carved into the limestone with welcoming rock pools for a quick refresh!

Day 8 - Return home

The end of your mountain biking trip!

If you haven't had a chance to explore Sisteron - today is your opportunity - it is an intriguing place!!

If you are using us for your transfer, we will come and collect you from Sisteron.

 

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Directions

If you are planning on travelling with your own bikes for this trip, we recommend that you avoid flying. You will need to take your bike apart for the flight and then put it back together again and there is always the risk of losing it on the plane (especially if there are a few people with bikes on the same plane). This leaves, either driving down or getting the train.

Driving down is straight forward and takes about 9 hrs non-stop from Calais so most people do it with an overnight stop. We can arrange for an end of trip transfer to collect your car.

The nearest train station is Gap which has rail links from Marseille, Grenoble, Valence and Paris (including an overnight sleeper). We can help you organise your train journey here and have local timetables available if you need them. Have a look at our train travel page for more information.

We can also arrange return transfers from Gap station to the starting point in Champoléon. From Sisteron, you can either get the train back to Gap or we can provide a transfer. Please ask us about this when you enquire.

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