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P'tites Routes du Soleil

915 Km
Moyen
Thonon-les-Bains
Nice
So, are you thinking that the P’tites Routes du Soleil® might provide a much gentler alternative to the Route des Grandes Alpes®? Then you’re certainly not on the right track! This route, a bit over 900km in length and involving over 17,000m of positive shift in altitude, also offers cyclists a great challenge. That said, none of the 25 main mountain passes on this alternative route reaches over 1,400m in altitude and you can opt to divide the route into 21 stages. In addition, choose an e-bike and the route proves very accessible.

Waytypes of the cycle route

By road: 902,69 km Cycle path: 12,33 km

The cycle route through France’s Alpine foothills, or Préalpes

The P’tites Routes du Soleil® cycle route sticks to the western edges of the French Alps, crossing a whole series of French Alpine foothills – Préalpes, or pre-alpine ranges – namely the Chablais, Chartreuse, Vercors, Diois, Baronnies and Buëch, as well as the Préalpes de Digne, de Castellane and de Nice further south. In all these pre-alpine ranges, communities settled far back in time and developed deeply rooted mountain traditions in remarkable harmony with their natural environment. Riding through these ranges you’ll encounter a whole variety of sensational, diverse landscapes, from forests and unspoilt plateaux to perched villages and lavender fields. All around, breathtaking limestone formations rise up. It’s no surprise that the first geopark listed by UNESCO was in the département, or French county, of Haute-Provence, around the town of Digne-les-Bains. 

Cycle north to south or south to north

Along this beautiful cycle route forming a great arc on the map. As to car traffic, it is usually minimal along the route. As with its greater sibling, the Route des Grandes Alpes®, you can tackle the P’tites Routes du Soleil® north to south or south to north. Depending on your level of fitness and the challenge you wish to take on, it’s easy to group together a series of stages. Some of these are under 40km in length. While you should always consult the weather forecast before setting out, you’re unlikely to be caught out by significant snowfall or extreme weather conditions in these pre-alpine ranges.

Easier with e-bikes! 

To make the route more accessible to a wider number of cyclists, there are recharging points for e-bikes (vélos à assistance électrique, or VAEs, in French) dotted along the way, roughly every 30-40km. This means that people with different levels of fitness and experience can enjoy the adventure together if heading out as a group, some using conventional bikes, others e-bikes. Riding an e-bike makes tackling major mountain passes manageable, offering cyclists a good balance between effort and enjoyment! 

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35,80 Km
Difficult

Boëge / La Muraz

The cycle route continues alongside the Menoge River via the Col des Pitons, heading for Mont Salève (1,335m), a kind [...]

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43,79 Km
Moyen

La Muraz / Desingy

Having tackled Mont Salève, you come to one of the easiest stretches along the P’tites Routes du Soleil® cycle [...]

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42,52 Km
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Desingy / Entrelacs

You now come to the Albanais area, marked by curvaceous valleys offering grandiose views of the French Alps. These [...]

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53,68 Km
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Die / Valdrôme

The Diois area certainly won’t provide you with a flat cycling stage! In fact, its charm comes from the contrasts [...]

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30,60 Km
Moyen

Valdrôme / Valdoule

From the Haut Diois area to the Oule Valley, the P’tites Routes du Soleil® crosses into the département, or French [...]

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27,61 Km
Moyen

Salérans / Sisteron

There are two marvels to relish on this stage of the P'tites routes du Soleil®: the descent through the bottom of the [...]

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63,94 Km
Moyen

Les Ferres / Nice

From the Col des Ferres (a pass at 596m), the P’tites Routes du Soleil® leads you over to the south side of Le [...]

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