P'tites Routes du Soleil
Waytypes of the cycle route
Surface of the cycle route
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!