Nice combines the cosmopolitan French Riviera with stunning cycling and, like Girona, is home to plenty of professional cyclists, including Team Sky duo Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe.
“The weather is good all year round and the airport is very close so the riders have an easy connection to get to races,” says Claire Blackie of Cycle Cote d’Azur. “The area offers their wives and partners a good lifestyle, too. In fact most riders base themselves in Monaco for the tax benefits rather than Nice itself.”
Nice is only a 90-minute flight from London and, according to Blackie, offers some of the most beautiful cycling in Europe.
“The airport is right at the end of the promenade you can be on your bike less than an hour after arriving,” she says.
“It’s where the Alps dip their toes into the sea. In winter you can ride along the coast into Italy, or into the L’Esterel National Park to the west, which has flatter roads. You can still climb to 1,000m in winter as the snow stays high, so you can ride the Col de la Madone (926m), as well as other cols such as Col d’Eze (502m).”
The Col d’Eze is Nice’s calling card. The Paris-Nice race finished with a time trial on the climb every year between 1968 and 1995 (except 1977), before returning in 2012, when Bradley Wiggins sealed overall victory in ‘The Race to the Sun’ as part of an annus mirabilis in which the Brit also won the Tour de Romandie, Criterium du Dauphine, Tour de France and Olympic time trial gold.
The climb rises straight out of the city, climbing for 10km at an average gradient of 4.7 per cent, but with long stretches of between seven and eight per cent, providing panoramic views of Nice. In reality it is only one of countless climbs in the region.
“You can ride all year long in Nice but spring and autumn are particularly special in Nice as the weather is fantastic and there are less tourists. ” In winter the temperatures are around 10-12 degrees and sunny and it’s not unusual for this to rise to 16-18 degrees.”
Pros: Good international connections, cosmopolitan city, varied terrain, spot a pro
Cons: Chilly early in the year, high mountain passes subject to snow in winter