St-Malo to Nice is a spectacular 1,000 mile route across France passes through 19 départements taking in the most famous cycling regions, such as the Loire and Provence, as well as lesser-known gems, like the Lot river and the verdant banks of the Vienne. Passing through a patchwork of subtle and striking changes in terrain and landscape, this is a route of two distinct halves.
You begin by hugging the Brittany coastline momentarily, flirting with Normandy and seeing the iconic Mont St-Michel before heading south to the banks of France’s longest river, the Loire. After crossing the wheat fields and grazing land of Poitou-Charentes, you reach the rolling hills of the Dordogne. On leaving the Dordogne you turn a corner.
The terrain changes as hills become ever more prominent, slowly giving way to mountainous terrain and steep-sided valleys; and there is also a change in climate and terroir. The route hugs the banks of the Lot river, picking a gentle route into the mountains and occasionally being propelled up its valley sides, before reaching the source and the northern edge of the wild Cévennes.
The route plunges down into the fruit and vineyard choked Ardèche département before following the famous gorge of the same name to the Rhône valley, and the world-renowned wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Crossing the Rhône announces your arrival in Provence. The towering shape of Mont Ventoux on the skyline, hot sun, lavender fields and blue-shuttered cafés, combine to make you feel as if you are in a separate country entirely.