Cannes is known for the Film Festival, palm-tree lined promenades and beautiful beaches shimmering under endless sunshine. But Cannes is not only about glamour and the high life, motorcycle touring around the region can be one of the greatest ways to explore the South of France.
The South of France offers some of the world’s best motorcycle roads. The stunning coast roads of the French Riviera, the rolling hills of the Provence and the twisting mountain roads of the Alps are all within a day’s ride from Cannes and offer some of the most enjoyable motorcycle tours in Europe. All of which is enhanced by over 300 days of sunshine per year, exhilarating motorcycle routes and easy international access via Nice Airport, the second largest airport in France.
To enjoy the South of France to the full extent, we want to share our favorite motorcycle roads around Cannes in this helpful motorcycle route planner. This covers the Gorges Verdon, Lake Sainte Croix, Saint Tropez, Gorges Daluis, Gorges Cians, Col Bonette, Col Turini and Dolceacqua by crossing the border to Italy. Clicking on the below GoogleMaps links provides further detail.
Route 1 – Route Napoleon & Gorges Verdon
The Route Napoleon is a blast. The road surface is smooth with sweeping bends, altitude changes and great vistas. If you enjoy cruising in 3rd and 4th gear with a couple of turns thrown in for good measure then these are some of the best motorcycle roads you can find.
The Route Napoleon leads you to the Gorges Verdon also known as the Grand Canyon of France. You can ride into the canyon and enjoy the spectacular views. If you are not prone to vertigo, then take the Route Cretes, a narrow road leading you along the edge of the canyon. If you are lucky, you will spot some eagles getting some air in the canyon.
We recommend a lunch stop in Palud-sur-Verdon. For the return you enjoy a different route through the Verdon National Park. You ride through the typical French village of Trigance and then rejoin the Route Napoleon back to Cannes.
234 km / 146 m / 4.5 h riding time - http://goo.gl/maps/wXNjJ
Route 2 – Lake Saint Cassien & Lake Sainte Croix
This day trip takes you to a series of beautiful lakes. Your first leg is the Route des Adrets - pleasure you can’t measure on 20km of twisting tarmac. You then cruise towards Lake Saint Cassien and continue via the rolling hills of the Provence up to Montferrat. Watch out not to get tempted to ride the same pace as the local motorcyclists. They know these roads like the back of their hand.
You then ride along the other side of the Grand Canyon offering spectacular views, twisting roads and motorbike tours you will never forget. Your next Kodak moment is the turquoise Lake Sainte Croix.
We recommend a lunch stop in Aups. For the return you enjoy a different route through vineyard-lined roads of the Cote de Provence wine region. The last leg takes you from Lorgues back on the unforgettable Route des Adrets to Cannes.
257 km / 160 m / 5 h riding time - http://goo.gl/maps/qDX8k
Route 3 – Saint Tropez
Starting from Cannes, the Esterel coast road is home to several Ducati launches because of its contrasting red Esterel stone and intense blue of the Mediterranean. This road gets busy in summer. To get the most out of your motorcycle holiday in the South of France, avoid this route in July and August.
After your coastal stint, ride past several golf courses into Frejus and then to Le Muy. From there the sweeping road to Saint Tropez is waiting. A recent resurface increases your “smiles per miles”. Swing a right towards Plan de la Tour, which is a typical Provençal village with a market place, where old men play boule and drink rosé wine. The road leaving Plan de la Tour is scenic, but can get narrow at times. Best to stay on the right of your lane and watch out for oncoming traffic. Instead of eating overpriced food in Saint Tropez, we suggest riding up to Ramatuelle, which offers beautiful views of the bay of Saint Tropez. A coffee break in Saint Tropez to get a glimpse of the glamorous yachts should be within the budget.
For the return you enjoy the inland route via Grimaud and Garde Freinet. A fantastic motorcycle road with loads of altitude changes. The last leg takes you on the exceptional Route des Adrets to Cannes.
218 km / 136 m / 5 h riding time - http://goo.gl/J6lQPI
Route 4 – Gorges Daluis and Gorges Cians
This trip is our favourite. The route offers plenty of smiles per miles. Starting from Cannes, you head up towards Grasse and get on the beautiful road to Gourdon. Continue your ascent towards Greolieres. You might recognize the scenery from the recent MV Agusta Rivale launch. There is a Kodak moment or two to be had on this road.
The road then becomes less twisty and you can stretch your motorcycle’s legs a bit. Make sure not to miss the turn onto the D5, which takes you all the way to the magnificent Lake Castillion. From there you take the N202 towards Entrevaux and enjoy one scenic turn after the other.
The highlight of this trip is the breathtaking Gorges Daluis. The canyon seems to drop forever and the winding road takes you from one tunnel to the other. After lunch in Guillaumes it is time to ride up to the Valberg ski resort and descend again through the Gorges Cians. This canyon has dark red rocks and is simply stunning. Make sure to stop and take a picture. For the way back, you enjoy part of the Route des Grandes Alpes and join the motorway for a short stint back to Cannes.
260 km / 163 m / 5 h riding time - http://goo.gl/wiwrsf
Route 5 – Route des Grandes Alpes and Col Bonette
This day tour is the longest of our routes. We recommend starting earlier in the morning. To make some time, best to take the Autoroute A8 to Nice. Then peal off the motorway following the signs to “Stations du Ski” which translates into skiing resorts. The amazing Route des Grandes Alpes takes you past Isola and Auron up the Col de Bonette. The Col de Bonette is the highest paved road in Europe at 2802m. On clear day you enjoy great views across the Alps. On an overcast day, you enjoy views above the clouds.
After your picture break you ride down the other side of the Col de Bonette. Make a pit stop for lunch and fuel up in Barcelonette. After your lunch break you again cross the Maritime Alps by driving up the Allos ski resort. Riding though a ski resort in summer is a unique experience. After these twisting roads, you can relax a bit on the sweeping bends to Nice. Then it’s back on the A8 highway and a short ride to Cannes.
350 km / 219 m / 5.5 h riding time - http://binged.it/1eTWNuk
Route 6 – Vence and Col Turini
The Col de Turini is known as a special stage of the legendary Rally Monte Carlo. This is a great ride that will make you grin from ear to ear. Follow the dual carriageway up to Grasse and then the scenic route to Bar sur Loup and Tourette sur Loup. You then continue onto Vence and approach the lower end of the Routes des Alpes.
You follow the winding Tinée River from one mountain valley to the other. A spectacular road with impressive rock formations left, right and above you. You then continue your climb up the lower French Alps and we suggest having lunch in Saint Martin en Vesubie. Then follow the road towards Lantosque and up to the Col de Turini. Once you’re up on top of the Col de Turini, why not stop for a quick coffee. Riding down the Col de Turini demands caution. One tight hairpin after the other requires full concentration. After this intense stretch, you rejoin the motorway A8 and blast down 30 km / 20 m to Cannes.
230 km / 144 m / 5 h riding time - http://goo.gl/AMvRnj
Route 7 - Dolceacqua and Italian Riviera
Motorcycle tours in Europe have their advantages! Cannes is a stone’s throw from Italy. Why not cross the border and enjoy some pizza in Italy? We have included a restaurant recommendation. To make this trip comfortably in one day, you will need to take the motorway to Nice. Then climb up the mountain road to L’Escarene and continue your ascent to Sospel. You will be impressed by the scenery all the way up to Breil sur Roya. Then cross the mountain border into Italy and follow the meandering River Roia to Dolceacqua and ride past Perinaldo straight down to Bordighera. There we suggest the restaurant called Pizzeria Napolitana located on 250 Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 18012 Bordighera. One word of caution, this restaurant only accepts cash.
After your Espresso, get on the motorway and peal off at Monaco. We recommend a tour of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. Then ride on to Nice and back to Cannes.
246 km / 154 m / 5 h riding time - http://goo.gl/sSw4na
This riding guide outlines our recommended routes around Cannes. One thing you can be sure about is that you will have a fantastic time motorcycling in France. Smiles per miles are guaranteed. Want to find out more? Contact us for further route recommendations.
Posted by: Jeff Fielding