Do you enjoy exploring beautiful landscapes and participating in outdoor sports? Discover the 12 best places to go on a mountain bike ride in France!
Are you looking for an exceptional place for a solo mountain bike ride with family or friends? We understand mountain biking is one of the best ways to enjoy the freedom that your legs give you entirely.
Who doesn’t dream of walking through peaceful natural expanses, experiencing outdoor sporting moments, and simply enjoying the wonders of our country?
France has so many national parks, mountain ranges, and beautifully preserved landscapes! To help you discover them, we give you the 12 best places to go on a mountain bike ride in France. All you have to do is get on your bike to explore these exceptional natural sites!
The 11 Best Places To Go Mountain Biking in France
1. The Ecrins
The Ecrins National Park is considered THE European high mountain park! Located in the Hautes-Alpes department, the Barre des Écrins rises to 4,102 metres.
It is known for its plant biodiversity, the authenticity of its landscapes and valleys. Hikes here are among the most popular in France, whether on foot or by mountain bike.
In the heart of this natural park, you can cycle through forests of Scots pines, firs, and larch. Your getaways will take you around beautiful places, such as Lake Serre-Ponçon or the Glacier Blanc.
Don’t miss the picturesque villages of Vallouise, Puy-Saint-Vincent, and Freissinières.
2. La Vanoise
The Vanoise National Park rivals its Alpine neighbor to the north of Les Ecrins. It is located on the border with Italy. The Vanoise Park is home to beautiful mountainous landscapes.
With its 197 lakes, twenty glaciers, and valuable peaks, the park is undoubtedly one of the best places to go on a mountain bike hike in France! It is very popular with hikers; the park sees the GR5 and GR55 trails pass through its heart.
Do not miss to discover this park, its fantastic landscapes, and its vast floral biodiversity! After a long, arduous hike or a charming bike ride, the Savoyard welcome will seduce you!
You can come and rest in one of the high mountain resorts of the region, such as Tignes or the Val d’Isère – well known to skiers – or a more authentic village of the Maurienne.
3. The Cévennes and the Grands Causses
The vast Cévennes National Park is a privileged place for lovers of outdoor activities and nature lovers. At the crossroads of various regions, it is home to Mediterranean, continental and alpine animal and plant species.
With its forests of oaks, Scots pines, and beeches, its unique biodiversity, the Cévennes mountain range is certainly the highlight and heart of the national park.
In the heart of dazzling landscapes, it will seduce mountain bike hikers with trails for all levels. Visit the park’s thirty mountain bike circuits, which represent 500 km of tracks of all levels.
Then extend your adventure in the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park to contemplate other natural wonders, such as the Cirque de Navacelles and the Gorges du Trévezel, or historical treasures such as the beautiful Templar City of La Couvertoirade.
4. The Volcanoes of Auvergne
Covering 15% of the French territory, the Massif Central is the largest massif in the country. It is home to one of the most scenic places to go mountain biking in France:
The Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne! With its wide variety of landscapes, unspoiled nature, remarkable history, and pastoral culture, this space has something to seduce mountain bike hikers.
The park is traversed by many trails that will take you from volcanoes to picturesque villages, through sunny plateaus and deep gorges like those of the Cère.
You can also rest on the shores of charming lakes, such as Lake Aydat, surrounded by beautiful mountain bike rides. You will find that long bike paths connect every village in the park.
5. The Queyras
The Alps have no shortage of places to go on a mountain bike ride in France! Among the most exceptional sites, it is impossible to ignore the Queyras Regional Natural Park.
Neighboring the Ecrins, this valley is crossed by the Guil, a torrential river, and overlooked by high mountains, such as the Pic de Rochebrune (3,320 meters), Mont Aiguillette (3,287 meters), and the Sugar Loaf (3,208 meters), which punctuate its reliefs.
The Queyras is well known and appreciated by hikers. It houses paths for all levels.
Whether looking for a sporting challenge or a relaxing atmosphere in the heart of sublime landscapes, everyone will find what they are looking for in this beautiful natural park!
6. The Vercors
It is undoubtedly one of the best places to ride a mountain bike in France: the Vercors is unmissable for any mountain biker.
Located in the Pre-Alpines, between the departments of Isère and Drôme, this massif is known for its rugged reliefs made of cliffs, ridges, valleys, and gorges.
With its steep valleys and numerous plateaus, you will quickly understand why the nickname “Fortress” was associated with it. This nickname is thus a harbinger of sports mountain bike rides, with nice elevation gains and arduous descents!
Connected to many long-distance hiking trails, the Vercors is home to nearly 1,200-kilometer mountain bike routes.
7. The Luberon
Rising between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Vaucluse department, the Luberon massif is a small mountain range but a great playground for mountain bike hikers!
In the Luberon, you can start beautiful and well-accessible circuits for pleasant hikes with family or friends or embark on more challenging routes, such as the excellent mountain bike crossing of Vaucluse of 277 km, which winds between Mont Ventoux and the Monts du Vaucluse!
8. The Mercantour
Known as one of the wildest national parks in France, the Mercantour owes its fame to its variety of very contrasting landscapes, between the Mediterranean touches brought by the Côte d’Azur and its high alpine mountains.
It is above all a great place to go mountain biking in France: the Mercantour National Park is home to nearly 600 kilometers of maintained and marked trails, including the GR 5, the GR 56, and the incredible GR 52A, which constitutes the panoramic path of the Mercantour and crosses the Valley of Wonders – one of the emblematic places of the park and which houses 40,000 prehistoric engravings!
Also, take advantage of your mountain biking adventures to admire Lake Allos, the largest natural lake of altitude in Europe, and from where beautiful hikes start.
9. The Catalan Pyrenees
The Massif du Canigou is one of the most beautiful mountain bikes in France. It is located in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales.
Home to a wide variety of landscapes, it is one of the most pleasant places to go on a mountain bike ride in France.
With its sunny climate, the park offers beautiful hiking trails that lead from Fort Romeu in the heights of the park to the charming coastal town of Collioure.
To accomplish this lovely route from the peak of Canigou to the seaside, passing through the Col d’Ares, you can, fortunately, count on an incredible marked path of nearly 200 kilometers!
Who said that mountain biking should be limited to the high mountains of the Alps, the Pyrenees, or the Massif Central? Among the most beautiful places to go on a mountain bike ride in France, we can count Brittany!
In the Regional Natural Park of Armorique, you will find a site known to hikers: the Monts d’Arrée, from where about fifteen marked loops leave between the massif and the Black Mountains.
All you have to do is get on your bike to dive into the mysterious atmosphere of Armorica. Walk through the forest of Huelgoat, slalom between the Roc’h that follow one another on your way, and discover breathtaking wild landscapes!
11. The Pyrenees
To finish this list of the best places to go on a mountain bike ride in France, we could not fail to mention the Pyrenees National Park.
To the west of the Massif du Canigou, in the heart of the mountains and a few pedal strokes from Lourdes, this national park is a great playground for lovers of outdoor activities.
From Argelès-Gazost, at the park entrance, to the Cirque de Gavarnie, near the Spanish border, there are many marked hiking trails.
Each valley and village has its Walkthrough circuit. Many routes and mountain bike rides are available around Luz-Saint-Sauveur in the Pays Toy Valley.
On the Lourdes side, beginners or experienced will also find paths for all levels. Inthe the famous Cauterets Valley, you will find sports courses that will satisfy more seasoned mountain bikers!
Visit the local Tourist Offices to obtain valuable maps showing the most beautiful circuits.