11 places to go mountain biking in France

Do you enjoy discovering beautiful landscapes and practicing an outdoor sporting activity? Check out our 12 mountain biking spots in France!

Are you looking for an exceptional place to go mountain biking alone, with family or friends? Mountain biking is one of the best ways to take full advantage of the freedom your legs give you. Who doesn’t dream of surveying peaceful natural expanses, enjoying outdoor sporting activities and simply taking in the wonders of our country? France has so many national parks, mountain ranges and beautifully preserved landscapes! To help you discover them, we’ve listed 12 places to go mountain biking in France. All that’s left for you to do is get on your bike and explore these exceptional natural sites!

1. The Ecrins

Faire du vtt dans les Ecrins - Paysage des Alpes

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The Parc National des Écrins is considered THE European high mountain park! Located in the Hautes-Alpes department, the Barre des Écrins peaks at 4,102 meters. It’s renowned for its plant biodiversity and the authenticity of its landscapes and valleys. Whether on foot or mountain bike, its hiking trails are among the most popular in France. In the heart of this natural park, you can cycle through forests of Scots pine, fir and larch. Your escapades will take you around magnificent sites such as Lac de Serre-Ponçon and Glacier Blanc. Don’t miss the picturesque villages of Vallouise, Puy-Saint-Vincent and Freissinières.

2. La Vanoise

Paysage Vanoise pour faire du vtt

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North of the Ecrins, the Vanoise National Park competes sublimely with its Alpine neighbor. It lies on the border with Italy. The Parc de la Vanoise is home to some superb mountain scenery. With its 197 lakes, 20 glaciers and countless peaks, the park is undoubtedly one of the best places for mountain biking in France! Very popular with hikers, the GR5 and GR55 trails pass through the heart of the park. So don’t miss out on discovering this park, its fantastic landscapes and its vast floral biodiversity! After a long, arduous hike or a charming bike ride, the Savoyard welcome will win you over! You can come and relax in one of the region’s high mountain resorts, such as Tignes or Val d’Isère – well known to skiers – or in a more authentic village in the Maurienne.

3. The Cévennes and the Grands Causses

Parc National des Cévennes paysage pour du vtt

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The vast Parc national des Cévennes is an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. At the crossroads of various regions, it is home to Mediterranean, continental and alpine plant and animal species. With its forests of oak, Scots pine and beech, and its unique biodiversity, the Cévennes mountain range is undoubtedly the highlight and heart of the national park. Mountain bikers will love it, with trails for all levels in the heart of dazzling landscapes. Get on your bike and explore the park’s 30 mountain bike trails for all levels, covering 500 km of trails. Then extend your adventure into the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses to contemplate other natural wonders, such as the Cirque de Navacelles and the Gorges du Trévezel, or historical treasures like the beautiful Cité Templière at La Couvertoirade.

4. The Volcanoes of Auvergne

Parc National des Volcans Auvergne pour faire une rando vtt

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Covering 15% of France, the Massif Central is the country’s largest massif. At its heart lies one of the most beautiful areas for mountain biking in France: the Parc naturel régional des Volcans d’Auvergne! With its wide variety of landscapes, unspoilt nature, unique history and pastoral culture, this area is sure to appeal to mountain bikers. The park is criss-crossed by numerous trails that take you from volcanoes to picturesque villages, sun-drenched plateaus and deep gorges like the Cère. You can also relax on the shores of charming lakes, such as Lac d’Aydat, surrounded by beautiful mountain bike trails. From every village in the park, you’re sure to discover long cycling trails.

5. The Queyras

Parc National Queyras faire vtt

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ST GB AND AL PHOTOGRAPHY

There’s no shortage of places in the Alps to go mountain biking in France! Among the most exceptional sites, it’s impossible to overlook the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras. A neighbor of the Écrins, this valley is criss-crossed by the Guil, a torrential river, and overlooked by high mountains such as Pic de Rochebrune (3,320 m), Mont Aiguillette (3,287 m) and Pain de Sucre (3,208 m). Queyras is well known and appreciated by hikers. There are trails to suit all abilities. Whether you’re looking for a sporting challenge or a relaxing atmosphere in the heart of sublime landscapes, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this beautiful natural park!

6. The Vercors

faire une rando vtt dans le Vercors

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One of the best places for mountain biking in France, the Vercors is on every mountain biker’s must-see list. Located in the Pre-Alps, between the departments of Isère and Drôme, this massif is known for its rugged terrain of cliffs, ridges, valleys and gorges. With its steep-sided valleys and numerous plateaus, you’ll soon understand why the nickname « Fortress » has come to be associated with it. This nickname is a sure sign of sporty mountain biking, with steep climbs and challenging descents! Connected to numerous long-distance hiking trails, the Vercors is home to almost 1,200 kilometers of mountain bike itineraries.

7. The Luberon

Parc Luberon faire du vtt

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Rising between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Vaucluse departments, the Luberon massif is a small mountain range, but a formidable playground for mountain bikers! In the Luberon, you can start out on beautiful, accessible circuits, for pleasant rides with family or friends, or embark on more challenging routes, such as the 277 km Vaucluse mountain bike traverse, which winds its way between Mont Ventoux and the Monts du Vaucluse!

8. Mercantour

VTT dans le Mercantour paysage

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Known as one of France’s wildest national parks, the Mercantour owes its fame to its variety of contrasting landscapes, between the Mediterranean touches brought by the Côte d’Azur and its high Alpine mountains. Above all, it’s a great place to go mountain biking in France: the Mercantour National Park is home to almost 600 kilometers of groomed and signposted trails, including the GR 5, the GR 56 and the incredible GR 52A, which forms the Mercantour Panoramic Trail and crosses the Vallée des Merveilles – one of the park’s most emblematic sites and home to 40,000 prehistoric engravings! And don’t forget to take advantage of your mountain-biking adventures to admire the Lac d’Allos, Europe’s largest natural high-altitude lake, and the starting point for a number of beautiful hikes.

9. The Catalan Pyrenees

Faire du VTT dans en Catalogne dans les Pyrénées - vue sur Banyuls avec la mer

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The Massif du Canigou is one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in France. It is located in the Pyrénées-Orientales department. Home to a wide variety of landscapes, it’s one of the most pleasant places to go mountain biking in France. Its sunny climate is complemented by beautiful hiking trails, which take you from Fort-Romeu in the heights of the park to the charming coastal town of Collioure. To complete this charming route from the Pic du Canigou to the seaside, via the Col d’Ares, you can count on an incredible 200 kilometers of marked trails!

10. Armorique

faire du vtt en Armorique en Bretagne

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Who said that mountain biking had to be confined to the high mountains of the Alps, Pyrenees or Massif Central? Among the most beautiful places for mountain biking in France, of course, is Brittany! In the Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique, you’ll find a site well known to hikers: the Monts d’Arrée, from where some fifteen signposted loops run between the massif and the Montagnes Noires. All that’s left to do is hop on your bike and immerse yourself in the mysterious atmosphere of Armorique. Wind your way through the Huelgoat forest, slalom between the Roc’hs that follow in your wake, and discover breathtakingly wild landscapes!

11. The Pyrenees

Pyrénées rando vtt

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To round off this list of the best places for mountain biking in France, we couldn’t fail to mention the Parc national des Pyrénées. To the west of the Massif du Canigou, in the heart of the mountains and just a few pedal strokes from Lourdes, this national park is a fantastic playground for outdoor enthusiasts. From Argelès-Gazost, at the entrance to the park, to the Cirque de Gavarnie, close to the Spanish border, there are numerous signposted hiking trails. Each valley and village has its own circuits. In the Vallée du Pays Toy, around Luz-Saint-Sauveur, you’ll find a wide range of itineraries and mountain bike trails to suit all abilities. Near Lourdes, beginners and experienced riders alike will find trails to suit all levels, while in the famous Vallée de Cauterets, you’ll find sporty routes that will satisfy more seasoned mountain bikers! Don’t forget to visit the local tourist offices to pick up your precious maps of the most beautiful circuits.