Mountainbiking in Barcelonnette

Mountainbiking Barcelonnette – intro

Barcelonnette is a fantastic holiday destination for anyone that loves riding their mountainbike.

All types off riding

It doesn’t matter if you are an xc rider or an enduro shredder, around Barcelonnette every mountainbiker will find his or her new favorite trail.
Steep loam, roots and hairpins in the forest, rocky alpine singletrack when you go a bit higher up. Or just up and down a forest road. It’s all there!

Also there is a small bikepark in Pra Loup, but this was already closed when I was there. And there is another small bikepark in the Ubaye valley at Montclar.

Enjoy nature, history and quietness

During your mountainbike rides around Barcelonnette you will enjoy awesome views of the mountains surrounding the Ubaye valley. And you can explore the old forts and bunkers you come across.
This is a popular destination for hikers (and marmots) but it is not crowded and you will have most trails for yourself.
The Ubaye valley is quite narrow and steep and although in the summer it is possible to go over the Colle della Maddalena to Italy it is almost a dead end valley, which means it is reasonably quiet. And what activity there is, is based on the valley floor. On most mountainbike rides all of this is left behind within a couple of minutes of pedaling and the rest of the ride you’re surrounded by the stillness of nature.

Mountainbiking in Barcelonnette


  • Great trails, for all levels and interests and plenty on the technical side.
  • 340km’s of waymarked trails and even more in the vtopo book.
  • Not very touristy.
  • The village is at 1200m. altitude, so you’re directly in the mountains.


  • Due to the altitude it can be chilly at night or even some snow on the trails as early as half september.
  • For some people this is a positive for others are negative, there are no big cities nearby for shopping, museums, night life, etc.

The village

Chocolate shop, Barcelonnette, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

Barcelonnette is a nice lively french market town, centered around the 16C church tower. With enough bars and restaurants to relax after your bike ride.
There is a Carrefour supermarket in the village center and a larger (but not hyper) Casino just outside the village.
And there is a open air market on Wednesday and Saturday morning.

Other activities

There are the usual mountain activities like rafting and parapenting. And there are lots of options for hikers and nature lovers.
But non-cycling family members that need other entertainment like shopping and museums might get a bit bored.
There is a swimming pool to cool down.

Hotels and apartments


camping du plan is closest to the village, some of the spots are directly on the road, which isn’t very busy, but there will be an occasional loud car or motorbike.
le tampico is a bit further down the same road, but the reception and restaurant (good pizza!) building is in between the road and the camping spots, also it is larger, so you can get further away from the road. There is a heated room where you can read a book and use the wifi in the evenings.
camping la chaup

Mountainbike trails

Books and maps

VTOPO VTT Alpes de Hautes Provence has about 10 mountainbike routes around Barcelonnette, a bit more technical and “off-piste” than the signposted routes. The book is available in the local bikeshops or order the book and the .gpx files on their site. 

Some of my favorites:

13 les rochers de saint ours :
Don’t be fooled by the short distance, because there is a lot of climbing involved and for most people not all of the climbing will be on their bike. Besides a good condition and riding technique you will also have to be comfortable finding your way in an alpine/moon landscape especially when descending from the Col de Vallonne (2524m.)

15 Col d’allos et des thuiles :
Another big mountain day, with some hike a bike and stunning views. You will be quite exposed on the ridge near the Tete de Vescal, so you might want to avoid this ride on very windy days.
The first two thirds of the ride are hard work, which is rewarded by a fun 9km long descent through the forest back to Pra Loup.
During the summer months it’s possible to cheat and take a lift up for 500m, but you’ll be missing some of the best parts of this ride.

22 Les prés de boucheirand :
This is a nice afternoon ride, an easy climb on tarmac, then a short traverse that brings you to a fast descent through some pastures where you have to be careful to not lose the trail. When you enter the forest it becomes a bit more demanding, but it stays fast and fun.
The worst part about that is that you come to the end so quickly, but there is always that easy climb. Or maybe someone is friendly enough to shuttle you back up.
When there are sheep there will also be guard dogs, approach them slowly.


Mtb trailmap

There are 340km’s of waymarked mountainbike trails in the Ubaye valley, click this link for the map Site_VTT_Vallee_de_l_Ubaye. You can get this map in the tourist office in Barcelonnette for free. And there is a more detailed map available for 19,90 Euro.

Some of my favorites:

ffc-vtt Jausiers – Tour des Sagnes route 1:
The altitude difference mentioned on the map is not correct, it is a bit more than 800m, not 1500m. It’s a steady climb, that takes you to a different world, where you might see some deer or a little fox. Which certainly makes it worth the effort, but sadly there are no technical challenges on the downhill.

VTT-FFC Vallée de l’Ubaye – Circuit N°3 : La Bérarde :
Do your climbing and then prepare for a perfect descent on a steep singletrack through the forest with more than a couple of tight turns. The last part is on a washed out forest road, but pay attention because there are still a couple of singletrack sections you don’t want to miss.

VTT-FFC Vallée de l’Ubaye – Circuit N°8 : Barcelonnette – Col des Alaris – Uvernet Fours :
Climb from Barcelonnette on a good forest road and enjoy the views and then just point your mountainbike down. In the top part it’s steep with some tight turns, that will be slippery when it’s wet. After that it becomes more flowy all the way back down to the valley.

VTT-FFC Vallée de l’Ubaye – Circuit N°9 : Col de Famouras – Tête de Louis XVI :
Steady 10% climb and then back the same way, only do this route if you need some condition training.

VTT-FFC Vallée de l’Ubaye – Circuit N°10 : Bonnet Vert :
Relaxed climb on the road and forest road and then a relaxed flowing and fast descent through the forest, with some natural berms, no tight switchbacks or other technical difficulties.
There is one section where the path traverses a steep hill side, so a fall would have serious consequences, but the trail itself is not difficult.
There is an option to go around this, which is also signposted.

VTT-FFC Vallée de l’Ubaye – Circuit N°14 : Le col de Mallemort
This is a stunning ride, with not just one, but two forts, the first is the baraquement de Viraysse, which you can enter and is inhabited by marmots. Then climb a bit further to the batterie de Viraysse (2771m), which is closed and often has a flock of mountain goats nearby.
Then descent back down the same path with some fun switchbacks.
Continue descending on the other side of the col de Mallemort on a mostly flowing alpine singletrack, make sure you don’t miss the path to the right around altitude 2100m.
Yes this ride brings you high up in the mountains, so make sure the weatherforecast is good, otherwise it’s better to do one of the rides lower down in the forest like No. 10

VTT-FFC Valée de l’Ubaye – Circuit no 22: Batterie de Cuguret (no gpx)
It’s easy to find the route, just go up the forest road (steady 10%) along the way you will see the red and white marked hiking trail coming down. Go all the way up to the fort, it’s privately owned, so usually you can’t enter, but maybe you’re lucky. Then follow the hiking trail all the way back down for a constantly engaging steep and rocky ride down.

Bike shops/ guiding/ Mountainbike rental

cycleubaye-sports Small shop just outside Barcelonnette, with a workshop, and rental of mountainbikes, road bikes and electric mountainbikes.

location-velo-ski-barcelonnette larger shop in Barcelonnette with a workshop, and rental of mountainbikes, road bikes and electric mountainbikes. And a larger collection of spare parts and clothing.

vtt-ubaye guiding and shuttles, both for the trans ubayenne and for xc, enduro and DH rides.

Tips and tricks

make sure you don’t miss the fort: “La batterie de Viraysse”. It’s in a stunning location and has a nice trail coming down.

Bike setup: The terrain is steep so I would recommend a dropper post.
Your tires should have good grip on wet forest soil and have strong enough sidewalls for the rocky alpine trails.
Optimal bike is anything from a playful hardtail to an enduro.
Some knee en elbow guards are recommended.

Other useful links


guillestre and queyras 


briancon bigger city, similar trails
valloire bigger bikepark and a bit more touristy, similar trails

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