In July, World Tour pros and the Zwift community welcomed the release of our new France & Paris maps. Created for the inaugural Virtual Tour de France, this world was designed to proudly display France’s most iconic regions and sights to cycling fans worldwide.
From flat Brittany to Mont Ven-Top (our interpretation of Mont Ventoux) and everywhere in between, Zwifters can enjoy some of the beloved sights and sounds that France displays to the world when the Tour de France rolls through each year.
The map centers on a vibrant town inspired by La Rochelle, a coastal 12th-century city in southwestern France. Once you’ve sprinted to the finish line, look for the historic Chain Tower in the marina.
Next, it’s over the bridge to a foggy island inspired by northwestern France’s Brittany region and its famous “Carnac Stones” As you wind along these island roads past the Lighthouse, try to spot some of the famous stone rows. Brittany holds the largest collection of standing stones in the world, dating between 3300–4500 BCE!
Back on the mainland, look to the coast on the left for views of Normandy’s spectacular Mont Saint-Michel, where the 2016 Tour de France began. This tidal island with over 60 buildings and vast sand flats is one of France’s most striking tourist attractions.
Depending on your camera angle, you may glimpse a bit of Tour de France land art across the road from Mont Saint-Michel. These real-life art installations are completed each year by farmers, artists, and fans to celebrate La Grande Boucle.
As you continue riding, look again on the left for a glimpse of Normandy’s arch and needle rock formations. Then enjoy the iconic sunflower fields before making your way through town and onto the cobbles and the timed Pavé sprint. Can you take green?
Make your way past the beautiful lavender fields before arriving at our first KOM climb on the map. Are your legs ready? Don’t worry—it’s short!
The Aqueduc KOM takes you across the ancient Pont du Gard aqueduct bridge. Look left to see the massive baldness of Mont Ven-Top through the arches of the aqueduct.
Catch your breath as you descend from the Aqueduc KOM into rows and rows of beautiful vineyards. These were inspired by the vineyards of France, especially those in the Burgundy region.
You will soon arrive at a fork in the road, so you must choose: left toward the Petit KOM, or right toward the Balloon Field?
The Petit KOM is a steep, zigzagging road up the very beginning of the Mont Ven-Top climb. Turn left at the top to continue toward the Mont Ven-Top summit, or right to coast down to La Rochelle for another lap.
The Balloon Field road is quite flat and includes the Ballon sprint and a windy river road that brings you back to La Rochelle.
The centerpiece of our France map is Mont Ven-Top – a meter-by-meter, GPS-accurate re-imagining of the infamous Mont Ventoux climb. With the official KOM segment clocking in at 19km and 1,480m of elevation, this is easily the longest climb in Zwift.
We took some liberties “decorating” this climb, giving each portion its own distinct feel. The lower section of the climb is the least steep, easing you into the challenge with its bright open road and colorful flower beds.
The middle portion has lakes, rivers, and mountain trains. You will notice more and more stone replacing grass as the elevation increases and the road gets a bit steeper after the first hairpin turn.
You may catch a glimpse of the inflatable Didi the Devil as you near Chalet Reynard two-thirds of the way up the climb…You can stop at this restaurant if you’d like (many tourists do!) but the big finish line is still 6km up the road.
Not long after Chalet-Reynard, the trees and bushes disappear from the mountainside. You’ve arrived at the final section of Mont Ven-Top: its famous moonscape. Here, the high elevation, record-breaking winds, and merciless heat all play a part in making this a challenging ascent for cyclists, hikers, and even motorists!
Look for the Tom Simpson Memorial to your right 1km from the top. You’ve almost made it! The iconic summit antenna tower is just up the road, and with it a chance to catch your breath, spin around the top of Mont Ven-Top, then enjoy the long descent. You’ve earned it!
If you enjoyed this tour of the French countryside, you’re going to love Paris. Visit the historic cobbles of Champs-Élysées!