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French Divide: the other Tour de France

Sofiane Sehili

French Divide: the other Tour de France

Mountain Biking Collection by Sofiane Sehili



174:54 h

1,431 mi

106,350 ft

The French Divide is the most difficult and prestigious bikepacking event in France, as well as the first route to cross the entire country by road. It starts in Bray-Dunes, the most northerly town in the country, and ends in Mendionde in the Basque country, close to the Spanish border, after some 2,270 kilometres (1,410 mi). Paved roads, paths, trails, and unsealed and single tracks in the forest follow one another along this, both literally and figuratively, breathtaking route..

After an already busy 2020 season, I decided to take on this challenge despite being fatigued after the Three Peaks Bike Race, which had ended only a week before. In the particular context of the year, I didn't want to miss any opportunity to be out on my bike exploring the trails.

The first few days were particularly tough due to a heat wave. More than the cobblestones of the north, the trails of the Ardennes and the steep hills around Verdun, it was dehydration and heat stroke that proved to be the real obstacles to overcome on the first half of this course.

When the temperatures dropped a little bit afterwards, the night thunderstorms took over and spiced up the race. With the Auvergne and its volcanoes, the Midi and its fortified towns, and the Basque country and its hills, it’s really in the second half that the French Divide revealed its true nature and won me over.

What I remember most about this event is the support I received from the community and support on the course. At each stage, I found the same enthusiasm, whether it was from people opening their homes to offer refreshments or from cyclists who came to share a part of the route with us. I have never seen such a passion around a bikepacking event. That's what makes the French Divide a special event for me.

On The Map


Tours & Highlights

  • Jour 1 : de Bray-Dunes aux Ardennes — La French Divide

    255 mi
    12.2 mph
    11,850 ft
    11,250 ft

    The French Divide begins on lands whose cycling history is one of the oldest and richest. No other bikepacking event can boast of taking routes as famous as the cobbled roads of Paris-Roubaix, and it is not without emotion that I come to put my wheels there for the first time.


    For this 1st day in the

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 16:03
    153 mi
    9.5 mph
    9,825 ft
    10,025 ft

    What struck me during this second day was the crossing of the surroundings of Verdun where the deadliest battle of the 1st World War took place.


    We cannot remain indifferent to the monuments, ossuaries and destroyed villages which bear witness to the barbarism that took place here a century ago. This

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  • 26:09
    201 mi
    7.7 mph
    13,875 ft
    12,475 ft

    Burgundy and Morvan. After a difficult start in the early morning, I set off with a few other participants through the region's vineyards, after having crossed the Orient forest on beautiful and wide tracks. It does me good not to ride alone during this third consecutive day of heatwave.

    Talking with

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 15:58
    133 mi
    8.3 mph
    10,275 ft
    11,300 ft

    After a difficult night in the forests of Morvan spent experiencing some navigation difficulties, I tackle a slightly less technical part at dawn. The region is very sparsely populated and I am having difficulty finding supplies. It was not until mid-day, crossing the town of Autun that I found enough

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 23:27
    176 mi
    7.5 mph
    14,900 ft
    14,500 ft

    Leaving Moulins a little before dawn, I walk through the vineyards of the Allier before attacking the foothills of the Massif Central. Charming little villages dot the road before it begins to rise towards the peaks of the Auvergne volcanoes. The region is beautiful and very peaceful. I ride through

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 14:53
    104 mi
    7.0 mph
    8,125 ft
    8,600 ft

    The Corrèze and its rolling pastures follow the volcanoes of Auvergne. After a coffee quickly swallowed at the counter of a bar in Marciac, I return to the city of Argentat to refuel in a consistent manner and dry my feet soaked by the night rains.

    The start of the day is rather quiet and without major

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 24:07
    167 mi
    6.9 mph
    15,125 ft
    15,825 ft

    The Lot, the Tarn-et-Garonne, their medieval hilltop towns, and their paths through boxwood forests ... An enchanting setting but a very demanding route, again crushed by the sun. It is a collection of villages among the most beautiful in France that are spread over this stage: Caylus, St-Antonin, Penne

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 25:25
    172 mi
    6.8 mph
    14,075 ft
    14,275 ft

    On the morning of this 8th day, I attacked the last straight line of this event. The final sprint. The thunderstorms of the previous days made the tracks muddy. In this farmland, clay sticks to the tires and the frame, making progress difficult. To make matters worse, the landscapes are rather monotonous

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    by Sofiane Sehili

  • 07:56
    70.4 mi
    8.9 mph
    8,300 ft
    8,200 ft

    When the sun rises over the Basque Country, I feel the fatigue of the night vanish and the desire to sleep leave me. I start the day with a coffee croissant in a small bar in Navarrenx. The arrival is not very far. About a hundred kilometers, along the paths of St Jacques de Compostelle. But the drop

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    by Sofiane Sehili

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Questions and Comments


Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    1,431 mi
  • Duration
    174:54 h
  • Elevation
    106,350 ft

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