This summer I set out on a 73 Villages by Bike challenge wherein I visited 73 villages in the Alpes-Maritimes department on my bike. I’d actually done the same thing several years ago (from 2004 to 2013). This time around I was able to do it in four months instead of nine years! The villages were from a book called Vu du Ciel: Villages – Des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (you can find it in many bookstores in France and on amazon.fr). But here’s the thing: I have no idea how these 73 villages were chosen. Certainly many of them are among the best villages in the department, but, as I noted in my original article, there are many, many more that are just as beautiful (Biot, Gorbio and Bonson, anyone?).
So… I went to Wikipedia and got a list of every “commune” in the Alpes-Maritimes department, of which there are officially 163. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States. Last time I also visited five villages that aren’t on this list (one was actually in the Var and four were too small be considred communes). That leaves 95 villages, towns and cities from the official list that I didn’t visit on my first challenge. I put together a list of everywhere that I still had to go and then took out the ten bigggest cities in the department (Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Cannes, le Cannet, Grasse, Mandelieu-La Napoule, Menton, Nice, Saint-Laurent-du-Var and Vallauris). I’ve ridden through these large cities countless times and I didn’t feel a need to include them on this challenge. That brought the count down to 85. And a new challenge.