As a recreational cyclist with young children and an increasingly demanding work life, Zwift was a saviour to me back in 2018 when I joined up. My brother had moved across the globe to Chicago, another riding friend had moved to Seattle, and I found myself without motivation to be on my bike(s). It’s a common origin story, but over the years Zwift has allowed me to achieve far higher levels of fitness and friendship than I could have imagined or hoped for.
Fast forward to 2020 and I was so excited when Zwift, seemingly within a matter of weeks, announced and then released the France map and proceeded to host the world’s first Virtual Tour de France on Zwift. France is synonymous with cycling, and the Tour de France is iconic not only for the skills and stamina of the riders but equally for the breathtaking scenery as it travels through picturesque regions of France and Europe every year.
Like many, I forgave ZHQ the fairly basic appearance of the France world compared to Watopia when it was released, given how quickly it was put together. It seemed perfectly natural to assume that in time it would blossom into another large-scale map. Recently I started wondering, given Zwift is the title sponsor for Le Tour Femmes avec Zwift and Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift, is ZHQ ever going to turn its focus back to France and finish what they started? So I decided to jot down some ideas, complete with a mockup map.
The iconic island monastery is already depicted in game, so add a bridge just like in real life, and allow for turnaround at the Abbey. Bridge is exactly 1km long in real life, and could make for a challenging timed segment in its own right. A cool feature would be to have the ocean behave as tidal, like how weather changes in other worlds. Ever noticed that it doesn’t rain or get dark in France?
2: River Bypass
Activate existing road artwork in game, allowing bypass route on the southern side of river, avoiding the infamous ‘Les Intestins’ section. It would open up options for new routes and even a criterium-style loop taking in both sides of the river.
3: New Windmill Start Pens
As Watopia grew, new start pens were added to allow easier access to the various ‘zones’ for free riding and racing. An additional start pen near the big windmill could cater to a new proposed Canal River Zone while adding options for Aqueduct Zone routes. Existing road artwork is in game already, and a cool feature could be to have the road split on either side of the big Windmill, with the game deciding if you go left or right side depending on positioning in the pack. Would look spectacular on a mass race or group rides, just like what happens at round-a-bouts in the Tour de France!
4: Canal River Zone
By extending the river from the Aqueduct to link with the river near Mont-Saint-Michel, a new zone can be created allowing for more flat roads which are great for group rides. Add new roads coming off from the Windmill area and either side of the Aqueduct KOM then re-joining near Mont-Saint-Michel. Some of the road artwork is already in game. Include a small Canal Village with bridge over the river, and also a gravel pathway section along the canal/river complete with barges motoring up and down stream. Any number of new route combinations could be created with this relatively small addition section. Also allows for a loop taking on the Aqueduc mini KOM for criterum-style racing.
5: Cote D’Azur – Monaco
Use the eastern coastline on map to recreate the feeling of the French Riviera, riding through various small coastal towns and leading to a Monaco-esque city and marina full of uber-yachts. This area would add some gentle rolling hills and would be an out-and-back style, starting at the top of the first little incline towards Ven-Top at the sharp 90 degree turn.
6: Balcony Roads
In IRL France there are several famous balcony roads comprised of single lanes cut directly into the sides of sheer cliffs. With spectacular views down into the ravines below, it would be a brilliant addition to the France map as another quintessential French experience. Using the area in the centre of the map on the foothills of Mont Ventoux, the existing river network could be extended, or simply create some ravines to add in a gentle climb loop comprised mostly of these spectacular feats of construction. Start and finish near each of the villages on either side of the Pont du Gard Aqueduct.
7: Ventoux via Sault Profile Climb
The Ven-Top route is daunting for many, and perhaps it’s not well-known that there are in fact three routes to the summit of Mont Ventoux in real life. The easiest is via the real-world town of Sault, and with gradients averaging only 5% before joining in at Chalet Reynard, it would open up a more accessible climbing route to the summit or Chalet. Add a route at the bottom area of map, mimicking the profile of Ventoux from Sault. Given the IRL road is relatively straight, it would require editing of some corners via a bit of “cut and paste” to fit neatly within the Zwift France map, but the same incline profile and distance could be kept.
8: Ventoux via Malaucene Profile Climb
The hardest Mont Ventoux ascent is via Malaucene. It is almost identical in distance to the existing Zwift route which mimics the route from Bedoin, but has some even steeper sections for those who love climbing. Add a route to the northern area of Mont Ventoux in game, mimicking the profile of the ascent from Malaucene. This will also require some “cut and paste” creativity to have it fit compactly in the map and match existing mountain range artwork, but the distance and profile could be maintained. Start from the end of the small straight canal road, near the “Needle” of Etretat.
This would allow for completion of the Ventoux road network, creating a true looping course and opening up an epic triple, Des Cingles Du Mont Ventoux. Summiting Ventoux three times in one ride… a truly epic route and worthy of its own jersey perhaps?
Related: Lucianotes – Mont Ventoux x3, you have to be crazy
Let Your Voice Be Heard
I raised this idea on the Zwift Forums back in August 2022, and it gained some visibility, although at the time a Zwift employee confirmed there were no plans for France expansion. Recently, a post on the Zwift Insider Facebook page allowed me to raise this passion project again, and I revisited my original notes to fine-tune some of my ideas.
I am grateful to Eric for the opportunity to share it with you all, and hope that it gets noticed by the right people at Zwift. I am sure there are plenty of other great ideas from the community that could be included in a request/demand/plead to ZHQ for a France upgrade, but if you’d like to upvote my forum post, please do.
Vive la France!
Would be amazing!
Everyone please go upvote this! France is an amazing map that could grow in so many cool and enriching ways for the platform. I found it interesting that RGV was the 2nd most ridden route in the game last year, behind only Tempus Fugit which means… A lot of people love France!
Or people love keeping it flat 😂
That’s it – flat circuits are most popular; you only need to compare Fuego flats to AdZ any day at any time to see the difference. I like the other additions here but two more Ventoux climbs would be two (or three!) too many Ventoux climbs for me.
I’d also include Paris in the France map.
Yes but what do you remember more, your 37th time across the desert or your one time up the ventoux? 😉
I agree we need more flats than climbs for the masses, but it’s not like Zwift doesn’t have the capacity to do both.
Yep, go take a look at route popularity by gradient (and surface)… you only have to see the different botpack size when the pacebots are riding flat, fast routes.
Ou yeeees! That would be awesome.
Would be nice torture to ride Mont Ventoux up to other side and back 🥵😂🤣
Totally agree. Need more routes in France.
France absolutely needs building upon and your ideas look sound and well thought through.
Most of the worlds need building on though. Yorkshire could be massively improved too (they may as well have called that one Harrogate..)
Big thanks to Eric for letting you share your ideas and to you for taking time to air them again Stu.
There’s also a lot of great bits of the Dales not too far from Harrogate IRL, but you can always do some London style “magic tunnel” fun to bring Lofthouse, Buttertubs, Grinton Moor etc. within range.
Plus if you want to be truly evil, extending to the East gives you things like Rosedale Chimney and it’s “delightful” 33% gradient.
Never understood why 1 wasn’t included
Kudos to you for the thought, time, and effort you put into this. I found myself reading and scrolling back to the map immersing myself in this virtual world. I could 100% see each vision. Hopefully this gets some more visibility. Amazing!
I would love this!
I like a lot of this, I’d maybe make the Monaco turnaround much more like a ride around the harbour in Monaco, the 2.7 mile F1 circuit would be great, but the shorter Formula E one would also work too. There’s also a lot of scope to add pave sectors into the course as well, especially given the Paris-Roubaix tie ins for the new route. Make them more like gravel in terms of crr than the existing smoother cobbles used for the Champs-Élysées. You could also add a few more extra climbs in if they don’t mind just expanding/reworking the… Read more »
Many race circuits make great cycle tracks. Not flat airfield-based ones (like Silverstone) but ones with elevation like Monaco, Imola, Brands Hatch.
france is suffering from a lack of route combinaisons. would been a great add
Agreed! Awesome ideas and well thought out!
I feel your thoughts on the underutilization of France World map are also extremely valid especially in light of the reasons you site, in particular the over whelming contribution and heritage that cycling OWES to France! It deserves a LEAST the attention to detail that Makuri Island has, but honestly, MORE!
Nice map indeed. But why limit to Ventoux. Why not orient the Malaucene to the east, and connet it with Tourmalet to came back to the area of Saint Michel. This year the Tour de France aec Femmes has a stage ending in the Tourmalet. Imagine a route in which you can connect Tourmalet and Ventoux in a single ride. Something that you cannot do in real life.
I like all of these suggestions. I always enjoy new routes, and, as mentioned, much of this appears to already exist in-game, and just needs to be fleshed out.
Lots of great ideas here, hopefully ZHQ is taking notes!
Is there any talk of a new World? It seems to me that Belgium/ Netherlands would make sense. Mix of flat in the North, sprinkle some cobbled climbs/descents, longer hills and castles in the South. How about a couple cyclocross courses such as Diegem and maybe the one on the coast ( long sand section). I’m not even going to name all the Classics and major road events. Crit by the Grand Place, MannekenPis, etc.
Agree – specially the Flanders iconic routes are missing. Just imaging how great it would be to able to ride the Koppenberg or the Oude Kwaremont from home.
Also Bologna needs to be expanded – the Stelvio needs to be added and the finish of Milan-San Remo.
We need more routes to keep us interested to ride on Zwift!!!!
You can it’s called Rouvy, sadly Zwift is stuck on tie ins rather than proper thought out courses. Don’t get me wrong I love Zwift, but I hanker for the rides you mention
This is a seriously good idea and would make the France region even better. In general extending existing worlds is a better idea than creating new worlds. Especially in relation to the rotating world schedule.
Agreed. The expansion of Makuri opened up so many new options, even though the amount of new roads added was relatively modest. It transformed that world.
Smashing thoughts, those ideas are fantastic. This is definitely an underutilized course that has soooo much potential.
I’m all for this. Find the limited routes a bit restrictive for someone who likes to freeride
At the very least, Ventoux needs similar split stats like Alpe du Zwift to keep it engaging as it’s a bit of a grind…
Agreed though, France is my favourite guest world, and given Frances place in cycling lore is surely worthy of more investment.
Agreed on Ven Top. The only times I ever ride it are for events. I think I’ve only been to the top twice. Grind is the right word.
I am probably in the minority, but I prefer the meditative suffering grind of Ven-top rather than the pressure of the split timed segments on AdZ.
I love this!! Please oh please can we get more of France!
Great ideas, but having just announced a 15% reduction in force, I doubt Zwift wants to spend money improving the game (unless there’s a commensurate increase in income). It’s a business after all (though a game to us!). My guess is that having just finished Scotland, they wanted to step back on costs and increase margins during this weird tech pullback. The idea of them creating virtual worlds that mimic IRL races & places is cool, but adding new worlds also spreads their development abilities all the more thinly. I wonder how they make decisions on what investments to make… Read more »
I thought the cuts were to marketing though, no? Not the dev side?
I’m not sure, they need a vision though. It seems like they just doing whatever. The ad-hoc method of maps make no sense when the dumb game only allows 3 worlds at one time. The janky game engine doesn’t allow integration of the worlds so they can all be connected, or at least some of them can (i.e. Paris with France). So the more worlds they make, the more fragmented the game becomes. The membership has simply peaked and not going to get any higher. The other posts about raising fees will certainly not attract newer folks over.
Cyclists crave fresh routes to keep things interesting, so if they sit back and don’t continuously add new roads to keep it fresh, they will lose members (myself included)
Something like this would be great. I would put the lower elevation areas as a priority over the additional Ventoux climbs (those they would also be great but require significantly more work) because I’ve read that Zwift stats show the big climbs aren’t used nearly as much as the flats or smaller climbs. This map badly needs new areas and connecting roads to create other route combinations and possibilities. I used to love it. Now I almost never ride it because it’s stale.
If Zwift added some connecting roads and new flatter areas and put robopacers in France, it would be hugely popular.
Can never understand why Robo Pacers are not used on France Circuit.
Would love to see Belgium/ Dutch Cobbles n climbs. And the Roubaix cobbled dirt tracks. 😁
I just ride Rouvy when I want to ride real France routes. Thousands of miles. Zwift is best for fantasy riding.
Content development is maybe less their focus atm so while I enjoyed reading this, I think it’s just a bit of a fun brainstorming really. Which is fine but the ‘let your voice be heard’ and upvote thing is a bit ambitious. From their perspective, if you’re finding the lack of variety in Zwift an issue, you’re probably a steady user and subscriber. They have you/me and will keep a lot of us through I guess fun events mostly it seems and will try and replace the ones they lose or piss off. Would you pay more for access to… Read more »
Cévennes. Hope you all have read the excellent book “The Rider” by Tim Krabbé. If not, I really recommend. And we need a course in zwift with back-to-back sequence of short-ish climbs. Cévennes valleys would be a perfect scenario!
Such a great book!
With the beautiful quote: “Vanaf terrasjes kijken toeristen en inwoners toe. Niet-wielrenners. De leegheid van die levens schokt me.” (“Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafés. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me”)
Btw. If they have to prioritize:
I’ve always thought the France map was a missed opportunity, also loads of potential gravel sectors connecting the main loop you didn’t mention!
I another reason France is so popular is it never rains because the sun is always shining. 🙂
Stu I love your deep thought and is a great opportunity for Zwift to leverage its TdFF avec Zwift partnership.
Awesome, give this man a job!!!
This would be the best Map Extension since years … but they should also add more climbs like Tourmalet and Madeleine
Perhaps a metro link (like in the London map) to link Zfrance and Zparis? A climb up to Montmartre then zipping out to The France map?
This looks amazing!!!! I’m so hoping Zwift uses your ideas and make them into virtual roads
THe whole budget went into new bugs, new cobblestones and mainly dino suits…
This would have been so much better that the Scotland addition and created much more usable, rideable routes. Rather than recreating one of the other ventoux routes, could split the ascent up into sections with plateaus in between allowing a stepped climb on the way up or down. Frances is perfect for robopacing
I love this. This is what I talk about any time I submit a review questionnaire. There is such a fever pitch to make new worlds, but there are so many good ones already that could be so much better if expanded on (NYC, London, France). I would love to see them combine worlds but that is for a different discussion. Great post!
Great suggestions. Would love to see them developed. Other than Watopia, France is my favorite land in Zwift.
I’d rather see a UCI world. Basically all the orphaned UCI tracks (including France and Paris) joined together via a small hub world based around the UCI Aigle HQ. Imagine being able to ride from Scotland to France via Harrogate.
it would open lots of new routes just by adding existing worlds together and require very little new coding and mapping.
This France idea could be interesting, but with limited staff at Zwift HQ – I would prefer them to stay focused on the Makuri World Expansions. Phase IV would be the Mt. Fuji experience and Phase V would be a wild set of options for the Nikko National Park area. Doing this would make the Makuri world a true rival of Watopia!
Fantastic ideas 👌 that would be sensational, love all these ideas in a „new france“
your ideas are very creative and downright Zwift may be very thankfull!
The Alpe is already there. Just add the whole Marmotte route so we can ride all the climbs seperatly or in one go like the Marmotte.
Nice work, very well done on this Stuart! It would be a shame, after reading this description, not to see your proposed expansion to this map become a reality. The possibilities are extraordinary! France and cycling are synonymous, let’s bring this atmosphere to Zwift. There is still lots of potential in Zwift France 😃
Love the idea. Mont Saint Michel is an amazing place to visit if you ever get the chance. Would be great to loop around it. Even better if you could add the extreme tidal changes.
That would be fun including a virtual Cingles Du Mont Ventoux
Amazing idea ! Could have a road between Ventoux and Le Alpe also ? Jumping (cycling) between Maps ?
An easy win for the France world, in my opinion, would be to put alpe du zwift where it actually belongs — in France.
Watopia is a fictional environment and since the France world came to exist it makes no sense for AdZ to continue to live in Watopia.
From there, they could implement a few scenic miles of alpine valley roads to this fake Monaco, or Grenoble, or Nice for a city circuit or 3 and then link beyond again up to Ventoux.
Gotta disagree with ya here. I like that the Alpe is ALWAYS accessible. Waiting on France to be a guest world would be a drag.
Agree — but then it’s long overdue that they ditch the whole guest world thing too and just let us all pick what world we want to jump in to whenever we want.
True. If they let us ride anywhere at any time, then I could be on board with it.
I do agree tho, if it was in isolation and France only on rotation then leave as is If they’re worried about user count on worlds, I’m also confused why London + Yorkshire aren’t just an ‘England’ map (chuck in the fairly small Scotland world and make it a UK world)… even combined they’re much smaller than Watopia or even Makuri I think? Similarly, New York & Richmond can just become USA map. Reduces the number of worlds, but by joining up routes it actually adds variety for users without much effort, presumably reduces maintenance efforts etc & makes it… Read more »
Des Cingles Du Mont Ventoux. Yes Please, all three road routes and maybe the off road route to keep the MTBrs happy as well!!