Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

Cafe du Cycliste Heidi jacket

Café du Cycliste

High performance cycle clothing bridging the ride and the café

Café du Cycliste, a chat and a review by Sam Clark

I meet Rémi Clermont in a cafe, where else? Rémi is cofounder and designer of the uber cycling-chic, Café du Cycliste. We sip devilishly bitter espresso sweetened with a chat about cycling over mountains with views of the azure waters of the French Riviera that is home to Café du Cycliste.

Remi Clermont cofounder and designer of Cafe du Cycliste
Rémi Clermont cofounder and designer of Cafe du Cycliste

A Gamble on a Coffee and a Dream

Rémi and his friend’s local refuelling stop on their regular rides through the mountains around the Côte d’Azur, in southeastern France, was an old PMU. The French bookmakers in the village of Chateauneuf de Grasse, had been converted into a café and was popular with locals and cyclists. Looking for a new challenge after working in an IT start-up, Rémi started producing some clothing to sell to his friends in the café.

Before tentatively launching their first few garments at the mountainside stop-off, initially just a couple of jerseys and a pair of bib shorts, Rémi invested around 18 months meeting manufacturers, researching fabrics and talking to friends about their clothing needs, on and off the bike. The result is a sophisticated blend, combining technical performance with a flair of French elegance.

Café du Cycliste comes down the Mountain to the Ocean

His flair for producing beautifully crafted garments soon outgrew the mountainside retreat. Rémi, with his friend, business partner and former IT boss, Andre Stewart opened Café du Cycliste, a grand flagship store and café down among the super yachts moored in Nice’s Old Port. This is more a lavish celebration of cycling rather than shop. Rémi explains how they set out to build a showcase for their clothing and also create a cycling hub for the area, a place for local cyclists to come and share their love of cycling.

Cafe du Cyclist, french chic and a little humour providing protection from the British weather with waterproof jackets in reflective material printed with cats and dogs.

The New Cyclist

Rémi fondly reminisces about seeing his father, a cardiologist and keen cyclist, coming home from work and changing from his suit into cycling gear, going for a ride then changing back into his suit. He explains in his father’s time cycling, particularly in mainland Europe wasn’t considered a ‘cool’ sport. Apart from the top racers, bicycles were largely thought of as basic, economical transport.

But this has changed dramatically and cyclists want to look good on their bikes as well as at the all-important coffee breaks, discussing components and comparing Strava stats. Commuters race to beat the traffic then step off their bikes straight into meetings and pop out at lunchtime on a rented city bike. Rémi designs his clothing to navigate both the active and social sides of cycling. Café du Cycliste brings a relaxed breath of fresh mountain air and a touch of French style to the high-end cycle-wear market.

Café du Cycliste for Every Wear

Rémi explains the routes and roads of the Alpes-Maritimes inspire the brand’s signature style. The range extends from high-tech performance wear designed with an understated elegance to casual pieces with specialized detailing.

A range of specialist pieces are designed specifically with long mountain rides in mind. Reduced and flattened seams give a slick and comfortable fit and super light mesh panels keep you cool in the Riviera summer.

Local route cards are given out with the clothing that can be stamped at cafes when markers are reached. Successfully completed rides are rewarded with a badge of honour back in the Café.

Cafe du Cycliste

Moving down from grueling mountain passes, a smart cotton shirt is blended with a small amount of wool ‘to give a little stretch, a nice touch and better sweat wicking’. Trousers are detailed with a subtle reflective trim in the turn-ups.

Rémi enthusiastically explains his first principle is a drive for quality. All the materials and trims are made in Europe. He sources the best elements from ‘human size’ manufacturers, mostly located just over the mountains from him in Italy. He finds it, ‘easy to have relationships with firms that have a face, often family firms that become friends’. Sourcing ‘back of the van size quantities’ that are then cut and stitched in Europe to avoid the economic and environmental costs of shipping materials around the world and so Rémi can keep a close, personal eye on quality.

Testing on two wheels and two feet

The Alphonsine jersey and Heidi jacket are both designed as cycling clothing with technical fabrics cut for performance out on a ride but they both also have a tailored, fitted style so I tested them out on two wheels and in the cafe. 

The Alphonsine Jersey

Cafe du Cycliste alphonsine jacket
Café du Cycliste Alphonsine jacket

I love the Alphonsine and found it so comfortable I have pretty much lived in it for the last few months. It’s the first thing I sleepily pull on as I crawl out of bed to make coffee on cold mornings, its been my jumper through the day, an easy jacket when I pop out for lunch and a snug layer under my ‘big coat’ when the temperature plummeted through the winter.

The fleece is a merino blend, which, unlike other fleece materials, gives a four-way stretch allowing a streamlined fit with maximum movement. The natural elements of the fabric give the thermal qualities of merino and also inherit its high moisture-wicking characteristics and is reassuringly odour resistant. There are windproof panels over the shoulders but like any fleece, particularly cold winds cut through the fluffy material, however, this is easily overcome with a windproof gilet which can be carried in one of the three large traditional cycle jersey pockets on the back. As with the whole jacket, these pockets are beautifully trimmed and become quite unobtrusive when you’re off the bike.

The Heidi Jacket

CDC_Heidi Jacket
Café du Cycliste Heidi Jacket

The Heidi jacket is an altogether, more tailored garment. More cappuccino than mug of tea. The front is covered with a windproof layer quilted over a highly technical Italian fabric. The outer layer of this breathable material gives some water protection while the brushed interior wicks moisture away from the body and extra windproof panels hidden down, inside the arms keep you warm and cosy. And like the Alponsine fleece, it’s extremely stretchy so it molds to your body and movement like a second skin. I found it comfortably stretched over extra base layers on the odd occasion I managed to venture out into the arctic conditions this winter.

Both jackets have extra long, silky cuffs, which stretch snugly around wrists and gloves. Rémi’s extreme care and attention to the details is evident throughout. The front zip is piped with a soft suede material and is angled to sit to the side of your neck. Two beautify low-profile air vents are zipped away on the shoulders to retain the streamlined shape while giving a little temperature control. After washing away the dirty stripe I created up the back on my wet rides, I found the Heidi equally as comfortable worn over a shirt cycling to the office where it doubled as casual blazer.

Heidi jacket Cafe du Cycliste
The beauty tailored Heidi jacket by Café du Cycliste

Both jackets are cut has a slim, streamlined and tailored silhouette. If you’re thinking of making use of them away from your bike, then I would suggest trying one size up from your usual for a slightly more relaxed fit.


Model and product shots courtesy Café du Cycliste
Rémi Clermont portrait and collage images by Sam Clark

Just along the coast from Rémi and Café du Cycliste is the secretive Lexus design studios. Read how we got through the security gates here

Lexus clay model in the ED2 design studio


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