Provence - Route des Grand Alpes

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by panzerrocket, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    This used to be one of my old love affairs where I roamed a lot when I started riding 25 years ago, Provence in Southern France and the mighty Alpes there. Time to see it again.
    We left Copenhagen on a cold friday morning here in October and rode down to Hamburg to catch the auto-train as usual.
    Waiting on the train in Hamburg.

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    The bike got secured on the train.

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    It's a bit like the lottery when you board the train. Do you get the train compartment for your self or do you have to share it with somebody else?
    This time we were lucky, we got it all to our selves - nice :rilla
    Thank God for Nintendo's to keep Nikolai occupied.

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    Dinner on the train is perhaps not the most exciting experience but acceptable.

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    Upon arriving in Alessandria in northern Italy next morning, it was cold and misty, so an extra layer of clothes was added.

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    We started riding west towards the french border. Weather was still misty, so the camera didn't get out much. We stopped in a small italian town just before the border,

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    and had lunch here.

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    Crossing the border to France we hit the Route des Grandes Alpes. It's perhaps a bit to much to say that I know it as my own backyard but I have been riding here a lot, years ago. Last time was with Nikolai's mother about 10 years ago, and that was why we picked this destination as the final encore for this year's riding. Nikolai wanted to see the places where mom had been with dad :D

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    I know that the Alpes are higher and mightier in Switzerland, Austria and also the Dolomites in Italy, but don't be fooled, this is an absolutely excellent riding area.

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    A ziggy stop taking in the views.

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    We rode these brilliant roads,

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    through narrow canyons,

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    and stopped for the night in the nice little town of Sospel.

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    We checked in at this humble little hotel just to the right of the Spar supermarket. It was clean, had toilets and showers and was located smack in the middle of town.

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    After dumping our stuff at the room we went out for a stroll in the town. At the local square Nikolai found himself a little french friend to play with, so I sat down with a beer watching them.

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    After that it was time for dinner at the local restaurant.

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    Nikolai had a pizza and I got carpacchio for starter,

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    followed by some bloody big shrimps.

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    Back home at the hotel afterwards, we layed on the bed talking about the next day's riding before going to sleep.
    #1
  2. egret

    egret noob

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    Another good ride report :deal
    -zie egret .
    #2
  3. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Cheers egret.
    #3
  4. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Thank you/brings back wonderful memories of this past summer.
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Wow!! Thanks for sharing your awesome ride pics :thumb

    :lurk
    #5
  6. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Thanks marty hill. I'm glad to be of assistance with regards to your memories :D
    #6
  7. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Thanks GB - more to come now.
    #7
  8. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Next morning the plan was to ride into the Mercantour nationalpark through Gorges du Plaun and explore all the canyons in the nationalpark. When we got to Col d Turini, the road was blocked due to a rally, so we stayed a while and watched.

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    Nikolai was thrilled to see all the cars racing by.

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    Eventually we turned around and went back.

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    It turned out that the new route I'd planned also was affected by the rally...hm!

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    But what the hell, we were not in a hurry and just made a new route to get into the Mercantour nationalpark. We stopped in this town,

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    for a coffee and a Cola.

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    When these 2 gentlemen rolled into town, Nikolai was all fired up. Daddy let's go look at their bikes. We had a chat with them, and they turned out to speak pretty good english. I tried with my very lousy french to start with, but they quickly switched to english with a smile. In fact, everybody we met on this trip spoke english. I always started out with my almost non-excistent french, and the frenchmen then switched to english. So the myth about frenchmen only wanting to speak french is hereby busted.

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    We continued through this wonderful landscape.

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    After a cold night on a hotel up in the mountains, we headed down for this road.

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    Passing villages located down in the valleys.

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    We rode south through Gorges de Dalius with fantastic views.

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    #8
  9. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Next day back on the road we suddently found the road blocked by sheep.

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    We then entered Gorges du Cians.

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    Riding fantastic roads.

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    We then went up col de la Cayolle.

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    With it's height of 2326 meter, it was below freezing point up here, and there was a lot of snow.

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    Of course Nikolai wanted to play with the snow and chased me :D

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    We rode down on the north side of the pass.

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    There wasn't many bikes around at this time of year, but we did see a few.

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    In the town Guillestre we stopped here for the night.

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    #9
  10. Edder B

    Edder B Meister Poser

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    I too want to thank you for this thread. I spent 4 months in Europe last year and rode most of the same roads. The French Alps were one of my favorites. I also agree that the French people were the friendliest.

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    #10
  11. zadok

    zadok Long timer

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    Great variety of roads and nice towns you went through. Great pics.:clap:D
    #11
  12. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    what a journey....and with your son! Superbe! Will now have to go read your earlier reports!! :D
    #12
  13. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Hi edder. Yes the french alps er fantastic! Thanks for your comment.
    #13
  14. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Thank you zadok
    #14
  15. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Thank you Blader54. I hope you will enjoy the earlier reports :D
    #15
  16. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Next morning when we started, it was freezing cold. We'd been sleeping approx. 1000 meters above sealevel and it was cooold :vardy
    We had to dig out our warm sweaters from when we started out in Copenhagen. But it was a clear blue skye and the air was crisp and fresh - nice.
    We were on our way to the lake Lac de Serre-Poncon, following the N94 southwest.

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    The roads were stunning,

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    as well as the landscape.

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    Stopped for a chocolate-bar for Nikolai and a ziggy for me. These stops are mandatory to keep up the boy's interest. If I keep on riding for hours he get's fed up and looses interest - or he simply falls asleep on the back. And this is not really the point of travelling with him, I do all I can to keep it interesting for the little man.

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    We rode down the east side of Lac de Serre-Poncon on D 954 with some nice views over the lake.

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    From the north side we started crawling up to the pass Col d' Allos.

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    With it's height of 2250 meters, it was nearly as high as Col de la Cayolle as we previously had gone over. There was a lot of snow here as well, but this time Nikolai couldn't be bothered to take his helmet off, or even get off the bike! I tried to get him off, but he said he enjoyed the views perfectly from where he was sitting...hm!

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    Back down on the south side in the valley Val de Allos, we stopped here in the little town Colmars for lunch.
    The sun was shining, the skye was blue - life was excellent.

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    After eating we went on towards the highlight of the day, the Grand Canyon du Verdon.
    Riding along the banks of the Verdon river.

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    Entering the canyon.

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    Of course it's not like the Grand Canyon in the US, but still an awesome sight to see.

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    It's generally regarded as the most beautiful canyon in Europe.

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    Up at one of the viewpoints,

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    we saw some rock-climbers.

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    Wauv man, respect!

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    It was getting late, so we stopped her in the town La Palud sur Verdon for the night.

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    After finding a place to sleep we went out to have a look at the town.

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    After something to eat, it was back to bed getting ready to ride the south-eastern side of the canyon the next day.
    #16
  17. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    We crossed the Verdon river to get to the other side.

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    The weather wasn't looking too good,

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    but that couldn't take the beauty out of the scenery.

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    Shortly after we left the canyon it started to rain, so the eagerness to get the camera out went down.

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    I'd planned what looked like a beautiful route over the Massif Des Maures to get down to the coast, but with the weather being bad, we had an early day and stopped in the town Collibrieres.

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    We got a room at the Hotel Des Maures,

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    and after a beer and a Cola we went out to look at the town.

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    Next day we finished the route over Massif Des Maures,

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    and got our first glimses of the Mediterranean Sea on our way towards Côte d' Azur also known as the French Riviera.

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    On our way eastwards we took the Route de Ramatuelle to get to St. Tropez.

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    St. Tropez, a playground for the rich and famous, was putten on the map by the movie And God Created Woman from 1956, starring Brigitte Bardot.

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    We went down to the harbour

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    and looked at the gigantic boats there.

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    By the way, the pic's of the boats are taken by Nikolai. Well done I think, by a 6 year old.

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    This one here I found to be especially beautiful.

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    Nikolai's shot of daddy.

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    After our little nose-around we sat down here for a pizza with views to the boats. That was the most expensive pizza I've ever eaten...

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    We continued along the coast with the traffic being extreme. We were away from the loneliness in the mountains!

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    Passing through all the famous towns. As far as I remember this here was St. Raphael.

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    Out of the towns, the extreme traffic couldn't take the beauty out of the scenery. Here it's Corniche de l'Esterel.

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    Riding through Nice, Nikolai was getting fed up with the traffic - and I was as well I must admit - and he asked if we couldn't stop here for the night. Well why not, it would be nice to have a stroll around the harbour area of Nice.
    We found this fine little hotel 50 meters from the waterfront, and also for an acceptable price. We got 30% discount!

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    We walked around the cozy harbour-area,

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    and found this wonderful little restaurant just by the quay-side.

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    We started out with fish soup as we shared,

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    followed by pasta for Nikolai and some more fish for me. Can't remember the name of the fish though...

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    After dinner we walked around in the area near the hotel. Upon walking by the seaman's church we saw a homeless man getting ready to go to sleep at the foot of the stairs to the church. Nikolai was very curoius and asked why he was sleeping there and so one. The little man simply couldn't understand, that the man had nowhere to live. But daddy, that's terrible for him, can't we help him dad? Eeh well, yes and no, what should I answer to that? The homeless man waved to Nikolai, and I started thinking - what the hell why not? I tucked a 10 Euro note i Nikolai's hand together with a cigarette, and said - go over and give him this. Nikolai was overly happy to being able to help the poor guy, and the 10 Euro's was less than what we spend pr. day on espresso's and Coca Cola's. The homeless man shook my son's hand and gave me another wave with his hand.
    I went to bed with a good feeling that night.
    #17
  18. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    Next day we followed the coast east, enjoying the views.

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    Passing Monte Carlo.

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    Shortly after we crossed the border into Italy at Menton, we stopped here for lunch.

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    Seafood is always good :dg
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    We continued along the Ligurian coast.

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    When we reached Genova I made a mistake. Instead of going around the town, I rode through it. Friday afternoon in rush-hour, bad idea... What a nightmare.
    Well at last we got out of town and started climbing the Appeninian mountains. It started to get dark, and there was no hotels around. Thankfully this litte place turned up just as it got really dark.

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    Then it was the last leg towards Verona where we should get the auto-train. The morning was misty, giving a special feeling to the area we rode through.

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    Out of the mountains we crossed the flat and rather boring Po plain.

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    In Verona we got in line to get the bike on the train.

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    We shared the train compartment with 2 finnish guys.

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    The were quite nice, and didn't mind Nikolai fooling around with them.

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    Reaching Hamburg after 16 hours, it was on with the warm underwear and then hit the autobahn towards the ferry to Denmark. The bike seafastened on the ferry.

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    The it was just the usual ride up to Copenhagen, after 10 wonderful days in Provence.
    That's all, hope you enjoyed.
    #18
  19. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Sospel :thumb
    we were there.. lovely town

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    and I bet you are eating at Le Picoun....

    we ate outside (it was a lovely evening)

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    great trip report & fantastic pics!

    :clap
    #19
  20. RblueR

    RblueR Been here awhile

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    Vancouver, BC
    Enjoyed your report very much, it certainly inspires one to ride the south of France. It's been many years since I have been there.
    #20