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First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 11 Jul 2010, 8:32am
by whippet020207
Hello All,

My Wife and I start are first tour in France next weekend, getting dropped off by the Euro Bike Express at Orange on 18th July and pick up is Macon on 1st Aug.

We'll be tenting it most of the time I think as we allways do in Scotland so carrying plenty of kit but we have a good level of fitness through the dark art of timetrialling! Looking forward to some of these big climbs evryone talks about.

We've no idea of a route but thought perhaps we'd have a go at Mont Ventoux after getting dropped off and have considered the grand alpes traverse but need to make it to Macon for the bus at the end of two weeks.

If anyone has any experience and suggested good routes or areas we'd be very glad of the advice.

Many thanks,

Richard & Vicki

Excited of Lancashire :D

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 12 Jul 2010, 1:26pm
by Millhouse
Annecy is a great place and very cycle friendly. I stayed on the lake shore (western side) in a camsite run by the French equivalent of the Caravan and Camping club. Great cycling from there.
3 or 4 days further South I came across a village called Annot, an amazing little place with 16th and 17th century buildings. There is a small friendly campsite only 1/2k out of the village.

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 12 Jul 2010, 4:04pm
by mr riff raff
whippet020207 wrote:
we have a good level of fitness through the dark art of timetrialling!


I think you'll find that comes in quite handy when you think you're running a bit late for the boat (or in your case, bus) and hit a long, straight, flat bit of road.....

on the edge of Dunkirk.....

the other day!!

That bought a sweat on, I can tell you! Just to find out it wasn't actually as far as I imagined and got there with an hour to spare.....no laughing at the back!!

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 12 Jul 2010, 7:35pm
by TheBrick
This web page may be of use to you it contains some info about some guide to passes both in the UK and the rest of the world, obviously the Alps are in there too.

http://www.ocd.org.uk/guides/index.htm

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 12 Jul 2010, 7:42pm
by enigmatic
Visit Vaison la Romaine if you can (north-east of Orange). Then north either via Aspres sur Buch to Bourg d'Oisans (for Alpe d'Huez and surroundings) or via Die to the Vercors (centre of French Resistance during WWII, big climb in but well worth it, nice campsite at St.Agnan en Vercors), then via Grenoble and the Chartreuse to Chambery, Aix les Bains (campsites by the lake) then on to Macon. Lots to see and do either route, spectacular countryside, some tough climbs with bags!

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 12 Jul 2010, 8:18pm
by whippet020207
Brilliant, thanks very much indeed for the tips, I have the map out this evening so will make a note of all the places suggested.

Thanks :D

Looking at the weather forecast and the TDF coverage it looks very very hot out there!!

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 14 Jul 2010, 7:35pm
by aquilegia
I visited Vaison-la-Romaine the same day I went up Mont Ventoux (from Sault) and descended toward Orange via Malaucene & Vaison-la-Romaine. Vaison is a very nice town, both the medieval town and the Roman ruins in the modern town on the other side of the river. I would not advise attempting Mont Ventoux starting in Malaucene. It's MUCH steeper than starting from Sault. To reach Sault from Orange, a ride through the Gorge de la Nesque is very nice with fine scenery and minimal traffic. I was approaching from the Luberon region.

I've biked a fair bit in the French Alps. The Col du Lauteret (riding from Briancon toward Grenoble) is a gentle climb with nice scenery, and a superb descent because you don't have to brake much at all. It's a gentle descent with few switchbacks. The outskirts of Grenoble, however, are industrial and not scenic.
I've crossed several other cols but don't have any strong recollections other than the Col de la Bonette starting from Nice was a long slog over 2 days but quite pretty.

Macon is at the south end of a very nice 70 km paved rail/trail through the Macon-Villages vineyards. There's a superb 1.6 km (1 mile) tunnel ("Bois Clair") you go through. Along much of the trail TGV trains go roaring by very close to the trail at times, and they can be startling.

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 14 Jul 2010, 9:31pm
by whippet020207
Thanks for the tips re climbing Mont V I have been debating which way to go.

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010, 7:55am
by enigmatic
Sault route is the wimps way. Carpentras & Bedoin is the classic TdF way, easy for the first 3k from Bedoin then unrelenting through the trees to Chalet Reynard, with the final 6k out on the bare (and I mean bare) mountain. Malaucene is no harder than from Sault, just starts steeper and less shelter from the sun. There's a fourth way up but it's a forestry track and fairly direct! Whichever way you go up, don't underestimate the mountain, use low gears from the start and keep something in reserve for the last few k's, it can be very hot and very windy.

Gorge de la Nesque is 'gorge'-ous, deffo worth a visit and a much more preferable route to Sault than the main road.

Col du Lauteret is the main road from Grenoble to Briancon, lots of traffic including HGV's and one big tunnel which can be frightening. Use it only if you have to i.e. visiting Briancon or climbing the Galibier! If you're in Bourg d'Oisans there's a beautiful blind valley just to the south-east, at the end of the straight road take a right towards Venosc. Also if you're going up Alpe d'Huez continue out the other side and return via the Col de Sarenne. You'll need good brakes for the descent!

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010, 12:23pm
by aquilegia
[quote="enigmatic"]Malaucene is no harder than from Sault, just starts steeper and less shelter from the sun.
<snip>
Col du Lauteret is the main road from Grenoble to Briancon, lots of traffic including HGV's and one big tunnel which can be frightening. [/quote]

From Malaucene, you climb 1570m in 21 km. From Sault, you drop a small amount leaving town then climb 1200m in 26 km. Of course Malaucene is harder. Much harder. From Sault, only the final 6 km are difficult, and they average 9%. When I dropped down to Malaucene, there were many signs warning of 12% and even 13% grade. If you start from Sault or Bedoin, there is a cafe/restaurant just before you begin the difficult final 6 km, and there are public WC outdoors where you can fill up water bottles.

There's no tunnel along the Col du Lauteret road. I think you're confusing it with a tunnel on D1006 west of Modane, north of the Galibier.

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010, 12:49pm
by Edmo
aquilegia wrote:
enigmatic wrote:Malaucene is no harder than from Sault, just starts steeper and less shelter from the sun.
<snip>
Col du Lauteret is the main road from Grenoble to Briancon, lots of traffic including HGV's and one big tunnel which can be frightening.


From Malaucene, you climb 1570m in 21 km. From Sault, you drop a small amount leaving town then climb 1200m in 26 km. Of course Malaucene is harder. Much harder. From Sault, only the final 6 km are difficult, and they average 9%. When I dropped down to Malaucene, there were many signs warning of 12% and even 13% grade. If you start from Sault or Bedoin, there is a cafe/restaurant just before you begin the difficult final 6 km, and there are public WC outdoors where you can fill up water bottles.

There's no tunnel along the Col du Lauteret road. I think you're confusing it with a tunnel on D1006 west of Modane, north of the Galibier.


I thought that the road from Le Bourg D'Oisans over the Col du Lautaret was fine - apart from being a slog if the wind is in your face. French drivers seem more considerate of cyclists. Also, I'd echo your view on the Ventoux climbs, apart from the last 6km bit: seeing the end made it easier in the mind.

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010, 1:54pm
by enigmatic
My apologies, I meant Malaucene (avge 7.2%) is no harder than from Bedoin (avge 7.1%). Sault (4.5%) is much easier than both of them. Yes, Sault & Bedoin share the same route from Chalet Reynard.

There is a tunnel (probably a snow tunnel) on the Col du Lauteret, it's not far from the summit on the Bourg side. Not so bad coming down but going up (slowly!) the traffic sounds very loud and passes quite close.

Re: First French Alpes Tour :-) Route?

Posted: 4 Aug 2010, 9:45pm
by whippet020207
Just got back from a brilliant trip, thanks so much for all the advice.

After being dropped off in Orange we headed straight for Vaison La Romaine which was rightly recommended as it was superb for a first day. Ventoux on day 2 from Maulacene which was a good long climb with touring kit but well worth it, then down to Sault into the lavender fields it felt like we were being cooked it was that hot! We then headed north through the alps and over the Glandon Col and onto Annecy. Off to the Rhone valley before heading to Macon for the return trip on the EBE which was superb and we'll be using again.

Just got to plan next summers trip now :-)