Look at the bright side... I said to myself before we set off on this road trip across our beautiful region. Having free time in June is something I've never experienced before being in the motorbike rental business.
Covid19 has had an impact on our busy schedules, not just slowing down our business, but slowing down the world.
The itinerary wasn’t planned out, rather there was a vague idea of doing a circuit covering some of the beautiful, winding and panoramic roads across the Southern French Alps, Provence and the Côte d’Azur. Motorways banned, obviously. No surprise, really, you might think... The richness of our region allows for it. What a privilege! So now is the perfect time to take advantage, to rediscover and explore new routes, maybe even meet new people.
But before we leave, there is one essential question... which bike to choose? Our fleet of motorbikes available for hire gives me plenty of choice. Faithful R1250 GS ? Never a disappointment but we already know each other so well. A roadster like the R1250 RT, not essential... This is meant to be a solo ride. A more sporty model ? No, thanks. R1200 GS Urban ? The obvious choice! This newer model undoubtedly appeals to me, as it reminds me of our 1982 BMW R80 GS fetish on display in the agency... BMW did a great job in celebrating its 40th anniversary. Fitted with road tyres, 22L saddle bags, tank bag (just perfect for the camera, I would say) and a bag on the seat, you get a wonderfully roomy storage space. Before I leave, the team informs me that prioritising the practical over aesthetic is a sign of old age... But I'm OK with that perspective.
The month of June is going to treat me to its characteristic colours, the weather forecast is good, so no more dithering. Let's go!
1st day : Nice – Gap
I leave Nice along the Var to follow a part of the Route des Grandes Alpes through the magnificent Daluis gorges; their superb ochre-coloured rocks becoming more and more grey as I ascend to the Col de la Cayolle. A few patches of snow at the summit, the cool temperature and the first flurries are a reminder that conditions on the mountain can quickly change. I go back down by the Gorges de Bachelard for a lunch break in Barcelonnette, then head towards Gap on the banks of the Lake of Serre-Ponçon taking the road to Savines-le-Lac.
I stop to contemplate the remarkable "demoiselles coiffées" that can be seen at the exit of a bend after the village of Sauze le Lac.
The Route (233kms) : CLICK HERE
- Entrevaux is a medieval village.
- Gordes du Daluis
- Col de la Cayolle (2326m)
- Lake Serre-Ponçon
MonHotelGap, 4 place Frédéric Euzières 05000 Gap
Secure parking available.
Located in the centre of Gap, you can find restaurants nearby such as the Bistrot Gapençais or La Petite Marmite, recommended by the hotel.
Tip : The friendly manager, owner of a Hyabusa, will be happy to share some biker tips.
Bonus : Gap, a stopover (more than long stays) in the Alps and the Route Napoléon, allow us to linger a little longer, to take a closer look at the scenery of the Massif des Ecrins, such as the Champsaur and other Ubaye passes (Col de la Bonnette but also those in Larche, Vars, Izoard towards Briançon).
For an extra day and a loop leaving from Gap : CLICK HERE
Another option for accommodation is to stay in Jausier :
La Villa Morelia, a charming 4-star hotel with excellent dining facilities : www.villa-morelia.com
2nd day : Gap – Chabriallan (7kms from Crest) :
This day takes me back to the alpine roads and the Col du Noyer, a passage between the Dévoluy and Champsaur massifs. Magnificent viewpoint over the Ecrins! Following the Col de Lus la Croix Haute and the Col de Grimone, I arrive in the Pays Diois and at the foot of the Vercors. I reach its plateau by the switchbacks of the Col du Rousset to drop down through the dizzying route du Combe Laval. Then, Drôme presents me with its most beautiful features, coloured by the spring green of its vegetation, the red of the poppies, the yellow of the rape and the purple of the lavender fields in bloom.
The Route (257 kms) : CLICK HERE
- Col du Noyer (1664m)
- Le Devoluy
- Col de Lus la Croix Haute
- Col de Grimone
- Vercors : Col du Rousset, Route du Combe Laval
Auberge La Plaine à Chabrillan
Covered outdoor parking and dining facilities available. For those who are brave enough to take the motorbike or a taxi to Crest and its tower, it is worth having dinner there (7kms)
Tip : a little rest at Glandage to relax
Bonus : visit the Vercors Resistance Memorial at Vassieux en Vercors
Col du Rousselet - Vercors
Route de Laval Combe - Vercors
3rd day : Chabrillan – Carpentras
I turn the wheel to the west of the Rhône, skirting the lavender fields to pass through the département de l’Ardèche and then dropping down towards Vallon Pont d’Arc, where the gorges start. They are incredibly calm for the month of June. But once again, let's make the most of this unprecedented spectacle which has been presented those privileged to gaze at them from the top of the lookout points or from under the arches of the Pont de l'Arc. A short break at Pont St Esprit and I’m crossing the Rhône again towards the Haut Vaucluse and the Dentelles de Montmirail.
The Route (220 kms) : CLICK HERE
- Gorges de l'Ardèche
- Pont St Esprit
Auberge du Vin, 384 chemin de la Peyrière 84380 Mazan
Passionate about wine and motorbikes, my hosts Linda and Chris welcome me in a charming Provencal farmhouse overlooking the Mont Ventoux. They will welcome you with all the kindness that they are known for and, of course, along with a glass of Ventoux wine!
Gorges de l'Ardèche
4th day : Carpentras – Carpentras
Christopher gives me the pleasure of accompanying me for this day around Mont Ventoux. From there I let myself be guided in the direction of Malaucène, Drôme and the Parc Régional des Baronnies. After a stop in Sault, we descend the Nesque gorges with the summit of Ventoux still in our sights.
The Route (135kms) : CLICK HERE
- Gorges du Toulouren
- Parc Naturel des Baronnies
- Gorges de la Nesque
Big tip : the ascent to Mont Ventoux is, of course, a fantastic opportunity to get a view of the region. Tired from the day's riding, I'm sure you'll find the energy you need for the 1910 metre climb by sympathetically overtaking the many cyclists who want to add this climb to their list of accomplishments. Some do all 3 slopes in the same day, what a feat!
Drôme - Provence
5th day : Carpentras – Aix-en Provence – Hyères
I leave Carpentras today to head down to Aix-en-Provence, driving through the Luberon and its country roads. A rest in Aix-en-Provence. I leave the Sainte Victoire behind me to rejoin the panoramic road to the Sainte Baume near Auriol and head towards its crest.
The Route (213kms) :CLICK HERE
- Massif de la Sainte Baume
Tip : after several days in the mountains and in the countryside, my arrival on the Mediterranean coast is marked by a swim. The twenty or so kilometres of beach in Hyères leaves you with plenty of choice. Almanarre beach, a popular destination for windsurfers and kitesurfers in windy conditions, is by far my favourite spot.
Route de la Lavande
6th day : Hyères- Nice
Free-flowing traffic allows me to continue my route along the coast to St Tropez and then Nice via the renowned and not-to-be missed Corniche d'Or between St Raphael and Mandelieu. It is impossible to get tired of this scenic road which affords me one last magical sight as I approach the house.
- Foret des Maures
- St Tropez
- Corniche d’Or
The Route (170kms) : CLICK HERE
Tip : the coastal road is very pleasant out of season. Very congested, especially in July, August and at weekends during the warmer weather, you should avoid this route with its traffic jams. Hinterland forest roads are a never disappointing alternative!
The Route (182kms) : CLICK HERE
Back in Nice, I have beautiful images in my mind. I am captivated by this south full of tourist highlights. I am lucky to have crossed such a diversity of remarkable landscapes, painted in spring colours, in just a few days.
When I look at my photos, this one unveils the NineT GS Urban to me from a variety of perspectives. This motorbike has inspired me. Whatever the national or regional road conditions, it is easy to handle and has everything to offer. This machine never leaves bikers indifferent, you either love its design or you don't... you be the judge of that.
This loop in the south-east of France will hopefully be an inspiration for you. This suggestion should be adapted to your motorbiking experience, the length of your trip and your personal expectations. It is only one of many options to be considered when setting off from Nice..... Am I exaggerating? Honestly, I'm not. Keep exploring our blog to learn more about the Route des Grandes Alpes, the Route de la Lavande, the Route Napoléon, the Corniches. They're all magnificent and are only a few minutes away from our town.
We are in the habit of saying to our clients "missing a road or a beautiful pass is never serious, those next door are just as beautiful". I've just confirmed our maxim once again.
Happy rides! Vincent