Other routes in south east France

From expansive gorge roads to narrow routes cut into the very rock, the south east offers a huge diversity of terrain and riding

A brief stop allows the full glory of the Gorges de l’Ardèche to sink in

A brief stop allows the full glory of the Gorges de l’Ardèche to sink in

You need a head for heights in the Alps. Especially on the balcony roads. Like this one, the towering Col de la Machine carved into the cliffs of Combe Laval in the Vercors. We approach it from the south, climbing the D76 from Vassieux-en-Vercors. It’s a pleasant-enough road, twisting innocently through the trees but with no real fireworks - and no hint of what’s to come.

Then it dips down to a pleasant-looking café, the Hotel du Col de la Machine. We park up, get a drink, stretch our legs… and come face to face with the yawning drop on the far side of the road. Combe Laval is a deep glacial valley and we’re right at the top - the road stretching away before us, into a tunnel. Looking over the low wall, my stomach does a gentle flip. That’s a long way down.

“Come on,” I tell Weeble. “Time to see where it goes.” Through the tunnel and out, rocks on the one side, vast expanse of air on the other. We’re heading north, riding next to the drop. The top of the retaining wall is slightly below my knee when I’m sitting on the Triumph Tiger. The view is amazing. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Then the road narrows, the rocks of the cliff projecting above it. There are short tunnels, a few sharp turns… my heart isn’t exactly in my mouth but it is beating fast. Then, after only two high-altitude miles, we pass through another tunnel and stop in a lay-by as the road moves back from the brink. It’s a short road, but it’s a mind-blowingly memorable one. Exactly the kind of riding that drew us to the Alps.

ROUTE NAPOLEON
Start: Grenoble. Finish: Cannes. Distance: 210 miles
Riding time: 6 hours One of France’s great routes – though our version substitutes more interesting roads for the dull stretch between Gap and Digne Les Bains. Hotel tip: Nouvel Hotel du Commerce
Route map,    Download the GPX

ROUTE DES GRANDES ALPES
Start: Thonon les Bains. Finish: Menton. Distance: 430 miles. Riding time: 2.5 days
The original ‘If-you-only-ride-one-mountain-route’ trip. We’d take a leisurely pace, breaking the journey up at Beaufort and Guillestre. Hotel tips: Hotel la Cascade (Tel: +33 4 79 38 70 00); Le Catinat Fleuri
Day one download the GPX    Day two download the GPX   Day three download the GPX

AIN TO PLEASE
Start/finish: Nantua. Distance: 175 miles. Riding time: 5.5 hours
Fantastic, relaxed riding in the Ain region in the foothills of the Rhône Alps. Hotel tip: Hotel l’Embarcadère
Route map,   Download the GPX

CASSIS AND PAUL RICARD
Start/finish: Cassis. Distance: 125 miles. Riding time: 4.5 hours
From Route des Cretes along the coast to the twisty inland roads around the Paul Ricard race track – an epic ride. Hotel tip: Inter-Hotel Cassitel
Route map,   Download the GPX

ST TROPEZ LOOP
Start/finish: St Tropez. Distance: 120 miles. Riding time: 4 hours
A relaxed run around the coast and through the beautiful hills of coastal Provençe.
Route map,    Download the GPX

ARAVIS AND ANNECY
Start/finish: Morzine Distance: 180 miles. Riding time: 6 hours. Spectacular riding in the Bauges Mountains, including a leg of the Route des Grandes Alpes. Hotel tip: Hotel Les Bruyeres
Route map,   Download the GPX

MONTELIMAR MILES
Start/finish: Montelimar. Distance: 200 miles. Riding time: 6 hours
You’ll go nuts for these roads around the home of nougat. Hotel tips: Le Printemps
Route map,    Download the GPX

 

Please note: This page contains the route files for The RiDE Guide To France which came free with RiDE magazine in July 2017. These website page are not regularly updated, so please check all critical information before you travel. All route files are in .gpx format. Garmin and BMW users can download the main file, which contains all the routes and our recommended hotels as separate waypoints. TomTom users can download the individual routes and use the Tyre software to convert them. For many routes we also have Google Map links. However, as Google Maps will not plot routes over seasonally closed high Alpine passes when they’re shut, these may not work for every route all year round.