02/08/2017 Col-de-la-Cayolle/ Saint-Andre-les-Alpes (mountain road/National road) 10.30Am-3.30Pm
Good morning from us from col de la Cayolle!!!
New day, new routes and the unknown waiting for us, so after a reinforced breakfast we had our usual ritual of loading the bikes again, adjusting bangee straps and cargo nets here and there. ( It´s not the most practical method, as nowadays there are a diverse range of top boxes, panniers etc etc that you can install on your bike… however I am like a dinossaur still stuck on the XX century hence my preference for the straps, elastics and hooks).
Curious the fact we ended up paying a bit more than expected for our accomodation.., we thought it would be around 40 Euros for the night for the two of us. Happened that the price shown was per person so we ended up spending the double. still, it was just a detail. As we came out to set it all up we were struck with an amazingly warm sunny morning and the scenery around simply fantastic, with the road cutting in the mountain on the way down and naked peaks above us. The mountain colour tones mix in yellows and green as this part of the mountain doesn´t have a dense forest gives a really good scenario all round.
We warmed up the bikes as usual, checked the maps as I had routed a specific road for this day, the amazing Gorges du Daluis would be upcoming not long after to the Col de la Cayolle. The Gorges de Daluis is a six kilometer long canyon formed by the river Var in the Alps-Maritimes-Departement in southeastern France. It is considered one of the most amazing balcony roads and also it is in the top 100 dangerous french roads. It runs south from Guillaumes to Daluis. Its great particularity its the cut in the red rock by the river. Notable views include the Tête de la Femme (a rock formation resembling a woman’s head on the west side of the road), an 80-meter-high bridge and the waterfall of the Clue D´Amen.
The D902/D2202 runs on the west side of the gorge, with the southbound lane going through 17 tunnels. adding up the fact that it is very picturesque, the road surface very well marked and maintained making this route very popular among motorcyclists and cyclists. We actually spent some time there just riding up and down to enjoy the scenery.
P.S. This time I managed to get the Go Pro working properly so you can have a peek about the road itself. Plus I will add and detail this fabulous route on the Maps&Routes section.
It was a really nice hot day to ride, and for more that we wanted to stay around the Gorges du Daluis we knew we had to get back on the road in order to reach our destination for that day, so we simply followed the D2202 (later to be the D902) always with the river Var alongside. The road was simply great, with the occasional tight bend cutting trough small villages and good views surrounding us. We were aiming to reach the Verdon region, so we took a right turn at the end of the D902 into the suprisingly amazing N202 where we started going up the mountain again to the Col de Toutes Aures.
The answer is easy, perfect surface, perfect camber and perfect corners.. Pictures speak for themselves and this was the greatest stretch to ride so far…
It starts from Les Scaffarels passing by Rouaine ( I will talk again about this village later on) to a spot called Roche Percee, that as the name indicates there is in fact a pierced rock where the road passes by.
As my favourite route ( unfortunately not as long as I wished, only 3.2miles) and with my Go Pro in good working condition I had to record it. Hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed riding on this road!!!
It was 2 pm and hot (32/34 degrees) when we left the Col de Toutes Aures. We rode for another 30 minutes on the N202 and we had the first sight of the Lac de Castillon at Saint Julien du Verdon. It is situated in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in the Verdon region at an elevation of 880 mts above the sea level. That huge lake going through the Verdon Valley in the Alpes, the blue/turquoise water and the scenario around… It couldn´t get any better I thought… We had to stop the bikes to admire its beauty and to decide what to do next.
It was hot and we were both hungry, so we opted to follow the road down leading to the lake as there were signs indicating that there was a snack bar and also one of the lake beaches where we could simply take the afternoon off, relax, enjoy the sun and some water activities as well.
Unluckily or luckily, we didn´t have enough cash on us and there was no card payment available in there, so we were recommended to ride to the nearest town about 5 or 6km from there, which according to the locals the lake was far better… Saint Andre Les Alpes!!! (At this stage I had no idea that I would fall in love with that village)
I was a bit annoyed that I couldn´t get my clothes off to cool down and had to get on the bike to go back to the curvy National 202… however all that was hugely rewarded as we crossed a bridge over the river Verdon towards Saint Andre les Alpes!! The lake, the surrounding mountains, the little village and friendly people… It was love at first sight!!!
We found a big camping site at the entrance of the town and close to the lake, we booked a night and instead of mounting the tent we simply asked a temporary neighbour to guard our belongings until our return as we were both aching to get back to the lake beach to eat and enjoy the rest of the afternoon doing water activities, leaving the tent pitching for later.
I can describe the rest of the day with one single word… AMAZING!!! We had a good snack ( A Burger with cheese and chips and a hot dog with two cokes) at a snack bar by the beach followed by some great 3 hours simply enjoying the water. There are loads of activities available in this area, ranging from renting a simple pedalo boat by the lake or a canoe. White water rafting is also very common in this area, even a little boat with a 50cc engine is possible to rent without any kind of license. Besides these activities in between others, Saint Andre les Alpes is also a great spot to do paraglading (Next time). I forgot to mention that prices are really affordable… however we decided to simply rent a pedalo boat for about an hour and enjoy a few jumps into the water, swimming and relax on the pedalo. The water is incredibly clean and warm, so good that for moments it doesn´t feel like you are in the cold Alpes.
It was a great call to stop riding for that day and simply enjoy the afternoon on the lake. We were riding up to my plan, and Saint Andre Les Alpes seemed to be a great place to relax. So, around 6.30/7pm we headed back to the camping site to then pitch the tent and hit the village to get some dinner.
The Camping municipal “Les Iscles” is a large and camping site, quite cheap (we paid 14 euros per night, 2 motorikes, one tent and two persons). It has good facilities including a Wi-Fi area, swimming pool, and the toilets/showers area are clean and big. It also has a bangalow area, but by some reason and even if it´s busy, it isn´t over crowded with tourists which is a plus. Local people are quite friendly and warm also. The only downside is the fact that there´s isn´t a shop there, however there´s a big supermarket next to the camping which is good. Overall it´s a very good camping site, I very recommend it to everyone.
It was a very nice day, the village is nice and picturesque with small streets and business shops. Theres a central plaza with a fountain and a big cafe central… We were happy but a bit tired, so after pizza and a beer we headed back to the camping for a night of sleep…
According to what I had previously routed, the following day would be the hardest of the entire trip so a good rest was needed…