Monday, 16 May 2011

Gorgeous Gorges Galore

If I were to summarise the first part of the ride Jackie and I made on our way to St Tropez, I would have to talk about the world wars, soldiers, battlefields and cemeteries of northern France. The second part of our ride could not have been more different.

Wherever possible, we avoided all main roads and travelled instead on remote roads, through some gorgeous countryside, including the French Alps. We were in no hurry, so were able to limit our ride each day to between 150 and 200 miles, although even these distances were quite a task on some of the roads we were using, where slow speeds were essential.

Take the Combe Laval for example where the road clings to the side of a cliff along one side of its gorge.

If you look carefully you can just about see the road and short tunnel about two thirds up the cliff....


























Quite how this road was ever constructed is difficult to work out, but it must have taken a long time. This is a close up of just one of the tunnels where the road is cut through the rock....



The view from the road looking down is stunning....




To appreciate the road even more, we turned around, and did the road again, this time with the video camera fixed to the bike....



Just a short distance further, we started down the other side of the mountain on what is possibly one of the best riding roads in Europe. This is the D76/D518 from Vassieux-En-Vercors to Die. Both the views and the twisty roads are spectacular....
























The road snakes down the mountain in a series of dramatic bends, ready to test anyone on a bike....





















Arriving at Sisteron, the view of the citadel across the river is a good one....


























Many towns have informal cafes and bars serving drinks and food. Finding somewhere to park your bike in the shade is a bonus....


























Just before arriving in St Tropez, we rode along the Verdun Gorge, a spectacular canyon....


























There is just one place where the Gorge can be crossed and we had enjoyed riding along one side so much, we crossed the bridge and rode back along the opposite bank....




















Looking back across the gorge. Note the line of the road about half way up the canyon wall....






































Some signs advertise the gorge as the “Grand Canyon”. While not as spectacular as the original in America, this one is pretty good....











































More on the HOG rally in St Tropez in my next post.

17 comments:

Erik said...

Gary, those are some beautiful pictures. That looks like a great area to ride. Erik.

mq01 said...

OMG, i have no words other than FANTASTIC!!! wow... breathtaking beauty

RichardM said...

Wow, that was a great video... Beautiful scenery.

motoroz said...

That looks like a great road! Thanks for posting. I love roads on the side of canyons. Great photos.

Rex J. Covington said...

I'll have to add this one to my bucket list, WOW! Thanks for sharing.

FLHX_Dave said...

Brilliant! Spectacular! All I can say is you are one blessed and fortunate son of a bitch! (That was a compliment by the way.) That road was awesome! Glad the road crew was on duty...that could have been a bad scene.

Thanks for that ride Gary. This was a gift...thank you.

Canajun said...

Gary, that looks like one amazing road. I had to haul out my European road map to see where it was so I can add it to the list of must-do's the next time I'm across the pond. Thanks for sharing the pics - awesome.

Charlie6 said...

Those are some great roads and scenery Gary....outstanding!

dom

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

SonjaM said...

Gorgeous gorges. Oh my, your beautiful pictures and video do bring back memories. Now you have made me homesick (to Europe). It was in the late 90's when I traveled these roads. I still must have similar photos from Sisteron and Gorge du Verdun somewhere. I'll go have a look. NOW. Beautiful, and your obviously lucky with the weather, again. When angels travel...

VStar Lady said...

What spectacular scenery. The fallen rocks on Combe Laval would keep a rider on their toes. Great video.

Raftnn said...

Just stunning mate. I love the pics. Man I wish it was me...

myrideblog said...

Very nice. You've very fortunate to be able to make these rides. Rides you'll never forget. I'm looking forward to more of your posts.

Trobairitz said...

WOW, simply stunning. I thought we had great roads and views over here, but you sir are spoiled with your close vicinity to those kinds of vistas.

One more ride added to the bucket list.......

George F said...

Wow, amazing pictures and scenery. Thanks for posting the pictures in a large size, I love to make them bigger to analyze the detail. The "view of the citadel across the river" picture is beautiful. I usually re-size my pics to 1200 width but I think I'm going to start re-sizing them to 1600. I wish every blogger would post large pictures, I want to visit the places through the pictures :-)

bluekat said...

Stunning scenery! What a beautiful place, and what an interesting color to the water. Must be great to ride there.

Gary France said...

Erik – It is a terrific area to ride in.

mq01 – You are right, it is breathtaking scenery.

Richard – I think I could ride that road many times.

Oz – Roads on the sides on canyons are very dramatic. I love them.

Rex – You could write a whole list of places to ride in the Alps!

Dave – Thanks, I enjoy sharing about my rides. I remind myself very often about how lucky I am to be able to do these rides!

Canajun – If you are over here, then make sure you ride these roads, they must not be missed.

Charlie6 – Yep, outstanding.

Gary France said...

Sonja – I am sorry I made you homesick! It seems I only ride where the weather is good.

VStar Lady – Thanks. The scenery is truly amazing in that part of France.

Raftnn – Thanks. I am lucky it was me....

Myrideblog – Yes, very fortunate indeed. Can I ask you something about your blog? Like me, I am sure there are many people out there that would love to comment on your blog, but cannot because we have not joined Wordpress. PLEASE can you change your set up, so we can do that?

Trobairitz – The USA has some fantastic places to ride in, but they are generally very spread out. The places in Europe are not quite as stunning as the best the USA has, but they are much closer together.

George – Bigger is best! The citadel looks unreal when you see it in person – like a small Badlands in SD.

bluekat – Oh, it is fabulous to ride there!