Provence - "La Route Napoleon"
Our route generally retraces the path the Napoleon took in 1815 from the French Riviera to Grenoble, but in the opposite direction. On the way we take in some of the finest scenery France has to offer including Les Gorges du Verdon, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful canyons in the world. This tour is a logical extension of our French Alps tour so you now start in Annecy and bike all the way to the French Riviera. Oooo la la!
We bike south from Grenoble starting on the bike path and then generally following Le Drac River past the dramatic Cornich du Drac to La Mure. We continue following Le Drac river to Corps where we ride around Lake Drac and up and over Col de Festre. The top of Col de Festre (1446m) is at kilometer 88 and the remaining 18K is almost all downhill to Veynes. Overall, it's a big climbing day. We start at 200 meters Grenoble and end up at 800 meters in Veynes.
We take some back roads to picturesque Sisteron, "The Gateway to Provence", located where the Büech and Durance Rivers combine to form a gap between two mountain ranges. It features an impressive citadelle and cathedral which loom over the town. After Sisteron, our path parallels the route Napoleon, but we stick to some less traveled side roads on our way to Digne-les-Bains. Digne-les-Bains take its name from the nearby thermal springs. It is also the central spot for lavender trade.
If you came to France to admire the scenery, today is the day. You have to work for it though, we climb up to the Gorges du Verdon, arguably the most beautiful canyon in France and perhaps the entire World. We take it all in, including the optional loop route that gives us the most dramatic view of the gorge. We ride through the gorge to our overnite stop in Castellane. It's impossible to miss the primary feature of Castellane, "The Rock", which towers 200 meters over the town.
From Castellane we head up to a 1200 meter high plateau complete with stone shepherd's huts, sleepy towns and lots of goats. This is a quiet and remote section of Provence that most people don't take the time to explore. Coming off the plateau, we then descend through Grollière, into the valley of the Loup River and then climb up again before descending again past the popular and picturesque Gourdon. Grollière and Gourdon each feature a Citadelle perched on a cliff face. We end the day in Châteauneuf.
Châteauneuf has train and bus connections to Nice, where it is easy to catch a flight out. Or, even better, spend a few more days exploring the area on your own. This area is a biker's heaven and there are a lot of great rides from Châteauneuf (where the local cafe is "Café du Cycliste").
4 nites accommodations at hotels and inns
Breakfast and dinners
Stocked support vehicle and driver
Lunches (can be had in local cafes for 10-12 euros)
Beer, wine booze
Entrance fees to museums, attractions