nd The Côte d'Azur and Nice - France
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The Côte d'Azur and Nice - France

Clickable map of nice - please use text links

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Accommodation for this areaHOTELS/B&B

What do the symbols mean? don't miss scenic route Avoid if at all possible Sweepers Twisties Hairpins Town or Point of Interest Web Cam Available

For a decent shot of anything south of the N202, Barcelonnette is just a bit too far. The Côte d'Azur is the obvious alternative. The accommodation alternatives are vast. Tiny, forgotten, picturesque villages aboundlink to Peille photos. However the coast road during the French holiday season is just jammed pack full of holiday traffic. I'm assured by people who live locally that the road between St. Raphael and Cannes is excellent - in winter. In summer it's caravan/camper city and only worth it if you're heading for the incredibly crowded beaches. All the biking (not bikini) fun is to be had inland. The roads around here are brilliant, and we must confess still not fully explored by ourselves. As we were staying near by, most of our excursions passed through the perfumed town of Grasse. Petrol stations can be a bit thin on the ground, [ the proof], beyond here so fill up in Grasse or St. Vallier de Thiey.
Over the border to wards into Italy on the coast is Ventimiglia, we tried to drive through on market day. What a horror. Otherwise it looks like a lively place to stay. link to Ventimiglia photos We haven't found too many great roads around there, though, and the promising road to the north past Castell Vittorio was being rebuilt in 2002.

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N85/D5/D10 Grasse - Col de la Sine - Roquesteron
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N43?44.607 E06?52.284

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Head northwest on the main road out of Grasse towards St.Vallier de Thiey. Continuing north of St. Vallier de Thiey turn right towards the Col de la Sine. This is a decent road. There is a good surface and the roads reasonably wide. It's not all that demanding, mostly sweepers rather than hairpins.

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D2 Col de Bleine
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2008-07-12


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scenic route N43?51.053 E06?53.267

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When you reach the quiet main road, (the D2) cross over and head for the Col de Bleine. This is a different kettle of fish. The road's virtually single track and bumpy. Keep the mph down and it's not too bad. The Col de Pinpinier is more of the same. The other side of this is a few short tunnels and then a spectacular bridge over the river Esteron. The road surface improves here, but is still narrow as it hugs the cliff face high above the river. Eventually you join the main road the D17, leading to Roquesteron.

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D17 Sigule - Roquesteron - Pierrefeu
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Gold medal symbol
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2004-07-01


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don't miss Twisty N43?51.650 E07?01.618

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link to more photos
more photos
The eastbound road is the Roquesteron, Pierrefeu road. Without a doubt one of our favourites. The 6 mile stretch will have your tyres scorching hot by the end of it, and you'll know it's time to turn around and do it again. It's a continuous stretch of fast curves, with the ability to see several curves ahead. This allows you to really go for it. The best part of the road finishes near Pierrefeu.There is a hotel café where you can take a breather before doing it yet again. Continuing east beyond Pierrefeu and the road is still entertaining until it reaches the N202 to Nice.

We last rode this in July 2004 and the west section between Roquesteron via Sigule to the St. Raphael junction being dug up to lay cables or pipes. Luckily it was only the one side, that is the westbound side. The whole lane is ruined for 6km or more. This means that if you want to ride the whole stretch, you have to ride this road from the west to east.
Despite what a reader told us (sorry about the delay, diego/kakugo ;-) ), we found the rest of the surface to be relatively good, and despite everything still just deserves the gold medal.
The Sigule/Roquesteron/Pierrefeu route is a much recommended alternative to the dull N202 as it cuts the corner and is an immeasurably a better biker road.

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D2211a Col de St Raphael
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don't miss N43?56.847 E06?55.079

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Going west of Roquesteron is the interesting village of Sigule and eventually the Col de St Raphael, a quite demanding pass, if short, with a lot of hairpins on the last part just before also reaching the N202.

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D2 Col de Vence
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N43?45.624 E07?05.079

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link to more photos
more photos
Another pass worth mentioning is the Col de Vence, but only if you are in the area. The surface is mostly good and there a few hairpins near the top. South of the pass is the walled town of Vence ['immortalised' by Rick Wyman in the song si si (je suis un rock star)]. An excellent place to stay if you can find accommodation at all that is. It's lively and full of restaurants.

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D952 Grasse - Castellane - Canyon du Verdon - Grasse
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don't miss scenic route N43?54.064 E06?32.425

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link to more photos
more photos
If you continue northwest on the main road out of Grasse, you eventually reach the town of Castellane. The gateway to the Canyon du Verdon. The "French Grand Canyon". (A pale shadow in fact). This road has a good surface, starting past a number of camp sites, but once you get into the canyon proper, it winds itself along beside the river towards the largest lake in the area, Lac de Ste. Croix. Many of the curves in the gorge are blind, which stops you really going for it.
We found the southern part to be all blind bends. Due it has to said, to a breakdown forcing us to navigate it at night with black visors covered in insects. Interesting!

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Town logo
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Nice
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Webcam N43?41.692 E07?15.943

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The town of Nice should be mentioned as a town with enough bike dealers to get you out of trouble, should you need them. And a stony beach.
East of the N202 and Nice are some excellent roads.

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D2204 Nice - Col de Nice - Sospel
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N43?51.843 E07?22.737

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From Nice head North East towards the Col de Nice and l'Escarène. The Col de Nice is nothing more than a pleasant drive in the hills. At l'Escarène the road gets much more interesting. Looking at the map, all the roads around here get interesting, but we haven't spent enough time in the area to find out.

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D2204 Col de Braus - Sospel
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2008-07-12


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don't miss N43?51.610 E07?25.746

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What we can definitely recommend is the Col de Braus on the way to Sospel. This is a real good scratcher's road, which is certainly worth getting to know. (As a local ably demonstrated by annihilating us near the top) The wide road has a good surface and plenty of hairpins.

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Town logo
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Sospel
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2008-07-12


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scenic route N43?52.656 E07?27.007

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link to more photos
more photos
The road leads to Sospel,a real biker's town. The locals obviously know were it's at. It's quite quiet in the evenings but buzzing during the day. A few years ago it was rustic and a bit run-down. They've done up the centre a little bit and it seems a bit livlier now

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D2204 Col de Brouis - Col du Parus - Sospel
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2008-07-12


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N43?53.278 E07?28.526

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link to more photos
more photos
Continuing out of Sospel there are two excellent passes one after another, the Col du Parus and Col de Brouis.The wide road is well surfaced as it climbs and dips. The hairpins are not numerous, but the road conditions really allow you to go for it.

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N204/ss20 Tende - Col de Tende- Ventimiglia
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2008-07-12


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N44?08.122 E07?34.009

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link to more photos
more photos
At the bottom of the Col de Brouis you join the famous Col de Tende road. On a Sunday, late in the afternoon during the holiday season you also join half of Northwest Italy going home. (Did I mention about the Alps at the weekends?)
We persevered along the Gorges de Saorge, which without the traffic would been a blinder. However after about 10 miles of contending with nose to tail Ferrariwannadrives and indeed the FerrariIamadrivins (we are near Monaco) we gave up.
The Col de Tende is supposedly one of the great biker roads of the Alps, but we don't rate it.
If you're an off-road fan, take the little track on the left hand side just before the tunnel lights on the French (south). It's about 5km (but seemed like 20km on sportsbikes), and takes you up to the real pass with it's nearby napoleoninc fortress. The northern side down from there is tarmac and pretty easy.

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D937 Sospel - Olivetta-San Michele
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don't miss Twisty

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link to more photos
more photos
If you want a short trip near Sospel try the D93 towards Italy via Olivetta San Michele.
The French side is reasonably scenic, but rather narrow and bumpy. The Italian side of the border has an excellent if fairly short stretch, full of great curves which are wide and have a great surface. The curves hug the cliff face as it follows the river below. There's no traffic, but most of the bends are blind because of the cliff face and the welcome concrete wall between you and the less welcome drop. The road eventually reaches the busy Col de Tende to Ventemigllia road. At this junction unless you want to go north it's worth turning around and doing it again.

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D202 La Plan du Var - Gorges de Vésubie - Roquebilliere - St. Martin-V?subie
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Silver medal symbol
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Sweeper N43?53.755 E07?15.165

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link to more photos
more photos
A long road (full tanks required) with very few bad bits. Generally a superb surface and brilliant corners along a deep gorge, that eventually opens out further up. Mostly medium-tight sweepers with straights and some tighter sections. The road is wide allowing high speeds. Near St. Martin-Vésubie it gets steeper and twistier, but the surface remains good.

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D2566 Sospel - Gges. de Piaon D2566- Moulinet
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N43?54.660 E07?24.465

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link to more photos
more photos
A mostly bumpy surface which keeps speeds down. This is quite demanding as it's often narrow, and visability is compromised by the shade of the dense deciduous forest. The hairpins are often steep, though not numerous.
The road surface improves above Moulinet as it runs towards Col de Turini. On the positive side there is little traffic, and there is a picturesque Chapel at Notre Dame de la Menour, to complement the unspoilt area.

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D19 Touretts-Levens - Levans - Val de Vésubie
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don't miss N43?51.632 E07?13.750

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The road is a good route from Nice to the Vésubie road, but not as fast as the parallel running continuation of that road. The D19 has a good suface and only gets a bit bumpy north of Levans. The road consists of medium to fast sweepers running along a gorge,and includes some excellent sections with knee down potential. Some of the scenary is spectacular should you be looking, as are the drops off the cliffs. I recommend keeping your eyes on the tarmac.

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D2566/D21/D2566 Col de Turini - Lucéran - Pierra-Cava - L'Escar?ne
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avoid if possible N43?52.944 E07?21.628

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The road towards Pierre-Cava and Lucéran could be reasonably good. When we did it in 2002, it was not enjoyable. The word unpredictable sums it up. There is a combination of pot holes, good surface and gravel strewn sections. You never know what's around the next bend, except what you hadn't anticipated. A complete resurface required.
L'Escarène could be a decent place to stay; worth a look, but we were only passing through. (Not easy - no road signs)

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7 Menton
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2008-07-12


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N43?46.473 E07?30.268

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link to more photos
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Menton is a decent place to stay on the Côte d'Azur. It's close enough to get quickly on to the mountain roads, and the town's urban streets are not as snarled up with traffic, as happens in some other coastal towns. It's warmer than some of the mountain towns in the evenings, when Menton has a great Italian style promenade scene. There is also the French beach scene during the day.
Menton does not have the extensive bike dealerships like Nice to the west, and we found that the dustcarts seem to operate virtually all night in the modern commercial area where many of the hotels were located ..Noisy! There are plenty of hotels, but these can be heavily booked during the peak season. Menton's tourist office may help on that score. Tel 33 (0)492 417676. The town has a website
www.villedementon.com

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D2566 Sospel - Col de Castillon - Menton
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N43?49.592 E07?28.651

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Heading south from Sospel, the Col de Castillon is a very wide (for this area) main road with a perfect surface with lots of ton-up sweepers.The map shows two roads here, one straightish and the other, more promising looking twisty one.If you want sportsbike fun, take the straight one. The other is just too narrow and twisty to be fun on anything except a BMW.
The road continues to Menton and the coast, crossing under the motorway.

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D2256 St. Martin-V?subie - Col Saint Martin - St.Dalmas - D2256
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Bronze medal symbol
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don't miss scenic route N44?04.263 E07?13.363

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more photos
The road above St.Martin-V?subie, the D2256, is steeper and a little bumpier, but still fast and twisty and the scenery becomes a bit more alpine-meadowlike. After the ski resort of Cime de Valdeblore and through St.Dalmas the road gets wider and better surfaced. Some great hairpins and filckable sections on a super road.
One of the best in the region. Look out for the WW2 gun emplacements in the cliff walls.

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D70 Col de Turini
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2008-07-12


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don't miss Twisty N43?58.625 E07?23.504

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The D70 is the best road surface leaving the Col. The road comprises of loads of excellent twisty sections. A few tighter bits and blind bends, however mean that it's not that fast a road. Most of the hairpins are near the quiet village of La Boll?ne. Recommended

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D615/D215 Contes
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N43?48.469 E07?20.150

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link to more photos
more photos

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Town logo
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Cuneo
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Webcam N44?23.744 E07?33.003

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As a place to stay Cuneo is within reach of the mountain roads around. Some miles from the bottom of the north ramp of the Col du Tende, it's a bit far to be based there, but as an overnight stop on the way it's big enough. It seems to have once been a prosperous industrial town, going by the surrounding countryside. We had trouble finding a place to stay that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg - but it was bad weather and we didn't look too hard. There're some impressive views over the viaduct.

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jump to decription of Sospel Map of the Alpes Maritimes section Grand Canyon du Verdon Col du Sine Vence Nice Col du Tende Col de Nice Col de Vence Col de Bleine Col de St. Raphael Roquesteron - Pierrefeu Col de Brouis Col de Braus Olivetta San Michele St. Martin -Vésubie Gorges de la Vésubie - St.Martin Levens - Vésubie Lucéram Sospel - Menton Menton Col de Turini Gorges de Piaon