www AlpineRoads com Biking In The Alps
The Côte d'Azur and Nice - France
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 abound. 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. 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.
N85/D5/D10 Grasse - Col de la Sine - Roquesteron
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.
D2 Col de Bleine
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.
D17 Sigule - Roquesteron - Pierrefeu
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.
D2211a Col de St Raphael
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.
D2 Col de Vence
D952 Grasse - Castellane - Canyon du Verdon - Grasse
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!
D2204 Nice - Col de Nice - Sospel
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.
D2204 Col de Braus - Sospel
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.
D2204 Col de Brouis - Col du Parus - Sospel
N204/ss20 Tende - Col de Tende- Ventimiglia
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.
D937 Sospel - 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.
D202 La Plan du Var - Gorges de Vésubie - Roquebilliere - St. Martin-V?subie
D2566 Sospel - Gges. de Piaon D2566- Moulinet
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.
D19 Touretts-Levens - Levans - Val de Vésubie
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.
D2566/D21/D2566 Col de Turini - Lucéran - Pierra-Cava - L'Escar?ne
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)
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
D2566 Sospel - Col de Castillon - Menton
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.
D2256 St. Martin-V?subie - Col Saint Martin - St.Dalmas - D2256
One of the best in the region. Look out for the WW2 gun emplacements in the cliff walls.
D70 Col de Turini