www AlpineRoads com Biking In The Alps
The Vosges - France
This region is not really the Alps at all, but we have included it as it's a very realistic long weekend option in the mountains, for those of you travelling from GB. It's also a good warm up/wind down on the way to/from the real mountains.
The Vosges roads are typified by low level passes that rarely emerge from the dense forest. The road surfaces are mostly smooth and excellent. Perfect for sports bikes.
A point to note. This is the region of Alsace that historically has flipped between France and Germany depending on which mad European despot was in charge at the time, so the locals usually speak both French and German.
D417 Munster - Col de la Schlucht - Xonrupt-Longemer
Judging by the number of bikes at the top, this is the biker route of the area. It is a main road, but at the weekend it's not that busy. This road is fast and brilliant fun. It's wide with an excellent surface, and the only concern is a little bit of overbanding on the higher sections. The second gear bends have good visability, even in the forest. So you can really go for it and get right over. There are no nasty surprises. Highly recommended--well with a reservation. Rode it again in 2006 and the Sunday afternoon traffic was really very heavy. The ski station doubles as the local biker hang-out with a few restaurants and loads of parking. The western ramp is very fast and straight.
D465/D466 Giromagny - Col du Ballon - St.Maurice sur Moselle
D13b Kruth - Col de Bramont - The D34
D27 Le Markstein - Col de Platzerwasel- Sondernach
This roads very steep in places, and a bit worn. So it's fairly difficult, and a great place to test out your tyres and brakes. It's still quite reasonable and helps make a circuit around the Schlucht. Also the best named pass in Europe unless you know better?
N415 Le Bonhomme - Col du Bonhomme- Fraize
A major road that's very wide and with another excellent surface. Race track similarities, but legal overtaking is restricted by the solid white line. The road has overtaking lanes in places. Once you do get past the petrol tankers etc, the road has real ton-up potential.
D48/148 Col du Bonhomme - Col des Bagenelles - Ste. Marie aux Mines
As with many passes going up is more fun than going down. I've only done the latter, on this one.
Starting from near the top of the Bonhomme road, the road is fairly straight and level. It then descends though a number of hairpins. The surface is excellent. The most enjoyable section (on the descent) is the middle snaking curves before it gets steeper.
N59 Ste. Marie aux Mines - Col de Ste. Marie - N420
A very low level pass with yet another excellent surface (getting the theme here?). It's not too demanding but still a good, if short ride.
D61 Cernay - Route des Crêtes - Ste Marie aux Mines
The section from le Markstein to the Col de La Schlucht is a scenic section with views of the lakes down in the valley.
After the Schlucht to the Col Du Bonhomme and then on to Ste Marie aux Mines is my favorite section. It starts mostly on a simerlar elevation through light forest. Drive this very fast, if that?s your thing and it?s briiliant. This year the road surface has washed away in a couple of places, near the Col du Bonhomme but it?s no real problem.
D14 Bitchwiller les Thann - Col du Hundsr?ck - Masevaux
Narrow very twisty fairly difficult with a good surface. Widens near the top with a few hairpins. There are a couple of cobbled corners, one of which will allow you to slide into a biker hangout in Bourbach le Haut. Surface remains good towards Masevaux with some more hairpins, and the occasional tightening bends as well.
d416 Ste Marie aux Mines Col du H.t de Ribeauville - Ribeauville
Typical of the region. A wide road with a good suface if a little worn. Northern end mostly twisties. Easy enjoyable route.
The roads around this particular area are mostly on a bit of a plateau without much elevation change. I managed to get lost up here and stumbled on a tourist hangout at Koenigsbourg. There's a castle and very impressive view of the valley to the east of the Vosges.
Another excellent surface mostly through forest. A bit narrow on the southern end by Vosges standards.
N420 Provench?re-sur-Fave - Col de Saales - Schirmeck (Bruche Valley)
A fairly main road, but is very quiet at the weekend. Wide with an incredible number of excellent curves with knee down potential if so inclined. The road follows the windy Bruche River, but you won’t be looking at that! This is an excellent way into and out of the Voges, and a road worth seeking out.
D392 Schirmeck - Col du Donon - Raon-sur-Plaine
Low pass with some good curves on a medium wide road. The roads rather patched up with some overbanding.
D392 Raon-sur-Plaine- Plaine Valley- Raon-L’Etape
Following on from the Col du Donon, there is the very fast Plaine valley road. The road is quiet as it’s off the main tourist routes and in excellent condition. Mainly fast sweepers, with an occasional village.
D424 St Blaise-Senones-Col du Hantz-St Blaise-la Roche
The road consists of mostly fast bends. A bit patched up, but still good. Not good enough to go out of your way in the context of the rest of the Vosges roads.
D23-D39 Provench?re-sur-Fave- Col de Urbeis – Fouchy
This is a fairly average route for the Vosges (very good). The surface is excellent on medium bends with a hairpin near the Col.