Snow on the peaks of the Écrins and Dévoluy, view from Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de la Salette (1769 m.)
Breakfast in the Écrins, lunch with the Alps, tea in the Vercors and dinner in Marseille.
First light on the Obiou (2790 m.) in the Dévoluy massif.
View from the hotel.
Looking over the valley of the Lac du Sautet to the L’Obiou (2790 m.) in the Dévoluy massif
Sit-down shower, outside OR garden chair with water cooling
View of the Vercors
View of the Savoie Alps over Grenoble, view from la Tour sans Venin
Chapel at la Tour sans Venin
View of the Vercors looking north from the Col de Rousset (1245 m.)
Road south to Die from the Col de Rousset (1245 m.)
Mordor dawn in Marseille the next morning
Breakfast in the Écrins, lunch with the Alps, tea in the Vercors and dinner in Marseille
Dawn over L’Obiou (2790 m.) in the Dévoluy; then, after coffee and croissants with local jams in the hotel at 1260 m.,, a ride up to the Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de la Salette; at 1769 metres, this was the highest altitude of this trip. Down to Corps, then riding one of the best sections of the Route Napoléon from Corps to La Mure, the whole of the dramatic eastern edge of the Vercors showing clear. Crossing the River Drac at Vif and up the old tramway route to St. Nizier.
I enjoyed my picnic lunch overlooking the Savoie Alps above Grenoble near la Tour sans Venin and the Grotte des Sarrasins (cave). There’s a magnificent panorama at this lookout point, known to prehistoric peoples and now a point of interest on the GR9.
Refuelling stop at the ski and mountain trail bike town of Villard-de-Lans but the town was a mess of diversions and road works so I moved on; the road goes under the overhangs of the Gorges de la Bourne. Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, that as a schoolboy I used to cycle to from Bristol, has never looked the same since I encountered these massive limestone cliffs.
An almost clear ride up the length of the Vercors to the last col of this trip, the stupendous Col de Rousset (1245 m.). Stelvio between Austria and Italy is bigger but you can’t ride it at a pace and it doesn’t have the variety of road layout of these Provence cols.
I stopped at a roadside boulangerie at Die and enjoyed a fruit tartlette in the company of two very sporty road cyclists. They headed up the Col de Rousset but as the weather forecast was still looking dodgy for the next few days, I headed back to Marseille, more than 450 km for the day’s ride.. This tour would work fine to close the loop by heading back over the Col de Cabre (1180 m.) to Corps, but that’s for another time and with a better weather outlook.
The dawn in Marseille the next morning, looking quite ready for a dragon to fly out from Mordor, unfortunately justified my decision to cut short; the weather report showed wind, rain and even hail storms further north.