Corniche de l'Esterel

Bikers at St Raphael sea front

Sunday cruise on the French Riviera: riding the coast road from the Golfe de St. Tropez to Cannes via the red rock of the Esterel.

Point des Issambres

Snow on the Alps viewed over the Gulf of Frejus

Parasol pines over the road

Yachts at Port Grimaud

The Corniche de l’Esterel is the crock of gold in the cruise along the sea front road from the Golf de St. Tropez to Cannes. The classic ten kilometres of sporty road around the red rock of the Esterel Massif were laid out in 1903 by the Touring Club of France as an attraction for automobilists to rival the extension of the Paris-Lyon-Marseille rail line through to Nice. I rode once and back to get the feel of the road and then a couple more runs to have the fun.
My ride was the classic Sunday cruise from Port Grimaud (on the Gulf of St. Tropez) to Cannes; the route is very much on the edge of the sea and with distracting views over the bays and up to the Alps Maritimes above Valberg and Tinée. Lots of friendly waving between bikes and even some of the open-top sports cars.
There are many biker meeting points: Port Grimaud seems to attract the Harleys. I chatted with two couples on litre Ninjas under the palm trees on the beach-front of St. Raphael, which seemed particularly popular locale for lunch. And at the Point des Issambres I chatted with a couple from Le Muy, they’d been in Marseille on the most recent Gilets Jaunes demonstrations. A few kilometres further on, at a roadside boulangerie, a couple of local lads in smart trackies and trainers were out for a coffee, squeezed together on a tiny beat-up scooter. But many friendly waves from the fast guys also riding solo on a sports bike: this year’s colour for leathers seems to be overwhelmingly black, with flashes of white or bright colour.
I started my ride back from Cannes on the old route of the N7 over the red rock of the Massif de l’Esterel, it’s a wide road with interesting gradients and curves, reliably banked and graded.