www AlpineRoads com Biking In The Alps
Grenoble - France
This is a very overlooked area, most people blast down past here on their way to and from the Côte d'Azur or the Col de la Bonette area. Which is a shame because there are some cracking roads around here. Apart from the roads it also has some rather nice scenery. Grenoble itself is large and congested, lying in the Isère valley: to the east some high hills leading towards Briançon and the Alps proper: to the west the "French Dolomites" a ridge of hard limestone mountains in the Vercours national park. One of my favourite bits of road lies to the north of Mens to the south of La Mure.
[If you read French, then check out:
Balades moto en
France. There is also an English version.
D531 Lans en Vercours - Grenoble
Probably one of the best routes out of Grenoble. A fairly steep section of wide, well-surfaced hairpins climbs out of Grenoble up to the ridge where the road narrows a bit. From there the slightly less interesting road along the Gorges d'Engins heads towards Villard-de-Lans. Busy during peak times, obviously.
D532 Pont-en-Royans - Gorges de la Bourne - Villard-de-Lans
D518/D531 Pont-en-Royans - Villard-de-Lans
D518 Die - Col du Rousset - Rousset-le-Vignes
D120 Clelles - Col du Preyet - Col de Men?e - Chatillion-en-Diois
Fairly devoid of traffic, this is relatively narrow and often bumpy, but certainly very scenic. Speeds are relatively low, as the corners are often blind, and had a lot of gravel from road repairs when we were there. Still, on a good day the roads is pretty interesting, and along with Col de Grimone make an alternative to the main road N75 from Croix-Haute.
D539 La Croix-Haute - Col de Grimone - Chatillion-en-Diois
D114 S?chilienne - Col de la Morte - La Mure
The main N91 road (Gorge de la Romanche) is really pretty boring apart from the remians of what looks like old paper and iron mills lining the valley. So it's a relief to turn off towards the Col de la Morte at S?chilienne. Then things look up a bit - there are some great series of hairpins up to the "village" of La Morte. A bit bumpy in places. A fairly average southern ramp down to La Mure.
D211 Le Bourg d'Oisans - l'Alpe d'Huez
The access road to the famous ski resort of l'Alpe d'Huez. There are some other roads out of the resort, but only really suitable for lovers of gravel and stones.
The main road up, and the only one really of interest to road bikers leads from the south off the N91 near l'Bourg-d'Oisans. This is the road busses take up in the winter, so it's well-kept, wide and has 21 hairpins - brilliant! When we did it, a lot of it had just been resurfaced, and in the heat the tarmac was still soft, even under the weight of our bikes. Which made coming down interesting.... It doesn't take too long, and definitely worth the detour if you're here. Have a drink at the top.
D526 Le Bourg d'Oisans - Col d'Ornon - La Mure
The scenery is very nice, alpine meadows plus some bare rock cliffs and hanging-valleys. The surface is good, but with a lot of overbanding.
Easy, scenic and fun
D526 La Mure - Mens
Petrol near Mens.
Bungee-jumping off the bridge at the La Mure end. The southern side of the road is less twisty and runs through woodland.
Resurfaced in 2003, they are now in the process of digging some tunnels to "improve" the road by straightening it.
D937 Corps - Col du Festre - Veynes
To be honest,I really can't remember this road at all. We have ridden it, but as it doesn't stand out all I can say is it probably isn't terribly noteworthy.
D17 St. Bonette - Col du Noyer - St. Etienne
We have only ridden this road once, in an attempt to avoid Gap. The region is pretty desolate, wind-swept and very few trees, giving the impression of being higher than you really are. It reminded me of the Dartmoor in a way. The road at the top has some steep corners and is pretty narrow which makes things interesting. Nothing too tricky though. [Martin, this is where your bike was the focus of attention for 10,000 flies...]
N85 Route Napoloen: La Mure - Col Boyard - Gap
A good road if you have to eat up some miles and don't want to go into motorway-zombie mode. It gets better and twistier at the La Mure end.