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The Alpes Maritimes inland from the busy Cote d'Azur is a paradise for cyclists.
For road cycling, the roads are very quiet with fantastic scenery, good surfaces and a wide variety of terrain, from the wide plains of the Var to the fiercely mountainous roads to the north. We provide a list of suggested cycle routes starting from Les Basses Beaumettes, and for those who wish, there are some fairly strenuous cols available.
The Conseil Général Alpes-Maritimes has just set up a series of cycle routes to develop cycle tourism in the Haut Pays des Alpes Maritimes where we live. Their main objective at the moment is to develop cycle routes (like walking routes) with specific cyclists' sign posts in green and white.
We are on the route of the Conseil Général's Grand Tour des Préalpes d'Azur - a 6 day circuit through the 'Préalpes d'Azur' Natural Park where we live. The route starts in Grasse and goes to St Vallier de Thiey, Gréolieres, Thorenc, Saint Auban, Aiglun, Puget Théniers, Gilette, Roquestéron, Bouyon, Cipieres and back to Grasse. Click on this link to see the Topo for the Grand Tour des Préalpes d'Azur
We are also on the Route des Clues (gorges), click on this link to see the Topo for the Route des Clues
We are near the Circuit des Hauts Plateaux, click on this link to see the Topo for the Circuit des Hauts Plateaux
If you watched the Tour de France in 2015 you will have also seen a lot of the local scenery as the Tour passed 20 minutes from Les Basses Beaumettes on the stage Digne Les Bains - Castellane - St Julien du Verdon - Annot - Colmars Les Alpes - Allos - Col d'Allos - Pra Loup on the 22nd of July 2015.
Just when you thought that the peaceful quiet roads winding their way through the Gorges and round the hills of the Alpes Maritimes couldn't get any narrower!
The area is also excellent for mountain biking (VTT). You can hire both normal (14€ half day/23€ full day) and electric (25€ half day/40€ full day) mountain bikes in St Auban (3km from Les Basses Beaumettes). You can also hire helmets, children's bikes and seats for children's bikes. For more information tel 04 93 60 42 56 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
St Auban is situated on the route of Les Chemins du Soleil a long distance mountain biking route which goes from Thonon-les-Bains at Lac Léman all the way to Nice. For those who want to just try mountain biking for a day, there are mountain bikes for hire in St Auban. There are lots of forestry tracks (of a wide range of steepness) and a chair lift at La Mouliere (thirty minutes drive) to take you to the top of the most southerly ski resort in the French Alps. For further information about the chair lift at La Mouliere / l'Audibergue tel. 04 93 60 45 39.
For cyclists at our self catering apartment we provide:
Read on for comments about cycling in the region, together with some possible itineraries. Les Beaumettes is at the junction of five quiet roads which gives lots of scope for making cycling loops. We are 40 mins by car from the Verdon Gorge which is possible to cycle round in a day, the shorter Route des Crêtes circuit is particularly spectacular. This fantastic panorama photo shows the route des Cretes on the left and the south rim on the right hand side of the photo. If you are worried that the Verdon Gorge might be a bit too busy why not try touring the Gorge du Daluis from Les Basses Beaumettes (see photo top left and opposite).
The Col D'Allos is closed to cars in July and August on Friday mornings between 8 and 11am. It takes an hour and a quarter to drive to Allos from Les Basses Beaumettes. The Col itself is at 2247m for early birds who fancy stretching their legs.
Robin Haynes, September 2006
Is a grand place to be, well poised for any outdoor pursuits from the Pepsi-Max-take-it-to-the-limit variety to a picnic somewhere peaceful. Your local Resto was very fine as well - wild mushroom soufflé in particular. Obvious attractions to cycling down your way - the settled weather, immaculate road surfaces, low traffic volumes, drivers mostly far better attuned to cyclists' needs than in UK and diversity of scenery and routes all combine to make it a fabulous venue for road cyclists of all ambitions. Nowhere in UK gets near it. Your location also has access to some of the classic Alpine cols - in 3 days cycling, Simon completed 4,160 metres of ascent including the highest road in the Alps. In 7 days on the bike, Brodyck notched up 10,644 metres including 5 cols over 2,000 metres high, I wheezed my way up 11,631 metres of ascent and Derek (who drank enough wine over Friday lunch to impair his decision making capabilities and ended up going over Col Laval rather than sitting at the gite) just a whisker under 12,000 metres. Few other places in Europe make that sort of tally possible.
Tom and Courtenay Murphy, cycling holiday July 2013
Looking for an awesome place to ride, hang out and enjoy the scenery? Then you’ve found it - Les Basses Beaumettes is just a great place to stay. Hosts Ruth and Ulric are the best. Ruth will help you with anything you need help or assistance with and Ulric seemed informed on any topic you might choose to converse – just absolutely great folks.
The riding from the gite is fantastic and some routes are explained in the cycling portion of the web site. The rides literally start right out the front door! What we enjoyed was the lack of cars and the remote feel of the rides. There are a number of loops that are easy to put together by simply looking at the map.
We’re looking forward to our return visit.
Tom and Courtenay Murphy – Colorado USA
Road cycling around St Auban
Robin & Liz Blackburn Jan 2005
This is a mountainous region, all loops will involve a long climb at some stage.
It has an advantage over the central Alps in having many quiet roads and stable weather.
Described routes were all cycled on double chain ringed (36 - 50) road bikes with 11 - 25 rear sprockets. Gradients are not massively steep but the hills are long.
Surfaces are excellent. 23x700cc tyres are ideal. Generally no potholes, but occasional surface grit, agricultural mud (near farms) & rock fall debris (in cuttings & tunnels).
The weather is fairly settled so spare clothes are not normally necessary.
Very, very cold on shady north facing slopes during winter with occasional surface icy seeps & snow.
Very, very hot on south facing slopes in summer.
Do not rely on villages for shops or water. Be self contained! This is a rural area not catering for tourists in every settlement! Shops in larger habitations close 12 noon - 3pm.
The roads are very quiet. But, do not think of cycling near Grasse….super busy!
Numerous small roads exist with endless possibilities for extensions to rides.
The following suggestions are just to give you an idea of what is possible; there are lots more alternatives.
Day 1: Les Beaumettes - Col de Bleyne - Thorenc - Malamaire - Les Beaumettes
A varied cycle with an introductory col and some fast cycling on smooth roads. Best cycled clockwise as this gives a shady ascent and smoother descents.
Easy smooth ascent to la Faye du Mas junction.
Take right turn, and start the ascent of Col de Bleyne. Early morning mist can provide some stunning views.
Only major ascent of the trip. Rough surface with hairpins to Col. Shady, so coolish in summer, icy in winter.
Smooth fast descent to D802 (do not cut corner via Thorenc-Station, v narrow rough road, difficult navigation)
Right turn along level easy road to Malamaire via Valderoure
Right turn along D2211. Smooth surface, easy ascents, fast descents.
Right turn at camp site and back to Les Beaumettes
Day 2: Les Beaumettes - Clue de St Auban - Brainconnet - Sigale - Aiglun - le Mas - Les Beaumettes
Classic scenic tour of the region with great high level views. Strenuous climbs, not too steep, but quite long.
Easiest cycled anti-clockwise as ascent broken into stages but majority of descent in one 15km stretch of narrow twisty rougher road.
Best cycled clockwise as above & described below as descents are all smooth 2-way roads. (Don’t worry about the final ascent till you’re there!).
Short tunnels but lights not necessary.
Smooth level road to St Auban.
Right turn & descend through the Clue on D2211. Watch for rockfall debris on road. Shady, so icy in winter. Worth stopping to look at the river.
Right turn to Brianconnet at bottom of descent.
Smooth surface, easy angled ascent through trees to Brianconnet.
Contour hillside and rise to col at Maupoil. Good surface wide road.
Straight across junction on D2211a.
Very fast, straight descent on good surface through trees to les Collongues. Shady, so icy in winter.
Ascend gradually then descend easily to D17 junction.
Take right turn signed Sigale.
Pass ostrich farm on left.
Small ascent through narrow clue (worth a stop).
Good views at top of climb. Easy angled descent. Bench seat on right approx 1km after top.
Drinkable water fountain in Sigale. Fill bottles!
Fast descent on good road out of Sigale
Take right turn on apex of 2nd hairpin to Aiglun.
Single track. Rougher surface.
Scenic river after le Colombier. (swim?)
Ascend to Aiglun.
Descend hairpins & tunnel to bridge (worth a stop for view & food). Watch for debris on road around tunnel.
Long, long ascent via le Mas (don’t take valley bottom road) to D5 col. Nothing too steep, but it does go on somewhat! A very sheltered road on a south facing hillside.
Smooth easy angled descent to Les Beaumettes.
You can make this loop a bit longer by taking in the stunning little villages of La Sagne and Gars.
Day 3: Les Beaumettes - La Foux - La Batie - La Chaudanne - Demandolx - Soliehas - St Auban - Les Beaumettes
A very scenic tour of the area with undulating riding & one big hill on super smooth surfaces. Very quiet roads (even N85). Could be extended to take in lunch or market at Castellane (at a cost of a further 6km and 100m or so more ascent). 2 short tunnels, lights not necessary.
Best cycled clockwise for smoothest easiest descents.
From les Beaumettes, follow D5 towards St Auban.
Left turn at campsite junction.
Easy angled small ascents & descents on smooth surface past les Lattes & la Foux.
After 10.5km, take right turn signed la Batie & Castellane.
Small hill then easy undulating ride to la Batie.
Right turn on N85.
Steepest climb of the day to a small col, then long fast descent to Chaudanne.
Take right turn on a big leftward bend, poorly signed to Barrage de Chaudanne. (if you reach the valley bottom, you’ve gone too far!).
Smaller road along reservoir side. Watch for debris on road, especially through 2 short tunnels. Shady, so icy in winter.
Good rest stops on side of reservoir.
Long ascent starts as road leaves reservoir. Surface improves, good climbing gradient & views.
Right turn on D102 to Demandolx.
Continue ascent through gentrified Demandolx and up rougher surfaced road to col at Vauplane Stade de Neige junction.
Straight over col with more great views during fast descent to Soleilhas. Watch for grit on hairpins.
Straight through Soleilhas on very narrow streets.
Continue easily along flat valley bottom to St Auban.
Right turn (ignore no right turn sign!), cross river, pass fire station & take left fork at campsite junction to return to Les Beaumettes.
Recommended by local cyclists
Brianconnet - Entrevaux – Ubraye – St Julian du Verdon – Demandolx
Cycle through the Clue de St Auban and follow the main road to Brianconnet then turn left taking the D2211 over the Col de Buis (1199m). Follow the signs to Castellet St Cassien, when you get to La Serre, turn left and take the D911 to Entrevaux.
Entrevaux is a medieval town, well worth a visit and a pleasant lunch stop. Then take the D610 out of Entrevaux, the D6 becomes the D10, follow the signs to Ubraye (981m). If you really like cycling up hill you can continue up to Le Touyet (1230m). From Ubraye continue on the D10 to Rouainette. The D10 joins the N202, turn left and go over Col de Toutes Aures, through Vergons to St Julien du Verdon. Then take the D955 towards Castellane. At the diving centre turn off left onto the D102 and follow the hair pin bends up to Demondolx, over Col de St – Barnabe (1365m) then down to Soleilhas and back to St Auban along the D102.
Col de Bleyne – Gourdon – Cipieres - Greolieres
From Les Beaumettes turn left onto the D5, turn right over Col de Bleyne. At the top of Col de Bleyne (1439m) you can turn left and go to the top of Montagne de Thorenc (1644m) for an excellent view. At the bottom of Col de Bleyne, cross over the D2 and continue on the D5. 1km after Col de la Sine (1108m) turn left onto the D112 towards Gourdon. Go across the Plateau de Caussols and down to Gourdon (739m).
Gourdon is a spectacular old village, perched on a cliff and makes an excellent lunch stop.
Turn left at Gourdon on the D3. After 2.5 km turn left onto the D603 to Cipieres (778m). Turn left into the square in Cipiere – the bar is right in front of you!!!! Carry on past Cipieres on the D603 down to the bridge over the St Pomp (674m), then up the hill to the D2, turn left to Greolieres (839m). Greolieres is a lovely little village, well worth a stop. Carry on up the D2 through the cuttings in the cliff used in the James Bond Golden Eye film. (If you want an extra bit of up hill, the view point on the way to Greolieres les Niege is well worth a visit. Turn right onto the D802 to Greoliere les Neiges, after five hair pin bends the road flattens out, after another 3km, there is a sign post to a view point on the left. This view point gives spectacular views down into the Aiglun valley). Turn right onto the D5 over Col de Bleyne (1439m), enjoy the free wheel back down the north side, turn left at the bottom, and after 3km turn right to Les Basses Beaumettes.
Extension to the Aiglun loop
If you are doing the circuit clockwise, then after going through the Clue de St Auban, and after passing through Brianconnet, turn left and climb over the Col de Buis (1199m). At the junction at the bottom of Col de Buis (792m) turn right and go to Castellet St Cassien. Then go over Col du Trebuchet (1143m). Stay on the D10 through le Grande Cheinet, through la Rochette, through St Pierre to the Pont des Miolans. Turn left at pont des Miolans onto the D17 to Sigale. Continue to Aiglun then back to St Auban.
Extension to either the Aiglun or Entrevaux rides
After cycling through the Clue de St Auban, turn left up to Le Prignolet, then up to La Sagne (1181m), on the cycle back down, turn left just before Le Prignolet, the road contours along the hill side, past the nudist colony to rejoin the main road, turn left towards Brianconnet.
100 km circuit with a height loss, then gain of 1120m and an optional lunch stop at the auberge in Les Ferres
Les Basses Beaumettes is an excellent base from which to do the circuit Le Mas, Aiglun, Roquestéron (320m), Consegudes, Les Ferres (with an optional restaurant / lunch stop, see Les Ferres link), Bouyon, Bézaudun-Les-Alpes, Coursegoules, Gréolieres and back home over the Col de Bleyne (1440m).
Such a good place for cycling by Fred Robinson (summer 2014)
Mont Vial Ridge Run – 42 miles short or 72 long
The Executive Summary
This is such a nice day out and much of it feels like cycling along the top of the world. It’s very scenic and has places to eat or snack nicely spaced. There is a good deal of climbing but mostly not too steep and the descents not challenging either. The short 42 mile route is the same as the 72 mile but take a car and park in Sigale where there is easy parking and a café.
From Basses Beaumettes take the D5 to St Auban, then down the clue to Brianconnet. Continue on the D2211A past Collongues and Sallagriffon. At a junction by a bridge turn left to La Penne (signposted to Puget-Theniers). Just after La Penne and over a bridge take a very small (and steepish) road to the right which goes up to the D27. There is slightly longer and easier route if you look at the map. Turn Right at the top of the hill when you meet the more main road and follow this beautiful road cut high into the ridge passing through the tiny villages of Rourebel, Acros, La Villette, Tourdon, and Turette-du-chateau. The last village before the descent, Revest-les-Roches, has a cafe run by some very nice people with very good coffee. The owner described his wife as a very big cooker but it didn’t loose too much in translation and if it’s not clear just have the homemade almond tarte! Follow the D27 down sweeping bends to Gilette. Where it meets the D17 and turns right, it is mostly a steady downhill to Roquesteron where there are a few shops and a bar. Uphill to Sigale where there is another bar next to the church. Continue via the Clue de Riolan back to the first bridge Junction. Turn left and retrace steps to St Auban.
We did the shorter 42 mile route by parking in Sigale and just doing the loo. It cuts out the uphill slog back to St Auban but you miss the wonderful descent on the way out.
We thoroughly enjoyed this “top of the world” route – despite rain on the last climb – there was little traffic altogether but hardly any at all on the ridge road.
Circuit via Coursegude and Groelieres – 64 miles
The executive summary
Very scenic with long steady descents and long steady climbs and nothing too serious in terms of steepness. At the end of the day climbing up through Groelieres and then the Col De Bleine seems tiring, but easier with a refreshment stop in Groelieres.
From Basses Beaumettes turn left up to Le Mas then down to the Clue de Aiglun and through Aiglun and down, then up to the D17. Turn right to Roquesteron, perhaps lunch or morning coffee here then cross the river l’iesteron to Roquesteron Grasse and take the D1 on to coursegude and Les Ferres. Delightful road, wide, no traffic and great views, climbing gently to Les Ferres. At Les Ferres take the D1 on to Bouyon, there take the D8 to Coursegules/Groelieres. The road climbs steadily over the plateau – low swirling clouds for our trip made it very atmospheric. Downhill to Coursegules, then a brief uphill followed by a very long downhill to a roundabout. Take the first right on the roundabout up to Groelieres, at Groelieres there are bars/restaurants and shops. It is uphill to Thorenc, just before Thorenc (and after the buffalo farm) take the sharp right up the Col De Bleine, once on top enjoy the descent and views and at the bottom turn left and freewheel most of the way back to Les Basses Beaumettes.
Two Cols Route – 44 miles
Another really good day out but note that there is some steeper climbing and if you decide to do this route the other way round be aware the Col de Buie needs lower gears and plenty of water.
From Basses Beaumettes take the D5 to St Auban, then down the clue to Brianconnet. Turn left up the D2211 which is the Col de Buie and is steep in places but not too long from this side, and then the descent which is just as steep and a lot longer. Your brakes will get hot! At the bottom turn left, then right, then right again on to D10 to Castellet-St-Cassien, cycle up the Col de Trebuchet. The descent is on a great road cut into the hillside, follow it around to St Pierre and then down to D2211A where you turn right. After the bridge turn right towards Sallagriffon, then past Collongues a long and steady climb to Brianconnet. Head up the Clue de St Auban and back to Basses Beaumettes.
Off Road cycling
The hills around Les Basses Beaumettes are generally wooded with lots of forestry tracks and other steeper tracks, giving endless scope for mountain biking. You can hire mountain bikes at our local out door centre the Gite Tonic or at the chairlift at La Mouliere tel. 04 93 42 17 58 / 04 93 60 31 51.
Pensier Oriental (1595m)
You can follow a forestry track with a nice gentle gradient all the way up onto the ridge of Pensier Oriental from Les Basses Beaumettes. The photo on the left was taken near the summit, the photo on the right shows the easy angle of the forestry track cutting across the front face of Pensier. There is quite a challenging footpath down the other side of the ridge which brings you out at the top of the old ski station, follow which ever piste you want, down to the village. Why not stop for a well deserved ice cream (or beer) at the trout ponds before heading home?
Next to the village of La Moulière there is a ski station, in the summertime its pistes become alive with the sound of tortured brakes and tyres. Full on mountain bike descents become the 'mot du jour', with a chairlift to whisk you up to the top. Everything you need for a morning or afternoon of adrenaline can be hired at the chairlift station.
The site VTT net also gives an account of several descents plus photos.
This l'Audibergue photo gallery is also worth a look and includes an essential French phrase for all mountain bikers by Bob le Fou! A nice day out can be spent doing the tour of L'Audibergue, for a map and account click on Tour of L'Audibergue. L'Audibergue also makes an excellent launch point for some longer expeditions. The eastern crest of the mountain gives a fine descent, and from there it is possible to head out onto the Caussols Plateau, or to head north via forest tracks over Castellaras and Col de Bleyne.
This cycle takes about 3 hours. From Les Beaumettes cycle up to Hautes Beaumettes. The road then becomes a track. Bear left as soon as you get into the trees, then right when you get onto the ridge. At route marker 119 turn left and go to Col de Baratus, after stopping to look at the view, cycle back along the higher track to join the track that you were originally on. Contour along the side of Arpille. At route market 110 bear left, the track climbs up onto the shoulder of the ridge. The track then bears sharp left and winds its way up onto the summit. On the way back down, as you contour along the front of Arpille, look out for route marker 115, turn left here and cycle down the long shady track to the main road, turn right on the main road, after half a km turn right onto the rough track up through the trees which will bring you out just above Hautes Beaumettes, free wheel all the way back down to Basses Beaumettes.
Lachens has a single track tarred road up one side and a dirt track down the other - perfect for a mountain bike circuit.
You can also mountain bike up the Cheiron from Greolieres les Neiges at any time of the year and at any time of day or night as the photos on this photo gallery show.
As any map of this area will show you, there is endless scope for mountain biking in the forests around St Auban.
This photograph was taken near Les Coulettes.
We have a copy of the Rando Oxygene VTT guide book in the apartment which gives details of other local suggestions.