Combe Laval, France (2022-4)

Last Updated on: December 27, 2023

Combe Laval was a target while in France in 2021. But I chose another route further south, and as a result had to drop that plan.

I’ve for long wanted to ride D76, the scenic route also known as “Route et cirque de Combe Laval”. A year later it was finally going to happen. Truls-Erik had no objections. It would be a new experience for him as well. So Combe Laval became the goal of the day.

Getting there turned out to be a lot more interesting than we had expected!

Combe Laval seen from 76

Combe Laval, seen from D76, or “Route et cirque de Combe Laval”

Vercors Massif

From Le Bourg d’Oisans we took the same road back out of the valley, and headed west on the D1091, towards Vizille. We did consider a more mountainous route. Earlier fall it would have been an easy choice. But coming out of the hotel that morning our bikes were covered with frost. Easy to imagine what awaited us over the mountains.

To quote a certain world famous Austrian actor, “I’ll be back”. Alone or with someone, later spring or early fall, sometime in the future!

Past the city of Vif we found ourselves on smaller roads. While we were climbing up I suddenly spotted something that looked like fine gravel. Almost the same colour as the pavement. And sure enough, on the pavement was fine layer of gravel and sand.

It was like riding on marbles. Pretty dangerous stuff.

Chateau Bernard, Vercors Natural Park, France

View from new Chateau Bernard, Vercors Natural Park, France

I signalled to Truls-Erik we had to be careful and ride slowly. Shortly after he had an almost incident. Fortunately it all went well, much thanks to skills and motorcycle electronics, or aids.

My guess is that the reason for the sand/gravel mix was because of frost. But I don’t know for sure.

We rode across a pass called Col de l’Arzelier, at 1154 meters, then continued along the Vercors ridge. This region is called Château-Bernard. I can highly recommend riding on the small roads up here. But take your time, it’ll be well worth it!

At La Combe, titled "Man, Motorcycle & Mountains".

La Combe Vercors Massif: “Man, Motorcycle & Mountains”.

The landscape and nature, in close proximity to Vercors Massif is just fantastic. Whoever didn’t before, certainly will love France after such an experience!

Before Combe Laval – Col de Rousset

We rode back down to the main road and continued south. Basically riding around or along Vercors National Park. There aren’t many options if one intends to ride Combe Laval from the south side. The main roads offer plenty of twists and turns though. And are anything but boring. It got even better as we set course for Mensac.

View from Col de Meneè

View from road Col de Meneè,

The road leads across a pass called Col de Meneè. Above picture don’t do full justice to the landscape.

From Mensac we continued along D539, some miles further northwest onto D518 to Chamaloc. The ascent began with woodlands and hills. Every now and then glimpses of higher mountains slipped through the woods and canopies, like appetizers. of what was waiting further up.

Col de Rousset

Riding up Col de Rousset

A few miles past the village of Mensac fun began. Sharper turns and hairpins. The road is a delight, with good pavement and ditto traction for motorcycle tires. Not demanding, yet exciting enough. Shortly after we reached the vantage point Belvedere Col du Rousset.

View from Belvedere Col du Rousset, France

View from Belvedere Col du Rousset, France

Combe Laval

Having digested the glorious views and nature we continued in direction of the goal. Combe Laval is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, balcony roads in France. It’s easy to understand why.

Combe Laval and road D76

Combe Laval, road D76 and a stone arch

One cannot pass through without making several stops. Some pockets along the road makes that possible, especially tor motorcycles. Another reason why driving or riding cautiously here is a must.

In order to better illustrate the experience of riding D76 or Combe Laval, I made the below video.

Hopefully it delivers a little bit of the experience.

Past the Vercors marvel we continued north. The journey home had started. Staying on smaller roads we avoided Lyon and potential traffic mess. Finally to land in Belleville-en-Beaujolais, and a decent motel. It had been a long day, but it would not be the last long day.

Below the major part of our route. More later.

September 19th 2022 route

A greater part of the September 19th 2022

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