Riding South in France (2022-3)

Last Updated on: December 10, 2023

I did some riding south in France in 2021. Came through Switzerland then as well, a few miles further east, a bit closer to Bern.

Experiences from that adventure did influence our choice of direction. Whereas I’d been in the area before, it was a new experience for Truls-Erik. And as conditions at higher altitudes in the Alps had gone into winter-mode, especially further east, our direction was a given.

Riding south in France: past Annecy

La Cote, past Annecy, France. Lac d’Annecy in the rear

Riding south in France

After a good breakfast at the hotel we packed up and set course south. The weather was glorious, clear blue sky and sun. Quite a contrast from the day before. That long ride on the Autobahn had brought us south of two rain systems. Onwards things looked very good, weather-wise.

From Cressier we rode south towards Lausanne. Then followed E621 in direction of Geneva, and crossed the border between Switzerland and France shortly after. Next target was Annecy, which turned out to be a very busy little town. Not so strange, as it was a Sunday.

Note to self (again): Sundays might not be optimal for city riding.

Past noon the temperature was in the upper 20s (Celsius). Neither of us fancied city sightseeing, although Annecy was pretty enough and seemed to have a lot to offer. Probably worth a longer stop. Another time perhaps.

We continued along the shores of Lac d’Annecy on road D1507, then onto D912 through The Bauges Massif Natural Park in direction of Chambèry. From there road D1006, past Montmèlian, northeast to Albertville. Not the shortest route, nor the fastest. But that was of less concern!

Col de La Madeleine

D213 to Col de La Madeleine

Along D213 to Col de La Madeleine. Mont Blanc in the rear.

Albertville could also have been worth a stop. I’d been before. But we chose nature, mountains, and mountain passes. When riding south in France the options are many, mildly put. Spending a fortnight roaming around isn’t a problem at all. If you follow or use Routes des Grand Alpes, and smaller roads it’ll keep you happy and busy exploring.

We didn’t have a fortnight to spend, so onwards!

Around Feissonet onto D213 which is the road up to Col de La Madeleine. Great road up, and a first for the both of us. The pass sits at ca 2000 meters. So not very high by Alpine standards. But the nature and the roads are certainly worth a visit!

Riding south in France: along D213

Taking a break along D213, north of Col de La Madeleine

The north side of the pass is littered with ski-lifts and slopes. But no hotels, ski resorts cabins. That all changed as we came down on the other side. And rode into what probably is among the more developed areas I’ve been to, in France.

Mont Blanc seen from Col de La Madeleine

View of Mont Blanc seen from Col de La Madeleine

Am not a big fan of winter sport clusters in general. Of later years there’s been a growth of those also in my country. I try to avoid it as much as possible, which is why I fell in love with the French Alps in 2021. Many passes and alpine regions are left undisturbed, untouched by the human desire to capitalize on nature.

Travel companion at Col de La Madeleine, France

Truls-Erik at Col de La Madeleine, France

As Col de La Madeleine is in proximity to Albertville one should perhaps not be surprised there are lots of ski resorts. These touristy places could be regarded as a necessary evil. An indispensable income source for locals as well as the region/nation.

Landing for the night

Having marvelled at nature we continued down D213 to Le Chambre. Then took D927 or Rue du Col de Glandon. Which led us in direction of the second pass of the day, by the same name. The road is pretty narrow, with plenty of turns, and takes you through a beautiful landscape. All well worth the ride.

Riding south in France: after Col de Glandon

Right after Col de Glandon, France, time for some pics

The higher you get the fewer the villages, until you’re basically all by yourself. Some cabins scattered here and there, that’s all. It being September the traffic was pretty low as well. We didn’t see many cars or people.

If I were to recommend anything, then it would be never to go riding south in France in July or August. Too many people on vacation, too many (over) crowded places. Not to mention the chances for becoming a boiled and fried motorcycle rider!

Eau d'Olle, a dam along D927, France

Eau d’Olle, a dam along D927, France

Past Col de Glandon at ca 1924 meters we continued down on the other side. Making a stop at a lake to take obligatory pictures. It was getting late in the afternoon. Further down we made a halt, to look for a place to stay for the night.

Hotel Oberland in Le Bourg-d'Oisans, France

Hotel Oberland in Le Bourg-d’Oisans, France

Normally it shouldn’t be much of a problem, in later half of September. But the choices weren’t many in the region. And we didn’t feel like carrying on riding for much longer. A hotel in Le Bourg-d’Oisans, a commune along the road between Grenoble and Briançon, looked like a good choice.

Hotel view in Le Bourg-d'Oisans

View from the hotel room in Le Bourg-d’Oisans. I’ve had worse views!

It turned out to be pretty decent, in an old refurbished building. If you ever come here, and book this hotel, ask for a room on the lower floors. It took an absolute for the hot water to “arrive” on the third floor. Old building, and old piping system.

The food was ok, if not directly impressive for being French. But sometimes good is good enough. Especially after 10-11 hours on a motorcycle. Pleasantly full we spent the evening discussing ideas for the following day.

Back with more soon’ish!

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