The next morning heading south in France was the plan. Said farewell to the great guys I met at Hotel Le Roitelet and continued first west. Then south.
Did think about going back into Switzerland. But I’d never been in the region, and mountains south of Lac Leman before. So first I took D22 slightly north-west to Les Combes. Then switched over to D23 in direction of Thonon-les-Bains. Soon D22 met road D902. A sharp turn and I was heading south-east. First on the bigger D902, later on D22 again.
Further South into France
D902 leads to Gorge du pont du Diable. It is located on the River Dranse, close to D902. It offers a great example of erosion in the Alpine limestone foothills of Chablais in Haute-Savoie. Excursions wasn’t a part of my plans for the day. Well truth is I didn’t have much of a plan. Except getting further south.
As a result of the south-in-France ambition I kept on for a few hours, without stop. Past Albertville I ended up on A430 which is more of a freeway. But not for long. A few kilometers further south got off the freeway. And carried on on a smaller road which later led me onto A43 in direction of Forneaux.
It never was the intention. But it happened anyway. A43 led me to it. The Frèjus tunnel connects France and Italy. All of a sudden I was past an exit, a point of no return. So had to carry on.
Unless you’re in a hurry, avoid the Frèjus tunnel. It’s expensive and one of the hottest tunnels I’ve ever ridden. With air quality to match an old steel mill. I did stop in a small town a bit before. Where there is a road that leads south, across the mountains. And eventually takes you up northeast towards Briancon.
But it’s a long detour. Anyhow, hindsight is 20/20. Planning sometimes is a good idea. As it would turn out later, I managed to do the exact same mistake a second time! But that’s another, yet to be told story.
Bardonecchia, and a bit of improvisation
it must have been around 4:30PM when, finally, the tunnel was done. Took off the main road and steered into Bardonecchia. It’s a touristy, ski resort place. Stopped at the main square, and wondered, do I really want to stay overnight here? Too early anyway. It was pretty hot too.
Checking the the map there was a road that looked kind of interesting. Strada Provenciale 216, later D1T. Leading up a winded road, across the mountains and back into France.
So I went for it. Not long after I stopped and marveled at both the road and the scenery.
As I reached the top the temperature dropped by 15C. After a days worth of hot riding it was a relief. There’s a flat stretch between the peaks, lots of campers had settled there. I rode past them and began the descent on the other side.
A dead end (expectedly) & return
Coming down there’s a cross road. D994G goes south in direction of Briançon. Which by the way is the highest city in France, at an altitude of 1,326 metres (or 4,350 feet). Decided to go back to Bardonecchia and Italy for the night. But first, exploring a bit more.
The D994G north changes name to D30IT. It leads up to a parking lot. There ends the journey. Well you can get further possibly. But there is a road barrier. People parked there ti trek up in the mountains. Like the summit La Pointe des Cerces, to mention but one.
The road up there revealed more marvelous mountainous views. And a pretty rough, narrow pavement road. The sort you find in plenty in Norway to be honest. People took it easy, for all the good reasons. Didn’t mind, was captivated by the landscape anyway.
South and into France, the next day
At the parking and road barrier I turned back. It was getting late. Thought for a split second about BriAs soon as mobile coverage was up to par I made a reservation in Bardonnecchia. The hotel looked good, and the deal was ditto.
It was near 7PM when I finally got to the hotel and settled in. Because of Corona they didn’t serve dinner there. But with good options nearby I food & drink wasn’t a problem. It had been a pretty long day. Reckon I did around 650 kilometers or so. A good days ride!
Next day I would carry on south, into France. More about that later.