Stats: Barcelonnette (1,150m) to Guillaumes (800m) via Col de la Cayolle (2,326m); length 60km; elevation 1,400m. Battery used 70%.
We had an early starts, running against time to avoid thunderstorms at our night destination. We also cranked up the engine a little 😜🚴♀️.
This stage was superb! It goes through Mercantour National Park, with minimal traffic, immersed in total isolation apart from fellow cyclists and rare motorists . The surroundings are completely wild, with narrow gorges, streams and steep mountains .
We felt we were biking not in France but in some remote untouched mountain range in some exotic part of the world. We biked in awe of the surrounding nature, somewhat reminiscent of the Swiss Alpine landscape.
Col de la Cayolle, situated in the Mercantour National Park, marks the separation between Alpes Haute Provence and Alpes Maritimes. Up there the panorama is superb, peaceful and beautiful in its wilderness , surrounded by meadows and beige sandy mountains. We would have gladly rested there if time and weather allowed.
The descent is equally dramatically wild and spectacular and follows the Vars river to Guillaumes.
As predicted, the bad weather finally caught up with us and we biked the last 30min under pouring rain.
Guillaumes was a big disappointment. I don’t usually write negative comments, since my viewpoint may not reflect the general sentiment. But here I cannot refrain. Not sure what I was expecting in such a remote location. Maybe I’m used to the Swiss Alps, where every little hamlet is pristine and charming, no matter how isolated. In Guillaumes , we find a single dirty-looking restaurant, which we skipped. A single coffee/snack shop, unappealing and without Covid sanitary precautions, which we skipped. The only dinner option left was a Supermarket, which looked like taken right from a war-stricken country. The fruits and vegetables were so rotten that not even animals would have eaten them. The fridge section had been raided. We were left with some canned food, a bit of cheese and crackers, which we ate on the banks of the river.
As a consolation, our room in Guillaumes was very cute, new and with a chalet flavor.
Links to other sections of the Route des Grandes Alpes:
- INTRO- Route des Grandes Alpes , France (southern half)
- St-Michel-de Maurienne to Valloire , France (Day-1)
- Valloire To Briançon , France (Day-2)
- Briançon to Guillestre , France (Day-3)
- Guillestre to Barcelonnette , France (Day-4)
- Guillaumes to Valdeblore , France (Day-6)
- Valdeblore to Sospel , France (Day-7)
- Sospel to Nice , France (Day-8)