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Old 05-10-2014, 04:03 AM   #1
Libertynh OP
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Route des Grande Alpes Riding Times?

My wife and I are renting bikes in Menton the end of June for 7 days. Honestly I had no idea where we were going to ride but it sounds like the Route des Grande Alpes might be best for us. I started calculating distances using Via Michelin. My wife rides at probably 3/4 average speed but handles challenging roads well. Now I find driving times on http://www.losapos.com that seem to indicate we will be hard pressed to make the round trip in 7 days and I was hoping for some sort of loop rather than back tracking. I had planned on overnights in Barcelonnette, Lanslebourg, and Flumet but not if that means 10 hrs a day in the saddle. Have also heard that we shouldn't miss the Grand Canyon du Verdon which seems like a pretty fair trip in itself.
So is it 3-4 hours on the road Menton to Barcelonnette or 8-9 hours? Pretty much impossible to plan with that much discrepancy.

Libertynh screwed with this post 05-10-2014 at 09:09 AM Reason: Specific question
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
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I did the route north to south in three days. Didn't kill myself, stopped often. I had beautiful weather but if there is rain, it would def be slower.

But you don't have to do the whole enchilada and you don't have to set out a carved in stone itinerary. There is plenty to see all along.

From Cannes, you could do the more subdued Route Napoleon up to Digne-les-Bains and then head northeast on highway 900 to Barcelonnette. On the way is the Canyon of Verdon near Castellane. I recommend taking the west side of the Canyon on D71. Very little traffic. Moustiers Ste. Marie would make a nice overnight either way. Rolling times do vary wildly. Use your own pace and don't forget to stop and smell the flowers.
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Old 05-10-2014, 03:55 PM   #3
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Marie would make a nice overnight either way. Rolling times do vary wildly. Use your own pace and don't forget to stop and smell the flowers.
Thanks RT, that sounds like a really good way to start. We haven't had the best luck with finding lodging on the fly and I am not sure how much use my wife's decades old French classes are going to be so I am hoping to have a least the first few nights reserved in advance.
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:12 AM   #4
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Thanks RT, that sounds like a really good way to start. We haven't had the best luck with finding lodging on the fly and I am not sure how much use my wife's decades old French classes are going to be so I am hoping to have a least the first few nights reserved in advance.
Do not worry about French language skills. You will be able to get along very well with English in the French Alps.... No worries.

I spend 6-8 weeks each summer in the Alps and have always been able to find a room at the end of the day. It's a tourist area so there's plenty if lodging. Many of the towns with ski reports have an excess of lodging in the summer months... No worries.

Enjoy your trip, have fun, and be safe!

Paul
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:14 PM   #5
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Yes, it's possible

3 days up, 3 days down, 1 spare.... you can do allot in that time. And if you're running out of time anyway, there's shortcuts you can take.
I remember once having done Route Napoleon down to Nice (2 up), starting in Zurich CH in 2 long riding days.
Same with Route Grd. Alpes, only that one is more demanding and it's much more nice to do in 3 days.

Make sure you have all necessary Michelin Maps and yes, Route Napoleon is excellent option for one of the ways.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138493
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Old 05-12-2014, 02:51 AM   #6
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Do not worry about French language skills. You will be able to get along very well with English in the French Alps.... No worries.
Thanks, I always feel pretty stupid being monolingual in Europe.
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Old 05-12-2014, 02:59 AM   #7
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Make sure you have all necessary Michelin Maps and yes, Route Napoleon is excellent option for one of the ways.
At least a portion of both is what I am thinking now. I think I have all the right maps and we will be renting a gps and I am planning to bring the Garmin as backup.
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:09 AM   #8
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Your Garmin will work just fine. I use a garmin 660 with out dated maps and have not had any trouble navigating. Look on your maps for the next few towns ahead and when you get to a roundabout/intersection just look at what towns are listed on the signs and follow. I find that a lot easier then staring at the GPS. Some intersections/ roundabouts will have multiple exits that go to the same town, so that's why it helps to know a few of the towns on the route so you can take the right exit. Have fun and if you run out of time just get on the autostrada/highway. Last year i road two up on my 03 1150GSA from Como to Monaco in about 5 hours to get to warm weather and out of the snow. The autostrada/highways are vary fast and safe compared to the ones in the USA.
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:50 AM   #9
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Regarding this area of France and the Alps route, can anyone advise on camping opportunities in this area? I recognize that wild camping as is done in Finland isn't going to happen, but are there decent opportunities for camping sites commercially?
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:03 AM   #10
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Your Garmin will work just fine. I use a Garmin 660 ..........to warm weather and out of the snow. The autostrada/highways are vary fast and safe compared to the ones in the USA.
I am most reassured by this information. I also am planning to bring a 660, not sure if I will buy an sd map or try and add another map to the internal memory. I was hoping it would be practical to take a fast way back if needed but I wasn't sure. Thanks!

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Old 05-12-2014, 11:22 AM   #11
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Regarding this area of France and the Alps route, can anyone advise on camping opportunities in this area? I recognize that wild camping as is done in Finland isn't going to happen, but are there decent opportunities for camping sites commercially?
Here's all you should need.

http://www.campingfrance.com/UK
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:37 PM   #12
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My maps on the 660 are the Garmin Europe, 4 or 5 years old. I do not use the SD card in the GPS it has never worked right. The 660 has been a nightmare to load and after i got it to work years ago, i will just use it as is. I have never had any luck loading routes from my computer on to it. It works well just adding the route each day. If this is your first trip to the Alps, it most likely will not be your last. I loved it and now my well used 100,000 + mile bikes home is near the alps. NH is a nice state to live in, I lived there for 8 years and miss it.
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Old 05-13-2014, 12:05 AM   #13
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Here's all you should need.

http://www.campingfrance.com/UK
Thank you!
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Old 05-14-2014, 03:05 AM   #14
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I loved it and now my well used 100,000 + mile bikes home is near the alps. NH is a nice state to live in, I lived there for 8 years and miss it.
2nd trip. Last year we rented out of Frankfurt and got as far as the Dolomites. Taking another while we are able.
Wife gave me a 665 for Christmas and I am running a sd topo ok in it right now in addition to the loaded US and Canada.
Man it would be so much nicer not to worry about dinging up a brand new rental.
I do appreciate having great riding right here in NH out the door but thanks to the dog it's been more hiking lately.
Youngest daughter is living, working and going to school in western PA.
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Old 05-17-2014, 04:54 AM   #15
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GPS Routing?

First, thanks for all of the help so far!

I am sure it's been covered but are routes for the Napolean and Route des Grande Alpes anywhere that I can load onto the Garmin?

I usually just plot on the fly as where we want to go on a given day is probably not going to match where I thought when sitting at a PC in the dining room weeks before but it would be a great reference.
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