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  1. #1
    Raising the Abyss celticfrost's Avatar
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    Cycling in The Vercors, France?

    Has anyone cycled in the Vercors?

    The landscape, roads and climbing conditions look incredible.

    Here's a crazy route I mapped: VERCORS

    I'm figuring that I route like this would take anywhere from 8-10 days as the grades are consistently steep -- not to mention a few days for rest and relaxation.

    Questions:
    -do the smaller towns offer lodging? I would NOT be hauling gear on my bike
    -how expensive are meals and lodging during the late Summer (August or September)
    -are bicycles allowed on the park roads?

    I know that I'll have to do some research on my own, but I am interested to get feedback from people who have ridden this part of France.

    Thank you.
    "...in Las Vegas where -the electric bills are staggering -the decor hog wild -and the entertainment saccharine -what a golden age -what a time of right and reason -the consumer's king -and unhappiness is treason..."

  2. #2
    Senior Member dorkypants's Avatar
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    You might take a look at Grenoble Cycling Pages, which has a section on routes in the Vercors, as well as a forum where you can get more information (free registration).

    I run tours in the area, but focused on the region between the Rhone river and the high plateau, so I can't tell you about the park as I haven't been there. Your route skips the most scenic part of the Gorges de la Bourne, between Pont de la Goule Noir and les Jarrands; and the castle at Crest in the Diois valley. The upper part of the Grands Goulets route ending at les Barraques en Vercors is a long tunnel, neither scenic nor pleasant despite the ample lighting and wide bike lane. I don't see why you're doing some of the short loops and spurs, are they just something to climb?

  3. #3
    Raising the Abyss celticfrost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorkypants View Post
    You might take a look at Grenoble Cycling Pages, which has a section on routes in the Vercors, as well as a forum where you can get more information (free registration).

    I run tours in the area, but focused on the region between the Rhone river and the high plateau, so I can't tell you about the park as I haven't been there. Your route skips the most scenic part of the Gorges de la Bourne, between Pont de la Goule Noir and les Jarrands; and the castle at Crest in the Diois valley. The upper part of the Grands Goulets route ending at les Barraques en Vercors is a long tunnel, neither scenic nor pleasant despite the ample lighting and wide bike lane. I don't see why you're doing some of the short loops and spurs, are they just something to climb?
    Thanks! I'll look into both of the links you provided.

    I'm not at all familiar w/ the region or roads firsthand. The route I mapped-out is just a result of me trying to find the "least straight" roads, as (in my experience) they offer the most climbing. I'll have to do a new route to include the scenic portions you mentioned (your advice is appreciated) --- though I would like to keep some of the short loops and spurs as I often like to wander off the beaten path as much as possible.
    "...in Las Vegas where -the electric bills are staggering -the decor hog wild -and the entertainment saccharine -what a golden age -what a time of right and reason -the consumer's king -and unhappiness is treason..."

  4. #4
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    I just did a ride in that region, doing 140 km and 3000 metres climbing in one long day from Montelier to Grenoble. Since it was mid-March, everywhere I went was very quiet, the only real traffic I found was in the valley where Villarden-en-Lens and Lens-en-Vercors is because there is a small ski area there. There are lots of accomodation options all over, including in many of the smaller towns. I stopped for a break and something to eat in La-Chapelle-en-Vercors and really liked the village. I decided that if I was to come back for more riding in the region then I would definitely plan to stay there. It would be quite easy to base yourself there and do a few different loop rides for a few days.

    As for costs, hopefully you can find a single room in a basic hotel for 50 euro per night, but it may be necessary to pay more. Main courses at a standard restaurant probably start around 10 euros, but it's easy to spend a total of around 20 euros for a full evening meal including a dessert and drink.

    I was hoping to ride along the ridge road that goes over Col de la Bataille - it looked fantastic on the map and I read a good report about cycling along the top of a very high cliff-face. Unfortunately, that road is a cross-country ski trail all winter, so I had to change my route a bit and ended up going up to the Col de la Machine from St Jean en Royans - it's a tough, sustained gradient of about 8% for the first several kms but then it is a fantastic cliff-top road for the last 5 km towards the top of the col. I also rode up the Gorge between Saint Julien and Villard-en-Lens; the gorge was fantastic, very deep, rocky, and imposing, and the road winds impressively around and through the cliff faces on both sides. It was a pretty quiet road in March, but I imagine that there would be a lot more tourist traffic on it in the summer and it might not be as pleasant.

    I spotted a lot of back-roads on the map that looked like they would be a lot of fun, but because I had to get to Grenoble by the end of the day, and because the ground above 1000 metres was covered in snow, I didn't have a chance to explore them this time. However, I've been on many similar roads in other similar Natural park regions in the French Alps and there has been no problem about riding a bike on them. Most of the dirt roads are totally rideable with 32 mm touring tyres, although they may be a bit bumpy.

    The best map of the region is in the IGN 1:100,000 "Top 100: Tourisme et decouverte" series, the map for this region being number 157, Grenoble-Montelimar, which can be bought on the IGN website here.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 03-18-12 at 01:22 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dorkypants's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    The best map of the region is in the IGN 1:100,000 "Top 100: Tourisme et decouverte" series, the map for this region being number 157, Grenoble-Montelimar, which can be bought on the IGN website here.
    IGN also publishes a cycling-specific map of the Drome region, which encompasses the Royans-Vercors: La Drome en Velo cyclocarte, 1:100,000, from the series Carte de Loisirs de Plein Air. IGN page for the map.

    Last edited by dorkypants; 03-23-12 at 09:21 AM. Reason: more specific URL for map

  6. #6
    Senior Member speedwobbles's Avatar
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    I'm currently living in Grenoble and have done a few rides in the Chartreuse and Belledonne but not in the Vercors, although I've hiked and XC skiied there and it was really awesome. Your route looks like it would be pretty sweet.

    To answer your questions
    -I think the smaller towns will typically have some sort of lodging, although you may need to call ahead. My friend tried to book one place and was told by the owner that they couldn't get down to open up the room on such short notice. I don't know if that's typical but it's something you should plan for.
    -As for prices it depends on what you want to eat. You can go into supermarkets or bakeries and get a sandwich for 2-5 EUR. Actual meals will be more expensive, my guess would be maybe around 10 EUR. Lodging prices I don't know. Have you heard of CouchSurfing?
    -I don't see why bicycles wouldn't be allowed on park roads.
    -I've ridden on roads similar to the D106 at the start of your voyage and did not have problems with cars.
    -Check out this website as well, it's got some info about various climbs in the Alps.

    Do you mind me asking why you've chosen the Vercors and not the more famous (at least with the Tour) regions to the east of Grenoble?

  7. #7
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    I did a long one day ride in the Vercours on the way back from the Bourg d'Oisans area en route to the Lyon Airport. It was incredible, uncrowded, hilly, gorgeous, etc. A real gem that hides in the shadow of the better known riding areas that Grenoble is blessed with. If the alps weren't right there, this place would be overrun with bikes.

  8. #8
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    Missed this topic... I had the good fortune of riding in the Vercors at the end of a 28 day holiday back in 2011.

    Would be surprised if you could spend 9 days in the Vercors unless you are planning short rides each day? I covered quite a few of those roads over 2 1/2 days riding.

    I was suggested the area when I asked online planning my trip as well as the accommodation at the Hotel Le Marronnier http://en.hotellemarronnier.com in Rencurel. I was a solo traveller and booked a room half board so included breakfast and dinner. All of which was quite good.

    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/...september.html
    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/...september.html
    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/...september.html

    I would check the Michelin maps online for the Vercors and note the 3 starred roads aiming to fit as many of these in to your itinerary except as already mentioned the Grands Goulets. Reason to exclude the later is the best section of road is now fenced off to all traffic, so instead I had to ride through the long tunnel. A must include would be the Col de la Machine - unfortunately this road was completely closed to traffic for resurfacing; I was there in September so as the summer holidays are over there is a risk some roads being closed for maintenance before the snow arrived.

    It is an amazing place to ride, none of the big cols of the Alpes but some remarkable roads. Note it is popular with motorcyclists normally, but as I was there mid September found the traffic light enough. Can't help about other accommodation or food options as I only had both at the one hotel.
    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au

  9. #9
    Raising the Abyss celticfrost's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the tips, recommendations, descriptons, etc..

    I found this (http://www.velovercors.com/index.html) as interest in doing this has picked-up again (now that I'm caught-up w/ some other financial obligations )
    Last edited by celticfrost; 01-29-14 at 12:49 PM.
    "...in Las Vegas where -the electric bills are staggering -the decor hog wild -and the entertainment saccharine -what a golden age -what a time of right and reason -the consumer's king -and unhappiness is treason..."

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