for our friends, who don’t speak hungarian yet

1115km és 24.000m climb by bicycle, mainly over 2000m

Usually we ride in the French Alps. It’s superbeautiful, cheap and friendly with good roads and polite drivers. So what else do we need? Of course the big hills. Here they are!

We spent here 31 days mainly around the Italian-French border with some days at the sea and a nice ride in Switzerland. The „Touring with pannies” which means that we do it all the way on the bike, bringing all the staff (27 kg+…) on the bike and  sleeping in the tent) was  exactly 20 days. For sooo long time we have to leave our very old car somewhere in safe.

And here cames a very kind woman, Carole, who has a supergood campsite in Aigueblanche, which is at the foot of the famous Three Valleys (Val Thorens and lots of other very good climbs are close to this place), and there is a spa also very close. So Carol was very kind (and also happy, because we were born on the same day), and our old car had a long holiday in her beautiful garden. So the hardest task is done.

Our way to France was lucky because there were huge trafficjams, but not on our route! Everywhere else. We arrived early to Annecy and had a morning siteseeing tour at around 5 o’clock. This medieval town with the Annecy lake is really beautiful.

We enjoyed the lake too, as we were waiting for our friends to arrive, who had there their last days of holiday, and we wanted to meet them. It was soooo good! Then we travelled to Carole’s  beautiful and friendly campsite, Campin Eliana.

First ride day (41km 1426m)was without panniers, because we wanted to climb a nearby beauty, Col de Areches, which is not an easy climb. The last kilometers are on steep gravel. But worths the effort. Just look at the pictures! And it’s also quiet. Only a few hikers. Pure nature and high mountains! That’s what we need! A good start!  At the evening the whole campsite was watching how can we put all these many things on the bike…

And the adventure started! The second day (49km 1110m) we wanted to reach the bottom of the huge Iseran. But didn’t want to ride on the main roads, altough it is possible, there’s a bikeline next to the double lane-road too. We prefered another one, wich meant a nice but steep climb to Col du Tra, or Notre Dame du Pre, which is a quiet road again, but we were sweating a lot. Close to the top  is the Cathedral with a medieval town. Great! It was superhot, but the bicycle-road next to the Isere was a nice suprise! I recomend to everybody! Unfortunatelly a shower came, but it finished fast and we could reach Bourg St Maurice(800m), the start point of Iseran., was not easy at all (85km 2200m).We had to do 2 days ride just in one day, as the weather forcast for the coming day was not too good…showers, thunderstorms with heavy wind. For that reason we started early and was well on time until we recognised, that the nice, brandnew bicycleroad next to the river leads to nowhere! Oh..grrr…., soon we were sweating again on the steep road. The hairpins were nice but the traffic was too heavy! Lots of trucks too.  But only till the picteresque Lake under Tignes. Here we had to eat our lunch, and we decided, that we will try to climb the other half of the hill too.

Lots of tunnels, and Val d’Isere… The Tour de France will come here too! (No they were not here due to the bad weather at that day.)  But we had sunshine, maybe the wind was a bit strong, but not too much traffic, and the landscape was fantastic. At last we arrived to the top of Iseran (2770m). In the downhill it was very cold, but I didn’t remember, that this side of the hill is soooo beautiful!

Of course headwind again to Col de Madeleine, which means only 150m climb from this direction, but who needs it?? Ok, after it we new there’s only a superfast downhill left to Lanlebourg. But not today… aaa, noooo…., they are building the road, so we had to climb 200ms on a side road. But at 11 in the evening finally reached the friendly campsite., we needed a rest, what meant we were eating all day… Fresh again(?). (54km 1600m)So a new adventure, which is important, while Mansi told, we have to do it! Thanks for the  advice Mansi, this place is again a real natural paradise! Hairpins, big hills, lakes, glaciers…  That’s Lac Plan. We tought without packages will it be easy, but no, it isn’t. But extreamly beautiful and interesting., we wanted to make an easy ride, just to see the most interesting things in the surraundings. So we asked Christophe, who is one of the best campsite-managers, very kind, and has a lots of ideas about adventures. So following his advices and map, the tour of this day was very hard, but very interesting. (61km 1400m). Thanks a lot Christophe for the suggestions! First we visited a 93m high monolite, then climbed up to two beautiful artificial lakes ( which as Cristophe said, were only a few more hundred meters climb…  :-)). And at last what the most interesting was, was Fort Victor Emmanuel.

But before a lots of other forts on the hill of Aussi. The main fort is very huge not to easy to visit by bike, but possible and free of charge. But we have to came back later on foot… It has 8(?) big buildings, so a complete program for a day. But we had to bike back to the camp, and followed the suggestion of Cristophe 🙂 An almost mountainbike path, having lots of crazy spots, like  a few meters biking on a landslide and a wooden bridge from the 19th century, which is closed, because one side of it is fallen down… But we won’t climbe back. Sooo, that was scarry 🙂

7th day (61km 900m) we had to continue our packaged-tour, Italy is waiting for us, and also sunshine! Ok nooo. In Italy the rain came fast. It was Sunday and the french national holiday, so there was very heavy traffic, but I don’t  know how, but here the drivers can overtake us vey carefully, most of them keeping the 1.5m on the side. Strange… for us…  The Col du Mont Cenis (2083m) is again very beautiful with the big blue lake, and the forts, but there are too many people! The Italian side was new to us, and wow!!!!  Superinteresting! Looots of hairpins, not easy to ride. For the second part of the downhill we have choosen a sideroad, which was a good idea. Quiet and soooo steep! Ok we went downhill, so it was ok, just crazy. We  arrived to Susa, to the funny, real Italian campsite before the rain.

8th day is a rainday… A pizza helps a bit…

9th day (34km, 1750m) was one of the most interesting and one of the hardest. The millitary road of Colle delle Finestre 2178m. The last 8kms are gravel and extreamly steep sometimes. And the gravel was new, and deep… But the landscape was the best for ever! After the col, we wanted to sleep just on the hill, but a guy opened us a real quiet campsite at 1800m. This small camping was just for us at that cold, starry night. Fantstic!

10th day we vere not sure we could do it (66km 1600m). The Assieta millitary road, Strada della Assieta, with lots of cols, all day over 2000m. And all the road is Gravel till Sestriere. Because it’s so unic, and the landscape is so beautiful that was the only thing why I didn’t cry and turn back.

We were lucky, the rain arrived only in Sestriere, and in the next town we found a shelter.Tomi had a good idea of climbing one more, the Mont Genevre (1850m), which is a transit pass, whith huge traffic. But not at night! We started it at 21.00… On the 2nd half of the climb bikers have their own tunnel, Wow! Great! On the top we arrived back to France, and downhilling to Briancon in deep dark… So we could not see the super and scary hairpins., 46km 1200m.Tomi wanted a restday, but the shop was far, somewhere at the foot of the Col Glandon(2404m), which is the ’homehill’ of the Briancon riders. Well…it’s nice…But sooooo steep… I liked it, and Tomi was waiting for me at the half of the hill. I made it… The wiew from the top is fantastic! The Glaciers, Briancon, the hills…

12th day I also needed a relaxing ride. So we decided to ride up on the nice Claree Vallee. Wow! That was a good choice! (54km 664m). We went over 2000 again, but it was mainly easy climb in a beautiful valley, surraunded with big hills. We enjoyed the medieval towns too.

13th day we were fresh(?) again, so we continued with a huge climb. (58km 1800m) Col de Isoard 2360m is a mythic  climb. The Tour de France is often here. It’s  also a hard climb, especially in hot, but near the top it gets beautiful! The downhill is crazy in the wind and the other crazy thing is that the campsite is closed in the valley, so we had another 600ms to climb at the evening, if we want to sleep in the superb small camp of Pierre Grosse at 1900m. Well… I won’t tell  you anything about these 600ms 🙂

14th day (24km 640m)we needed a restday again,but Notre Dame de Clauses was waiting for me. We found a nice shorter way to Saint Veran, a village which is very high in the hills (over 2000m), and enjoyed there the Day of the new Bread Holiday. It was interesting. Tomi went home, and I climed the gravel road up to the Chapelle, in a nice, once it was a glacier landscape.

15th day (28km 850m) we climed the last half of the iconic Col Agnel, to the French-italian border again. It was an easy and nice climb on quiet road, we were up fast and enjoyed the superbeautiful landscape for a long time, before riding back to Pierre Grosse, where we had all the afternoon free, Woow 🙂

16th day (71km800m), was not too interesting. We rode back down the Gail Valley, which is still beautiful, and than on the roads full of traffic in the direction of Briancon. It was hot, and we hated it. Tomi was bathing a bit in a lake, but the rain came again and we wanted to escape. So climbing as fast as possible up in the direction of the Ecrins Park,but I really didn’t need that climb at all. Fortunatelly the huge camp was super! So many crazy people like us!

17th day (14km 400m) was really easy, we have done the last few kilometers climb to the foot of the Glacier Blanc at Pre Madame Carle. Just look at the pictures how beautiful it is.

18-19th day…(58km,1100m + 92km, 1900m) These two days were one very long and adventerous day in reality. The Day of the Tour de France. We wanted to see the Tour on the top of Galibier (2660m), but we got up only at 4 in the morning and didn’t have enough time. Also  a punchure (when if not now?) made it harder. We started Col du Lautaret, and this time the police stopped us too early 🙁  just because some vip guests ( journalist?) were biking on the route of the Tour and having fun. But it was not funny for us. We had to stop at 1700m, after all it was a very good place for present-hunting as nobody wanted to stand so close to the big dustbins, just us. The Caravan came, we were cheering, and got loooots of things. Jupy! Thats a good game.

Usually the police lets the bikers to continue after the Caravan (2 hours left till the front of the race), but this time not. We could only walk, so we pushed up the bikes till 1900m, the race came, cheering for  Alaphilippe and Sagan, and yes, let’s continue our way up to Galibier.

But noooo. At the end of the tunnel the police was very angry and funny: They said we have to turn back and ride back down to Briancon. Na ja… No way! I think they have never tried to bike up to 1900 with 27kg of packages. We had luck, because it’s a one side open tunnel, and with the help of a kind Australian we could put the bikes out of the windows. And we sat down on the side of the tunnel waiting until the police goes home ( later we got to know, that they had panic, because on the other side of the Lautaret big stones came down, closing the road. And hundred-thousands of people stuck on the hill.Anyway we wanted to go on the 3rd road through Galibier.)

The wind brouth a havy icy-rain, so we were happy to be stucked on the side of the tunnel. We didn’t get wet at all! The police left and in the 10 minute rainstop we hurried up to Lautaret. Ok everybody was there, finding dry place… was not easy, but a lot of very wet elderly people let us to join them under some kind of shelter. At around 23.30 buses came for them, so the area was ours. It was very cold, and the wind got very-very strong, and we were sitting and waiting for the morning… At least the rain stopped but we could still hear thundering.

But it was too cold so at 2 in the morning we decided to climb Galibier in full darkness. A strange feeling. But at least we arrived on the top, when the sun came up, jupy!!! The downhill was not a big fun, as I was too sleepy to concentrate in the hairpins. Fast breakfast and the next hill is in front of us: Telegraphe.

The downhill was full of cars, couldn’t enjoy, but the motor-road was closed from the cars and we could downhill very fast and could reach the startpoint of the next stage. ( This day was shortened on Iseran, due to landslides). So Caravan and cheering again. Alaphilippe came alone enjoying the last day in Jellow. Simpathic.

Rain again, but tomorrow will be full of thunderstorms, so let’s do Col de la Madeleine (2000m) too. We hated it, we were too tired. But what to do? Climbing, telling damns and climbing… The road is 10% all the way long, or steeper…  Thunders and the evening came. We started to find some place to sleep, while in the thunder we didn’t want to continue the climb or sleep in the tent… and it was high time to have a shower! Pfuuu…  Everything was closed and it seemed that the only solution is to sleep a bit is in a public toilet, which was a big hall, without rain and wind, not cold, and good water. But Tom was too tired for this solution. So I went hunting again, and the only place to be open was a skihotel. A hotel? We? Never! Just this night! And how nice and comfortable it was! Shower! Bed! And watching from safe the thunderstorm was…still scarry.

We didn’t have too much money, so the romantic thing was to cook pasta with cocoa in the hotelroom on our camping-gas at midnight.A good story.

The breakfast was a fantastic Savoyan breakfast!!! We enjoyed everything for 3-4 times. But 350m climb was still waiting for us,

(20th day, 45km 500m)and heavy rain arrived too, wet again, but lucky to be able to change the clothes in front of a restaurant on the top. I could change my socks too, because Tamás had an extra dry pair… Which he was wearing for 6 days, but who cares?

The northern side of the Madeleine is superbeautiful, and no rain at all, and because they modified the route of the Tour de France again we could see the race again :-). After it, we met our old car at Carole’s house and went for pizza hunting, and sightseeing.

21st day was pure sightseeing with the car (because of the rain)  In the beautiful la Grave and in the Briancon forts. Wooow, fantastic system, with the labyrinth of the medieval town, and a very good grillchicken.

22nd day we felt a must to climb the Glacier Blanc at pre Madame Carle, in the Ecrins. Superbeautiful, it’s so good and exciting to be so close to a real glacier! But why is the downhill walk soooo long?

23rd day.(42km 100m) Tom told, he only wants to see and bike only a flat. Ok, let’s go to the sea then! But because of financial reasons we didn’t go to Antibes or Monte Carlo… we found something interesting! At  once it was an oil-port close to Marseille. No beach umbrellas and deckchairs in a row (jupy), but the sea is like anywhere else! We enjoyed! The campsite was not expensive (Camping Port de Bouc), but very nice, friendly and quite, and the personnel  is really very kind.

The place is only not really good for biking… we couldn’t reach Port St Louise (what looked interesting) but had to ride back on the motorway, as we could not find other solution. was not a fun, but  bathing in the sea at sunset was fantastic!

24th day ( 71 km 12m) we went by car to Port Saint Louise and started to bike on the Viarhone, then crossed the Rhone by a ferry and enjoyed the super area of the national park, with the salt-ponds, and salt-hills, where everything is pink! The road was gravel, and hard to bike, especially in the headwind, but we reached a beautiful beach at the end. The backway in tailwind, well… we enjoyed!  And last moment was to bike to the end of Viarhone, to the sea,and a big bathing in the sea at Napoleon Beach.

25th day. Half day enjoying Napoleon Beach, and on the way back to the hills a fast visit in Marseille. Wooow! Sooo beautiful city! We will come back!

26th day Cycling up to Notre Dame de la Salette ( 31km 900m). We wanted to do it with a team in 2014, so now we complited that tour :-). The beautiful sanctuary is on the top of the hill and a holly place as in 1846 the Blessed Virgin appeared here for two children. The medieval town down (Corps) is also fantastic!

27th day a climb in the Chamonix Alps, in Argentirie. This time we travelled up with a cable-car, as we were tired and wanted more time to enjoy the sight of the glacier. It’s scary when big pillars of ice are falling down into the valley at the head of the Glacier.

28th day (26km 800m) on the way home in Switzerland we slept close to the top of Furkapass (2400m)  and cycled up on the old Gotthard road. It’s a very good idea! On the southern side they left the gravel old road for the cyclists and tourists, and made a new one for the other cars. So the traffic is not too heavy. And climbing up on the old military road, enjoying the hairpins is great. Only a huge trafficjam was what we were not missing. While we were waiting that the motorway gets clear, Tom was swimming in the cold Vierwaldstadter see. 🙂

We had lots of adventures, are glad, that we could do this tour! (1115km and 24000m on the bike + 30km, 1300m hiking), not bad!