How we cycled, climbed, hiked, scrambled along the Vésubie
We chose to stay in the town of Roquebilliere about two thirds up the valley for most of our time here. From here most of the things we wanted to do were easy enough to reach and the place itself was supposed to be quite nice also - Turns out the first thing is true. To be quite honest the amount of devastation left behind by the storm Alex in 2020 still shows very much and sometimes dampens the beauty of the main valley quite significantly. This does not extend into the side valleys or the areas higher up however and we would suggest seeing it as we do: Part of the history and present of the area and a good reason to leave your vacation Euros here.
On the first day of our visit I took the opportunity to ride up the Col de Turini and back towards Roquebilliere via a different mountain pass. The Turini is well known as both a climb in the Tour de France and other bike races as well as a feature in the famous rallye Monte Carlo. Fifteen steep and well paved kilometers in great scenery - what’s more to ask?
The afternoon was spent first driving up the very small road towards the Gordolasque valley and then exploring the area on foot. Here the Mercantour mountains show their rough beauty with treeless peaks, the mountain river and wild animals like marmots and ibexes. The area is actually also a well known bouldering spot.
How do we start a day? By riding up a mountain pass of course! This time the Colmiane that connects the Vésubie to the next valley and also hosts a small ski station. The riding after leaving Saint Martin de Vésubie (the last town in the valley) gets rough for a few kilometers due to the roadworks but the actual climb is stunning.
For our second activity of the day we wanted to give Roquebilliere a bit more of a chance and hiked to a few well visibility rock features on one valley side.
As we had a guided visit of the Parc Alpha booked for the early afternoon I decided to climb one of the major peaks in the area earlier in the day. The choice fell to the Cime de Mercantour, an about 2.800 meter peak right on the border of France and Italy, that can be reached by hiking / scrambling up from the Parc Alpha (which in turn is at the end of a side valley of the Vésubie). Like with the Gordolasque valley earlier this area is wild and untamed with many named and unnamed peaks to explore.
The Parc Alpha itself is a large facility integrated well into the surrounding nature that is home to a pack of wolves - whose cousins also roam these mountains freely. Even though the Parc has been hit by Alex also it is still worth a visit and I am assuming the people running it can use the money as well.
After having moved our base to the top of Colmiane the day before we spent the morning of day four sport climbing at the Guy Dufour sector that is very close to the pass. Easily accessible, well maintained and engaging I can recommend coming here if you are in the area. Most climbs are single pitch but there are a few longer lines as well.
Funnily we had only noticed that on this day there would be a professional cycling race running over Colmiane when the King of the Mountains signs were put up right in front of our van the evening before. So after climbing we watched much faster guys than me riding over the pass and then started our way towards the next stop of our trip…
Adventurers: Brigitte and Bengt