Route des Grande Alps (3)

Route de Grande Alpes Chapter 3

St-Paul-sur-Ubaye camp site dawned under a clear blue sky and our little cabin was left behind at 8am as we make towards the D64 southwards and the Cime de-la-Bonette. This section of the tour surpassed all expectations as the scenery opened up before us and the climb lead up the highest road in all of Europe. Alpine meadows unfolded along the way, Marmots are frequently spotted as we reach higher and higher. The horizon widens and mountain peaks capped in snow surround us on all sides. June and July are usually the only months in the year when this section is not snow bound.

 We paused to brew tea at a lake where the road loops around in a wide arc. One extraordinary spectacle was that of a long distance running athlete jogging up the road incline, his gait a true study of energy conservation. His legs seemed to carry him effortlessly and bounce him along on springs of elastic tendons in rhythmic form. At the Col a circuit leads off higher still to the conical peak and this is where Helen decided to sit it out by the roadside while I braved the topmost point at 2860 meters. The loop road is canted inwards towards the up slope and so the sensation of dropping off the precipitous edge is much reduced but nothing would persuade Helen to brave the passenger seat. Down the southern side at St-Etienne-de-Tinee we shopped and took a short break. Then onwards to St Sauveur-sur-Tinee through steep sided forest where plentiful Laburnum trees are seen in full blossom. Now heading west onto the D30 and the cliff-top village of Roubion where Crepes tempt yet again. A little further on we head south onto the D28 and the Gges Supres du Cians. The colour Cayanne is a vivid red and the rocky cliffs either side of the gorge are this shade. On and on and deeper and deeper the drive takes us beside a fast flowing torrent. Yet another dramatic scene, more photo stops and more jumping in and out of the 4/4 like a couple of Kangaroos. Late in the afternoon onto the D6202 we head off to Castellane and our timber cabin on wheels.

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