St. Jean-en-Royans - Poking Around Europe 6.0 - CycleBlaze

May 15, 2019

St. Jean-en-Royans

A Loop Around the Vercors

Another great day in the Vercors. This is such a beautiful part of France and we feel like we are the only ones here. We asked our hosts about this and they said it is a destination people from Europe enjoy, but they see very few tourists from other parts of the world.  That is to our benefit. 

We began with a delicious breakfast. We are astonished by the lovely young couple who are our hosts. They have three small children, six months, 2 and a half and five, and manage to run the chambre d’hôte and serve us meals without skipping a beat.  All three children are charmers. The youngest is teething and these special parents are coping well. 

The exterior dining area.
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Moon over the rooftop.
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We planned a loop ride from our accommodation with help from our host. Our first stop of the day was a walnut store in the middle of, well, walnut trees. Is this a walnut grove?  Certainly not a walnut orchard. A walnut farm?  No matter, it was a fun stop and tasting. 

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A terrible picture of me but I had to include it. I have a mouthful of candied walnuts. Check out that bag of walnuts! It didn’t come with us but the small bag of candied walnuts did.
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Next stop was the bakery for sandwiches for out picnic. Such a nice woman in the store. It was a pleasure to be there. 

Yum, yum, yum. We also picked up a tart for the road.
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Then off we went. We made a turn and headed up a hill. We were about three km up when we realized we were approaching Col de la Machine from the other side. Not where we wanted to go. We had a good laugh...actually I found it funnier than the Chief Navigator. The CN couldn’t believe he had made the mistake, and he usually doesn’t. The three km back were easy peasy of course. All downhill. 

Hint number one...looking up at our balcony road.
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Big hint number two...heading for the wrong Col. This approach is the easier one we discovered, looking at the signage. I love these signs.
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Loved this pussycat soaking up the sunshine.
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Once on the right route the scenery was spectacular. Lots of climbing, but lots of rewards for doing it. Like yesterday, it is difficult to choose which photos to include. 

The spring flowers are beautiful.
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Just spectacular. We had the road virtually to ourselves. There was almost no traffic.
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See me on the right? I am the traffic.
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This has to be one of the most remarkable places to ride a bike.
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Then came the Tunnel des Grands Goulets...1710 meters long. We stopped to put on the lights and stuff our ears with Kleenex. We forgot the ear plugs. Anyone who has ridden a bicycle through a long tunnel understands the noise. The reverberation of engine noise in a tunnel is hard to believe.  Fortunately traffic continued to be light, and it was straightforward. The bus approaching from behind was a little concerning but he came along at precisely the moment the one and only lay by in the tunnel appeared. 

Amazing infrastructure for a very lightly travelled road. Note the warning sign that there are cyclists in the tunnel.
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Once through there was some traffic coming the other way, all interesting and varied sports cars taking part in some kind of a rally.
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Ouch!
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We arrived in La-Chappelle-en-Vercors, a beautiful spot. We were checking out the church when we ran into the young family we had met in the chambre d’hôte in Auberives-en-Royans. They are on their way home to Macon, a Tour de France stop this year. He is a journalist for the local paper and promised he would report that fans in Victoria were watching that stage with special interest. 

La-Chappelle-en-Vercors is another picturesque spot.
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The church.
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Fellow Tour de France fans.
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We stopped for a restorative hot chocolate here and met four cycle tourists from Grenoble. They were warmly dressed and heading down to the river to camp.
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Almost all the buildings were the same stone and it gave the village a unique look.
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When we emerged from coffee it was sunny and but cool. We stopped and put on extra gear only to start up to the Col. 500 m down the road we took it all off again. We went up and over Col de Carri, stopping at the top to put the extra layers back on. I would love to know what the temperature was up there, but it sure wasn’t anyone’s definition of warm. We then thought we were done climbing and would swoop down to St.Jean-en-Royans, but no, we got a bonus Col. We went down only to start heading back up. Up and over Col de Pionnier. Who knew?  We didn’t! 

Just a beautiful ride.
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These tunnels are a pleasure.
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At the top. We thought this was the end of the climbing. We forgot to take a picture at the top of Col de Pionnier.
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After Col de Pionnier we barely had to turn the pedals. It was one long swoop down. We were passed by one cement truck, two cars and a tractor. That was it. They were doing construction work on the guard rail at one point on the way up...that was the source of the cement truck. The construction workers gave me lots of encouragement as I rode past them. It was great fun. 

Going down.
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Then the reward. A hot shower, a wonderful dinner, sweet children to interact with, a beautiful setting. We love the Vercors. 

About to be served a five course dinner, I kid you not. An amuse bouche, soup, main course, fromage and dessert. I had to pass on dessert. Everything delicious. I did steal a bite of Keith’s homemade ice cream but he finished his walnut caramel tart all by himself.
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Today's ride: 74 km (46 miles)
Total: 831 km (516 miles)

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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Suzanne GibsonJust amazing! What a beautiful route you have planned. And I am so glad you are getting the weather it, and you, deserve! I look forward to every sequel of your ride.
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6 months ago
Keith ClassenThanks Suzanne - we are very lucky to have great weather to explore this area. Great to hear from you.
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6 months ago
Jacquie GaudetWe missed some of those roads! We will just have to go back to the Vercors...
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6 months ago