Friday, June 17, 2011

Up And Over, Into France

We left the beautiful little inn at Pietraporzio and climbed the 18 kilometers to the the Colle della Maddalena/ Col de Larche (depending on what side you are standing on) and into France. The climbing wasn't as difficult as we expected, but later when we did the math we discovered that the climb averaged a 4% grade, a very manageable hill. The mountains were gorgeous, with wildflowers, green slopes, and startling peaks.

At one point we went around a long tunnel on the old highway.

We rode towards this peak for quite a while.

We stopped for lunch about 1k short of the pass and while we were there it started raining. We waited out the first downpour while putting on our rain gear. We set off again as the rain settled down to a heavy drizzle. Here's Belinda at the top of the pass and the border.

We descended through an incredibly deep and vertical gorge which had several points at which traffic has to stop for avalanches of rock. These stops had a light and a barrier which could be lowered; luckily for us there were no lights on or barriers lowered. As we came around one corner we saw this incredible fort.

Fort Tournoux was built in the 1830's to protect the valley from being claimed by Italy or Savoy. Prior to the fort's creation, the Tournoux valley had changed hands 17 times depending on which pass was free of snow first and which army could march in. The fort is accessed by tunnel and you can see the progression of the tunnel by the windows up the mountain.

Tomorrow we continue on down the Ubaye Valle. We are hoping for some clear skies, but there is a 30% chance of rain. Well... We'll just find out tomorrow!


Bernard Menou said...

Dear Belinda and Dave

BIENVENUE en France!

Dave and Belinda said...

Bernard, we are so happy to be in France. We hope the rain is over and we can camp in all the small towns. The mountains have been incredible and the French drivers very considerate with the wet roads. The bread is incredible! See you soon.
Dave and Belinda