Jump on your bike in Briançon, Ville et Pays d’Art et d’Histoire, and cover the first kilometres of the itinerary in the Guisane Valley. With the peaks all around you, the crashing torrents and the Vauban forts which are listed in the UNESCO world heritage, this high Alpine valley rewards your efforts with some amazing views. As you advance, you’ll see some black blocks in the distance on the other side of the valley which bear witness to the former coal mine near the great forests. This will be the first time you cross the River Durance before you reach the Ecrins National Park.
Once you’ve passed l’Argentière, the Durance is behinfd you and in front there’s a nice steep incline to climb! Keep going because you’ll need to pedal hard to get to Freissinières, but you’ll be rewarded by the amazing view from the viewpoint finder. One of the best moments is just after a lovely descent below Mont-Dauphin. In the summer, stop off for a picnic or a little swim in Eygliers or Réotier and sit on a terrace in Guillestre. Here, as in Embrun, Ville et Pays d’Art et d’Histoire, lovers of beautiful stone appreciate the heritage. And lastly, come back to the Durance at Pont Neuf to follow the last kilometres of the torrent before it flows into the Lake of Serre-Ponçon. An incredible natural show with wild creeks and turquoise water on the road to Les Puys.
Your thighs are burning from the various steep climbs and gentle slopes; luckily, the lake follows the contours of the valley and the view is enthralling. Climb up to Saint-Apollinaire along the narrow valley cut by the Réallon torrent. You’ll get a breathtaking view of the lake formed by the Ubaye and Durance confluence. With the wind in your hair, freewheel down to the village of Chorges. Some of you may prefer to take the train from Embrun before getting on your bikes again, leaving the high mountain landscapes for the farming plains, orchards and lavender.
Wind along the little country roads and discover the Hautes-Alpes in its rural, agricultural form of fields and livestock. After taming agentle climb, you’ll come to Bâtie-Vieille with its calm, peaceful atmosphere. Against a backdrop of the ridge of Les Écrins as a marker, you’re ready to cycle into the Dévoluy and the cliff of Le Pic de Bure. In the Gap backcountry, there are many possible detours among fields, prairies and hedgerows. A good way to discover Gap and the pastel colours of its facades, Le Domaine de Charance and the Conservatoire Botanique National Alpin. Get back on the road for Chateauvieux, a charming village which smells of Provence. And as you pride past the Château de Tallard, the Durance is just a few metres away.
The Serre Ponçon reservoir will be your companion for this last stage in your ride. The lake is a mirror of water that reflects the Massif des Monges and where beavers and otters like to play. As you pedal along beside the canal and the orchards of the Durance with their sun-kissed apples and pears, the breath of fresh air is more than vivifying. Pedal along beside the fields and the succession of hilltop villages on your way to Sisteron. Make the most of this magnificent view of the Alpine peaks and the Durance and take a deep breath.