D27 Ascros s(u)

This route traverses on a high ridge parallel to the distant Mercantour Rage in a rolling climb. It passes several named passes as shoulder summits, but the views of all the hilltowns along the way, is really the most special thing about this route. Several other approach options converge near the summit. So it is possible to ride to this point and not come across any of the pictures below. - From a scenery standpoint the out and back ride to Mt Vial has the best views of the Haute Alps to the west, that I have come across.


1.(km0,m20)START-END EAST:jct D27-D2209, next to river Var
2,(km8,90m)Bonson
3.(km16,830m)Revest Le Roche
4.(km20,970m)turnoff to Mt Vial is on right
5.(km33,1152m)TOP
6.(km39,830m)St Antonin
7.(km44,620m)D2211 joins from right, two more intersections after this
8.(km40,630m)Sigale
9.(km57,220m)START-END WEST:Roquesteron-Grasse

Approaches

From East.
The best way to reach the starting point of the profile from the Nice area, is to cross the Var near the sea, and then pick up the bike path on the west side of the river, from north of St Laurent du Var. It runs along on extremely smooth pavement, and along the way you can marvel at the hilltowns from below, which may well be on the route, on the way back.

At the junction with the river Esteron the bike path takes a scenic detour, and Nice traffic quickly recedes into distant memory. Here D17 starts to climb to the first, and arguably the most picturesque hill town along the entire route, Bonson. What was once the strategically best location for a tower to see who is approaching the city walls, is today the aesthetically most interesting location for such a structure.

The first pass, but just a shoulder point along this route is Col de Rostan (617m). It would be the highest point along the route, if you would take the next left and descent back down to the river Esteron. There is no Col sign here. One map that it is marked on is the Freizeitkarte series, derived from opensteetmap. The next hilltown appears as a halfmoon shaped crest somewhere over the guard rail, Revest les Roches.

The next pass on the ridge, again just a shoulder point is Col de St Michel pres Toudon. D27, traversing ever further up the ridge reaches a little higher than this pass. But with the help of two roads down to the Esteron, this can again be made into the highest section of a loop ride also. There is an informal pass sign here. The next sign of human habitat, Tourette du Chateau, has a scenic viewing arcade with benches into the valley next to the main road. For me this  made a great picnic spot.

There is an interesting out and back hill climb before the next hilltown is reached. See the sidetrip to Mt Vial below. Toudon sits on the hillside below the Cime de la Clappe, and its conglomerated housing aggregate looks just like a concrete waterfall, when seen from this angle. The cemetery is an elevated viewing platform on the town and the mountains. I hope the dead somehow have the facility to appreciate this grand location.

The route takes on more of a wilderness character, as it traverses across a cliff of crumbly rock to disappear in dense forest again. The grand traverse along the hillside continues. The route crosses one more pass as a shoulder point, Col de Ve Gautier (1069m). It looks that if you would want to make this the highest point on a loop ride, you would need to ride the unpaved descent to the Esteron. The forest become scarcer, and the town of Ascros appears behind a dilapidated guard rail. It is just a row of houses, flanking the a lip like rock outcrop, crowning a gentle ridge.


Bouyon

Tigale
 

climbing towards Revest les Roches

last descent to Roquesteron



From West.
(described downwards). Glimpses of the Mercantour range speed by and the road meets the first intersection. From here you can descend into the valley of the Var, over yet another pass as a shoulder point, Col St Raphael. But in order to profile my particular dayride, the route turns south in Rourebel and descends through St Antonin on a signed "Boucles d'Azur" bike route. There is still no traffic on this route, just a zillion turns and great views, until the road descends into thick forest.

Following the profile further, the route passes through a slot canyon between two blocks of limestone, that resemble two side by side gravestones, speeds past another medieval outpost with stratigically situated tower on top of cliffs in Sigale, and finally comes to rest in a town sitting on the valley bottom for a change, Roquesteron.


Sidetrip to Mt Vial: I missed this turnoff the first time, because my eyes were glued to the other side of the road, distracted by a first view of Boudon and its beehive of medieval housing. But - there is also no sign at this junction. It is the first paved turnoff after exiting Tourette du Chateau. Neither did I see a single vehicle or person on this climb. A narrow path with rough pavement zigzags up the mountain. The lower valley of the Vars and its business parks looks like a neatly contained rectangle of highly regulated activity from up here. The river too is given some freedom. It can meander between its glacial deposits in a rectangular sandbox of sorts.

Finally the road reaches the crest, traverses the last km along the ridge in wild meanders, and opens up a grand panorama onto the Mercantour range,  Near the end of the road at the transmission facility, there is a singed turnoff onto a rough hiking trail over the lower Col de Serse down into the upper valley of the Vars

Dayride

COMPLETELY PAVED


D27 Ascros s(u) , D1 Bouyon(sh), addtional out and back : Nice, Saint Margaruite > north on sideroads with detours due to getting lost > M6202 north > onto west side of Vars after turnoff to Colomars > bike path north > up D17 > Bonson > Col de Rostan(shp) > Revest les Roches > Col de St Michel pres Toudon <> out and back to Mt Vial, with an extra mile or two because of having missed the turnoff > Col de Ve Gautier(shp) > Ascros s(u) > down D427 > St Antonin > D17 east > Roquesteron > up D1 > Consegudes > Col des Ferres(shp) > Bouyon > D1 Bouyon(sh) > Le Broc > Carros Village > Gattieres > Saint Jeannet > D18 south > St Laurent du Var > back to starting point Saint Margaruite, Nice: 96.7miles with 8269ft of climbing in 8:43hrs (Garmin etrex30 m4:14.5.12)
Notes: This is a grand tour of the hilltowns on the west side of the lower Var. For more pictures along the lower part see also the D1-D2209 Carros Village(sh) page. This ride holds two personal records: First: the greatest number of hilltop towns I have ever seen on a single dayride. Second: the most passes cycled as shoulder points, ie. without actually going over them (over includes down).


The first day with different start and end points on this tour is on page: Col de Palmarella/ Col de la Croix

 



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