Col de l'Ecre s(u)

Col de l'Ecre is a pass in the bare, coastal limestone cliffs above Grasse. This is one way to escape the nightmare coastal traffic, and get a climbing workout at the same time. The road reaches a slightly higher altitude at a different spot, a few km distant from the pass. - And if you ride over the pass, and stay on pavement you also have to ride over the summit point. The point is also higher than the nearby Col de Sine.

01.(km0,20m)START-END EAST ALT:jct D336-D2209 Cagnes Sur Mer
02.(km690m)START-END EAST: La Colle Sur Loop
03.(km19,200m)D2210 on left goes to Le Bar sur Loup; prfile stays right up D6
04.(km31,730m)Gourdon; profile turns right up D6
05.(km37,1120m)Col De L'Ecre
06.(km43,1146m)TOP:upper jct with D112 to Col De La Sine
07.(km52,820m)Saint Valier De Thiey
08.(km63,480m)Saint Cezaire Sur Siagne
09.(km71,380m)Speracedes
10.(km76,220m)START-END WEST:D2562 on left goes to Grasse
11.(km91,20m)START-END WEST ALT: Cannes

Approaches

From East.
Leaving from Nice or St Laurent du Var, and then staying left in la Colle sur Loop is a first attempt at getting away from heavy coastal traffic. It almost works. By the time the first mesmerizing hilltown appears in sight - that would be Le Pont sur Loop - the getaway is almost complete. The route to Gourdon now starts to climb up steeply between two limestone cliffs, then turns off to the left to take its place on top of the cliff. But the cliff is at an angle, so of course the road keeps on climbing, now facing the blue sea.

Gourdon is the next next hilltown. It seems to get quite a few visitors, since it sits on top of a perch with a zillion people in cars below it. This can also be the highest point on a loop, when you combine it with another approach, arriving directly from Grasse. But - it takes only one more turnoff up the hill, and the traffic is now only a memory. The road quickly passes above treeline, and the scenery is dominated by horzonatal limestone layers, that accumulated into massive ship hull shapes between here and the snow covered peaks.

The pass itself is marked with a sign, and a km or two away from the edge of the plateau. There are better views before the summit. The road descends a miniscule amount into a shallow valley on top of the plateau. From this shallow valley one can climb further on a bike to astromical observertories on the surrounding ridges.


I tried the one to the west : Observoitoire de Serga.  On top waits a windswept plateau with a distant sliver of snow capped peaks reaching above the next, even bigger limestone hull to the north: the Cime du Cheiron.

The town Cassoules consists of  just a few modern houses next to the road. At the next junction (right goes to Col de la Sine) the road reaches about 30 meters higher than the Col.

       
the escape from coastal nightmare traffic is finally complete


first view of Le Pont sur Loop

        
         the road heads direction Greolieres

 

From West. (described downwards). However, this summit point does not have to be traversed when riding to Col de la Sine. There is a traffic triangle here and the direct route to Sine bypasses this point.

For the first part the descend is straight and shallow and through the forest, time to just let it roll. Then the road takes the step off the limestone hull with two long ramps connected by one walled switchback. Here the road passes Col de Ferrier, which is always a shoulder point (at least if only considering paved routes) Below the churchtower of St Vallier de Thiey waits in apparent peaceful surroundings. But that can be deceiving. Below crosses the Route du Napoleon, and today Napoleon spells traffic.

But the profile postpones Napoleon and traffic a little longer and heads straight south to St Cezaire sur Siagne. Some maps mark a Col de la Legue in this section, but there is no evidence of an uphill here. This is the place to look back to where you have been and feel impressed by the size of the climb. On the other side of St Cezaire a balcony looks over the remaining lovely wooded hills to the sea.

To maximize the elevation gain on this side the route continues downhill to Pegomas to reach the coast west of Cannes. My own route turned back uphill direction Grasse at point 10


Dayride:

COMPLETELY PAVED:


Col de l'Ecre , D2085 Grasse(sh) , addtional out and back: Nice, St Marguarite > city streets to St Laurent du Var > city streets to Cagnes sur Mer > La Colle sur Loop > Le Bar sur Loop > D6 north > D3 south > Gourdon > Col de l'Ecre <> out and back to Observotoire de Cerga >> Caussols > St Cezaire > Grasse > Chateauneuf Grasse > D2085 east > Villeneuve Loubet > bike path on coast east > Nice city streets back to starting point: 87.4miles with 6685ft of climbing in 7:25hrs (Garmin etrex30 m4::14.5.15)
Notes: way too much traffic in beginning till Colle sur Loop, and end from St Cezaire - otherwise nice ride. Using the VDO 1.0 this measured 83.8miles with 6405ft of climbing in 7:06hrs with 79.5i tiresize. Size set back to 79.0.


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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