Dreaming of travels and big plans? Maybe this video and story from Kona about bikepacking in France will inspire you to get the maps out and start making ferry bookings…
Words by Nicolas Le Carré, European marketing manager for Kona.
Kona Europe’s office is based in Monaco, surrounded by never-ending riding opportunities. Romain Barrez—the rider featured in the Sutra video—joined us a few months ago to handle our EU aftersales service. Like everyone here at Kona, Romain is a rider. He’s traveled from Vancouver, BC to Los Barriles, Mexico on a Dew! Beyond that, Romain is a true outdoor fan. We all know those Friday lunches at the office where we talk about our plans for the weekend. One such Friday, Romain was tempted to either go cycling or kayaking, but couldn’t choose. This is where the idea of the packraft Sutra video came from.
The Verdon is a famous outdoor destination in France: beautiful emerald lakes surrounded by mountains linked together by some of the most scenic roads you could imagine. The Verdon is just between the French Riviera and the French Alps. For those of us living on the Mediterranean coast, the Verdon is a great escape when the temperature gets too high or when there are too many summer tourists.
What started as a post-lunch joke ended up as a proper challenge. We found a French company that makes super light and foldable packrafts that work well for bikerafting trips because you can fold them up and carry them on your handlebars. The next challenge was to find the proper set-up to carry all the gear for a 3 day/2 night bikerafting trip. From carrying the paddle to the tent and all the gear, we turned the new Sutra into a proper pack mule.
Starting in Nice, grab a coffee at Café du Cycliste and then ride north to Entrevaux. The ride is about 80 km. If you want to avoid traffic, there’s the option to take the train to Saint Martin du Var. Entrevaux is a nice medieval village built by Vauban, and it’s definitely worth the stop. Entrevaux is the entrance of the Colorado Niçois, AKA the Gorges de Daluis. With red rocks and vertiginous cliffs, this scenic route that goes across Guillaume and Valberg (two top spots for enduro and DH) is insanely beautiful. You can find info here. The cool thing about this itinerary is that it’s a loop that will bring you back to Entrevaux.
From there, you can ride up to Saint André les Alpes or Saint Julien du Verdon. The Verdon is one of the most iconic places for water sports. You can either take it easy and just cruise on the lake (canoe, paddle) or choose something more challenging in the river. With all of our equipment, we chose the “take it easy” way on the Lac de Castillon. We spent the night close to the lake. We chose dispersed camping, but there are plenty of other options if you want to have a bit of comfort. What’s next is really up to you. The riding possibilities in the area are endless. Add two solid extra days and you can head back to Nice via Grasse. The area offers an impressive number of small and quiet routes, far from traffic. Here’s what a full 4-day trip could look like.
If you’re interested in the route we took for the project, you can find it here.
Want some more long distance inspiration? Read on…
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