Author Topic: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]  (Read 662 times)

Offline Daniel Kalal

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…a focus on Rhône-Alpes


 
The Rhône-Alpes is a region of France that has a long history, but is no  longer an official administrative region.  Even so, it is frequently shown  on road maps, and nobody who lives here will be confused if you continue with  the name.
 
Rhône-Alpes
 
The region is surrounded by Switzerland, Burgundy, Auvergne, Côte d'Azur  and Piedmont (Italy).
 

 
An argument could be made that the Rhône-Alpes is perhaps the most  beautiful area of Europe (or at least should be on the short list).   There are massive mountains on the east (the Alps) and smaller mountains on the west  (the Massif Central)  with a section of rolling hills through the center (the Rhône Valley).  You could throw a  dart at a map and be certain of hitting a really great road.
 
I've been through here on ten separate trips.  While I've widely  covered the region as a whole, I've really only touched on what the  Rhône-Alpes offers.
 
As with the other surveys of roads that I've done, this one is organized  by the road number, listed in numeric order.  It's a system that will  have you jumping around without much sense, but you'll at least get a sense  of the place.
 
In France, the route numbers--along with the color of the sign--tells you the  type of road you're on.  You'll find a similar system across Europe,  although the colors and numbering system may differ between countries.
 
Departmental as well as “C”  communal, but you'll not often find the “C” roads with any signs at all.   The “D” roads are the roads you'll mostly be using.  All the others are  best used only to bypass larger cities or to make time.  A problem  arises when department borders do not match the regional borders, which  means you'll find the same road number used more than once.
 
National.  These  predate the AutoRoute, but are frequently more crowded and are often full  four-lane highways (with the added annoyance of cross streets and a broad mix  of slow and fast vehicles).  They do not have tolls (which explains the  crowds).
 
AutoRoute.  These are  often tollways and are almost always well-maintained super-highways that are  comparable to the best freeways in the U.S.  They're fast, but they're  not enjoyable.  You won't  find any of these, below.
 
European.  These will  be dual-marked with an AutoRoute, but will cross borders and maintain the  same “E” number.  These are the closest thing to the Interstate system  in the U.S.
 
It's worth noting that Michelin Maps use the same color system that you'll see on the  actual road signs  (notice the legend, below).
 

 

 
Prieuré de Saint-Romain-le-Puy (10th century).  I understand that  the town once reached the monastery at the top, but it's now much  smaller and people prefer to live on flatter land.
 

 
Turning the hay so it can dry in the sun.  The task is the same,  all over the world, but it's interesting how different the equipment can be.
 

 

 
La Loire at Retournac.
 

 
Craponne-sur-Arzon.
 


   
 

 

 
A boy and his goat...
 

 
Pont-de-Labeaume, on the right bank of the Ardèche River.
 

 
Thueyts, France and a spectacular narrow valley to ride through.
 

 

 
Romans-sur-Isère. You'll see quite a few 19th century rail bridges of  this sort.
 

 

 
This must be extraordinarily difficult terrain to build a road through.   It therefore follows that there must be a very good reason to try: mines, in  this case.
 

 

 

 

 
The Rhône River.  Consider this the final extent of the Alps, but plenty  of hills remain to the west.
 

 

 
Those are the Alps in the Distance.  It gives you an appreciation for road building in  this area, and it also helps you understand why long tunnels are the only answer  if you want to put a motorway through.
 

 

 
Mens, France.
 

 

 
A memorial to the WW2 resistance fighters from this area. Those are school  children on a field trip, learning something of their heritage.
 
 
 

 
You just don't expect any roads to be here, yet here they are.
 
 
 
This is not the sort of road to push the speed limit.
 

 

 

 
 
 

 
The Stelvio holds 32 litres, so that makes it more relaxing when town after  town has no station and then you find the station is closed.
 

 
The small town of Die for the night. I'm much better at finding a place  to stay for the night than I once was. The Hotel des Alpes is a good one.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pontaix, France.
 

 

 
South (there are two different  roads using the same number)
 
Into the foothills of the French Alps.
 

 
Sahune.  Following the Eygues River.
 

 
I liked the notch above the road.  I guess there's no point in cutting  out more rock than necessary.
 

 
North
 
Col de la Madeleine, which is another high mountain pass that doesn't get  much traffic.
 

 

 
Celliers Bourg, France.
 

 

 

 
It's a steep and narrow road to the top.  Based on all the painted words  on the road, it looks like lots of bicycle races have used this route.
 

 
Heavy clouds were constant during almost all the trip. And less often,  rain.
 

 

 
Aigues River near Nyons.




 
I never quite managed to get a photograph of a really old vineyard surrounding a  larger château (something I did see). These will have to do.
 

 
Suze-la-Rousse. Sometimes “château” means something more than just a  house. It was  good to be a feudal lord.
 

 
 
 
This one is good, but I would come across other tree-lined roads that were  even more impressive. They runs for miles.
 

 

 

 

 

 
Montfaucon-En-Velay.
 

 

 
Serrières, Saône-et-Loire.  It's a good place to rest in the shade  on the steps that drop down to the river.
 

 
Col du Fayet.  These are popular roads for bicyclists, but   not popular with any other traffic.
 

 
This rail bridge no longer has rails, and just carries bicycles and  long-distance walkers.
 

 

 
Saint-Vallier along the Rhone River.
 

 

 
We're not yet in the alps, but we are close by.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Saint-Agrève.
 

 
I'd have cold days and hot days, wet days and dry days.  And, very wet  days.
 

 

 

 
Into the Combe Laval.  What an amazing area.
 

 
This road through the narrow gorge was closed not far ahead (the road was  damaged), so I'd be going up and over.
 

 
In some cases it wasn't wide enough for two cars to pass, but that's never a  problem on a motorcycle.
 

 
This was the scene of very heavy resistance fighting.  You'll see many  memorials throughout these mountains.
 
 
 

 
Saint-Martin-en-Vercors, France.
 

 

 

 
Below is Fort Barraux, built in 1597 and used until 1985 (when it was  only being used as a supply depot).
 

 
Looking back towards the Italian Alps (the mountains you see are in France).
 

 

 
Up there is where I'm going.  It's as if the road has to think about it  before it can figure out how best to get there.
 

 
I'm following the Route des Entremounts.
 

 
A view of the pack.  I keep this blue Nalgene water bottle in  Mandello.  I've never needed more than the one bottle (unlike my  travels in the southwest U.S.) so, I just carry the one.  My walking shoes  are packed so that the sole of a shoe is flat against my back when riding and  provides some lower-back support.
 
 
 

 
We're several miles west of the Alps, but not in the flats, either.  This  is a really beautiful part of France.
 

 

 

 
You'll see lots of logging in these hills, but the mills never look much bigger than  this one.  Loaded trucks will be passing each other i opposite directions.  The rule is: give way to any logging truck.  Also note  that an empty logging truck will run the roads very fast and will use both lanes  without seeming to pay much attention to you.  It's your watch.
 

 
Javaugues.
 

 

 

 

 
There isn't much traffic out here.  Looking south down the road I've  just climbed.
 

 

 
La Côte-Saint-André.  The composer Hector Berlioz was born here.
 

 
Beaurepaire.
 

 

 
I've often admired French road-building.  Just hack away what is in the  way of the road, but leave everything else alone.
 

 
It takes a brave highway engineer to look at this and even think that a road  is possible.  But, here it is.  Note that the outside lane is actually  cantilevered off the cliff, which means the original road was probably just one  lane wide, and it has been widened to what you see, today (still not exactly two  lanes wide).
 

 
We're over the mountains and are descending to the wide, Rhone Valley.
 

 

 

 

 
 Regardless of the miles shown, and what your GPS might think, you  should not expect to make good time on these roads unless you trust your luck  that no oncoming traffic will be in your lane.
 

 

 
This was an amazing canyon to ride through.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Saurier.  Chances are that bridge is a thousand years old.   Good maintenance is worth the trouble.
 

 
I am well off the main highways, but I've no doubt that a paved road will  remain paved--they always do--and that the road will end up someplace that will  connect to something further along (those would both be foolish assumptions in  New Mexico).
 

 

 

 
The most beautiful road in all of France?  I thought so while riding it.
 

 

 
The Guzzi Stelvio is the ideal motorcycle for these roads. It has plenty  of power, and a very wide torque band.  I could just keep it in 2nd gear and  carve through all but the most convoluted roads in a relaxing way.
 

 
Seez for the night.
 
Do you see that dormer window on the roof (near the chimney)? That's my room.  Sixty steps to  get there.  Yes; I counted each of them.
 
 
 

 
 
 

 

 
I've ridden plenty of Alpine passes, but this might be the best.
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 

 

 
L'Arly River.
 

 

 
Lac de Roselend.
 

 
La Rochette, France.
 

 
The Hotel du Parc worked out fine.  This was once a significant route (La  Route des Grandes Alpes), but all the heavy traffic these days is on the other  side of the hill to the west (another toll superhighway to be avoided).
 
 
 

 

 


 
 

 
On one trip, the road was closed due to avalanches...
 

 
...but, on a later trip, all was open.
 

 

 
Nothing big grows up here, but you'll almost always find small plants in  the protection of the rocks.
 
   
 

 
This route is often used in the Tour de France bicycle race, which seems  completely nuts to me (the road has a long 12% grade at the top).
 

 

 
Sometimes the road I'm on is less than primary. Sometimes much less.
 
 
 

 

 

 
Riding west.  I'm avoiding all  Motorways and trying also to avoid any larger cities.
 

 

 
After the war, boundary lines that weren't quite so important, were clearly defined and marked.  There  will be no more fuzziness about that sort of thing--fuzzy borders cause trouble.
 

 

 
A view of Séez, France.
 

 

 
Le Bourg-d'Oisans, France.
 

 
Before the great tunnels were drilled through the Alps, this would have  been a busy place.  These big old hotels are from a different time.   It was a curious thing that the electrical outlet was installed in the door  jamb to the bathroom.  This means if you tried to shut the bathroom  door, you'd scrap off whatever was plugged in.  Expedient adjustments  have been made to the rooms over the years, and costs must be kept down.
 
 


 
 
This impossible mountain is the view from behind the hotel.
 

 

 

 
The foothills of the French Alps
 

 

 

 

 
Riding out of the valley of Grenoble and into the broad, open French  countryside.
 

 

 
Bourg-en-Bresse, France.
 
I stopped at the Hotel de France for the night.  My room is at the  top--one of those smaller windows you see under the eves.
 
Here's where packing light has its advantage.  I grab the one bag  off the seat behind me, and I've got everything.  As always, the first  task is to dump yesterday's clothes into the sink for washing (and wearing  the next morning).

 

 
 
The tomato soup might be obvious enough; the fish-infused thing on the  right might not be.  I couldn't tell you what it is (a croquette?).  My system of  ordering doesn't always give me a clue as to what I'll get.
 
 
Mâcon, looking across  the Saône River, and Burgundy (which is outside the scope of this  collection).
 

 

 
Emerging from the north portal of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
 
I made it through without being called over, but from talking to people,  it's not an unusual thing to be fined for following too closely, or for  exceeding the limit at some point within the tunnel.  Cameras and  sensors are watching you. 
 

 
Sigh...  I really dislike the tollbooths along these highways.  But,  I needed to make good time, so (for now) I put up with it.
 

 

 
In France, motorcycles are not exempted (as they are in a few other  countries). These are expensive tolls.
 

 
Aiguebelle, France.  I was looking for a hotel by this point, but  there wasn't anything too attractive here.  Move on.
 

 

 
Grenoble, France.  I didn't have much choice but to ride through the  center of Grenoble.  It's the second time I've done it, and I'd rather  avoid a third.
 

 
Grenoble, France on the Isère River.  I've struggled to get cleanly  through this city on earlier trips; this time I'll need to navigate my way  to the center of town to find my hotel.  There's nothing sensible about  the layout of the streets.
 

 
Streets can change from two-way to one-way to no-way without any notice  (or at least, none that I could see).  I have a GPS to help, but had to  be a bit wary with it as it didn't always know which way traffic ran,  either.  I ended up riding between traffic bollards to get to my hotel  since there didn't seem to be any other way.
 

 
My hotel (below, left) and the view from the balcony.
 
 
 
Doing laundry every evening means I need a sink to fill with water, though,  sometimes the drains are too clever for me, so I need to resort to a water-tight  waste-bin.  I had this “problem” several times on this trip.
 
 
 
The outskirts of Grenoble (meaning any part not in the core) are rather  forgettable and not much different from any other city sprawl, but the  historic center is interesting, and easy to  walk.
 
   
 
 
 

 
The south side of Genfer See (you might call it Lake Geneva).  The city  of Genevea is in Switzerland, so is out of bounds for this collection (even if  it looks and sounds altogether French).
 

 
Evian is an impressive 19th century resort town. The old estates along the  lake are stunning (mostly now repurposed as something else).
 
 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 07:49:45 PM by Daniel Kalal »

Online LowRyter

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2020, 08:28:31 PM »
 :thumb:
John L 
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Offline groundhog105

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2020, 08:29:32 PM »
Great write up and pictures.  It’s been 4 years since my last trip there. I have to get back.

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2020, 08:30:53 PM »
 In a different life I could have been happy living in France . Thanks Deke .

 Dusty

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2020, 08:30:53 PM »

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2020, 08:37:09 PM »
Thank you Daniel, great pictures. Always enjoy them and help to imagine riding through these areas.
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Online john fish

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2020, 08:52:03 PM »
Thank you, outstanding as always.  I have a, possibly impossible, question.  Is there one meal on all your trips that really stands out for you?
He lost the run of himself.

Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2020, 10:51:12 PM »
I have a, possibly impossible, question.  Is there one meal on all your trips that really stands out for you?

shall I overwhelm you?  click here:  http://www.dankalal.net/chapter_collections/collection_food.html
As to the "best" I'll need to think on that.  I find that much also depends on where I am and far I've ridden...

Offline tetarabra

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2020, 04:26:37 AM »
Nice feed back. :thumb:

Your unidentified dish in Bourg-en-Bresse looks like andouillette.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andouillette

Online john fish

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2020, 06:05:13 AM »
shall I overwhelm you?  click here: http://www.dankalal.net/chapter_collections/collection_food.html
As to the "best" I'll need to think on that.  I find that much also depends on where I am and far I've ridden...

 :food: :shocked:

Man, why aren't you fat?   :grin:  I looked through your photos- some great and weird stuff there.  And yeah, great meals can be situational.  When someone asks me that, I immediately think of a breakfast somewhere in Oregon (I think) after a long, cold, wet, ride.  Simple omelette and coffee taste mighty good when you're wet, cold, and a bit sad.

edit for coherence
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 06:20:36 PM by john fish »
He lost the run of himself.

Offline kingoffleece

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2020, 06:28:31 AM »
WOW................ ..just, wow.
And thank you.  Enjoyed it way too much for my wallet's health.
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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2020, 11:01:50 AM »
This region, and "fish-infused," indicate quenelles.
Quenelles de brochet is a local, traditional delicacy.  Translated as pike dumplings.
They can vary quite a bit in the execution, I.e. spicing, form and so on.

I lived in Grenoble for a few months in 1975-76, and recignise a little of what you're showing us.
A beautiful area indeed, now I want to go back!
The most beautiful in France? Maybe, but there's much to choose between!

Thanks, Daniel, now I'll delve into your culinary series!


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Offline Motormike

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2020, 11:40:47 AM »
Fantastic pictures.  I've always wanted to ride the Combe Laval roads.  Photos and video make them look incredible (and perhaps a bit scary!) But with the --19 virus, it will have to wait. Next year perhaps.  What time of year was your ride? 

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2020, 11:59:06 AM »
I have enjoyed every post you have made but this one is your best yet. Superb trip anthology. It doesn't get any more scenic than France. Perfect motorcycle roads too. That part of France is lightly traveled yet so beautiful. Thank you for posting. 
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Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2020, 12:25:17 PM »
Quote from: Motormike
Next year perhaps.  What time of year was your ride?

The photographs were assembled from several rides, but I generally go either mid-May to mid-June or September.

Online Mayor_of_BBQ

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2020, 01:06:42 PM »
I love these threads. This one has me really wishing the Tour de France was going on right now
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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2020, 01:30:30 PM »
Thank you for another great picture tour! :thumb: :thumb:

Offline ampm7

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2020, 04:41:35 PM »
Fantastic Daniel! I have relatives in France but haven't seen them since '77. Love to go back...
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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2020, 09:02:35 PM »
Superbe...tres bien!  Possibly the best of the best photo batch! 

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2020, 07:14:02 AM »
C'est magnifique! What a lovely part of France. Have to go there next time I'm in the land of Napoleon.

Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2020, 08:07:44 AM »
Quote from: berniebee
C'est magnifique! What a lovely part of France. Have to go there next time I'm in the land of Napoleon.

or more specifically, Corsica, where they still think he's a pretty great fellow.  The roads are ideal.

Offline kidsmoke

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2020, 03:27:32 PM »
I have drifted away....Thank you so much.

Next....Nouvelle-Aquitane region? Or perhaps I need to search to see if it's been posted previously.

My ancestral home (on my dad's side, Dissay specifically) and a region I long to tour someday.

Really wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to put these together.
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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2020, 06:32:23 PM »
Great pictures and story. Thank you for the effort. I noticed there did not seem to be any ot very few people in most of the towns. Just small towns or was this from the quarantine? Seemed to have the whole town to yourself.  :thumb:
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Offline Daniel Kalal

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Re: …a focus on Rhône-Alpes [mostly, and a great many photographs]
« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2020, 08:01:23 AM »
Quote from: kidsmoke
Aquitane region?
I checked.  I've only been through Aquitane a few times, so it won't be covered in one of these things unless I step it up.

Quote from: Caffeineo
...very few people in most of the towns. Just small towns or was this from the quarantine?
The map at the top shows the roads I've been on; these were done over many years and many trips, but none this year.  I had it scheduled, but virtually all flights were cancelled, and in any event, travel restrictions would have shut me down even if I had managed to get there.  The Mandello region was under strict (enforced) lock-down for all non-essential travel, and roaming around on a Guzzi isn't essential.

As to the towns--I think the photographs are pretty typical of the numbers of people you'll see in rural France.  Within the Rhône-Alpes you'll see crowds in Grenoble, Lyon and St. Etienne, but otherwise not.


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***Wildguzzi Official Logo High Quality 5 Color Window Decals Back In Stock***
Shipping in USA Only. Awesome quality. Back by popular demand. All proceeds go back into the forum.
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