Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 9: Cime de la Bonnette


We left the hotel bright and early, grabbing a couple of croissants at the local bakery which was open as early as 6:30am. We then filled up at the fountain in town, and then rode out into what appeared to be a rush hour of cyclists going in various directions: Barcelonette was at the hub of many of the climbs including Col de Vars, Col de la Cayolle, Col du Parpaillon, and of course, Col de la Bonette. Every one quickly parted ways, and we wound up cycling up Col de la Bonette with a bunch of cyclists that looked like they were in the same club.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

The road starts gently enough, with a bar/restaurant that wasn't open yet, because we were up so early.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

It was a long road though, and pretty soon the road turned steeply uphill and we were in our low gears as it snaked along the hill sides, with an occasional pause at a plateau or valley.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

At 2715m, Col de la Bonette's pretty high, but hardly the highest pass in the Alps. However, to garner the title "highest through road in the Alps," the builders added a little loop around the top going to 2860m, making it taller than anything else regularly climbed in the Tour de France. The surrounding peaks are bare, but the hint and promise of other mountains in the area does give it a look unlike other areas.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

At the top, there's a hiking trail to the top, where we took pictures of ourselves.
From Tour of the Alps 2011
From Tour of the Alps 2011

The descent was fast, and we made it back to Barcelonette by 2:00pm, where we had time to eat ice cream, do laundry at the laundromat (the hotel had signs prohibiting doing laundry in the room, but it was also nice to get away from handwashing), shopping at the supermarket, and dinner. XiaoQin said, "In the morning I saw the hotel staff wash the streets 3 times in front of the hotel! No wonder the place is so clean!"
From Tour of the Alps 2011

I walked past the shop that sold SIM card and was surprised to find it open! I immediately bought a French SIM card for 15 EUR, but when Phil and XiaoQin came by to buy one he had run out! "Come back tomorrow!" he declared with confidence.

We had dinner in town that night, but I failed to find any Duck Confit. I promised XiaoQin that we would have some Duck Confit before we left France.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

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