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Ruta Iberica
Silver route
Cycle route to the Riviera

Description of the cycle guide and cycle route to the Riviera
The first part of the Riviera route from Basel is the same as the last part of the Venice 1 cycle guide book. From southern Alsace you cycle through the Jura, then via the Gorges du Pichoux you rise to the monastery at Bellelay. This is followed by the descent to Bienne (Biel) and its beautiful lake where you can take a refreshing swim in the summer. With the Alps as your backdrop, you continue on to Bern the beautiful capital city with its famous Bärengraben (bear pit) and the medieval Zytglogge, or clock tower. From Bern the route is signposted all the way to foot of the Berner Oberland Alps. The climb is actually quite gradual, although the mountains around you rapidly rise up to meet the sky and you end up cycling between them. The route rises all the way to Kandersteg. From here there is no road, so you have to take the train through the tunnel under the Lötschberg mountain. Once over the other side into Wallis, you take the Rhone national cycle route to Brig. This is followed by the climb over the Simplon pass. It’s a steep climb, certainly at the beginning, but gradually it becomes easier offering fantastic views into the distance. The Hospiz at the top of the pass was built by order of Napoleon and has remained a stopping place for travellers to this day. For those who don’t relish cycling up the pass, or if weather doesn’t permit the climb, you can always take the train through the tunnel under the mountain, or jump on the Swiss PostBus (bike suspended at the back) to the top of the pass and cycle down the other side into Italy. Both ways you’re very soon in Italy often in warmer weather too. Once you’ve downed the essential first cups of real espresso, you join the proper cycle path through the Toce valley, eventually arriving at the enchanting Lago di Mergozzo. The little town of Mergozzo is a really nice with terraces right on the lakeside. From here the route continues southwards along Lake Orta and the last of the Alpine ridges, eventually entering the flat rice paddy fields of the Po valley. With a backdrop of the high Alps in the far distance, the flooded rice fields make an enchanting panorama. A little to the south-east, behind some low hills, lies Lago di Viverone. The town of the same name is an established bathing resort with a number of hotels, cafes, boat trip facilities and two camp sites. A nice way to conclude the ride over the Po valley. From here you are very near the River Po itself. And the lovely hills of Monferrato start rising up immediately on the other side.

The landscape here bears many similarities with Tuscany. The hills are draped in vineyards producing some very fine wines. Villages sit on hill ridges with their prominent, often medieval towers, village squares and delightful, narrow streets and alleyways. The Monferrato landscape soon changes to that of the Le Langhe where the rolling vineyards produce famous wines such as Barolo, Barbera and Nebbiolo. This is also truffle country. The route wends its way over narrow, quiet little roads. Alba is the largest town in Le Langhe and is very beautiful and bustling. It’s also the home of the world famous spread Nutella. The route then winds through the vineyards and hazelnut groves with the hills around Barolo gradually rising up towards the southern ridges of the Alps. Once at the top, at around 800 metres, you continue at this altitude with its fantastic views into the distance. Following the descent into a lower valley and Millesimo, you gradually rise again to the final pass before the long descent to the Mediterranean Sea. You are now in Liguria. The further you descend, the warmer the air feels against your face. Albenga lies on the sea, a wonderful town with its ancient centre with a myriad of narrow streets and alleyways.

The coastal road, both east and west, is extremely busy. You have to travel 20 kilometres west of Albenga to find the first traffic-free paths for cycling, which are quite acceptable until you reach the real cycle path along the coast laid over the former railway line. The cycling here is really easy, eventually taking you all the way past San Remo. From here it’s around twenty kilometres to the French border at Ventimiglia. From Ventimiglia to Nice in France the route follows the old, narrower road along the botanical gardens of Villa Hanbury. From Menton in France the route climbs again to follow the Grande Corniche providing views of Monaco. Monaco is simply not very nice and cyclists are not welcome anyway. The road continues to winds through the hills with great long distance views over the Mediterranean on the one side, and the Alps on the other, eventually descending to the old port town of Nice. After the famous Promenade des Anglais the road continues to the airport, or you can turn right into the old town and head for the railway station. The cycle route ends at the airport, although you can cycle further into Avignon with the guide for Provence. In general you don’t have to cycle along the busy stretches of the coastal roads, because there is a good train service that allows bicycle on board. In France you pay nothing for transporting your bike, and in Italy it’s next to nothing. From Ventimiglia to Nice in France the route follows the old, narrower road passing along beside the botanical gardens of Villa Hanbury.

In May 2017 the Piedmont round tour route guide was published which complements this guide.


General information

Price: €22,50

Edition/Year of publication: 2nd edition, 2013
Language: Dutch
Distance: 775 km
Detailed Maps: 47, scale 1:100.000
City Maps: 4, scale varies
Difficulty rating: Average. For the only really steep climbs such as Col des Rangiers and the Simplon Pass, you can also jump on a train with your bike.
Route direction: Although the route has been selected so that most of the hills are easier to climb from north to south, there is also a concise route description for cycling south to north.

Map samples
Sample pages with detailed maps and height profiles.

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