What a nice morning! After drinking coffee that was scooped up from a big bowl (? maybe there is a better word for this in English) and some bread, I was off down the mountain and stopped only for the photo here. It was indeed a bit chilly on the first descent when coming into the shadows, but it lasted only shortly so did not put on any wind jacket.
Well, I stopped again when reaching the main road to Col Agnel/Colle dell’Agnello (2744m) to take a photo back up the mountains.
I went back down the Queyras valley to Château Queyras (1342m) and took a back road over a little bridge there to climb the (in)famous Sommet Bucher (2225m) which used to be all asphalted and a popular destination for a nice viewpoint over the mountains in the area.
Now the road to Sommet Bucher is not all asphalted, but it was good at start and it was all rideable even on the concrete and gravel parts, but because of some forestry work on the road there were some difficult places. The worst gravel stretch in the middle almost made me turn around, but the gravel actually becomes better again higher up. Still a lot of determination is needed to go up here and as I said afterwards, it was a bit too much trouble for only a nice view at the very top for this ordeal to recommend it to anyone else with a road bike. Still happy I did it, and happy it was early in the day while I still had strengths enough to battle with this road.
Above I look ahead up the Queyras. Here I look up in the direction of Col Agnel/Colle dell’Agnello.
Here I went out on the mountainside to see the road I had descended just earlier up toward Col Agnel/Colle dell’Agnello and St-Véran. Unfortunately there is no road down that side.
This was the best view down west from where I came up the Queyras yesterday.
And one more photo in the direction of where I was going now, namely the classic crossing from the south over Col d’Izoard (2360m).
Back down without any flat I felt really relaxed and here at the junction for the Col d’Izoard.
New asphalt early on the Izoard road and stopped to take a photo here where the views open up early on as I stayed here also on my first climb over the Izoard back in 2002 to take a photo.
It was such a good day for this climb and I really enjoyed it. I took my time and decided to stop for a sandwich and coca-cola in Arvieux – made with my choice of cheese the Italian way, I should say as it is not so common this works in France, but occasionally you can get sandwiches made in good local groceries in France too.
From Arvieux up through Brunissard it starts to get quite steep and continues that way until you reach the Col de la Platrière (2212m) at the parking place for the start of the gorgeous Casse Déserte area which has made this pass so famous.
A motorcyclist (I think) came by to take a photo of me with the Casse Déserte in the background.
Just in the centre of the scree slope and probably they have to clean the road from stones here now and then.
Looking back from the other side of the slight road dip along the centre of the area.
One more photo where you see the parking place at Col de la Platrière (a vague pass that you will have to consult the map to understand that it might be a pass place).
At last up at the pass itself and bouncing into three nice Italians that apparently made a day trip over to France and we exchanged photos.
Not easy to get the whole pass sign column into the photo here.
Documenting the pass carefully this time and three photos down the north side here, which is also pretty nice from up here, but nothing beats the south side.
Here the Italians are descending the pass on the way back home (and I would basically go the same way to Italy as I guess they would). You also see the Casse Déserte scree slope terrain type continues on the south side, but is less dramatic there.
And a general photo just straight down the valley before I descended to Briançon.
In Briançon I decided to follow my plan and go up to the highest asphalted place in the upper part of the town as it indeed offers a better appreciation of the town. Here is a nice bridge (Pont d’Asfeld) over to one (Ancien Fort des Trois Têtes) of the many fortifications around Briançon.
Here is the view back up to Col du Lautaret.
Here you see the Ancien Fort des Trois Têtes on the other side of the Asfeld bridge.
And finally a classic view over Briançon before going out through some ancient gate (not really allowed for traffic) and continuing on the main road to Italy.
Having climbed two rather difficult climbs before in the day one would have thought that the easy Col de Montgenèvre/Passo del Monginevro (1850m) should be no problem, but I got really exhausted on this climb and it felt like it was much longer than I had thought (I think I somehow thought it was 100m lower from bad memory).
Here well on the way up I stopped for a photo into the Vallée de la Clarée, where I also had planned to go up to the end of the asphalted road above Névache to the parking above Chalets de Laval (2024m) and then cross over to Italy via the Col de l’Échelle/Colle della Scala (1762m) and Le Mauvais Pas (1779m). Now I took this direct road instead to save time and to try and keep up with the plan.
Here at last at the actual pass after having to slow down a little on the climb. Looking ahead into Italy here and the weather there was again not looking so good.
And a photo back to France at the pass. The border is a bit below the pass on the Italian side (after the second world war the Italians had to move their borders back a little at some places – oddly it is hard to find information on the Internet just how the France-Italy border have changed, so have to add that I am not sure it changed it here. I see on the Carte de l’état-major from 1820-1866 that the border on the road was before coming down to Clavière more or less where it is now, but that the border has been withdrawn into Italy on both sides of the road later.
I had a little rain on the way down to Oulx, but it soon stopped again. I continued down the Valle di Susa to Susa and to Bussoleno from where I had hoped to take the train down to Torino to change to a train taking me up to Aosta. However, in Italy have have train strikes roughly 12 months a year, so no luck there. I had an ice cream and something to drink at a bar in Bussoleno and continued on the bike down to Torino.
Torino is a big city and it took a long time to get to the centre. Mostly guessed and asked my way, but the roads are pretty straight, although with more stops along the way the closer to the centre you get. Just as I knew I was getting close to the train station rain was imminent and like a few hundred metres before reaching the station the sky opened up totally, but I just managed to get into the station before getting drowned and was largely dry quite luckily.
I got a ticket for a train to Aosta and that train took off according to schedule, but there was a change in Ivrea and that turned out to be a long wait for a train. Here standing at the edge of the platform looking up in the direction of the Aosta region waiting for a train coming down from there that no one knew when and if it would come. Eventually a long time delayed a train came and we went on it. I had already started to talk with another German cycle tourist who was about to start his travel from Aosta (not quite sure how and why he took this way). He had already booked a hotel in Aosta, while I knew I would be rather late when getting there, so we decided to ask then if I could also stay there and since it was a bit outside town the man from the hotel came and collected us and it was all fine for me to stay there too. We were in Aosta only after 22:00 but all went fine, though we did not have much to eat for dinner, but remember I at least had a beer or two. It was a simple but good hotel just west of Aosta and just like one I would have chosen on my own. A long day, but happy it worked out in the end!