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Adventure 9A mythical route

Two days of mountain biking on the Haute Route Du Sel

You won’t soon forget these 2 days of cycling adventure. From Castérino to La Brigue, the Haute Route du Sel winds its way between France and Italy, at an altitude of over 2000 metres. The white rock contrasts with the green of the peaks, the atmosphere is lunar, the spectacle breathtaking. Passes, fortifications, hilltop villages… the panoramas of the Mediterranean coastline, the Ligurian Alps and the Vallée des Merveilles never cease to amaze. With its 80 kilometers and 2,000 meters of ascent, this tour is for experienced riders.

DurationStartLevelIdeal season
2 daysCastérinoIntermediateLate May to mid-October

 

Why do we love it?

A legendary route, a ride that’s as sporting as it is cultural.

Wonderful views of the Mediterranean, the Alps and the Mercantour massif.

A sporting challenge, but accessible thanks to electric assistance.

Day 1

Casterino-Don Barbera

The adventure begins in Castérino, where you can rent your bikes. This first stage gets off to a strong start, but thanks to electric assistance, you can leave the valley behind you. Leave the Cascade de Valmasque and Mont Paracouerte behind, and head for the Col de Tende. Rest assured, there’s no question of climbing its 46 famous switchbacks! You’ll branch off from the Peïrefique drop to Fort de Tende, where the easy-to-follow trail winds up the side of the mountain. The plunging view of the Mercantour massif makes the moment all the more pleasurable.

Distance covered: 30 km

Difference in altitude: D+ 800 m / D-350m

Altitude: 1500 m > 2500 m

Open your eyes wide from the Col de Tende. Fort Central, Fort Tabourde, Fort Pépin, Col de la Perle, Col de la Boaira… the military structures and panoramas have all passed the word to impress you. Last but not least before the refuge: the Marguareis. Here you are on the roof of the Ligurian Alps. Or perhaps on the moon? With all those limestone rocks, caves and long, deep faults, there’s plenty to doubt. Arriving at the Don Barbera refuge, let yourself be pampered… Full board is available: Italian meal in the evening (deliciozo!), breakfast and picnic for the day ahead.

Day 2

Don Barbera to La Brigue

Good news: today’s stage includes fewer climbs than the day before. But it is longer. With one pedal in France, the other in Italy, you’ll progress on a very airy track, still at 2000 meters above sea level. When you reach MontSaccarel, look to the left of the summit. Amid the rhododendrons in bloom, a bronze statue of Christ the Redeemer greets your efforts. From the Pas de Saccarel, just before descending to La Brigue, keep a firm grip on your handlebars. The descent is long and can be surprising: 1200 meters of negative altitude difference.

Distance covered: 15 km

Altitude: 1500 m > 2500 m

The arrival at Notre Dame des Fontaines marks your last stop before La Brigue. A few kilometers down the road, you’ll arrive in La Brigue. What’s your reward? An invigorating swim in one of the rivers, or an aperitif on one of the village’s shady terraces? If you’re not too tired, get back in the saddle and ride all the way to Castérino to complete the loop!

What equipment do you need?

 

Bring water (2 liters per person per day) and snacks (energy bars, dried fruit, etc.) for these two days of adventure. Rucksack, cycling shorts, gloves, helmet, headlamp, warm clothes for the night, rain gear (including rucksack protection!)… try to be as compact and light as possible, and equip yourself carefully.

Small gestures and good reflexes

  • If you’re on a bike, that’s already a very good gesture for the planet – congratulations! To drink, use a water bottle, which is more practical and less polluting than a plastic bottle.
  • In such a sumptuous setting, you won’t leave a trace. Don’t forget to take a bag with you so you can leave with all your waste, even organic.
Who to contact

The adventure can also be attempted solo, but the more the merrier!

Accro des Merveilles in Tende:

Guided day trips to discover local history.

06 74 76 18 75

VTT MTB in Breil-sur-Roya :

Specialists in organizing enduro and all-mountain MTB trips.

06 78 75 16 64

Our good addresses

Refuge Don Barbera:

At the foot of the Marguareis peak, a comforting spot and delicious Italian cuisine! Matteo Eula e Gabriele Mauron

Briga Alta CN, Italia

0039 0174 086157

Auberge St Martin:

La Brigue, small tavern with medieval charm, stone vaults, sunny terrace with mountain views.

2 Place Saint Martin, La Brigue 04 93 53 97 15

Fleur des Alpes :

In La Brigue, charming little family hotel-restaurant by the river Local, seasonal family cuisine.

1 Pl. Saint-Martin, La Brigue 04 93 04 61 05

Access

To reach Castérino: Take the A8 freeway to the Ventimiglia exit in Italy, follow the signs for Tende / Vallée dela Roya, then at Saint Dalmas de Tende fork off towards Vallée des Merveilles.

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