Barcelonnette is nestled in the bottom of a valley and all routes out are up. There are several mountain passes in every direction but the forecast was not great and the only clear prediction was South East. Just as well that was the way I was going.
La Bonette is 2802m high and the highest point in this area. John Hermann (hereafter known as JH) recommends a circuitous route of about 200km which takes in 3 high passes. I set off about 10am and headed towards the first one, La Bonette. What a lovely road and a total contrast to yesterdays goat track. The surface was like a runway and consequently it is a favourite for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
It was totally marvellous all the way to the top which is marked by a large rock and plaque. Just after I arrived, 10 or so sports bikes joined me and oggled over Henry. They couldn't quite believe he had made it to the top - but not only did he make it - he made it easily.
I stayed long enough for the obligatory photos and then descended again as it was damned freezing. Glad I had put my thermals on this morning.
The road down was just as lovely. It passed through an old abandoned military town which I must Google later. At the bottom the road follows the river for another 40 or so kilometres and once more it was just superb.
I stopped for lunch and then began the return journey. The road I needed was "Route Barre" (route barred) but I ignored the sign and proceeded up the mountain. It was the only route back to Barcelonnette - otherwise I would just have to retrace the La Bonette way (which wouldn't have been too tragic).
About 20kms up the mountain I struck the roadworks. The men just moved the machinery and let me pass through - right through the wet tar. It was like riding in custard and I wonder what damage it was doing to my tyres.
At the top of the pass I met a bunch of motorcyclists coming down the hill so obviously there was no Route Barre sign at the other end. That, or they had also ignored it and ridden around it like me.
Halfway down the other side of the mountain I ran into the slowest French driver in France. I was stuck behind him for a while and then managed to overtake, only to be overtaken by him when I stopped to take a photo. We leapfrogged like this for two more mountain passes until I finally shook him off by not stopping any more.
The last dash to home spoiled the whole day. It rained enough to soak me then the sun came out and steam was coming off my jacket. Then my lovely perfect surface disappeared and the road became a goat track. Then it started raining again all the way down the mountain which made for horrible treacherous riding.
Never mind - can't be perfect all the time.