Gravel des Plateaux

By Magali Paulin + François Deladerrière


We wanted to do this bike trip from Manosque to Gap since a long time. A 300 kilometers bikepacking ride with 7000m of elevation. We live in Arles, so Manosque is not far, nearly 2 hours by train or by car. But we didn’t succeed to take time to go on this trip since months thus to the bad weather, our busy professional schedules or the Covid restrictions in France.

But last October, we finally hit the road! Our trail crossed the middle of Alpes de Haute-Provence area, a mountainous and hilly region between Provence and the Alps mountain range at the north.

We left Manosque two weeks ago, under an amazing blue sky and a weather surprisingly warmer than expected. We quickly took off our winter kits to enjoy the fall sunshine on our skin. Manosque is located by the Durance river, coming from the Alps. It’s the city of Jean Giono, a famous writer of Provence. We started our ride next to his ancient house, now converted in a little museum since his death.

We climbed on Valensole plateau, well-known worldwide for the lavender farming, by little rocky path only used by tractors and jeep. The smell of lavender surrounded us. Then we rode along the Sainte Croix lake, still climbing towards the Gorges of the Verdon. We took a long-hidden path between pastures and woods. The land was empty and we crossed more sheep than people during the whole day, some wild boars hunters also.

After an amazing pinky sunset, we stopped by a little hotel, almost empty in La Palud-sur-Verdon where we met the last tourists and hikers of the season. The Gorges of the Verdon are well-known by the international community of climbers, with wild and rocky landscapes.

The next day, we keep riding to the northern by an unpaved road we discovered on an odd French movie called ‘les naufragés de la D17’, literally ‘the castaways of the D17 road’. On an ironic coincidence, the night before, the French Prime minister announced the start of another lockdown period in France. Our time on this place was suddenly limited, so we enjoyed every turn, view and had a nice picnic at the pass of Majastres. We felt a real taste of joy and freedom. Sadly, we had to come back down to starting point with the new covid measures in France. Sports were forbidden outside a 1-kilometer area from home.

We changed our route with a feeling of incompletion. The first snows at the top of the mountains will have to wait for us. When we will be allowed to go out again, winter will be there and our trail won’t be passable anymore. We have to be patient, till next spring. It’s a rendez-vous.

Gallery of images