Day 8: Vinadio to Barcelonette, France

30 June 2011

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel, which included some very thick hot chocolate. I had never seen anything like this before.

Very thick hot chocolate

On our way out, I noticed that even the clock on the hotel lobby was not showing the correct time.

Welcome to Italy...

On a whim we decided to head up Col de la Lombarde rather than taking the main road (SS21) into France. The road up to Col de la Lombarde looked to be much quieter.

The road starts out pretty steep, but soon enters another valley, where it levels off.

Approach to Col de la Lombarde

The Italy/France border is at the pass, and the vegetation is much thinner up there.

View from Col de la Lombarde (Italian side)

The col; descent to Isola

We ate lunch at the pass, then rolled down to Isola, where we packed our bikes onto the car and drove to Barcelonette via Col de la Bonette and Jausiers.


Barcelonette is a fun medium-sized town. The city center (which is just a couple of blocks in either direction), is, like that of Brig, a car-free zone. We found a hotel in the city center, right above the main plaza in town, where we could stay the whole weekend for just €60/night. They gave us a huge suite that had a cavernous bathroom.

We had some ice cream to sustain us until dinner. The Tour de France was about to start, and we caught the opening ceremonies on television.

Banana split in Barcelonette

Some time later, we had dinner at a French restaurant, where I ordered a delicious 5-course meal: charcuterie, duck/potatoes/vegetables, cheese plate, apple tart à la mode, and moscato.

Cheese plate and apple tart

View from our hotel room

We went on a wild goose chase trying to find prepaid French SIM cards in Barcelonette. We tried a couple of shops, to no avail. One shopkeeper helpfully directed us to another place: "You can try here... oh, wait, they are closed." "Well, when do they reopen tomorrow?" "...They will be closed until next week."

The French sure do take their vacation seriously!

Later Piaw would, miraculously, succeed in obtaining a SIM card from a little shop. When Xiaoqin and I returned to the same shop a few minutes later, the shopkeeper told us that he was fresh out of SIM cards and we would have to return tomorrow.

Up | Next: climbing the highest (sort of, anyway) pass in the Alps