5 July 2011
From St-Michel-de-Maurienne we drove up the valley to Bonneval-sur-Arc to begin the climb up to Col de l'Iseran.
There were a lot of goats on the way up. After the first segment of the climb the road enters a beautiful and grassy valley.
The last stretch of the climb is a bit more drab. It also got steeper, and it had me feeling pretty tired when we got to the pass. This would be the highest paved pass that we would cross on the tour (and in the entire Alps, second only to Seiter Jöchl in Austria).
We descended to Val d'Isère, which is a ski town. Piaw went down ahead of me, so if he had stopped I should have seen him; however, since Val d'Isère looked like a local minimum in elevation, I doubled back, thinking I had missed our meeting point.
The signs on the handicap parking spaces in this town are snarky almost to the point of being confrontational.
Eventually I went on. The descent from Val d'Isère went through a series of tunnels and past a lake.
After that, there was about 10km of very fast and smooth descent. I caught up with Piaw and Xiaoqin at St. Foy, and we packed our bikes into the car. We drove to Bourg-St-Maurice and Les Chapieux, but neither looked like good places to stay. After crossing Cormet de Roselend, we stopped at Beaufort and decided to stay there.
Beaufort must see a lot of cyclists. We found that the Beaufort info center will even lend you bike tools.
We had a very cheesy dinner (which should not have come as a total surprise, since the region around Beaufort is well known for the cheese of the same name). But at least I now knew how to order a steak properly in French.
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