Self-guided motorcycle tour in France: Alps and French Riviera

France is a beautiful place to go to for a self-guided motorcycle road trip. Today, you are going to discover a motorcycle tour including the magnificent alps motorcycle routes, the French Riviera routes and more.

This one week (+1000km) self-guided motorcycle tour is a good way to start you  European motorcycle tour. Here, you start off in the city of Lyon in France, go through the alps and down south, to finally ride back to Lyon through beautiful mountains and sceneries.

We hope this  guide will help you experience at the fullest this motorcycle self-guided tour.

Day 1: Lyon to Annecy
Day 2: Annecy to Chamonix
Day 3: Chamonix to Briançon
Day 4: Briançon to Nice
Day 5: Nice to Castellane
Day 6: Castellane to Alpes d’Huez
Day 7: Alpes d’Huez to Lyon

Let’s go!

Day 1: Lyon to Annecy

Distance:  221 km

Duration: 4,5  h

Road type: Plain

Mountain passes :  4

Max. Altitude : 1699 m

Route information:

lyon annecy

This first journey will start calmly whilst crossing the Ain county plain after leaving Lyon. Your road goes through the beautiful medieval village of  Pérouges, you can stop there for a quick visit of the city before hitting the road again.  Then, you will cross the Bugey mountain chain and join the Grand Colombier (1525m) mount, very appreciated by many bikers.

pérouges
Pérouges village. Credit: pxhere.com

The Chambotte mountain pass (650m) is not very elevated but it will lead you to a very nice view on the Bourget lake. You will end your daily trip with the Semnoz mountain chain (1660m) before arriving to Annecy.

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Annecy. Credit: pxhere.com

Annecy is a beautiful French village you must see once in your life. We call it the alps Venice because of its lake and the canals crossing the poetic old town. Also, The Semnoz mountain chain is  considered to be the lungs of Annecy, the chain located next to the Bauges natural reserve is protected and it offers a very nice contrast between the blue of the lake and the green from the forests.

Don’t miss it:

The restaurant « Le Belvédère »  has an astonishing view on the Bourget lake and you can contemplate the view whilst eating gourmet raffined french food. The restaurant was built in 1882 and was one a queen Vicroria’s favorite.

belvedere
Belvédère restaurant. Credit: https://www.belvedere-la-chambotte.com/

Cultural activities:

The Hautecombe Abbey:  It was founded in 1125 by Amédée de Lausanne with the help of Amédée the 3rd and Bernard Claivaux. It was built by monks. The Abbey is located at one side of the Bourget lake, you can visit it and admire its architecture.

Food: 

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

 Le Belvédère – €€€

73410 Saint Germain la Chambotte

Tél.: +33 4 79 88 44 06

French reffined cuisine

 

Tête de Cochon – €€

7 rue Sainte Claire, 74000 Annecy

Tel: +33 6 27 16 77 91

Local food

Day 2:  Annecy to Chamonix

Distance:  216 km

Duration : 6  h

Road type: Mountain

Moutain Passes : 5

Max. Altitude : 2042 m

Route information:

carte annecy chamonix

For this second day, you will discover the magnificent alps motorcycle routes. For a start, cross the Aravis mountain chain with the Fry mountain pass (1467m), the Colombière mountain pass (1613m), the Grand-Bornand, Bonneville and Cluse. Before arriving to the Abondance valley, you will cross the Gets mountain pass (1170m). You may stop at Morzine, very famous in the biker community to be appart of the Morzine Avoriaz Harley days.

At the beginning of the afternoon, you will be crossing the swiss border to have a short swiss riding experience. There, you will be able to discover beautiful panoramas and landscapes at Pointe de la Bellevue (2042m), Le Pas de Morgins (1669m) and la Crevasse (1808m). Then, move down back to France by crossing the Forclaz mountain pass (1526m) and the Montets mountain pass (1461m). When arrived at Chamonix, you can take a moment to appreciate the Aiguille du Midi, a 3842m high summit and visit the Mer des Glaces, an impressive glacier that is 7km long.

Chamonix
Chamonix. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Also, you should absolutely take the Mont Blanc tramway. One of the highest rack and pinion train in France, the vintage Mont Blanc tramway is waiting to give you the best train experience you’ve ever had. Whilst climbing up the mountains, you will have a majestic view and it will give you the time to admire the landscape.

Tramway_Mont-Blanc
Mont Blanc tramway. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

If you haven’t had enough emotions for the day, you might want to experience the “pas dans le vide”, inside a glass box positioned in the void. It gives you a really nice view on the surrounding snowy moutains.

France Panoramic Drop
Pas dans le vide. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Don’t miss it:

The Léman lake: We propose you to go towards Thonon-les-Bains before riding through Switzerland for a quick  stop to enjoy a beautiful view on the lake shared between France and Switzerland. You might even be able to see the Geneva water get if you get to the right point of the lake. This lake is one of the largest in Europe and the surrounding  landscape is magical.

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Geneva water jet. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Cultural activities:

La Grotte aux fées (cave) : It is the first touristic cave in Switzerland and it offers a natural sight that is older than a century. This journey into the earth’s beauty with natural formations, water and even a small inside  lake and a waterfall will be much apreciated.

Grotte_aux_Fées
Grotte aux fées. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Alpin museum, Chamonix: The permanent expo invites you to travel through time, going back to the beginning of winter activities, alpinism and the reach of the Mont Blanc.

Food:

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

Raphaël Vionnet- €€

43 Avenue Général Leclerc

74200 Thonon-les-Bains

Tel: 04 50 72 24 61

Reffined cuisine

 

Le MATAFAN – €€€

62 Allée du Majestic

74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Tel: 04 50 55 35 46

Reffined cuisine

Day 3: Chamonix to Briançon

Distance: 239 km

Duration : 5  h

Route: Mountain

Moutain Passes: 2

Max. Altitude:  2468 m

Route information:

cham bri

Your day is about to start with the Mégève village crossing, famous ski resort known for its luxurious hotels and shops. Then you will arrive to Albertville, also famous and known for the  Olympic games in 1992. Then, you will approach the Alpes d’Huez, you will go through this place twice so you might get familiar with this well known ski station. You will also be going past a lot of cyclist because it is famous to be appart of the Tour de France route.  You will arrived to destination at the end of the day by crossing the Ecrins mountain chains, this beautiful place is a natural reserve where a lot of nature lovers go for hiking. There are a lot of forests, lakes, glaciers, and the diversity is also valid for animals (marmot and ibex for example).

parc ecrins
Ecrins natural reserve. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

To end the day you will arrive to Briançon by roaming down the valley surrounded both sides by the moutains. Briançon is  famous for its Three headed fort created by Vauban.

Don’t miss it:

Alpes d’Huez : Alpes d’Huez is famous worldwide for its Tour de France arrival and passage area. It  is actually a very nice road to ride on, you will definitely go past a lot of riders there. Be prepared to go up and down long twisted roads whilst admiring nice views and going through tunnels made directly from the cliffs.

huez alpes
Alpes d’Huez. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Food:

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

L’alpin  – €€

10 rue Centrale, 05100 Briançon, France

Tel : +33 4 92 21 30 28

Alpin cuisine

 

Le plein sud- €€

580 Route des Îles, 73130 Saint-Etienne-de-Cuines

Tel: +33 4 79 59 66 80

French cuisine

Day 4: Briançon to Nice

Distance: 303 km

Duration: 5 h

Road type: Plain/ Moutain

Moutain Passes: 6

Max. Altitude: 2860 m

Route information:

briancon nice

This time, you are leaving the alps to go down south of France to the French Riviera. As of the start in Briançon, the road will elevate on 20km to join the summit of the today’s journey.The first mountain pass is Izoard (2361m), very popular and appreciated by bikers, a stop there is a must do, especially since the roads go pass lunar landscapes.

izoard
Izoard moutain pass. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

You will then go down to the Ubaye valley by going through  the Vars mountain pass (2109m) and the Bonnette mountain pass (2730m) known to be the highest road in France.Then, you will go down towards the Mercantour regional reserve crossing the Tinée valley where you will join the St Martin mountain pass (1503m) and the Turini mountain pass (1604m). Roam through the Vésubie valley to discover perched mountain villages. After crossing the Castillon mountain pass (1707m), you will enter the French Riviera just before arriving to your final daily destination, Nice.

Don’t miss it:

Monaco, this symbolic city is known worldwide. Prince Rainier married Grace Kelly in a Cathedral you can visit. Also, Monaco’s historical center is concentrated in colored and narrow streets. Ancient buildings, fountains and the architecture gives you a historical point of view of the city.

monaco
Monaco, french riviera. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Cultural activities:

Visit Cannes: This fisherman’s town was once developed by Russians and the English people whilst building residential houses. Today, it is known for its film festival and the famous Croisette located next to a few luxury hotels.

Food:

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

Restaurant Pratois – €€

Hameau du Pra,

06660 Saint-Dalmas-le-Selvage

Tel: 04 93 02 44 65

Local cuisine

 

Restaurant JAN – €€€

12 rue Lascaris

06300 Nice

Tel: 04 97 19 32 23

Moderne and reffined cuisine

Day 5: Nice to Castellane

Distance: 230 km

Duration: 4,5  h

Road type: Plain/Mountain

Moutain Passes: 6

Max. Altitude: 1069 m

Route information:

nice castellane

Today, you will be going towards the West to discover a beautiful French gem: The Verdon Gorge, the largest European canyon with mind blowing views.

First of all, cross the village of Saint Paul de Vence and the city of Grasse, Grasse is THE worldwide capital of perfume and the departure of Route Napoléon.Before joining the Verdon Gorge area, you will need to cross the Pilon mountain pass (782m), the Faye (1019m), Val ferrières (1054m) and Clavel (1069m) mountain passes. After crossing the Illoire mountain pass (694m) you will arrive to the Verdon Gorges. Follow the Corniche sublime route before arriving to the beautiful village of Moustier Sainte Marie for a well owned break.

landscape-water-rock-waterfall-mountain-river-543281-pxhere.com
Verdon Gorges. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Then, roam up to the Northern Verdon area on the Belvédères route through Ayen mountain pass (1032m). Finish the journey towards Castellane crossing the village Clue de Chasteuil.

Don’t miss it:

Verdon Gorges: The Verdon Gorges form a natural frontier between two French counties called Var and Alpes de Haute Provence. The Gorges can sometimes form an 800m deep cliff giving you absolutely magnificent views on the blue colored water.

sea-nature-mountain-lake-adventure-mountain-range-615283-pxhere.com
Verdon Gorges. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Cultural activities:

Visit Aiguines. Perched at an altitude of 800m, the village overhangs the Sainte Croix lake. Next to the Saint Pierre chapel, you can also admire a nice panorama of the lake, Valensole valley and the Ventoux mount.

Food:

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

Le Côté Lac – €€

9 Place de l’Artisanat

83630, Les Salles-sur-Verdon

Tél.: 04 94 68 17 32

Reffined french cuisine

 

Auberge du Teillon – €€€

Route Napoléon

04120, La Garde

Tel: 04 92 83 60 88

Gastronomic cuisine

Day 6: Castellane to Alpes d’Huez

Distance: 291 km

Duration:  6  h

Road type: Mountain

Moutain passes: 4

Max. Altitude:2326 m

Route information:

castellane huez

This is the last mountain road you will have before ending your adventure. You will go through the Alpes d’Huez, famous for being appart of the Tour de France. Just after getting out from Castellane, the road goes up to the Toutes Aures mountain pass (1120m) that will allow you to go to the Daluis Gorges.

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Daluis Gorges. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

You will then go through the Cayolle mountain pass (2326m) but also the Manse mountain pass (1251m) allowing you to join the Napoléon route again. Then, go pass the Ornon mountain pass (1367m) that bonds Champsaur and Oisans valleys.The last 14km you need to go through will give you a nice trip around 21 tight turns going up to The Alpes d’Huez, the famous ski station.

Don’t miss it:

Serre Ponçon lake: This lake was man made to prevent from flooding. From the surrounding roads you can contemplate a really nice view on the blue clear water surrounded by the Alps.

landscape-sea-walking-mountain-lake-adventure-1192666-pxhere.com
Serre-Ponçon lake. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Cultural activities:

Visit Lesdiguières castle: On this land is located the remains of this castle. It was, during the 16th century, a place where François de Bonnes used to rest. He was at the head of the Protestants under Henri the 4th, French king at the time. After his death, the castle was plundered and what you see is what remains from it.

Food:

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

La Ripaille – €€

2 Rue de Chaillol,

05500 Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur

Tel: 04 57 37 13 81

Reffined cuisine and specialities

 

L’Authentique €€

Avenue des Jeux, 38750 Huez

Tel: 04 76 80 43 31

Local food

Day 7: Alpes d’Huez to Lyon

Distance: 295 km

Duration:  6  h

Road  type: Mountain/Plains

Moutain Passes:  3

Max. Altitude: 2064 m

Route information:

huez lyon

You will be going through the last three following mountain passes: Glandon (1924m), Croix de fer (2064m) and Granier (1134m). Whilst going away from Alpes d’Huez, you will go through the Belledonne mountain chain to arrive to the first mountain pass of the day. Then, you will arrive to Pontamafrey, we suggest you to take the small road on your right following a cliff. You will then arrive to the 17 (2,5km long) Montvernier mountain laces. Each 150m is a tight turn but if you fancy getting a bit more adrenaline this is a must do! Also, the view at the top is worth it. You need to plan at least an hour if you fancy doing it.

landscape-nature-mountain-hiking-field-meadow-915185-pxhere.com
Chartreuse natural reserve. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Finally you will go back to your route crossing the Chartreuse natural park with its green cover. For the last 100km towards Lyon you will ride on plains in the Isère county.

Don’t miss it:

Montvernier laces: This is one of the most spectacular French roads, also known to be appart of one of the Tour de France roads. Riding up these laces will give you  adrenaline for sure! At the top of the summit is the Aura, one of the largest collective piece of art in the world, in Sainte marie des Cuines.

montvernier
Montvernier laces. Credit: @MontvernierBike

Cultural activities:

Visit Touvet castle: Located at the Savoie and Dauphiné border, the castle gives an impressive view on the Chartreuse and the Belledonne mountain chains. Since the Middle age, it overhangs on top of the Isère county valley that bonds the two cities of Chambéry and Grenoble. Also, the castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

touvet
Touvet castle. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Visit Lyon: Here you are, back to the Gaulle city. Since 43 after Christ, this city has kept a remarquable heritage especially with its specialities:  gastronomy, arts and culture. The two rivers crossing the town are the Rhône and the Saône.

Lyon_vue_depuis_fourviere
Lyon. Credit: Label for reuse Google images

Food:

Here’s a few  restaurants you will pass on the way:

Restaurant Le Soleil d’Orient- €

10 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville

38260 La Côte-Saint-André

Tel: 04 74 58 59 65

Eastern cuisine

 

Bouchon Les Lyonnais- €€

19 Rue de la Bombarde, 69005 Lyon

Tel: 04 78 37 64 82

Bouchon lyonnais: typical Lyon cuisine

End.

mountain-car-bicycle-mountain-range-vehicle-motorcycle-74852-pxhere.com
Credit: pxhere.com

If you want to plan your next motorcycle trip to this destination, you can either ship your own motorcycle to France or choose to rent a motorcycle.

You can hire motorcycles in order to go out on a BMW or Harley-Davidson motorcycle tour, with us. Discover more about motorcycle rentals and discover other self-guided tours in France and Europe on our website.

Get ready for adventure, and ride safe! Riding abroad is not always easy, check-out our article about road signs and road rules in Europe.

 

Feel free to share your own motorcycle experience in the Alps in the comment section below.

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