Day 11: Saint Jean en Royans

Another slow day, mainly making tracks back north after all the fun and games in the south. The weather was getting cooler too as I left my lakeside camp and entered the Auverne, with alpine passes giving way to fast, sweeping roads through smaller hills. There was a definite bite in the air, punctuated by the scent of log fires in villages devoid of life, the only people visible outdoors walking quicker than before, heads down against the wind. September is well and truly here, bringing with it promises of autumn proper.

I had just one more planned stop on the way home, and as I rode through cloud covered mountains I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to properly enjoy the marvellous D76 just south of St. Jean en Royans, another iconic road from last year’s trip that I wasn’t able to properly photograph at the time. If you ever find yourself near Die then this is a must-see stretch of civil engineering beauty; the narrow strip of tarmac clings to the side of a gorge, passing through numerous tunnels with the ever-present deadly drop to your left. Absolutely stunning.

Mountain road leads to tunnel above gorge

The fact that this precipitous piece of road is also open to two-way traffic including caravans and motorhomes is nothing short of incredible, and calls for careful riding if one is to avoid becoming part of the landscape.

Wide view of narrow road with mountain on right and nothing on left

I took a break from camping and checked into Lemon Hôtel instead, which seemed to be the exact same thing as a Formule 1 and even retained some of the previous owner’s branding. Parking the bike at the entrance I got a great tip from the Turkish lady on reception – try the kebab place across the road for dinner. She wasn’t wrong, and their asiette mixte rounded off the day nicely.

The best kebab there is, an assortment of grilled meat complete with a vegetable element

With stuffed belly I waddled back to the hotel to catch up on email and see if I could find a solution to a problem with the bike. My high beam was playing up, with the HID ballast only kicking in momentarily before going out again, complete with BMW’s LAMPF warning message. As always the guys at UKGSER.com were helpful, and by morning the problem had disappeared of its own accord.