The Ardèche Cévennes Divide provides a mix of wide gravel trails along logging tracks, fun shaded forested paths and a handful of smooth tarmac sweeping descents which you wouldn't want to miss.
It begins with a long, gentle riverside ascent along a disused railway, the 'Dolce Via' onto the high plateau of the Monts D'Ardèche National Park with its volcanoes of Mont Mezenc and Jerbier. The Divide then follows this high ridge line dividing the waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean before descending to the steep narrow gorge in the Cévennes at Pied de Borne, which lies at the confluence of the Altier, Borne and Chassezac rivers. This long switchback gravel descent hugs the mountainside and is a real highlight of the trip.
After regaining altitude through the pine forest below Pic Cassini (source of the River Tarn), the trail opens out onto a spectacular gravel road to the Col de Finniel. You then descend into the wild landscape of the granite-strewn Lozère region with its pretty stone walls and houses, along gentle gravel trails to meet the Tarn river at the popular Pont du Tarn.
The route then follows well-used logging tracks to the high point of Pic de la Tourette at 914 metres, where it leaves the Cévennes National Park. This peak borders the Lozère and Gard regions and offers amazing views of the surrounding regions. From here you ride through the lesser known Luech Valley dropping down onto the plains of Alès via some fun, forested trails.
The landscape and surfaces changes constantly and we were amazed at what can be squeezed into 380 kilometres. Its about 70% off road, 30% on road and 90-100% gravel bike rideable depending on your gearing, tyres, lungs and load. We used 40mm knobbly tyres, and a 1:1 gear ratio was manageable.
The route uses a mix of fire and forestry gravel roads, old delivery and farm access tracks and quiet back roads. The surfaces of the off-road sections vary from super smooth dream gravel to bike skills testing steep, rocky and at times loose. These hike-a-bike sections are short and totally worth it for the onwards journey. The road sections are fun and fast with very little traffic and awesome views. Each day you will find along the way tiny hamlets, a few villages and incredibly friendly people.
Water was mostly plentifully available apart from stage five on Mont Lozère, so be prepared. For food there was somewhere each day but not always much, so you need to be tactical on timings and resupply points, bearing in mind rural French opening hours of shops being closed between 12 noon and 4pm.
We decided to do a mix of wild camping and campsites but there were options to use gites on the first three days, and days four to six were more remote with less options for gites and a shower.
All in all it's a beautiful journey and a perfect gravel bike adventure. Neither of us had bikepacked off road before, but felt perfectly comfortable on all the trails.
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Last updated: April 26, 2022
On the first day, we explored the beautiful Eyrieux Valley on the Dolce Via, a disused railway line that has been converted into a bike path. Almost entirely off road, and very well signposted, the route gradually took us up the valley to arrive at St Agreve on the Monts d’Ardèche high plateau.
Despite the shorter distance, the second day was much more physically demanding, with tougher terrain and much steeper off-road climbs to the volcanoes Mt Mezenc and Mt Gerbier de Jonc.
There are some different routing options here depending on how much off-road you want to include. The roads are quiet…
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Leaving the volcanoes behind, we descended on quiet roads following beautiful rivers to the ‘Rue de Facteurs’, an old deliveries route used to access remote farms up on a forested plateau.
We then descended off-road on mostly compacted gravel to Saint Cirgues-en-Montagne for a welcome pitstop by the river…
Leaving the sleepy hamlet of Loubaresse, we descended from 1,200 metres of altitude down to the village of Montselgues.
From there we rode some wide open gravel roads and logging tracks for a short time before further dropping down to the base of the Borne Gorge at St Marguerite la Figère. The descent…
Probably my favorite day, we began with a climb on the road and then onto gravel, skirting the Pic Cassini and La Peyre Plantade. Once on the plateau, we enjoyed a fabulous easy gravel road with 360° views of the Cevennes National Park, until we reached the Col de Finiel and finally saw a few road cyclists…
We purposely made this day the shortest as we aimed to get a midday train back up to Loriol sur Drome for the drive home.
After a great night wild camping at the Pic de La Tourette, we dropped altitude via road and gravel tracks with views to the plains of Alès, again using logging tracks and forested…
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