With the vast and unrelenting torrent of Trans Provence frothing, it was easy to overlook the fact that I racked up more than a few weeks in Europe prior to the race. Yes, it was a slightly strange arrangement that saw me driving back and forth all over the show (quite possibly 3,500km’s) in a manner that means I will never be asked to become a professional tour planner.
But, I did get to see some pretty golden places. So, in a format that will appeal to those that like summaries or the Airbnb app, here’s the Dirty wrap up and run down of where you can visit, ride and stay. Worth noting that I did this trip in a manner that will have hairy accountants everywhere vomiting on their calculators. Then again, price is all relative to the value you feel you’ve got…
Buckle up, here cums the Dirty version of Trip advisor…
1. Sospel – France
TP HQ and stop one on the EuroEnduro tour, everything I had heard about Sospel was massively reinforced when I got thrown in its wicked deep end with Davide the ENDURO monster. If you like good weather, dry trails and brain melting descents then it needs to be on the list:
- Where to stay – Possibly a weak point in the Sospel armoury, accom isn’t plentiful and I probably wouldn’t accuse it of being palatial either. I bunked down at a TP favourite, Auberge du Pont Vieux. Its rather functional, but Tim the owner is English (loves rugby), so if you’re heathen like me then this is an excellent win. Importantly, Wifi is excellent and can even stream
HD PornThe DH World Cup on Redbull TV. Prep for a work out getting your 45kg Fox gear bag up the stairs in true French hotel style
- Riding/Guiding hook up – Ok, so as I found out there is a shitload of riding around here, possibly more than you can manage if only here for a few days. Guiding wise, Davide Bozza is the dude to see, I managed to get onto having Davide as a guide through the Finale crew, but best to try and connect with him here, doesn’t have a website per se. Well priced, epic van support and he gives zero fucks about taking that thing up ANY road around if it means mad shredding. Heads up, he’s Italian so avoid my gaff of “You’re so lucky being French” etc. He has the area wired, expect a deviation into Italy at some stage, rad. Riding wise there seems to be a lot of long runs, which of course means mega climbing, so unless you’re shuttling bring a 30t chain ring
- Other tips – There’s a LOT of riding around here, so give it a few days and if Davide is unavailable make sure you tap into some local knowledge to get the best parts. And yes, Ze Holy Trail is fucken mandatory, so get involved… If you struggle, cry me a river whilst thinking about doing it on Day 6.
2. Finale Ligura – Italy
I’m not sure why I’m not moving here ASAP… It appears as though they don’t really have winter either, so really I’m super tapped out of excuses to not be living in Finale like half the rest of the ENDURO world it seems. Stop 2 on the EuroEnduro tour and yes, I insanely love this place and would put it right up there on the MUST DO list around La Thuile. Get the shred on, then get the sand right up in ya crack (best said with an Aussie accent):
- Where to stay – Finale is rammed with accom options, so you won’t have to hobo it up under a bridge sleeping on glue packets unless that’s your thing. I got referred to the Lido apartments and that seemed to be a pretty sweet set up. I assumed that they were ok with the bike in the room (possibly I snuck in and out)… Wifi was again mint and it was a short walk to the main restaurants at the nearby plaza. Washing machine was also gold and appeared to be free… Either that or I am a total cunt.
- Riding/Guiding hook up – There are a number of companies guiding in Finale, but I think Just Ride Finale were an awesome option to hit. Great guides, obviously know where they’re going and very good at accommodating your needs. If they’re full up they can refer you on to the other operators. There is a LOT of riding here again, so make sure you reserve 3 or 4 days to explore all the zones. The trails off the top of the NATO base are superb and all you need to say to the guides are: “I want to do EWS Stages 5 & 6 please, many times“
- Other tips – Some very good bike shops in town, as some may recall from that ENVE incident, the lads at Oddone Bici (down the alleyway off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele square back towards Via Roma) sorted me out with a new Mavic, ignoring the fact I should have brought the whole set. In terms of getting to Finale, flying into Nice or Milan your best options, Milan if you don’t want cunty connecting flights. Its hot as fuck in F-Town, so prepare accordingly. Best bike wash was the Q8 petrol station behind the church basically in the middle of town.
3. Roquebilliere – France
The third main stop on EuroEnduro and admittedly, an extremely random one. I don’t suspect anyone else would come and ride here, so don’t rush around trying to find your “fuck I need to shred that shit” list to write it down. Also, no one knows how to pronounce it, so simply refer to it as “Some place starting with ‘R’ about an hour from Nice“.
- Where to stay – Hotel Saint-Sebastien, a slightly random little place, and fuck do I mean little from a room perspective, but Wifi that would impress NORAD, so room size quickly became irrelevant. View from my deck, which felt like it was about to collapse, was also #notbad.
- Riding/Guiding hook up – Our main man in the area, Greg Germain from 1001 Sentiers will totally sort you out with whatever you need here. I have to say, a slightly random area for riding, but it was the home to BIG alpine day, which was well worth it as TP prep. I suspect that its an area you’re better passing through on a multi day trip. My advice is to tell Greg you want some lower level single track action and go from there. Not cheap either, so to make the most of this assemble a crew to spread the costs, which of course I didn’t. Just a Dirty sugar daddy.
- Other tips – I think on balance this isn’t a regular shredding spot, but it does have a lot of riding around the Mon Ton’s in the area. Suggest sticking to Sospel, Finale or joining one of Greg’s multi day trips to make the most of the area. Big Alpine day was stunning, even if we got a bit fingered by the weather.
4. Roubion – France
Ah, random little Roubion… Its like a poem or a love letter this place… You can easily accuse it of being charming and it melts the heart as well. So, in summary if you want to get laid, bring the target of your conquest here:
Quite literally perched on the side of a rather imposing MON TON, roadies would love it up here, but its also got a lot of MTB love going for it. After all, there is a bike named after it and myself, Herr Doktor and Das Wolf have all pinned it through these streets, which also acted as the funeral procession for Wolf’s Tallboy LTc, yes, Roubion was the place where we confirmed its weight tolerance limits:
- Where to stay – I hit Le Rupicapra, a very little B&B in the village itself. Lovely host, nice rooms and decent Wifi, assuming the host hasn’t gone out and turned it off right in the middle of trying to watch the World Cup DH, good times. Ask to stay in the room that has the newly renovated bathroom to save the shared shitter scenario. An alternative place to kick it is Beuil, about 20 minutes away.
- Riding/Guiding hook up – Aside from rocking up to an ENDURO race, which to be fair was harder than anticipated, there is a little Bike Park in Roubion that would be worth a crack. Be careful with timing though as its only open on the weekends initially in the season. I suspect that to get the most of the riding around here outside racing or the Bike Park, best connect with Greg to get the guiding low down and love
- Other tips – There are two little cafe’s in the village for dinner, both closed on Sunday night… So plan on a trip to Beuil, as I discovered. Also, for fucks sake don’t drive your car into the village if you can help it, for obvious reasons. Proceed on foot. If you stay at Le Rupicapra then the entrance is up past the ‘main’ turn off to the village, the next right. I point this out as it IS a trap for dirty players. Roubion isn’t a regular stop for rad shredding, but I am stoked to have stayed here, so if you like places a little out of the way and rustic, hit it.
5. Cannes – France
Terrible… Don’t bother… Unless you have a penchant for smoking and Russian lap dances. Stay in the Mon Tons… Or, go somewhere with a touch of class…
6. Beaumes de Venise – France
Voila! Speaking of class, A somewhat random find and nothing at all to do with ENDURO, I found this seriously cool spot thanks to the Real Fresh Prince of Wales, who knows a think or two about wrapping a scarf around your neck and then casually wringing the fuck out of a Porsche one handed through the French back roads to arrive at what was pretty much a French paradise:
- Where to stay – Ah… Yes, the ONLY place to stay, assuming you’re not price sensitive. I may preach about spending less on shit we don’t need to have more experiences, but fuck me am I sucker for a boutique hotel. I was therefore more than happy to snort up everything that Les Ramparts had to offer. This place is MINT! Assuming you like old buildings that have been renovated with no expense spared of course. Great pool, epic breakfast, world class Wifi and a view of Mont Ventoux. Speaking of, make sure you ask for the room with that Mt V view, as it also happens to have the best shower ever in the history of hotel rooms
- Riding/Guiding hook up – Doesn’t really apply per se… Not an ENDURO hotbed as far as I could tell, just get on the road bike, don’t be a lazy cunt and ride to Mont Ventoux to hit all three possible routes, the whole area is stunning, just mind the wind. May also bake you from time to time
- Other tips – If you want to stay here, Google maps will try and guide you through the middle of walking paths at the end to get to the hotel, so ignore that bitch and drive around the outside to avoid looking like a total gimp… This whole area is rammed with old stuff to walk around and look at while you say “wow“, in between taking 87 photos, none of which are actually cool enough to stick on Instagram.
7. Cucuron, Vaucluse – France
Continuing the theme of indulgence, I knew that with 8 days of camping on the cards, it was only fair that I treated myself to one final night of palatialness before squeezing into my Asian sized sleeping bag (thanks Northface you cunts). I randomly looked for a place halfway to TP Camp Zero and thanks to the power of a high-end and discerning website for accommodation cunts such as myself, found this action in the Luberon Valley:
Ohhhhhhhh… Yes I did fill my ENDURO boots with this Nek level comfort action. Hanging out in the Luberon Valley in June is pretty fucking awesome, probably better if you’re old and like grapes, but as a stop over point on your way to extreme radness, it did a stand up job of helping me to chill and charge up for what was ahead. If you can’t relax here, chances are you have bigger issues to attend to:
- Where to stay – For an absolute legendary place to stay, hit Domaine La Parpaille, you can check it out here. The hosts are awesome, super accommodating and do an awesome dinner and brekkie should you need either. Stinking Dirty Nomad laundry? No worries. Kick it pool side and soak up the awesome Luberon sun, can’t go wrong
- Riding/Guiding hook up – Not so relevant, I lay around the pool like a fat CEO with a massive golden parachute clause in my contract and did fuck all. Having said that, you can ride to nearby villages and get a baguette, utilising backroads and main roads with fuck all traffic on them to smash some seriously epic bakeries, see below. If you’re forced against your will to come here for a holiday, bring the road bike. No idea if there is real shredding or guiding options around these parts, but its France so is bound to be. If you do roadie it up here, can be a touch windy, so don’t say I didn’t mention it
- Other tips – Pretty much the perfect place to kick it before the hardest thing you’ll ever do on two ENDURO wheels. Ride to nearby Lourmarin, head into the village and hit that Artisanal bakery action for a banger of a baguette, it was legendary, rammed with chicken and enough mayo to kill a donkey. You’ll need an Evoc pack which comes with Baguette holder to get back to the pool:
I won’t bother going into all the villages that TP visited, mainly as I got there around 7pm each day and was so tired my sum experience of each place was eating dinner, cramping as I tried to get into my tent and then running around looking for a toilet in the morning.
I think the bigger problem going to Euro in summer is where not to go… You’re literally flooded with options all over the show, so trying to limit the scope perhaps the hardest part of any trip planning. Next up in the wrap up series: The EuroEnduro gear rant!