On the second stage we push into the unknown, empty areas of Haute Provence. Our way is blocked by two extremely scenic passes, the Col de Font-Belle and Col de Corobin.
A transition stage... That's how one might be tempted to shrug off today's stage. After all, who's heard of the Col de Font-Belle? Or the Col de Corobin? And let's be honest, nobody makes the long trip to Provence for these passes. But that's exactly where the appeal lies - in the unfamiliar, almost untouched landscapes, the wild emptiness. And, at the end of the day, there may be those who decide, specifically because of these unknown passes, of which there are many here, to come back to Provence at some point. However that may be, leaving Sisteron we encounter the first pass, the Col de Font-Belle, immediately. Typically of Provence, the gradient is fairly moderate, so we have more time to admire the unusual scenery. We ride through the Défilé de la Pierre Ecrite, where a Roman prefect immortalised himself with an inscription in the rock, and we can enjoy the spectacular cliffs at the summit. The Col de Bonnet is then interposed on the descent, and that brings us to Digne-les-Bains. We continue on seamlessly up the Col de Corobin, the craggy views from which also merit the label “spectacular”.. This takes us into the Asse Valley, which we follow upriver to the stage destination of Saint-André-les-Alpes, located picturesquely on a reservoir. Here, well away from the beaten track, we need to squash up a little closer together – everyone will be sleeping in double bedrooms tonight.Option:
From our destination of Saint-André, the Route du Chalvet climbs up to around 1600 m altitude – an option worth exploring that would post roughly 700 metres of additional elevation gain.