France has many beautiful gorges that make for fantastic cycling.
Here are a few of my very favourite gorge rides (note gorge is usually the plural gorges in French): Gorges du Verdon, Gorges de la Nesque, Gorges du Nan, Gorges de l’Ardèche, and the Gorges du Bachelard.
Les Gorges de l’Ain is on the western edge of the French Jura mountains. It’s possible to ride alongside the river Ain on both sides through the gorge. Doreen and I were looking for a beautiful but easy-ish ride. At the end of the post, I’ll link to two longer rides through les gorges de l’Ain, that both include some cols.
These are quiet roads, even on a Saturday in July.
The highlight of the ride is where we crossed the river to turn around (see map below). Here we crossed an amazing bridge. Le Viaduc de Cime-Bolozon was built in the late 1800’s. It was destroyed by the French resistance in WW2 to slow the Nazis, and then rebuilt after the war. Today Trains/TGV take the top. Bikes and cars the lower road:
I had my drone with me:
Note, over the far side, we left the bigger road to stay beside the river. But after a few kilometres there is a stretch of perhaps 4 kilometres that is unpaved and occasionally rough, too rough for a road bike.
See my suggestions below for road bike options or more simply, after the bridge, take the road that passes through Cize. But this unpaved stretch was great, right beside the river.
It was hot, so we kept it simple and headed directly back to the start crossing a more modern bridge at Serrières-sur-Ain. All-in-all forty kilometres of quiet roads, mostly beside the river, through a beautiful gorge. Excellent.
Two Other Gorges de l’Ain Routes
Here are two longer and hillier options that include some Cols:
This route starts at the same place as above but continues further along both sides of the river well north of the Viaduc. And it includes a there-back up Col du Berthiand, a steep medium size col that appeared in the Tour de France in 2016. Also, at the very end of the route is a quick detour to visit Col de Hibou (Owl Pass). Full details here.
This loop visits 6 small cols on the very edge of the Jura mountains and then returns through the gorge. Full details here.