Edition 2023 English

The 14th edition of the 1000 du Sud took place from September 3 to 10, 2023.

The ride was organized by Provence Randonneurs.

The "Rando" time limit was removed

The start and finish place was Cotignac (Var)

Two starting times were offered: Sunday 3, 20h and Monday 4, 7h

ROUTE SHEET (English version - Streckenplan in Englisch)

Lieux de contrôle photo (randonnée permanente) - Photo control places

1000 du Sud 2023 Gravel



Special gravel edition !

In 2023, we are offering a special gravel edition, with passes never used on Le 1000 du Sud, including the famous Parpaillon.

Why use the Parpaillon on Le 1000 du Sud? Why send road cyclists over a 20.5 km long dirt road, where they will struggle, without even being able to appreciate the calm of the mountain, since today, the place is popular with 4x4s?... It was a difficult decision to make. However, this mythical pass has been part of the history of bicycle tourism since the beginning of the 20th century (see the documentation). The 1000 du Sud will use it, at least once.

On the other hand, the 2024 edition will be 100% paved.

Once that has been decided, we said to ourselves: Since the Parpaillon will discourage pure road riders anyway, why not take the opportunity to plan more gravel in our menu?

In addition to the Parpaillon, we will use the following dirt roads (most of them are in better condition than the Parpaillon road on the southern side):

for a total of 74 kilometers (including the Parpaillon road). You will see that the additional passes are partly paved.

These unpaved roads are described and illustrated in the document 1000 du Sud 2023 Gravel.

The Randonneur option is removed

Eventually, this is the easiest solution to keep everyone safe. The presence of unpaved roads requires higher alertness, which requires everyone to get enough and regular sleep to remain lucid. In addition, no one should feel pressured so as to cycle at night the Parpaillon, which is a high mountain unpaved pass. The main thing is that everyone returns to the Base Camp in good condition. Le 1000 du Sud is not a competition. This does not prevent one or the other from setting a deadline to him- or herself, which will remain a personal objective.

"The mountaineer is a man who leads his body where, one day, his eyes looked. And who returns". Gaston Rebuffat.

What equipment to use? 

A solid bike. Wide tires and MTB-type developments. Shoes that allow you to walk easily. XXL bottles to carry lots of water. Afterwards, it's up to everyone to decide according to their technical level - and the weight of the bags complicates the exercise a little.

"Will I make it with a gravel bike and 35mm tires?" - I am often asked the question, but there is no precise answer! It all depends on the cyclist, if he/she is a good downhiller, if he/she is used to mountain biking or cyclo-cross...

In fact, the question only arises for the first 6.5 km of descent from Parapillon (see description and photos, p.63). For all the other unpaved passages, the answer is clearly: yes, it's fine on a gravel bike with 35 mm tires (although 38 or 40 would be preferable). But the descent from the Parpaillon is stony, craggy, with stone "steps", fords... nothing to do with a very smooth path... if you have never left the bitumen in your life, you probably won't make it. Let's also not forget that the bikes will be loaded down with bags.

General description

(Description of unpaved roads: see document 1000 du Sud 2023 Gravel).

The beginning of the route (until Charles Albert Bridge over the Var river), is classic, without too much difficulty (Tourtour, Ampus, Comps-sur-Artuby, plateau of Thorenc, Gréolières, Coursegoules, Bouyon, Le Broc). We will still be on familiar ground in the Vésubie gorges (where there is always a bit of traffic), but the following, until Menton, is new: Baisse de la Cabanette via Col Saint-Roch, the spectacular hairpin turns that have made Col de Turini famous, Col de Braus via Col de l'Ablé... a beautiful incursion into the maralpine hinterland, which ends with a pretty little piece of gravel, before descending towards the civilization.

Once past the coastal agglomeration, Le 1000 du Sud tackles the Ligurian mountains. From Dolceacqua to Badalucco, via Passo Ghimbegna, we discover beautiful, very quiet little roads. We will take the SP21 bis, which passes through the bottom of the Fora di Taggia valley (this old route was doubled by the current main road, SP548, built higher up, with the aim of creating a dam on the torrent, project abandoned since).

The picturesque town of Molini di Triora (“the mills of Triora”), famous for its witches and its snail festival, marks the start of the long ascent to Baisse de Sanson, on the border ridge. A true little adventure (see description) at the end of which we find ourselves in French territory (in fact, La Brigue and Tende only became French in 1947), in the Roya valley, which, since the ravages of the storm Alex and the closure of the Tende tunnel, took on the appearance of “end of the world”.

As the Route des 46 lacets is prohibited for bicycles in 2023, we access Col de Tende via Castérino and Baisse de Peirafica. Too bad for the 46 slopes, but we are not losing out. The scenery around Baisse de Peirafica is great.

Here we are back to our transalpine friends (in all, 215 km of the course are located in Italy). From the Vermenagna Valley (Limone Piemonte - Borgo San Dalmazzo) to Caraglio, we cross a lot of urbanization, with the usual traffic. Then we cycle on peaceful roads in the fertile plain of Piedmont.

In the Varaita valley, the SS20 never claims to be anything more than a false flat, until Chianale, where it hits a wall : the last 9 km of Col Agnel, a monster culminating at 2744 m above sea level.

On the other side are Queyras, the Hautes-Alpes department, Guillestre, and the Durance valley.

Another highlight of Le 1000 du Sud is looming - the Parpaillon! The tunnel, at an altitude of 2643 m, is located at kilometer 571 of the route. No less than 42 km, of which 20.5 km are unpaved, separate Saint-André d'Embrun, in the Durance valley, from La Condamine, in the Ubaye valley.

Once past the two giants, a little over 400 km of lower altitude remains to be covered.

After Barcelonnette, we follow the Ubaye river to the foot of the Serre-Ponçon dam, upstream of which the river flows into the Durance. The D900 then the D900b are fairly busy roads. From the dam, we leave the main departmental road for a very quiet little road, which leads us to Tallard.

It may be a good idea to stop near Tallard, rather than tackle Col des Guérins (1312 m) at night. The ascent of this pass, entirely paved, continues with an unpaved flat, then an unpaved descent, in the wild atmosphere of Châtillon-le-Désert.

Just after that, we get over Col des Verniers, a small pass, before crossing the neighboring valleys of Petit Buëch (Pont de Chabestan) and Grand Buëch (Aspremont). Col de Cabre, already often used by Le 1000 du Sud, takes us to the Drôme department. 

You could also stop in the Drôme valley, although there are not many accommodation options, in order to tackle Col du Royet in the light of day. This pass, which presents the last unpaved section of the route, leads to Rimon, a village perched above the Roanne, where we are back on the tar. Located on a ridge in the middle of a bend in the Drôme river, Col du Royet (1144 m) is a beautiful, panoramic pass.

We are now down in the Roanne valley. We still have a little over 230 kilometers to go south. We start with a succession of small roads and medium altitude passes, in the heart of a sparsely populated region - a real delight for the cyclist, provided he / she takes care to bring food: passes of Planlara, Chamauche, Pommerol, Laux, Reychasset, Pierre Vesce, Saint Jean, and eventually Négron, where we exit Drôme and enter Alpes de Haute-Provence.

Finally we return to the Base Camp by the shortest route (via Manosque, whose passage has improved a little since the opening of the cycle path crossing the Durance valley).

The route of Le 1000 du Sud 2023 has another feature. It is located more southern than those of previous editions (the northernmost point is Ville-Vieille, in Queyras), and does not use Col du Festre.