Enduro MTB in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
The hills behind Forcalquier in the southern France’s Alpes-de-Haute-Provence are renowned for their quality cross-country mtb trails. But bikers who favour more consistent downward gradient are taken care of too.
Philippe Leouffre from rando-alpes-haute-provence.fr heads out with local rider Mathieu Vincent to discover the Montagne de Lure Enduro trail.
No uplifts needed with eMTBs
With just half a day free for biking and knowing there was a tough 17 km climb back up the road to the car, we decided mid-travel eMTBs would be the ticket. Cycles Hagland in Dignes provided Giant Full-E+ bikes for the occasion. Sweet, this was going to be good!
Station de Lure mountain resort
From Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues it’s a 14 km drive up to Station de Lure (1736 m), with its biking and walking trails (including the GR6) in summer and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There’s a small café-restaurant and a gîte d’étappe so you won’t starve or perish. Lure has recently undergone a bit of a makeover and a new strapline “My First Mountain” underpins its efforts to become a family-friendly 4 season resort.
We had lunch with us and the picnic tables in the pine trees were the perfect spot to grab a bite.
Sandwich done, there was time for a quick coffee at La Sauvagine, the resort’s only bar-restaurant. It’s open year round and the views from the terrace are stunning.
Caffeined-up we were good to go. A quick check of the trail map at the welcome centre tells us there’s a bit of a climb up to the start of the trail.
The Montagne de Lure trail head
After a 1.2 km pedal up from the resort to the Montagne de Lure summit, the trail-head is well signposted and easy to find.
And we’re off! 11 kilometres of mountain biking pleasure in the heart of Provence. We had 1000 m of vertical drop ahead of us on an MTB trail built for fun. Out of the gate, you’re straight into the trees with some fun wooden modules to ride.
Switchbacks through the trees
As the gradient increases, the switchbacks come into play. After a while you get in the flow and it felt great to pump the speed through the turns. The loamy terrain gives just enough grip to bank the bike over with your weight confidently over the front wheel. And, leave the back loose enough to put a smile on your face.
It’s magic dropping through the trees and seeing them change from pine to oak to beech. The switchbacks ease off, the terrain opens out and for a brief time you intersect with the Alpes-Provence long-distance MTB trail.
The descent continues through clearings and picturesque farmland. A stone wall sheepfold named Jas de Marguerier on the map is a sign we’re not far from the village of Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues and the end of the trail.
The trail becomes a path that trundles into the village of Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues. What an epic descent, time for a celebratory beer before taking on the climb back up to the cars.
Montagne de Lure Gîte Accommodation
We can’t leave without saying a quick hello to Daniel Bertaina who runs the Gîte des Crêtes de Lure, basic but comfortable accommodation that’s open year-round in the centre of the Montagne de Lure resort.
In addition to being the jumping off point for a number of activities, the gite offers an impressive view over the Forcalquier countryside. Makes you want to come back for more doesn’t it?
This article was originally published in French on the Alpes de Haute Provence website. A big thank you to Philippe Leouffre for sharing it with us.