Back in the fall, two of Kona’s European employees decided to escape on a bikerafting mission into the Verdon, a beautiful region in France surrounded by mountains and dotted with emerald lakes. Watch the film they made along the way here, plus a gallery of photos from the trip and a map of the classic Verdon routes…
Kona Europe’s office is based in Monaco, which is surrounded by endless cycling routes. Romain Barrez—the rider featured in this video—joined the Kona Europe team a few months ago. And like most of the folks at Kona, Romain is a cyclist. He’s done a bunch of touring, including a ride from Vancouver, BC, to Los Barriles, Mexico. One Friday, he was discussing weekend plans with fellow employee Nicolas Le Carré and debating whether to go cycling or kayaking. This is where the idea for CONTRAST came from—a packrafting video in the Verdon featuring the Kona Sutra. Watch it below, then scroll down for Nicolas’ words about the project, a lovely photo gallery, and a map of the Verdon’s classic cycling routes. Plus, find our Trans Verdon bikepacking route and a few other relevant links in the related content grid at the bottom of the page.
Words by Nicolas Le Carré (@bambouley)
Our European headquarters (where I work) is based in Monaco, surrounded by neverending riding opportunities. Romain, the rider featured in the Sutra video, joined us a few months ago to handle our EU aftersales service. He’s a true outdoor fan, and one day we had a discussion about our weekend plans. Romain was tempted to go cycling or kayaking but couldn’t choose between the two. So, I told him, “Come on, do both!” This is where the idea of the packraft Sutra video came from.
The Verdon is a famous outdoor destination in France, with beautiful emerald lakes surrounded by mountains. By chance, this is also our backyard. It’s just between the French Riviera and the Pre-Alps. For us, living on the Mediterranean coast, the Verdon is a great escape when the temperature gets too high or when there are too many tourists during the summer season.
What started as a post-lunch joke ended up as a proper challenge. We found out that there’s a French company called “Mekong” that does super light and foldable packrafts that would suit a bikerafting trip because you can fit them on your handlebar. The next challenge was to find the proper setup to carry all the gear for a three-day bikerafting trip. And it worked!
About the itinerary, there are a bunch of options. The coolest, of course, is to start from Nice. Get a coffee at Café du Cycliste and then ride north to Entrevaux. The ride is about 80 kilometres. If you want to avoid the traffic, you can also take the train to Saint Martin du Var. Entrevaux is a nice medieval village built by Vauban, and it’s definitely worth the stop. We started to shoot the video from there as this is where things get iconic. Entrevaux is the entrance of the “Colorado Niçois” also known as the Gorges de Daluis. With red rocks and vertiginous cliffs, this scenic route that goes accross Guillaume and Valberg (two top spots for enduro and DH) is incredibly beautiful. You can find some details here, including outlines of a loop that will bring you back to Entrevaux.
From there, you can ride up to Saint Andre les Alpes or Saint Julien du Verdon. The Verdon is one of the most iconic places for water sports. The cool thing is that you can take it easy and just cruise on the lake (canoe, paddle) or chose something more challenging in the river. With all our equipment, we took the easy way on the Lac de Castillon. We spent the night not too far from the lake. You can go wild, which is what we did, but there are plenty of other options if you want to have a bit of comfort.
What comes next is really up to you. The riding possibilities in the area are endless. Add two solid extra days and you can head back to Nice via Grasse. The area offers an impressive amount of small and quiet routes, far from the traffic. Here’s what a full four-day trip can look like:
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