Villeneuve-d’Entraunes, Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes & Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes

August 6, 2020

Distance: 87 kilometers (54 miles)
Time: About 4 to 5 hours depending on your pace
Departure: Entrevaux
Difficulty: Somewhat difficult (long with a fair amount of climbing)
Elevation Gain: 1,265 meters (4,150 feet)
73 Villages by Bike Challenge: 3 villages

On this ride we are going to head north along the Var River from the village of Entrevaux (I’ve written about the village on this website). We’ll follow the river closely for the entire route to Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes which is very close to the source. It’s a really wonderful bike ride, one of my favorites. The road is great for the entire route, the views are spectacular along the valley and there’s a bit of climbing, but not too much. We’ll pass through the Gorges de Daluis, a really dramatic section where the river cuts a path through a deep canyon of red sandstone rock. We’ll stay on the same road, the D2202, for most of way, except for a small (optional) detour to climb up to Chateauneuf-d’Entraunes on the way back. It’s almost entirely uphill the first half of the trip which means we get to fly down through the valley on the return.

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Entrevaux to Guillaumes

The Var River begins about 13 kilometers north of the small mountain village of Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes, at the foot of the Col de la Cayolle, very close to the northwest corner of the Alpes-Maritimes department. If flows for about 114 kilometers until it empties into the Mediterranean just to the west of Nice. Interestingly enough the river flows mostly through the Alpes-Maritimes department, with a small 15 kilometer stretch through the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, but it never runs through the Var department which was named after it. Until sometime around 1800 no bridges crossed the river and it marked the border between France and the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.

The ride begins in Entrevaux. There is plenty of parking all around the village so you should have no problem there. From the entrance of the village just head northwest on the D24202. You’ll follow the river through a small valley, crossing over it a few times, until you arrive at the intersection of the D902 and the N202. Head north on the D902, again following the river. A few kilometers before the small village of Daluis you’ll cross over the border between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department into the Alpes-Maritimes department and the road changes to the D2202.

Gorges de Daluis

A few kilometers past the village of Daluis you’ll begin to see lots of red rock on the sides of the road and the mountains. It’s the beginning of the Gorges de Daluis, a six kilometer canyon that runs almost to the village of Guillaumes. The sandstone here has been colored by iron oxide and is approximately 260 million years old. There are a number of “scenic” sights to watch out for including the “Tête de Femme” (an interesting rock formation that resembles a woman’s head), a scenic overlook and Pont de la Mariée (a bridge). There are a few other small bridges across the river here and it’s worth venturing out onto them for the views of the canyon. You’ll also pass through 17 different tunnels during this portion of the route. On the ride north about half of these tunnels are bypassed with a small road going around them, but on the way back you’ll pass through each and every one of the tunnels. The road here is very popular with motorcycles so keep an eye out for them. Rafting, canoeing, rock climbing and hiking are all very popular in this area. This portion of the route is one spot where the road turns slightly downhill and it will continue this way until you arrive in Guillaumes.

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Guillaumes to Villeneuve-d’Entraunes

Guillaumes is a very nice little village where the road runs right through the middle of the town. You’ll notice a small chapel on the left side of the road as you enter the town and then a wonderful, very large fountain, also on the left. There are several cafés and restaurants along the main street running through the village and a very unique fountain right smack dab in the middle of the road. The old town itself is just a short walk so if you want to see it you can get off your bike and take a little stroll through the narrow streets. An old wash house and St. Stephen’s Church of Lombard are the main sites, but there are also several chapels nearby and the ruins of a 13th century castle high on the hill behind the village. I have no idea why this village is not included in the Vu du Ciel: Villages book, it really should be.

After passing through Guillaumes the road ticks up again and will remain so for the rest of the ride. It’s just over seven kilometers to the village of Villeneuve-d’Entraunes. About halfway there you’ll see the turn off for Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes. I like to make the climb up to this village on the return part of the ride, but if you’d rather do it now you can head up the D74. Otherwise, continue on the D2202 and we’ll get to Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes soon enough.


There’s really not much to see in Villeneuve-d’Entraunes, it’s a tiny little village with a population of less than 80 people. It sits very near to the entrance of the Mercantour National Park right next to the Var River. The area has been occupied for well over 5,000 years and was subjected to the famous Roman conquest of the area in 14BC. The first little fortified village on record dates to around 700. It reached its maximum population in the mid-1800s and has been in decline ever since. Saint Peter’s Church, with its square bell pyramid tower sits just outside of town and is worth a visit. You’ll also find the Sainte-Marguerite Chapel dating from 1640, the Chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Grâces and the Saint-Sauver Chapel.

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Villeneuve-d’Entraunes to Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes

Continuing on from Villeneuve-d’Entraunes it is just another five short kilometers to our destination of Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes. There are wonderful views of the valley and the mountains on the left and you’ll see the village appear on the right, situated up on a small rise in the land. Beneath it lies a large open field and a little switchback takes you into the heart of the village.


Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes is very popular with cyclists. It sits at the intersection of the D78 and the D2202. If you take the D78 to the left you have the 17 kilometer climb of the Col de Champs. Continuing down the other side will take you into Colmars and the climb of the Col d’Allos. If you continue on to the right on the D2202 you have the very popular (and rightly so) 21 kilometer climb of the Col de la Cayolle. Down the other side will take you into Barcelonnette where you can then find the Col de la Bonette. Col de la Cayolle, especially the north side, is one of my favorite big climbs in the southern Alpes.

The village has a long history, dating back to before the Roman conquest. In the 19th century it became famous for wool weaving. Today it is known mostly for tourism and winter sports (the small resort of Val Pelens is located close by). The Church of Saint Martin sits right on the road, across from the large war memorial at the intersection of the cols. Across the street is a large Romanesque bell tower which was probably used once as a watchtower. The Saint-Guilhen chapel, restored in 1927, is very close by. There is at least one small café/bar in town so you should be able to find something to drink and/or eat if you want to take a break at this point.

Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes to Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes

We’ll head back out of Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes the way we came in on the D2202. Except for a short portion of the road near the Gorges de Daluis, it almost all downhill back to Entrevaux. But, if you’re up for it, it’s worth taking a small detour up to Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes. Just a few kilometers past Villeneuve-d’Entraunes you’ll see the signs and the turnoff for the D74. This climb up to the village is by far the steepest part of the entire ride. It’s about seven kilometers long and averages between 5% and 8% most of the way, with a few little kicks even higher here and there. The climb can basically be divided into two parts: the first part is a series of about ten switchbacks along the side of the mountain. You’ll rise very quickly and the views of the river and valley below are exceptional. About halfway through the climb you reach a small plateau and the road straightens out. It’s still almost as steep, but no more switchbacks, just a nice ride through a more open area. The road deteriorates a bit at this point, but it’s still very passable, just a lot more bumpy. The D74 will lead you straight into the village.


Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes is a tiny, very isolated village. It’s one of those villages that I wonder, “Why is this even here?” Who decided to build a village at this particular spot and why? It seems so random. There’s only one way into the village, the D74, and though the road continues on after the village it ends in about another seven kilometers at Les Tourres. With less than 60 inhabitants it really is a tiny spec on the map. Located just inside the limits of the Mercantour National Park, the village is a mix of old and new buildings. It’s first mentioned in the 13th century but being so isolated and so small, not much really happens here over the years. There’s a nice village square with a fountain (for water if you need it) and a communal bread oven nearby. The Saint-Nicolas Church and the Saint-Joseph Chapel are easy to find. From the edge of the village there is a truly amazing view of the Mercantour massif. The day I was there a small auberge was serving lunch to a handful of locals.

Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes to Entrevaux

All the hard work is done at this point and now it’s just a matter of descending back down to the D2202 and heading back to Entrevaux. Be careful on the initial descent because the road really is not in the best condition and the bumps can take you by surprise if you are going too fast. It’s worth paying attention as you travel back through the Gorges de Daluis as the views and sites from this direction are a bit different and you may see things you missed on the way up. It really is a pretty quick return to Entrevaux since it’s almost all downhill at a nice, gentle grade. Be careful going through the tunnels, none of them have any lighting, however none of them are very long either. Pay special attention as you get close to Entrevaux as you’ll see the Citadel appear on the left before you see any other aspect of the village. It looks quite different from this side than it does from the “front.”

Steve and Carole in Vence - Villeneuve-d'Entraunes, Saint-Martin-d'Entraunes & Châteauneuf-d'Entraunes
The route from Entrevaux and back, including the diversion to Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes.

Important Notes: There is a fair amount climbing on this route, especially if you include the climb up to Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes. The route is mostly uphill for the first half and then mostly downhill for the return. The traffic is usually not too bad throughout most the route but during peak tourist seasons it can get busier. As always you’ll want to make sure you have a good bike and plenty of water. The best time to make this ride in the summer is early in the morning when it’s the coolest and in the winter early in the afternoon when it’s warmest. You’ll want a helmet and sunscreen no matter what time of the year you go. You should be able to find food and water at most of the villages along the way, espeically Guillaumes and Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes. If you are riding alone make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you should be back. I always wear an identification bracelet that I got from Road ID.

Juste les Faits:
What: Bike Ride from Entrevaux to Villeneuve-d’Entraunes, Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes & Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes, including the Gorges de Daluis
Where: Entrevaux, Villeneuve-d’Entraunes, Saint-Martin-d’Entraunes & Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes, Gorges de Daluis (Google Maps)
When: All year round except for some parts of the winter
Phone: Entrevaux Office de Tourisme – 09 62 66 85 84
Facebook: Entrevaux04

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