Our stretch of EV8 follows a series of departmental roads. Where the cycleway is yet to be developed, cyclists are often led on to these, where there is no really viable alternative such as a quiet country lane. So how busy are these departmental roads, and is it dangerous to be cycling on them?
D561 between Peyrolles and Jouques
Busy and Quiet Stretches
Three factors affect the danger or otherwise in using the departmental roads along the EV8 – where you use them, when you use them, and which kinds of driver you encounter.
If we follow the EV8 from Meyrargues to Les Arcs, there are 6 departmental roads that parallel the route:
- D96 from Meyrargues to Peyrolles
- D561 from Peyrolles to Varages
- D554 from Varages to Barjols
- D560 from Barjols to Salernes
- D560/D557 from Salernes to Draguignan
- D1555/D555 from Draguignan to Les Arcs
- Meyrargues to Peyrolles. Fortunately, you only need to use the D96 for 200 metres after exiting the station at Meyrargues. This road is busiest on working days.
- Peyrolles to Varages We found the first 3/4 kilometres to Jouques to be the busiest. Thereafter, the traffic starts to reduce, especially east of Rians. Evenings are especially quiet, after the working day commute is over.
- Varages to Barjols. You can avoid the departmental all together by using our recommended route.
- Barjols to Salernes. In comparison with other sections, this road is relatively quiet. However there are stretches where some motorists are regularly driving well above the speed limit. It is therefore good to know that cyclists have to mix with motor traffic for just 1 kilometre of this stretch. As you approach Salernes, you must first cross a busy road, then cycle on a cycle lane along the town bypass. At the time of writing, the signage into town is also unclear. However, this should change soon. More details here.
- As traffic nears Draguignan, this road gets busier and busier. The EV8 takes you well away from it until you reach Flayosc, and here you have to use the D557 for 300 metres to access both the official signed route and our recommended alternative to Draguignan. Take care!
- Between Draguignan and Les Arcs, the D1555 is a dual carriageway with busy, fast traffic. But the cycleway, La Vigne a Vélo, takes you along the old railway line, well away from traffic.
The traffic on all these departmental roads varies according to time of day and season. Morning and evening rush hours are probably the busiest for all of them, so it is a good idea to plan your journey in a way that avoids using main roads between 07:30 and 09:30, and 16:30 and 19:00. The quietest times are lunchtime (12:00 to 14:30) when most of France is enjoying a slow lunch, and evenings when they are enjoying a slow dinner!
As you would expect, tourist traffic can be everywhere in Provence during the high season. Easter can be especially busy, and of course July/August. But our area is nowhere near as busy as the coast farther south. The one great tourist attraction that clogs up the roads in summer is the waterfall at Sillan-la-Cascade. But the EV8 helps you avoid the worst of it.
Draguignan is a traffic nightmare. If ever there was a car-centric town on our stretch, this is it. Get to the Vigne a Vélo and you can relax and enjoy your ride again.
France is a country with a strong culture of sports cycling, and Provence is no exception. On most days, and especially at weekends, the regional road network fills up with Tour de France aspirants, sometimes in large groups but more often than not on their own. Most French drivers are fully aware of, and respect, such cyclists. This makes for fewer hair-raising encounters between cyclists and motorists.
Having said that, there are many motorists on our region’s roads who seem desperate to save a few seconds by driving as fast as possible. Typically these are either commuters, or workers driving between appointments. The recent changes to the national speed limit on most departmental roads, from 90kph to 80kph, has hardly changed driver behaviour.
The EV8 in Provence Verte is going through a transition. There are still many signed official routes that lead cyclists on to these departmental roads. We’ve witnessed families with young children diligently following these signs on busy stretches of road. On the other hand we have encountered cyclists who have already sussed out the future stretches of EV8 that are not yet officially open but great to use. If you want to get the most enjoyment out of your rides, our advice is to avoid the main roads as much as possible, and follow the tips we offer you on this website.