This 14 kilometre stretch was officially opened in 2017. It follows the old railway line for the whole route. Consequently gradients are mostly gentle. There are few cars until Lorgues, where there is significant residential traffic.
SALERNES – LORGUES
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This is one of just two stretches that have been officially opened so far. We first cycled here in 2016 when the route was ready but the final surface had not been laid.
Other than the smooth surface, we noticed another important improvement – two modal filters that prevent motor traffic from using the cycleway as a convenient short cut. One of these can be found on the outskirts of Salernes, where in 2016 we noticed a significant number of cars. This is certainly something that would enhance other stretches of the EV8, but we are aware that there is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons.
Great cycling through lovely scenery
The stretch starts near the centre of Salernes, just below the Intermarché supermarket, where there is a car park dedicated to the EV8. From here there is a short descent into the valley of the river Bresque, though the cycleway hugs the hillside above the river, offering some lovely views.
The cycleway then slowly climbs on to the plain at Mentone. The climb is very gentle – just 63 metres over 4 kilometres, taking full advantage of the railway line’s original engineering. At Mentone, the forests of the Bresque valley give way to the open plain around Chateau Mentone, a beautiful organic vineyard, auberge and restaurant that is on the Accueil Velo list.
Just beyond is the old Mentone railway station, which served the nearby villages Entrecastaux and St. Antonin du Var. There is a signposted connection to the latter village from the cycleway.
A little farther, and we encounter the second modal filter. What is clear is that this is in place to stop the substantial motor traffic that circulates to the east from using the cycleway to travel west.
Just a few hundred metres further towards Lorgues there is a little surprise: A guy from Martinique has opened a café with a few tables under umbrellas, serving delicious créole food out of a caravan. We had Mexican beer with it! And right beside we found signs for cottages accredited by “Accueil Vélo”, La Caravanserai.
Cycling on, the suburbs of Lorgues are already around us. The village has expanded rapidly since the second world war, from a low of 2,600 in 1946 to over 9,000 today. That expansion coincided with the closure of the railway line, and the municipality naturally took advantage of the old route to develop new streets. In Lorgues, EV8 has the feel of a residential street.
The cycleway skirts the north of the village, and there are multiple ways to access the centre and its many facilities. At the west end is a roundabout, and here we find the building of the old train station of Lorgues and the start of the EV8 stretch to Flayosc, which is also officially opened.
Special treatment for cyclists
Before setting off from Salernes, it’s worth noting that cyclists following the EV8 through the village can use some streets, despite no entry for motor traffic.
Some controlled motor traffic
As you ride this stretch, you encounter a number of sections that are open to motor traffic. Generally the speed is restricted to 30 kilometres per hour.
Motor traffic is prevented from continuing along the length of the cycleway by two modal filters.
No through traffic
The cycleway also features these signs, warning motorists that they will be unable to continue on the cycleway.
Whilst everyday cycling has not yet reached the popularity found in some other countries, the EV8 is already well used by local people out for a ramble.
Route to Saint Antonin
The cycleway skirts around a number of villages. Here, there is a connection for cyclists to the village of Saint Antonin.
More traffic in the Lorgues suburbs
In suburban Lorgues, the old railway line was already converted to a road a number of years ago. Here, speeds have only been limited to 45 kph.
Lorgues station building
The old station at Lorgues is has been a private dwelling for many years, and is well hidden behind trees and hedges. Here it is. The owners have installed solar panels on the roof.
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