Tour de Madeloc
The Tour de Madeloc or Route Madeloc is a very small road located near the Spanish border and Cap Cerbere, in southern France. The drive starts in Banyuls-Sur-Mer and ends in Colliure. The road is called D86 and is part of the Route des Cols. There are labels to lead you to the street in both villages.
The road starts near the sea level and climbs up to circa 450 meters within a short time. The road is always paved, steep (with some sections up to 20%), small and winding. In some areas the pavement was renewed a short while ago. It’s about 18.5 kilometers long with some narrow sections (mostly just place for 1 car). The road is so narrow that even a car and a motorbike mostly have problems to pass by. Because of its narrowness, it’s worth to think where you start to drive this road because even that traffic is low – there is traffic and depending on the direction where you come from you drive (concerning to French traffic rules) on the hill side (good choice) or the valley side (bad luck if a bigger car comes contrary to you). If 2 cars meet for sure one has to go into reverse. Drive this road with a car only if you are familiar to drive your car reverse precisely over a longer distance. In some parts, 2 big motorbikes have to be careful if they pass by. There are no guardrails and the drop starts immediately aside the road.
Don’t drive this road by with a car if you are not really a very experienced driver. One failure and you are dead. There is definitely no room for failures. When driving this road keep in mind that you should drive so slow that you can stop at any moment if a vehicle comes surprisingly after the next bend contrary to you. This limits the recommended speed to around 30 km/h. Incredible as it is: This road is constantly used by the farmers who own the vineyards. The road leads you through a lot of vineyards and in the higher regions you will have an incredible view towards the sea and the surrounding landscape. There are 2 places with an orientation tables and secure places to stop and park your vehicle. Starting from the D86 road, there is a dead end road which ends at a medieval watch tower which gave name to this road. There is no parking place at the junction and the road up to the tower is closed to any traffic. This road if even more tight, the pavement is old and bad and there is a hair needle bend which is so tight, that, if you ignore the forbiddance you will really have problems to turn around. So it’s better to have a short walk.
Shortly after this junction on the D86, there is the first orientation table on the side of the valley and on the side of the hill there are abandoned barracks built in the 19 century. They have been partly restored by members of the French army.Between the junction up to the medieval tower and the abandoned barracks there is a prepared rest place with desks and banks made of stone and some room to park your vehicle. This place has no shadow but if you have luck on a sunny day and this place is empty you will have a picnic on a place with the best views you can imagine.
The road goes up and down most of the journey so you’ll cross several passes:
Rec de Matifoc
Coll de Llagastera
Coll Dels Gascons
College de Mollo
Coll de la Serra
Coll d´en Calvo
The journey offers superb views. This is definitely one road trip that you want to record with lots of photographs. A drive not to be missed. If your camera has a telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens – that’s the place to use them. Near the D86 there is an old castle, called Fort Saint Elme, which has a long history. It’s completely renovated and used as a museum. If you like castles you should try it. The castle has been modified as the centuries went by and some of the major changes were made by Vauban (Marshal Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, 1633 – 1707. Most of his fortifications and castles, which survived the centuries until our days are now cultural heritages or, e.g. as Neuf-Brisach, UNESCO cultural world heritage, because all of them are so beautiful).
Road suggested by: Michael Spannlang