I am planning a trip trough the French countryside and was wondering if the elevation climb (roughly 800 meters at the halfway point) will be a big factor.

I'm not looking to go fast, roughly between 50 and 80 km/hr. Are there any particular scenic routes?

I googled it and it seems it would take 6 hours by bicycle (conservative) and 2 hours by car (optimistic!).

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    Cycling directions may not be suitable for motorbikes. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 0:59
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    @MichaelHampton: I understand that. It's simply a conservative estimate to get some idea.
    – val
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 1:35
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    It's hard to tell from the elevation profile, but 800m elevation gain in 50km or so implies that there is not a significant grade. I think your only concern would be high grade slopes that a 50cc scooter might not be able to climb (depending on rider weight).
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 5:51
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    Friend did London to Ulan Bator (Mongolia) on an 85cc Honda Cub. You'll be fine ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 8:30
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    from what I remember, 50cc in France are legally not supposed to go faster than 45km/h
    – njzk2
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 13:49

4 Answers 4


This isn't the definitive answer, as I never traveled there but I can give a couple of tips. I've traveled in a 50cc scooter before (for several days).

The 50 cc scooter should be able to climb and do everything you want. It will just do it slower :)

Things to take into consideration:

  • You won't be able to make average speeds nowhere near 80 km/h, and very hardly 50 km/h. Especially if there are many slopes. My average speed was about 30 km/h. Scooters have a quite powerful start, compared to a car but lack the strength at higher rotations. You will go slow climbing hills. I could pick daisies on some hills :)

  • Depending on the scooter (air cooled or water cooled) it is wise to stop every now and then. If the scooter is water cooled it will be a bit more resilient. Keep an eye on the temperature. Stop at least for half an hour if you think the engine is too hot. I actually burned the engine in one of my rides :) (I don't think it will happen to you, this was an old scooter, but be aware).

  • Note that you can't go into highways and equivalent roads. You probably don't even want to since you are after scenic routes, but be aware. I had troubles with my planning. I found a new highway, that ate the old road, on my way and ended up having to find a long alternative way, taking me much longer than I had foreseen.

Using Google bike planner might not work out as they may give you ways that are exclusive to pedestrians and bikes. If using the car planner, don't forget to avoid highways (all kinds, even the free ones).


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    Keep in mind that the range of a 50cc scooter is way shorter than that of a car. Stop frequently for gas, or take a liter or two. Also refill the oil before you start.
    – simbabque
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 12:36
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    Did it. Was great. Cores a different route north of the one posted, through chartreuse. Someone else here posted a comment about a certain lookout, which was a great spot. After Grenoble went to parc des ecrins and towards gioberney to climb up to refuge du pigeonnier (hike). Biggest concern in the end were the oil patches on the road....I actually slipped on one of them. Thanks for ask the input.
    – val
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 15:36
  • @val sounds great!! :). Yea, oil is dangerous. Also rain, particularly driving in cities with tram tracs.
    – nsn
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 8:09

I've been living in Grenoble for a few years, and my girlfriend is a native from Lyon, so I know a bit the region. If you plan to take the road you put in the above link, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed by the scenic character of the road :)

You may want to go through the Vercors mountain (Saint-Gervais->Autrans->Lans-en-Vercors->Engins) or Chartreuse (through the park), but it will obviously be longer... and higher! Near Lyon, you can make a (big) detour through Perouges, which is a nice medieval village.

I'm a bit surprised to see all those warnings about overheating on a 50 cc engine. I think they are more reliable these days. However, don't expect to go between 50 and 80 km/h on a stock scooter. You'll have to have a modified one, which then will be less reliable, and is illegal (although the police is pretty tolerant). If you plan to go through the mountains, you should indeed check the stations' location, as you will of course have a limited autonomy.


Try the maps from ViaMichelin http://www.viamichelin.com/ Michelin has a green line alongside scenic roads.

Besides that, ViaMichelin allows you to select motorbike, car or bike (although, be aware that bike calculations cannot exceed 200km)


This is a terrible idea :)

You can't travel on french highways with a 50cc scooter, it's forbidden by law. If you do that, you will likely get arrested by the police and your scooter will be seized.

You can decide to avoid the highways, so why not?

Well, a scooter's engine can only take so much drive before it overheats. Basically, if you travel non-stop for 3-4 hours, you may seriously damage it. I know because I traveled from Paris to Picardy on a 125cc (about 1h drive), and my engine suffered from it. This is the main reason why people who want to travel buy a motorcycle instead of a scooter.

Finally, you should consider the amount of gas and the speed at which the gas goes away in a scooter. You may have to stop at every gas station to refill your scooter, which wouldn't be very convenient.

All in all, get the train, rent a car or buy a motorcycle =)

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    The poster is staying off the autoroute, as indicated by the suggested path given by Google Maps. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 20:06
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    If an engine overheats under normal circumstances it's just poorly built. I have often ridden a 110cc scooter for 6-7 hours, obviously stopping for sipping some water or checking a map now and then. In Indonesia where I live now there are barely bigger-sized motorbikes. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 1:46
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    I don't agree. Travel non-stop for 3-4 hours shouldn't cause any problems at all. If it does, the engine was already broken before you started.
    – Apfelsaft
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:18

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