Introduction and basic Itinerary
The French Alpine tour is to experience some of the iconic climbs featured in the Tour d’ France and The Giro d Italia and to experience the wonderful scenery and villages of this part of the world. The main aim, however, is for the participants to enjoy themselves. It is not a race and all levels of ability can be catered for but it is advisable that in order to enjoy yourself, you have a reasonable level of climbing fitness.
Tours of only 7 guests will be picked up from Malpensa International Airport (Milan) for your 15 day journey through the French Alps. We provide all your ground transport, transferring your luggage and your bike during your tour. You will be accompanied by a support van with the service that you would expect to make your holiday second to none. You will be staying in 3 – 4 star Hotels with all breakfasts and all dinners included. We will then transfer you at the end of your tour to Nice Airport.
Day 1 – Pick up Malpenza Airport
Meeting at our Hotel, which is situated nearby to Malpenza International Airport, Italy, you will meet your fellow cyclists and prepare your bikes for the next exciting 14 days of cycling.
There is also a welcome dinner for more banter.
Day 2 – Gran St Bernard Pass, and return.
Distance: 70km return
We travel to the Aosta Valley, for some spectacular introductory climbs before heading into the Alps.
After lunch we head up The Great Saint Bernard Pass / Col du Grand Saint Bernard which connects Martigny in Switzerland to the Aosta Valley in Italy. This route is the 3rd highest road pass (2469m / 8100ft) in Switzerland and offers breathtaking scenic views.
This will be your home for the next 2 days.
This pass has been used for over 3,000 years to cross the Alps. St. Bernard de Menthon opened the Hospice in the 900’s to provide a safe haven for traveler’s and it is here where the Saint Bernard Dogs earned their legendary reputation as rescuers of traveler’s lost in the snow – the Saint Bernard dog is the icon of the Alps! One road up, one road down.
Day 3 – Colle del Nivolet & Return
Today we ride the Colle del Nivolet. It is a gigantic climb in Piemonte, Italy in the heart of the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso. It was built between 1953 and 1963 to service the two hydroelectric dams up high. The national park, along with the Vanoise National Park, (the connected French side of the highest mountains here), make up one of the largest protected natural areas in Europe.
Day 4 – Col du Petit St Bernard
Day 4 sees us leave our home of the past 2 nights and climb the Col du Petit St. Bernard Pass which straddles the Italy-France border on the Alps connecting Aosta Valley in Italy to Savoie district in France between La Thuile, Italy and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France.
It is situated in the Rhone-Alps. This pass has also appeared in the Tour de France. This climb is 22.6km which reaches 1196m. The Italian, French border’s are at the top of this climb. This will be our lunch stop before heading down to our next 2 nights accommodation.
Day 5 – Col de l’Iseran
After our first night in France we tackle the Col de l’Iseran. The ascent is 50 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1955m. Passing through tunnels and the Lac du Chevril at Tignes, through toVal d’Isere our coffee destination.
Once you get passed Val d’Isere the road becomes much quieter and that’s where the fun begins.
A short drag and a right-hand turn takes you onto the top section of the climb which winds it’s way up the mountain to the top of the Col and then return for lunch.
Day 6 – Col De La Madeliene & Lacets de Montvernier.
Today is the day we climb the Col de la Madeleine followed with the now famous Lacets de Montvernier.
This is a beautiful climb which connects the Maurienne and the Tarentaise valleys in the French Alps. The northern ascent is 28.3km at 5.4 per cent topping out at 1,995m. The Col de la Madeleine is one of the most famous climbs that has been in the Tour d’ France tackled 25 times, the first being in 1969.
Then its down to La Chambre along the valley before turning off and doing a loop up the Lacets de Montvernier and onto our accommodation for the night.
Day 7 – Col du Mollard and du Col de la Croix de Fer. ( The Pass
of the Iron Cross).
Today is the Col de la Croix de Fer, climbing via the Col du Mollard, which has at least 40 hairpins in the lower half and with some spectacular scenery in the top half. After topping Col du Mollard we descend to the road from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
The second climb of the day, the Col de la Croix de Fer which has featured in the Tour de France sixteen times since it was first passed in the 1947 tour.
The approach from the northeast is 29.5 km at an average gradient of 5.5% with some sections at 9.5%
Day 8 – Alpe d’Huez
Starting in the Oisans Region we ride the famous Alpe d’Huez. The Alpe d’Huez ascent is 13.2 km Long at an average gradient of 8%. Over this distance, you climb 1071m with 21 hairpin bends marked with panels honouring the winners of each stage that has finished there. If you think your good enough Marco Pantani’s time of 37mins 35secs is up for grabs.
Day 9 – Cliff Road & Col de Sarenne
This morning we start up Alpe d’ Huez before turning off at turn 16 and following the Cliff rd through to Le Ferney-d’Osains.
From here, the road is 12.8 km (8.0 mi) km long, climbing 954 m (3,130 ft) at an average of 7.5%, although the first kilometre to Mizoën has a gradient of 11.5% and the maximum gradient is 13.5% at 3 km (1.9 mi) from the summit. We will then pass through to Alpe d’Huez before dropping back down to Le Bourg d’ Osains.
Day 10 – Col de Telegraphe & Col du Galibier
We start at the top of the Col du Glandon then travel along the valley floor and then head up Col du Télégraphe, ascent is approx 11.8 km long. Over this distance, you climb 856m. The average percentage is thus 7.3 %. It has a maximum gradient of 10% and 14 hairpin bends.
After you reach the top of the Telegraph you’re rewarded with a fairly gentle descent on a wide high-speed road into Valloire. In the ski resort Valloire, the Col du Galibier starts.After a wall of 10% just outside the village, the climb gets a false flat along the river Valloirette.
At the Restaurant Plan Lachat the real climb starts.
You pass the 2000 meters border and the climb becomes even steeper. The average gets not less than 8% and you can often see both white and black snow here. The last couple of km’s rise up to 9%. From the Col du Galibier we head down to the Col du Lautaret and then onto our next 2 night’s accommodation.
Day 11 – Col d’Izoard to Guillestre
The Col d’Izoard is a unique place to cycle and one of the great Cols of the French Alps. From the green wooded mountainsides above our accommodation, to the sandy coloured, eroded cliffs above the Casse Deserte and the Col, the scenery is amazing. The Col de l’Izoard ascent is 20 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1141 height meters before descending through Arvieux to the Gorges du Guil and onto Guillestre before returning to our accommodation.
Day 12 – Col de Vars
Today we leave our accommodation and travel to Guillestre in the van. We then tackle the Col de Vars. Col de Vars ascent is 19.4 km long. Over this distance, you will be climbing approx1111m. The pass has been included in the Tour de France 33 times since 1922.We then head to our accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 13 – Col d Allos, Col des Champs and Col de la Cayolle Loop
Today we ascend the Col d Allos from the north side along the cliff road, we then descend to the turnoff to climb the Col des Champs. We then drop down to Saint Martin – d’ Entraunes for the last climb to the Col de la Cayolle.
Then it’s down through the beautiful Gorges du Bachelard. It’s a descent full of interesting bridges crossing back and forth over the gorges throughout the ride back to our accommodation.
Day 14 – Col de la Bonette
Today we ascending the Col de la Bonette which is 24 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1589m.
The two kilometre long teardrop shaped loop around the Col de la Bonette peak (2860m) from either side of the pass is the highest paved through route in the Alps.
Day 15 – Nice Transfers
We leave our accommodation for a 3 hour journey to transfer our guests to Nice International Airport or a pre determined location in Nice.