Introduction and basic Itinerary
The French Alpine tour is to experience some of the iconic climbs featured in the Tour de 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 should have a reasonable level of climbing fitness.
Tours of only 7 guests will be picked up from Malpensa International Airport (Milan) for your 18 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 18 days of adventures and cycling.
There is also a welcome dinner for more banter.
Day 2 – Gran St Bernard Pass, and return.
Distance: 80km return
We travel to the Aosta Valley, for some spectacular climbs before heading into the Alps.
After checking in to our accommodation we climb The Grand 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. The pass 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 descending into France to Bourg Saint Maurice, our next 3 nights accommodation.
Day 5 – Bourg Saint Maurice to Cormet de Roseland to Beaufort and return
From our accommodation we head up to the Cormet de Roseland and down to Beaufort via the Col du Meraillet returning by the alternate route up the Col du Pre, then down passed the Cormet de Roseland, returning to Bourg Saint Maurice.
Day 6 – Col de L’Iseran
After our second night in France we tackle the Col de L’Iseran. The ascent is 50 km long from our Hotel. 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 its way up the mountain to the top of the Col.
Day 7 – Rest Day in Bourg Saint Maurice
After 6 days of riding a rest day is in order. The biggest decision for the day is, go for a spin? Hang out at the pool? Or go out exploring and have a long lunch?
Day 8 – 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 it’s 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 9 – Col du Mollard, du Col de la Croix de Fer. (The Pass of the Iron Cross) and Col du Glandon
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 approach from the northeast is 29.5 km at an average gradient of 5.5% with some sections at 9.5%
From the Col de la Croix de Fer we head across to Col du Glandon.
We then drop down to Lake Verney before taking the “Pas de la Confession” road through to Huez, La Garde, onto the Route de la Roche (Cliff Road) and descending to the valley floor.
Day 10 – Villard-Notre-Dame, Villard-Reymond, Oulles, Alpe d’ Huez and Le Bourg-d’ Oisans
From our accommodation in the Oisans Region we ride another of the balcony roads to Villard-Notre-Dame before moving onto Villard-Reymond. The road then takes us down to Ornon and onto Oulles an 8 km cut into the edge of a steep gorge up to a little perched village. We then cut back to climb the famous Alpe d’Huez. The Alpe d’Huez ascent is 13.2 km Long at an average gradient of 8%. 21 hairpin bends mark with panels honouring the winners of each stage that have finished here. If you think your good enough Marco Pantani’s time of 37mins 35secs is up for grabs. Then back to Le Bourg-d’Oisans for a well earned drink.
Day 11 – Col de Sarenne – Huez – Vaujany – Col du Sabot
The first Col of the day will be the Col de Sarenne. 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 down to Huez and riding the “Pas de la Confession” road. Taking the turn off to Col du Sabot we will venture through Vaujany, from here it’s another 10 Km’s to Col du Sabot. The return is through Vaujany on to Allemond, and Bourg d’Oisans.
Day 12 – Saint Christophe En Oisans – La Berarde – Mont-de Lans – Les Deux Alps
Today we will be heading off to Saint Christophe En Oisans that includes a 11% gradient for 3 km’s and onto La Berarde via the balcony road and then returning to our accommodation via Mont-de-Lans and Les Deux Alps.
Day 13 – 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.
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 14 – Rest Day in Briancon
Briancon is an ancient city with rich historical heritage. Above Briancon is the medieval village of Vauban with it’s maze of narrow streets.
Day 15 – Col d’Izoard, Gorges du Guil and Col d Vars
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. It is the third highest paved mountain pass in Europe. Over this distance, you climb 1141 height meters before descending through Arvieux to the Gorges du Guil. and onto Guillestre before heading up the Col d Vars to Jausiers.
Day 16 – Col de la Bonette – Col d’ Allos.
Today we ascending the Col de la Bonette which is 24 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1589m. As you near the top we pass the Col de Resteford with the old military barrack.
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.
We then head back through Barcelonnette and climb Col d Allos from the north side along the cliff road.
From the Refuge it’s a descent full of interesting bridges crossing back and forth over the gorges throughout the ride back to our accommodation
Day 17 – Today is a surprise day Col (Tunnel) Du Parpaillon
Today being our last day on the bike is a day for the adventurous. Mountain bikes or E-Bikes will be provided to experience one of the great gravel climbs of France.
At the top is a the tunnel at 520metres in length and at a height of 2643 metres being 1 metre higher than Col de Galibier.
Day 18 – Transfers to Nice