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 16 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 16 days of 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 and Cormet de Roseland
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 descending to Bourg Saint Maurice.
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 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 it?s way up the mountain to the top of the Col.
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, 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 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 – Route de la Roche (Cliff Road) – Mont-de Lans – Les Deux Alps
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.
On the return down Alpe d? Huez we turn off at La Garde (turn 16) and following the Route de la Roche (Cliff Road) through to Le Freney-d?Osains.
From Le Freney we take the forest road to Mont-de Lans and onto Les 2 Alps before returning to our accommodation.
Day 9 – Col de Sarenne ? Saint Christophe En Oisans ? La Berarde
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 Mizo?n 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 into the valley.
Once into the valley we will head our way towards Le Freney d? Oisans before turning off to Saint Christophe En Oisans which includes a 11% gradient for 3 km?s and onto La Berarde via the balcony road and then returning to our accommodation.
Day 10 ? Huez ? Vaujany ? Col du Sabot
Today we will be following the Alpe d?Huez road before turning off at Huez and riding down the ?Pas de la Confession? road and past Lake Verney. 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, Rochetaillee, returning to our accommodation.
Day 11 ? 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 T?l?graphe, 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 12 ? 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 13 – 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 14 ? 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.
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 15 ? 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.