Ride the Alps Road Cycling (tailor made)


Holiday Overview

A tailor made road cycling trip taking in some of the famous Tour de France cols the Southern French Alps has to offer. With spectacular alpine scenery and 300 days of sunshine this holiday is a must for all cyclists. Perfect for small, independent groups.

If you are a keen cyclist and a fan of the Tour de France, cols such as Alpe d'Huez, Col d'Izoard, Col de Galibier, Col de Manse and Col de Noyer, will be household names. Now, you too can give them a go!

During this trip, we offer three vehicle supported rides which include a vehicle and driver at your disposition during the day for emergency repairs, food stops at the top of cols and along the way. You also have the possibility of being collected if your legs burn out!

It's up to you which cols or routes you choose to do and we will tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

As we are multi activity specialists and this area has so much to offer, we have also included 5 activity points with this package. You can use these points to exchange for a range of activities (see list below) - cool off your hard worked legs canyoning, test out your head for heights on a via ferrata, go rafting or revisit your childhood tree climbing.

We will ask you to choose your activities at the time of booking as well as your chosen bike routes. We will help you to choose suitable ones! We will then put together a personalised itinerary including time for local self guided road routes or walks, so you can make the most of your time here.

Whilst it's amazing to watch the Tour de France pass though the Southern Alps, it isn't the best time to actually come cycling for yourself. The roads are very busy with tourists coming to watch the Tour. The best time to cycle in the region is May to July and September to October when the cols are clear, traffic is to a minimum, it's warm but not sweltering and the light on the mountains is spectacular.

Have a look at our road cycling kit list for advice on what to bring.

Itinerary

Itinerary Overview

The Southern French Alps is a cyclist's paradise. With big name cols, stunning alpine scenery and 300 days of sunshine, you can understand why!

This is an example of a demanding itinerary, where a good level of cycling fitness is needed to enjoy the holiday. It will give you an idea of what your holiday could be like. There is a lot of flexibility as most rides can be easily extended or shortened and we will tailor a trip to suit you.

To add to the alpine experience you have your 5 activity points which you can exchange for a range of activities from our alpine activity list. In this itinerary we have chosen 5 points worth of activities that go down well with our cyclists! You can of course choose different ones - these are just suggestions!

Day 1 - Arrival

We'll meet you at your chosen accommodation to go through your cycling and activity itinerary for the week in detail. We'll give you the appropriate maps and route advice, meeting points and times for activities and vehicle supported rides and answer any questions you might have.

Day 2 - Tour of Champsaur Valley and Via Ferrata

MORNING self guided ride - This is a good warm up ride for the week taking in the pretty villages, farmland and wild, natural parks characteristic of the Champsaur valley. It is gently undulating with some easy climbs but nothing too steep. It can be easily adapted during the ride if you are tired, want to take a short cut or indeed add in an extra challenging climb!

AFTERNOON via ferrata - To get you all in a true alpine mood, why not use this afternoon to have a go at a non-cycling activity and try out a via ferrata! If you like a challenge and like being in unusual situations, you'll love via ferratas! Wearing a via ferrata harness you follow the cable, iron ladders and handholds around a cliff face or through a mountain gorge allowing you to climb on exposed rock faces normally only accessible to experienced rock climbers!

Day 3 - Tour of the Serre Poncon Lake

FULL DAY vehicle supported ride - Tour of the Serre Poncon Lake - 94km

The Tour de France 2013 did part of this spectacular ride in the time trial from Chorges to Embrun. You can follow their route exactly or take in one of the many variations. We would suggest this ride as one of your vehicle supported rides as it gives you the option of doing it as a one way trip and getting a lift back or cycling the full circuit with refreshment stops. It's varied cycling through the valley of Reallon, traversing the hillside to descend back to the lake and then going up on the other side to the wild Ubaye side, round and under the barrage (a magnificent engineering feat!) back to the start. With the lake and it's clear blue water in close proximity you also have the option of a swim and sunbathe after you have finished your ride!

Day 4 - Col de Noyer (1664m)

MORNING self guided ride - Col de Noyer - 62 km (or 82km with an extra climb!)

This starts straight into the climb up to Col de Noyer. You have stunning views all the way up, which is good as it's 13km with some steep sections of 14% gradient. After reaching the col you have a magnificent descent down into the village of St Etienne and then through the spectacular gorge of the Souloise river towards the stunning deep blue Lac du Sautet. There's another short climb up to Le Glaizil and then down to the N85 and back to your accommodation. 

AFTERNOON swim in the lake - After your ride, a welcome swim at the recreational swimming lake might be on the cards!!

Day 5 - Col d'Izoard (2360m)

FULL DAY vehicle supported ride - Col d'Izoard -105 km

This is one of the legendary cols in the Tour de France. It's big, beautiful and very exhilarating! Starting from Guillestre, you will climb 1310 vertical metres over 30.2 km at an average gradient of 4.3%. A long, steady, sustained climb rewarded by stunning moonscape scenery! It then descends into Briancon and goes back along the other side of the mountain through Argentiere la Besse to Guillestre. This would definitely be a day to have full vehicle support with refreshment stops!

If you want to make this more difficult you can add an extra 20 km and 215 vertical metres by starting in Embrun or you can make it easier by getting picked up in Briancon! The choice is yours!

Day 6 - Activity Day Canyoning

MORNING lie in

AFTERNOON Canyoning - Canyoning is an exhilarating white water ride down gorges and waterfalls. You run or slide down wet slabs of rock, jump off blind escarpments, scramble up rocks, splash around in pools and abseil down drops. It's a perfect way to cool down inflamed and tired muscles, have a lot of fun and prepare your body for the last big climb tomorrow!

Day 7 - Col de Lautaret (2058m) and Alpe D’Huez (1840m)

FULL DAY vehicle supported ride - Alpe d'Huez - 74km

This is the 'piéce de résistance' - the most famous climb in the Tour de France and the end of the notorious Marmotte cyclosportif event. The scenery is awe inspiring. Our suggested route starts in Briancon and takes you over the Col de Lautaret, which is a relatively easy and pleasant (as long as it's not windy!). The road takes you underneath the dramatic mountain giants of the Ecrins to the bottom of Alpe d'Huez and its famous 21 hairpin bends. The Tour de France do this climb twice, but once is probably enough for most people!  From Bourg D'Oisans you'll climb 1120 vertical metres over 14 km at an average gradient of 7.7%, with a maximum of 12% at any one time.

 

Day 8 - Return Home

You will be tired but exhilarated after your week in the Alps and ready for a chill out journey home!

Activities You Can Do With Your Points

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Directions

If you are planning on travelling with your own bikes for this trip, we recommend that you avoid flying. You will need to take your bike apart for the flight and then put it back together again and there is always the risk of losing it on the plane (especially if there are a few people with bikes on the same plane).

This leaves, either driving down or getting the train. Driving down is straight forward and takes about 9 hrs non-stop from Calais so most people do it with an overnight stop. The big advantage of driving is that then you have your car here for exploring, getting about and really optimising your time here.

If you get the train, the nearest train station is Gap which has rail links from Marseille, Grenoble, Valence and Paris (including an overnight sleeper).

We can help you organise your train journey here and have local timetables available if you need them.

Once here it is an advantage to have your own car as the area has so much to offer and for you to explore in your free time and it will be easier to get to starts of self guided rides and activities, but we can arrange transport for you so please ask.

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