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Cycling the Alps: The Grand Crossing

Cycling the Alps: The Grand Crossing

Overview

Taking in the legendary “cols” of the Tour de France, we offer your a grand crossing of the French Alps from Lake Geneva to the Côte d’Azur on a fantastic (and challenging) eight-day tour. From the Northern Alps and the Mont Blanc range right to the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea via some of the most mythical cols in the world of road biking: L’Iseran, Le Galibier, Le Lautaret, L’lzoard and many more… Road biking doesn’t get any better than this!

The tour is supported, meaning that a driver and support vehicle are at hand throughout the day to assist with any physical or mechanical issues, as well as transferring your luggage to the following night’s accommodation. Each day provides two route options: a standard and a challenging one. Generally, both options are designed for advanced cyclists in really good shape; still, you can rent an E-bike, which makes the tour accessible for a wider audience as well. There is also an option of being accompanied by non-cycling friends or family (upon request), meeting them each evening at the end of the day’s “stage”.

  • A challenging but rewarding itinerary that follows in the footsteps of the legendary Tour de France.
  • From the Northern to the Southern Alps, from the Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean, taking in a huge variety of alpine landscapes along the way.
  • Fantastic panoramic views of the entire Alps range.
  • Choose between two different routes each day, with varying distances and profiles.
  • Comfortable accommodation ideal for rest and relaxation after long days on the saddle.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Thonon-les-Bains – La Clusaz | 90 – 120 km

You meet our team on day 1 at 9 am at Thonon les Bains SNCF railway station. On request, we can book the previous night’s accommodation for you in Thonon Les Bains. We can also organise a transfer from Geneva or Lyon airport.

Option one will take you through a warm-up ride on the quiet mountain roads of the Col de Jambaz, and if you choose option two you will pass through the beautiful Vallée du Giffre and Val d’Abondance, as well as the “Portes du Soleil” area of Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz. At the end of the day, you will pass Col de la Colombiere: the week’s first difficulty and the first real mountain pass of the Alps.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 90 km and 2200 m altitude gain
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 120 km and 3300 m altitude gain
  • Accommodation: Hôtel et Carlina*** or similar

Day 2: La Clusaz – Bourg Saint Maurice | 90 – 100 km

Today you will explore the Aravis mountain range with stunning views of the Mont Blanc. The route will take you through the Olympic resort of Les Saisies, the Beaufort (possible to visit the cheese cooperative) and the turquoise waters of Lake Roseland, surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 90 km and 2600 m altitude gain
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 100 km and 2800 m altitude gain (Col du Joly option: + 28 km and 900 m)
  • Accommodation: local family hotel

Day 3: Bourg Saint Maurice – Aussois | 95 – 105 km

Today you will explore the two biggest valleys of the Alps: the Tarentaise and the Maurienne, passing through the Col de l’Iseran: simply one of the most beautiful and longest passes in the Alps. Along the route, you will enjoy panoramic views of the Vanoise National Park, as well as small, traditional villages and their stone houses (Le Miroir, La Gurraz etc.), where time seems to have stood still.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 95 km and 2500 m altitude gain
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 105 km and 2800 m altitude gain (Col du Joly option: + 28 km and 900 m)
  • Accommodation: Hotel du soleil*** or similar

Day 4: Aussois – Briançon | 100 – 175 km

The route today will take you through some of the most famous cols of the Tour de France. The easier option will let you experience the Valloire ski resort’s enchanting setting and the panoramic views of the Ecrins and its famous summit, the Meije. If you choose the more challenging route, you will pass through Col de la Croix de Fer (2067 m) and Col du Glandon (1924 m).

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 100 km; altitude gain: approx. 2200 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 175 km; altitude gain: approx. 3500 m
  • Accommodation: local family hotel

Day 5: Briançon – Jausiers | 90 – 95 km

The day’s stage will take you from the Northern Alps to the Southern Alps and its larch forests. If you take the standard route between Barcelonnette and Guillestre, you will enjoy a road with less traffic. The day’s highlights are the charming Haute Vallée de l’Ubaye and Col de Vars: one of the most major passages of the Alps.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 90 km; altitude gain: approx. 1800 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 95 km; altitude gain: approx. 2800 m
  • Accommodation: Gîte de l’Ardoisière, Hôtel Bel Air** or similar

Day 6: Jausiers – Beuil | 90 – 110 km

Today you will pass from the Ubaye valley to the Haute Vallée du Verdon on the ancient route of the Col d’Allos. The route will take you through Col de la Cayolle and Col des Champs: superb climbs through the heart of the Mercantour National Park, and you will also explore the Gorges de Bachelard.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 90 km; altitude gain: approx. 2200 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 110 km; altitude gain: approx. 3000 m
  • Accommodation: local family hotel

Day 7: Beuil – Roquebillière | 85 – 125 km

The section for the day will take you through the winding mountain roads through typical southern Alps landscapes of larch and pine forest. You will pass through the village of Roubion and “the red gorges” (Les Gorges Rouges) of the Tinée valley. The more challenging route will take you through La Lombarde, one of the prettiest cols in the southern Alps, and if you prefer the more direct option, you will enjoy La Madone d’Utelle, offering superb views of the Préalpes d’Azur, and the Vallée de la Vésubie.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 85 km; altitude gain: approx. 1700 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 125 km; altitude gain: approx. 3200 m
  • Accommodation: local family hotel

Day 8: Roquebillière – Menton | 70 km

The last section of the tour will take you through Col de Turini, the last major climb of the tour, after which you will enjoy the feeling of the fact that all the major cols are behind you. The rest of the route will take you through a superb chain of small passes (Orme, Able, Braus) with fantastic views of the Mediterranean.

The trip ends in Menton at around noon. On request, we can book the following night’s accommodation for you in Menton, organise a transfer to Nice airport or transfer you back to Thonon or Geneva airport with the assistance vehicle.

  • Cycling for the day: approx. 70 km; altitude gain: approx. 1450 m

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this cycling holiday, you will be staying in comfortable 2 and 3-star hotels. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

Hôtel et Carlina***, Hotel du soleil***, Gîte de l’Ardoisière, Hôtel Bel Air**

Hotels and guesthouses are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates it will be replaced with a hotel of equal value and quality level

Meals

The meal plan is on a full-board basis: 7 breakfasts, 7 picnic lunches and 7 dinners. For the lunches, you have two options: a lunch box to carry along in a small backpack/ handlebar bag or “racing food” for those “allergic” to backpacks (energy bars, dried fruit etc.).

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced cyclists practising road cycling all year round. The daily distances vary between 80 and 150 km, and daily elevation gains between 2200 m and 3500 m (read more about difficulty grades). There is a support vehicle escorting the group during the cycling sections, so if you need any assistance or break, you can get it at any time.

When to go

Our fixed departures are available in June, July, August and September. Please go to the Book Now or See Dates and Prices buttons to see the exact departure days.

Daily schedule

During the cycling you carry only your day pack (in case you carry one). All your luggage is transported each day by the support vehicle.

After breakfast, the support vehicle driver will pack your luggage in the van, distribute cereal/energy bars, and announce the time slot for lunch. The driver can also hand out picnics to any participants who do not wish to stop at the designated picnic lunch stop.

Once all the participants have passed the picnic stop, the driver transports your luggage directly to the following nights accommodation, before returning to wait at the foot of the last climb of the day. He is then available to help any members of the group in difficulty or who encounter a mechanical problem. You’ll usually meet the van driver several times during the day, offering the opportunity to fill up with water, change clothing, etc.

Each participant is free to ride at his own pace, using the roadbook and GPS route to navigate during the day. However, the driver is equipped with a mobile phone and can be reached at any time during the day if a participant encounters a problem. The driver is also available throughout the trip to provide information and advice.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

The best arrival/departure points are Geneva Airport and Nice airport.

By train or bus

Train Option from the UK
Take the Eurostar from London St-Pancras International to Paris (Gard du Nord) and then switch the line to Thonon-les-Bains. Please check the SNCF website for more details on schedules and prices. Total journey time to Brest is about 8 hours.

Inclusions

Included

  • Tour leader in a support vehicle
  • 7 nights accommodation in 2* hotels (x6) and 3* hotels (x1) in double/twin rooms with en-suite facilities
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 picnic lunches
  • 7 dinners (3 to 4-course menu)
  • Daily baggage transfers
  • Carefully designed itineraries with two alternative levels of difficulty24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • International flights
  • Your transfer to the meeting place
  • All services mentioned in extensions
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Drinks at the accommodation
  • Visits to museums, monuments and sites not covered by the programme Additional travel related to changes in the programme due to bad weather
  • All personal expenses
  • Everything not mentioned under “the price includes”.

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • Bike rental (standard, premium or e-bike)
  • Supplementary nights in Thonon les Bains
  • Supplementary nights in Menton
  • Transfer from Menton to Thonon on day 8
  • Massages on riding days 4 or 6

Bike Rental

In case you would like to rent a bike from us, we can offer you*:

  • Standard Option: Scott Addict (or equivalent), carbon frame and fork, rim brakes, Shimano 105 groupset, roughly 8kg
  • Premium Option: Scott Addict Disk (or equivalent), carbon frame and fork, disc brakes, Shimano Ultegra groupset, roughly 8 kg

Details (apply to both models):

  • Gear range: 11-speed cassette (11×32), compact 34/50 chainset
  • Repair kit included: 2 CO2 cartridges, patches, multi-tool, 1 inner tube, tyre levers
  • 2 bottle holders (except size 47 bicycles on which only one can be placed)
  • Helmets and water bottles not included
  • 3 types of pedals can be installed at no extra charge: Look KEO, Shimano SPD SL or Shimano SPD
  • Electric assist road bike: Orbea Gain M30 or equivalent, supplied with 2 x 250Wh batteries

You will receive your chosen model from the support vehicle driver on the first day of your tour. He will carry out an inventory of the bike with you, as well as a second inventory at the end of the tour.

*Bike “consumables” (tyres, tubes, brake pads, cables) are included in the rental price. Only parts and components that are broken due to a crash and/or misuse will be charged. In the event of bike loss or theft, a fixed fee will be charged (2200 € for the Standard model, 3590 € for the Premium and Electric models)

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