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Alps Journey – DuVine Holidays

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Alps Journey Bike Tour

For thousands of years, the forbidding beauty of the Alps has been at once a formidable barrier to travel and trade and a siren’s call to adventurous spirits from Hannibal’s daring crossing with his elephants to the exploits of the early mountaineers. Today climbs like the Galibier, Izoard, and Alpe d’Huez are inextricably woven into the myth of cycling across the Alps. On this Alps Journey, climb these famous passes with a grander purpose: to cross the heart of the French Alps from Lake Geneva to the Cote d’Azur. If your vacation packing list has pedals ahead of beach towels, this is the trip for you.


Day One: Geneva, Annecy and the Savoy

Welcome to the challenge. Before we head out to bike across the Alps, you’ll meet your guides and fellow riders on the shores of Lake Geneva for some coffee and a selection of our favourite riding fuel. Nice isn’t getting any closer, so there’s no honeymoon ride. Twelve kilometres of steady climbing greet us, and this pass doesn’t even rate a name. The name-worthy climbs start with Col de Leschaux (an easy 12 km at 3.7%) followed by the equally approachable Col du Frene (8km at 2.7%). It’s a beautiful ride on narrow roads with incredible lake and mountain views. Tonight we’ll rest up at our four-star Chateau in the heart of the Savoy Region.

Meals: Pre-Ride Fuel / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Lake Geneva, Annecy
Accomplished: 66.7 miles / 107.4 km, elevation gain: 2210 meters
Accommodations: Chateau de la Tour Puits


Day Two: Glandon and Alpe d’Huez

Yesterday we climbed some hills; today we climb some mountains. The first 40 km are pretty flat before we take on the slopes of the Col du Glandon, an epic 21 km climb at 6.9% with the final 2 km over 10%. If you choose the optional extra climb up the Col de la Croix de Fer, you’re not hallucinating; the town on the other side of the pass is really called Oz. But the road is not paved with yellow brick. We’ll pedal down the famous 21 switchbacks to Le Bourg d’Oisans, a town where people look at you funny if you’re not wearing spandex. Spend the night in a boutique cycling hotel.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Epierre, Allemond, Le Bourg d’Oisans
Accomplished: 67 miles / 108 km, elevation gain: 3425 meters
Accommodations: Hotel La Cascade


Day Three: Lautaret and Galibier

After a breakfast fit for a professional cyclist, we head east. These are the roads that make the soreness worth it: one lane of crisp asphalt clinging to the edge of the Romanche Valley, and not a car in sight except for the support van. Our first real climb is the Col du Lautaret. Then there’s extra credit for anyone who wants to tag the summit of the Galibier. What’s another 8 km at 7% for some serious bragging rights? Descend down the valley towards Briançon, the last town before the Italian border. If you have the energy, visit the French fortified town to walk around and stretch your legs as you head to dinner.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch
Destinations: Le Bourg d’Oisans, Le Grave, Briançon
Accomplished: 44.6 miles / 71.7km, elevation gain: 2396 meters
With Galibier: 54.9 miles / 88.3 km, elevation gain: 2961 meters
Accommodations: Auberge Le Mont Prorel


Day Four: Hump Day

We’re halfway through the trip. Your legs are sore. But the hump today is none other than the Col d’Izoard. This climb was the battleground for the epic rivalry between the legendary Italian, Fausto Coppi, and the French great, Louison Bobet, in the 1950s. It is also the highest point of the tour at 2360 meters. We are heading south into the Maritime Alps where the passes aren’t household names but the riding is out of this world: no cars, just ribbons of pavement winding through the pines and mountain pastures. We’ll experience this on the Col De Vars before rolling into Villa Morelia for a relaxing afternoon by the pool – massage anyone?

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Briançon, Guillestre, Jausiers
Accomplished: 56.7 miles / 91.3 km, elevation gain: 2932 meters
Accommodations: Villa Morelia


Day Five: Col de la What?
We know that no one has ever heard of Col de la Cayolle, but we can’t say this enough: the highlight of cycling in this part of the Alps is riding on the undiscovered roads, seemingly paved only for the benefit of cyclists. Don’t tell anyone, but Cayolle is nearly as high as the Izoard, and the 30 km climb to get there is the French government’s gift to cyclists (whether they know it or not). The descent down the other side is pretty memorable too, and the towns start to look more Italian. Can you feel the Mediterranean sea breeze? Tonight we live like locals enjoying good, honest food, dining outside and preparing for tomorrow’s final push.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Barcelonnette, Vars, Entrevaux
Accomplished: 64 miles / 103km, elevation gain: 2903 meters
Accommodations: Maison Julie


Day Six: Ride to the Sea

The Nice-Monaco area is a kind of French Girona; the combination of Mediterranean climate with big mountains right nearby makes this a popular training destination, so it’s not unusual to see some pro riders here. Two final climbs, including the aptly-named Col de Nice, give us our first views of the Mediterranean. Take a victory lap around Nice, have champagne on the beach, check into our sea-view hotel, and spend the afternoon at the beach or strolling through this vibrant port city. Tonight we celebrate like champions: no more heavy mountain food. Cycling across the Alps has earned us a platter of fresh fish, veggies, pasta and olive oil that speaks to the true extent of the journey we’ve made.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Levens, Nice
Accomplished: 49 miles / 79 km, elevation gain: 1339 meters
Accommodations: Hotel La Pérouse

Day Seven: Au Revoir
Enjoy an easy morning with a decadent breakfast at our villa before your guides transfer you to the Nice Train station as you head to your next destination.

Meals: Breakfast


Bragging Rights

Total of 344 miles / 555km and 14,537 meters of climbing.


  • Address Auberge Le Mont Prorel 5 Avenue René Froger, 05100 Briançon, France
  • E-mail info@duvine.com
  • Website http://www.duvine.com/tours/1928/Alps-Journey
  • Category Road Cycling
  • Location France
  • Tags Alps, Cycling Holiday, cycling tour, France, France cycling holiday, France cycling tour, road cycling holiday


Alps Journey – DuVine Holidays
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Alps Journey – DuVine Holidays
  • By Tom Whatson
  • Email: info@duvine.com


Alps Journey – DuVine Holidays
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Alps Journey – DuVine Holidays

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