Road: Geneva to Nice
This is a classic cycling holiday, a true journey through the very heart of the French Alps. Also know as the 'Route des Grandes Alpes' it is one of the world's great road biking tours!
We experience some of the most famous of the Tour de France climbs, such as the Cols of Galibier and L'Iseran. Cycling a total of 15,500 metres of ascent and descent is a fabulous challenge making this trip a 'must do' for anyone who enjoys travelling through the mountains on a road bike.
- World classic from the Alps to the Med
- Ride Tour de France cols
- Stunning alpine mountain scenery
- Cycle the Route des Grandes Alpes
- Europe's highest paved road
|Trip||Departure date||End date||Price||Status|
|Road: GNMB1||Sat 22 June 13||Sun 30 June 13||£1195||Trip Guaranteed | Make a Booking|
|Road: GNMB2||Sat 31 August 13||Sun 8 September 13||£1195||Limited Availability | Make a Booking|
|Road: GNMB3||Sat 14 September 13||Sun 22 September 13||£1195||Places available | Make a Booking|
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Day 1 Arrival Geneva
Rendezvous at Geneva Airport between 1200hrs and 1600hrs. For those travelling by train there are regular services right into Geneva Airport. Our support vehicle will be at the airport from 1200hrs to 1600hrs meeting guests arriving on various flights. We will assemble our bikes in the airport car park and load our bike bags and other equipment into the support vehicle. Depending on the time between flight arrivals we may set off in groups to cycle to Thonon-les-Bain (420m/1378ft). You will be given detailed trip notes that mainly follow cycle routes and quieter roads through Geneva, you will then end up cycling alongside Lake Geneva and the scenic ride to Thonon-les-Bain. This ride will take around 3-4 hours and we will meet up at the group hotel for dinner where we will discuss the journey ahead. Ride distance approx 51km/32 miles, ascent 300m/984ft and descent 80m/263ft.
Day 2 The Vallee Verte to La Clusaz
We ease into the journey with a relatively easy day with no major high passes! With quiet roads its a good day to settle into the saddle. Our first pass at 16km/10 miles is the Col de Cou (1117m/3665ft), which climbs gently through the woods above Lake Geneva. Then it’s onto the undulating roads of the Vallée Verte, with a surprise early view of Mont Blanc, before reaching the bustling town of Bonneville. Small lanes lead us under the Autoroute Blanche and onto an easy angled climb through the Gorges des Eveaux to the small ski resort of La Clusaz (1040m/3412ft). Today’s ride should take us around 7 hours with stops along the way. Ride distance approx. 80km/50 miles, ascent 1719m/5640ft and descent 1098m/3602ft.
Day 3 Cols of Aravis and Saises to Areches
We step up the tempo today with a more challenging ride. Climbing out of La Clusaz and past picturesque chalets we continue up through Alpine meadows to our first notable pass, the Col des Aravis (1486m/4875ft). The Alpine scenery here is truly magnificent and there are stunning views across to Mont Blanc. A short swooping descent takes us to La Giettaz and then more relaxed riding follows to Flumet before we climb again at a relatively shallow gradient to the Col des Saisies (1650m/5413ft). Another fast descent takes us down to the town of Beaufort, before our final climb of the day up to the small ski touring village of Areches (1032m/3386ft) where we should be able to relax in the afternoon sun or, for those that wish some extra km’s, there’s always the Col du Pré, Roseland, Beaufort loop. There are many opportunities for cafe stops along the way, and today should take us around 6 hours. Ride distance approx. 57km/35 miles, ascent 1611m/5285ft and descent 1609m/5279ft.
Day 4 Col de Roseland to Val d’Isere
The first really challenging climb is straight after breakfast! We head up a narrow switchback road, at a steady 9%, to the Col du Pre (1703m/5587ft). There is a great coffee stop just over the top of the col with fantastic mountain views. Then after a short descent to the reservoir we rejoin the main route and one of the Tour’s major 'Cat 1' climbs - the Cormet de Roseland (1967m/6453ft), a true Alpine pass that may still have snow patches beside the route. It’s then a fast 20km/12 mile descent, which sweeps down the Valle des Chapleux to the large centre of Bourg St Maurice, via several stunning sequences of tight hairpin bends. After lunch in the valley it is a long climb up the D902 to our hotel in the ski resort of Val d’Isère (1840m/6037ft). It will be around an 8-hour day today. Ride distance approx. 74km/46 miles, ascent 2267m/7438ft and descent 1458m/4783ft.
Day 5 l’Iseran to Valloire
The climb up the l’Iseran (2762m/9062ft) is not that hard but it is one of the crux stages of our route as it is regularly closed by snow until the start of June. On rare occasions in the past it has even been closed in July and we may still see people skiing on our late June departure! There is a welcome café stop on the top before the HUGE descent down the quiet Haute Maurienne Valley. Passing Bessans we follow the Arc River all the way through to Modane. Taking a challenging little back road we then wend our way to St Michel-de-Maurienne and the foot of the Col du Télégraphe (1566m/5138ft). The last few kilometres to St Michel-de-Maurienne are on noticeably busier roads, so it’s very pleasant to turn off onto the quieter road twisting its way through woods to the top of the Télégraphe before a short descent down to the pleasant resort of Valloire (1401m/4597ft). An 8-hour plus day. Ride distance approx. 102km/64 miles, ascent 2150m/7054ft and descent 1825m/5987ft.
Day 6 The Galibier
Today its the giant Galibier and the riding just keeps getting better! This is arguably the most famous and possibly the hardest pass of the route (2646m/8681ft), and is why it is often included in the Tour. It starts off easy enough but its second section is relentless and, if you hit a head wind, you will soon know why it has a reputation as one of the hardest climbs in the Alps. The 38km/24 mile descent down to the medieval walled city of Briançon is a blast. The town is an interesting place to explore for an hour or so. Back onto quieter roads again and our final climb of the day, the Col d’Izoard (2361m/7746ft) which should not be underestimated as its gradient also steepens the second half. It feels like we are in a much remoter area now and it is a fast descent through the gorges of the Combe de Queyras to the lively small town of Guillestre (1040m/3412ft), which has a small but excellent bike shop. Yet another 8 hour + day with a very pleasant overnight stop. Ride distance approx. 116km/72 miles, ascent 2774m/9100ft and descent 2450m/8038ft.
Day 7 Europe’s highest paved road
The climbing starts early with the ascent of the Col de Vars (2108m/6916ft). The first section is quite steep before it flattens slightly as the road enters the upper valley. The road ramps up again and snakes through the modern ski resort before the gradient shallows and finally tops out just past a small lake. There is a great little café at the top for a regroup and a hot chocolate. We now descend into the Ubayne Valley with a superb backdrop of the Brec de Chambeyron, one of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps. The descent ends at the pretty village of Jausiers and by late morning we should be starting the climb of the Cime de la Bonette/Restefond (2802m/9193ft), the highest paved road in Europe. At the col you will find that the road actually climbs higher and loops round the top of the mountain and back to the main pass - this is because by extending the tarmac above the Col Restefond, the locals could lay claim to having the highest tarred road in Europe and enjoy increased tourism as a result. The long, fast, free wheeling descent into the picturesque village of St Etienne-de-Tinée is to be savoured, as there are few downhills this sustained in Europe. A superb 8-hour day with a ride distance of approx. 101km/63 miles, ascent 2931m/9617ft and descent 2800m/9187ft.
Day 8 Levens and views of the Med
Leaving the village we start the day on a brand new cycle path that heads off down the Tinée Valley. At first it seems that we are leaving the big mountains and it is going to be a fast blast all the way to the coast, but we still have one final monster climb. The first 50km/31 miles pass by in no time but then we turn off onto a quiet back road that winds its way up to the historic village of La Tour and onwards through a remote valley to the hilltop village of Utelle. This is the place to enjoy lunch and escape the midday heat. It’s also our last quiet spot before hitting the built-up areas of the Riviera. A steep descent to St Jean-la-Rivière a gentle climb follows bringing us to the pleasant hill village of Levens and our first views of the Mediterranean. An excellent, full days biking, of around 6-7 hours. Ride distance approx. 95km/59 miles, ascent 1490m/4888ft and descent 2003m/6572ft.
Day 9 To the Mediterranean
Our epic ride comes to an end on switchback roads winding down through villages and villas to the Med and Nice. Its only 38km/24 miles and mostly downhill to Nice Airport, which is located just outside the city on the coast. We should arrive at Nice Airport mid morning. Here we pack our bikes and prepare for the return trip. Flights home from Nice Airport should be booked to depart no earlier than 1300hrs. Ride distance approx. 38km/24 miles, ascent 295m/968ft and descent 814m/2670ft.
Included: Full board accommodation, all meals, support vehicle, baggage transfers between overnight stops, a cycling leader.
Not included: Flights, travel insurance, miscellaneous expenses, drinks etc.
Bikes & Terrain
These cycling holidays are all classic road journeys, requiring a road bike or a standard touring bike, fitted either with a compact or a triple chainset. A support vehicle will accompany the biking group and carry all baggage. The terrain is classic alpine cycling in that there will be daily ascents and descents requiring a good level of 'bike' fitness. Each day will average between 70km/43 miles to 100km/62 miles. It is VITAL to ensure your bike is THOROUGHLY SERVICED to guarantee it is in good mechanical order before departure. If you are not mechanically minded, get your local bicycle dealer to service it for you
Throughout the trip we have the back up of our support vehicle and a first aid qualified bike leader who will be cycling with the group. Each morning our bags will be loaded onto the support vehicle and taken to our next night’s accommodation. During our morning ride and on the climbs up the big passes our support vehicle will sweep through the group and provide extra water and assistance. The vehicle will then stop at a designated rendezvous where we’ll all meet up for a picnic lunch.
We want everyone to enjoy their cycling experience on this trip and we recognise the importance for everyone riding at their own pace. On most of our road biking trips it is usual that there can be a fair distance between the front and rear cyclists in the group and there may be times when other group members, vehicle support and the biking leader are out of sight. Each morning the biking leader will provide thorough route notes to assist you. However, the leader will always be cycling the route and maintaining a watch at strategic locations. Both the leader and our vehicle support will be carrying mobile phones and are easily contactable from your own mobile phone. Should a breakdown or an emergency arise during your cycling day they will respond as soon as possible. Whilst our support vehicle cannot transport the whole group, baggage and bikes, it is also there to assist the occasional tired cyclist. So if you want to opt out of a morning, afternoon or even a full days cycling, it may be possible to travel in the vehicle.
During this trip accommodation is on a twin-share basis in comfortable, family run, 2-3* hotels. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with someone of the same gender. For single supplement costs please get in touch.
Each day there will be a support vehicle to carry your luggage to the next overnight stop. The support vehicle will meet the group at a fixed rendezvous point at lunchtime, and will never be too far away during the ride.
This trip will run once a minimum number of 5 clients have booked. We will take a maximum of 14 clients. We advise you not to make your travel arrangements until the trip is guaranteed to run. Always check with us before booking travel.
Geneva our staring point is easily reached from other European and worldwide destinations by road, rail, coach or plane. We end in Nice at the airport and suggest you book any return flights from Nice. These must not be earlier than 1300hrs on the final day as we will ride all the way to the airport on the last day and then bikes have to be packed for the flight. For suggested travel links please refer to our Booking & Information pages for further details. Please contact us if you need further advise on your specific travel requirements.