Route des Grandes Alpes Challenge
Are you looking for a great new challenge with plenty of climbing? Then look no further than the Route des Grandes Alpes. It’s a classic cycling route starting on the shores of Lake Geneva and climbs all the way through the French Alps heading South. It finishes on the shores of the Mediterranean on the French Riviera, in the town of Menton. Open every summer from the start of June until end of October. This stunning route climbs most of the classic French climbs used in the Tour de France and is a must ride for anyone with a big bucket list of cols and climbs to tick off. There aren’t many routes that pack in that much action over seven days riding.
In the 18th century, many roads were built through the Alps. Many of them built by the military to communicate with the various fortifications throughout the mountains. They provided a great source of income and helped serve the local isolated mountain communities. The Touring Club de France decided at the end of the 19th century to open its doors to motorists and promote cycle tourism. After much campaigning improvements were made to roads, signposting, facilities and wayside guest houses. Numerous tourist itineraries were designed and laid out including in 1911 the Route des Grandes Alpes although not officially opened until 1937 when the ribbon was cut on the col d’Iseran by the French President at the time, Albert Lebrun. Driving such routes were originally reserved for the privileged few who could afford an automobile but as cars got cheaper drivers began discovering these roads. Cycling was a great alternative way to experience these stunning roads. It was affordable to the average person and the slower pace allowed the traveller to take it all in and get a real sense of achievement. It really helped open up the French Alps to cyclists and along with the Tour de France put many of the now famous French climbs on the map.
So why do we love this route so much? It really offers the rider a little of everything. Stunning views, Incredible roads, fantastic climbs, history, culture and great French cuisine. There aren’t many places where you can ride such varied terrain from the lush green Alpine pastures of the north to the sunny Mediterranean climate of the Cote D’Azure, it really has it all. As the regions change so do the local foods and dishes. There is almost a different cheese for every valley.
Relaxing on the sun drenched French Riviera after a great weeks riding just doesn’t get much better!
Cormet de Roseland (1,968m)
St. Martin (1,500m)