Route des Grande Alpes Challenge
One of the world’s ultimate roadie trips, the Route des Grande Alpes Challenge. This cycling tour covers a distance of almost 700 km (430 miles), traversing 15 spectacular mountain passes in 7 adrenaline-filled days of cycling. Starting from the shores of Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea, your route follows this historic path started in 1909 over the main Alpine passes.
Everyday on the Route des Grande Alpes Challenge will involve climbing and descending the most beautiful mountains in France. Daily distances average 50 – 60 miles/day with 6,500 – 9,000′ elevation gain. Feeling comfortable descending is just as important as the climb. We’ll have SAG refueling stops, café stops and picnic-style lunches along the way.
This trip is guided and fully supported with SAG vehicle but designed so that you never have to get in a car.
Who should do this?
The Route des Grande Alpes challenge, is ideal for cyclists celebrating a milestone Birthday, riders and triathletes who love a good challenge and those of us who just like to suffer before enjoying long, sweeping descents. You don’t need to be a category racer or fast climber to enjoy this cycling tour. This is largely an endurance challenge requiring low gears, hill training, a reasonable level of fitness and a whole lot of mind over matter. It also helps to lighten up before the trip.
During the Route des Grandes Alpes Challenge we’ll stay in charming and comfortable mountain chalets and hotels along the route. Our accommodations are selected for their character, uniqueness, location to the stage and quality of service.
What are the passes I can go up on the Route des Grandes Alpes Tour?
The seven days of cycling will be filled with the most famous and historical Alpine passes. Here they are in order of riding and their altitude in meters.
Route des Grandes Alpes Challenge Includes
- Services of one or more of our smiling, experienced domestiques (i.e. guides);
- 8 nights accommodation in mountain chalets and charming hotels;
- Breakfast daily (except arrival day) and 5 dinners (excluding wine or alcoholic beverages);
- Energy snacks and hydration in the SAG vehichle;
- Luggage transfer;
- Route maps and daily distances; and
- Ride Strong Travel Planner including information on packing, training and traveling with your bike.
Travel and Bikes
- You are responsible for travel expenses to and from the arrival and departure city. We’ll send you a travel planner to help with all of the logistics of getting there;
- We have road bikes available for rent if you don’t want to travel with your own bike but we recommend bringing your own; and
- Passports are needed for all international tours.
Travel Insurance & Cancellations
Ride Strong Bike Tours strongly recommends purchasing peace of mind travel insurance for unexpected trip cancellations or any necessary medical insurance covering you during international travel. We’ll provide you with information about insurance plans upon receipt of your completed registration form and deposit. Please also see our Terms and Cancellation Policy. Ride Strong Bike Tours reserves the right to make modifications to hotels, dates, routes or tour pending confirmation of our hotels and registrations. We will notify you of any material modifications at our earliest possible convenience. All distances and elevation gains are approximate. Ride Strong Bike Tours also reserves the right to cancel a tour in the unlikely event of insufficient registrations, inclement weather, wars or other matters outside of our control.
Day by Day on the Route des Grande Alps Challenge
Day 1 – Bonjour! Arrival Day.
We’ll meet at 1:00pm at the Geneva, Switzerland airport for the short transfer to our hotel near the shores of Lake Geneva (also referred to as Lake Leman). Build and fit bikes before a short spin along the lake. We highly recommend relaxing this afternoon. Welcome dinner tonight and trip overview!
Day 2 – Thonen-les-Bains to Grand Bornand
We’ll dip our wheels in the lake before a nice warm-up into the heart of the Haute-Savoie. Only two ‘cols’ today as we get into our rhythm. A regular feature in the Tour de France, the Col de la Columbiere will be the biggest and the bite is confined to the last 4 kilometers from the summit. Descend into Grand Bornand, a classic Alpine mountain village, and into our hotel for the night. Climbs: Col des Gets & Col de a Columbiere. Ride: 100 km/62 miles & 8,000′ gain.
Day 3 – Grand Bornand to Bourg-Saint Maurice
An amazing ride through the Haute Savoie central massif with a line-up of moderate climbs culminating with the famous Cormet de Roseland. You’ll want to keep your cameras handy to take photos of the incredible views. Descend into Bourg-Saint Maurice. Spend the afternoon recovering. Climbs: Col d’Aravis, Col de Saises, Cormet de Roseland. Group dinner tonight and review of upcoming rides. Ride: 100 km/62 miles & 8,600′ gain.
Day 4 – Bourg-Saint Maurice to Lanslebourg
Only one climb stands between you and the finish of today’s stage, the Col d’Iseran. Some people consider the Iseran the most beautiful climb of the region. At 48 km long, it’s undoubtedly the longest, topping out at an altitude of 2,764 meters! Enjoy the fantastic descent and fast valley flat into our hotel for the night. Recover and eat! Climb: Col d’Iseran. Group dinner is included tonight. Ride: 82 km/51 miles and 6,642′ gain.
Day 5 – Lanslebourg to Briancon
Wake and climb is the morning mantra with this classic and emotional stage over the Telegraphe and Galibier. We’ll celebrate appropriately at each summit before our long descent into the medieval town of Briancon. We’ll sleep at the base of Izoard tonight. Climbs: Col de Telegraphe and Col du Galibier. Dinner OYO at a restaurant in town. Ride: 114 km/71 miles & 7150′ gain.
Day 6 – Briancon to Barcelonnette
Today we’ll cross from the Rhone-Alps south along the Italian border into the wonderfully remote Maritime-Alps over the Col de l’Izoard and Col de Vars. Descend the Vars into the Ubaye Valley where you’ll have a long, flat stretch into the village of Barcelonnette. Enjoy the bars, small village and delicious restaurants OYO. Climbs: Col de l’Izoard and Col de Vars. Ride: 105 km/65 miles and 8,915′ gain.
Day 7 – Barcelonnette to Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinee
Reluctantly, we’ll depart Barcelonnette early for a trip highlight – a ride over the Cime de la Bonette. Arguably, the highest paved pass in all of France, the Bonette offers incredible mountain scenery complete with switchbacks, down valley views, marmots and a summit on top of the world. Descend through the Mercantour National Park to lunch and our hotel. Eat, recover, sleep. Climbs: Cime de la Bonette. Ride: 88 km/55 miles and 7,570′ gain.
Day 8 – Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinee to Menton!
The weather is already noticeably different as we are just 60 miles short of the beach. This is where adrenaline run’s wild as the week comes together for one last ride over the Col St. Martin, Turini and Castillon. A big day but well worth it as we finish with a soak in the inviting Mediterranean Sea. Eat, drink and be merry! Group celebration dinner tonight in town. Climbs: Col St. Martin, Turini and Castillon. Ride: 115 km/72 miles and 8,200′ gain.
Day 9 – Homeward Bound
After breakfast, feel free to extend your stay soaking up the French Riviera or we’ll transfer you to the train station for your connection to Nice airport or perhaps back to Geneva or into Italy. If you prefer for a shuttle to Nice airport, please let us know so we can book this for you in advance.
Book this Tour
Registering for a Ride Strong bike tour is simple and secure. To make a booking for one of our cycling tours, please complete our online registration form. Your booking will be confirmed by email. For any questions with your registration, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A single registration form may be used for up to four riders paying together with one credit card and with the same mailing address.
Selected Tour: Route des Grande Alpes Challenge – August 2017
We will have great memories of the trip for a lifetime. I was thrilled with the entire trip.Rhonda Gessow, CA. Mallorca 2015