Southern Alps Cycling Trip
From the balmy beaches of Nice on the French Riviera, to the highest paved pass in Europe. The Southern Alps cycling trip is the ultimate ‘sea-to-sky’ ride. Loosely following Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba, you’ll enjoy challenging daily rides on back country roads, dramatic mountain scenery and special nights in our one-of-a-kind hotels.
The Southern Alps cycling trip and each ride, are designed with an obsessive attention to route detail. With our knowledgeable local guides, we’ll ride roughly 45 – 65 miles (70-110km) each day, over 1-3 mountain passes through several hidden mountain hamlets and spectacular gorges. Rides will all start and finish at our hotels so there’s no need for getting in a van all week (unless you want to) . The Southern Alps cycling trip is a guided, fully-supported and well-designed trip. However, we can’t push your pedals. To fully enjoy this tour you must be a fit cyclist capable of riding the daily distances over hilly terrain. For those of you on a multisport program, there are many options for running, hiking or riding shorter/longer distances.
On the Southern Alps cycling trip you’ll be treated to special nights in our one-of-a-kind hotels, mountain chalets and castles that have been carefully selected for their location, comfort, delicious food and authentic local charm.
This trip is limited to an exclusive group of 12 riders and our support crew. Please register early to save your spot.
Enjoy our youtube video capturing a little of the stunning and diverse scenery.
Our Southern Alps cycling Trip Includes:
- Services of one or more of our experienced domestiques (i.e. guides);
- 7 nights accommodation in one-of-a-kind hotels and mountain lodges;
- Breakfast daily (except arrival day), 5 dinners (including wine);
- Energy snacks and hydration products;
- Luggage transfer and sag support;
- Cycling route maps, distances and col profiles (Garmin routes available for the trip);
- Ride Strong Travel Planner including information on packing, traveling with your bike, relevant reads and logistics on arrival/departure city.
- Free Ride Strong Bike Tours jersey
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;
- You should bring your own bike and helmet. If you prefer to rent a bike, please contact us during the registration process to reserve your size.
- Passports are needed for all international tours.
Reservations, Travel Insurance & Cancellations
To reserve your space on our bike tour, please complete the online booking form and send a deposit of $700 USD/person. 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. 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.
The French Riviera and Southern Alps cycling trip at a glance.
Day 1 – Nice.
Bonjour! Our guests arrive to Nice airport where we’ll meet you for the 10-minute transfer to our hotel. We highly recommend arriving a day early to acclimate to the time change and enjoying a day in Nice. After preparing bikes, the afternoon is free to soak up the sun along the boardwalk, take a dip in the Mediterreanean or go for an optional warm-up ride. Appertifs and orientation at sunset with welcome dinner to follow.
Day 2 – Trigance.
It’s a fantastic warm-up ride north along the beach and through the beautiful Gorges du Loop. Our two relatively easy climbs of the day take us a million miles away from the city bustle. After lunch, we connect to the Route de Napoleon for an undulating spin along the Jarbon river into the medieval town of Trigance. Our hotel tonight is the town’s ancient fortress built by monks in the IXth Century for meditation. Gourmet dinner in the castle. Ride: 105 km (65 miles), 2 passes, 5,900 feet climbing.
Day 3 – Entrevaux or Annot.
Skirting the edge of the Gorges du Verdon, we’ll ride north to Castellane, an important junction town on Napoleon’s route. From Castellane, there’s a totally remote and scenic route around the Lake Chaudanne, over the easy Col Barnabe and into the Alps-Maritimes. We finish with a descent into the dramatic fortified village of Entrevaux where we’ll stop for a delightful lunch in the main square. From here, it’s an easy spin out to our hotel. Ride: 54 miles, 2 cols, 4,770 feet of climbing.
Day 4 – Col de Cayolle to Barcelonnette.
Fueled by the mountain air, we connect to the Gorges du Dalius and onto the ‘Route des Grand Alpes’ passing a series of small towns of friendly locals and good coffee. The most memorable part of the day is also the most significant — the Col de Cayolle, a 20.5 km climb averaging 6.3% (4,324 foot gain). From the summit, we have a 29.5 km free-wheeling descent into the Ubaye Valley and our charming mountain villa. Unpack for 2 relaxing nights in this village. The afternoon is yours to go for a run or explore town and it’s interesting Mexican heritage!Ride: 95 km (59 miles); 1 pass, 6,300 feet climbing.
Day 5 – Barcelonnette-Col de Allos, Col de Champs and/or Col de Cayolle.
Today it’s an all you can ride buffet of the famous ‘Grande Boucle’ (i.e. big loop) including the Col d’Allos, Col des Champs and Col de Cayolle. Unquestionably one of the most epic loops in France, the Grand Boucle draws international cyclists the world over to test their endurance and climbing legs. This ride is only for those who dare. Otherwise, take the day off or enjoy an incredibly scenic recovery ride to the hamlet of Malajasset. Don’t forget to stop at the Bleu Chamois for lunch on the way back. Ride: 124 km (77 miles), 3 passes, 10,955 ft climbing or Malajasset 72 km (45 miles), 2,800′ climbing.
Day 6 – Barcelonnette to Roure.
Start the day with a lifetime accomplishment climbing the highest paved pass in France, the Col de la Bonette (24 km, 6.6% average). You’ll be aptly rewarded with an equally long and stunning descent into the Mercantour National Park and the Gorges de Valabres. From Saint Sauveur sur Tinée we have a stunning but hard climb up the precariously pitched Col de la Couillole to our welcoming mountain lodge. Dine tonight on fresh products of the region and, if we’re lucky, we’ll be treated to a magic show. Ride: 103 km (64 miles), 2 passes; 8,300 feet climbing.
Day 7 – Roure to Nice.
Yesterday’s toil will be long forgotten as we enter the spectacular red cliffs of the Gorges du Cians and the route south to the sunny coast. After the relatively simple ride up the remainder of the Couillole and switchbacks of Col de St. Raphael (8 km at 5.8%; 1525 feet gain), enjoy a mostly down and flat traverse past remote hilltop villages all the way back to the Mediterranean Sea. Well done! Time for a splash! Ride: 120 km (75 miles), 2 passes, 4,500 feet.
Day 8 – Nice.
After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll provide morning transfers to the Nice airport or Nice train station. If you’ve made other arrangements for extending your trip, please let us know.
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: The Southern Alps cycling trip & French Riviera – June 2017
We will have great memories of the trip for a lifetime. I was thrilled with the entire trip.Rhonda Gessow, CA. Mallorca 2015