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Tour de France Wannabes Can Explore the Alps on Two Wheels

by Felicity Long

Jul 24, 2019

Undiscovered Mountains Ltd

Destinations / Europe

There’s more to France than Paris and the Riviera, and this year Undiscovered Mountains is looking to lure cyclists to the French Alps for a bike holiday along the Tour de France route, which includes attractions you wouldn’t be able to access any other way.


The company, which specializes in multi-activity holidays, created a Ride the Alps Road Cycling tour that showcases the mountains and hills surrounding the French Alps.


One popular Tour de France itinerary, for example, includes the Col d’Izoard, one of the most exhilarating of the Tour de France routes. Cyclists climb nearly 4,300 vertical feet along nearly 19 miles with an average gradient of 4.3 percent. The route, described as “a long and steady cycle,” offers a payoff of beautiful mountaintop scenery before cyclists descend back into Briancon and along the other side of the mountain, through Argentiere la Besse to Guillestre.


Participants are also challenged to take on the most famous climb in the Tour de France, along the Alpe d’Huez. This relatively easy route is typically at the end of the notoriously difficult Marmotte cycling event, and offers a pleasant end to the itinerary, which includes 21 famous hairpin bends and a road that climbs more than 3,675 feet.


Mountain road along the Southern French Alps.

Mountain road along the Southern French Alps. Photo: Auroredvse | Dreamstime.com


Or try a different itinerary altogether, which features a climb up Mont Colombis, one of the toughest but least-known road climbs in France — too difficult to be included on the Tour de France because the path doesn’t have enough space to accommodate all of the cyclists.


Families with expert cyclists who want to test their mettle on the route around Mont Colombis, which has an average gradient of 9 degrees, can start in Remollon, already 2,200 feet above sea level. The panoramic views from the top overlook the Ecrins National Park, the Durance Valley and the clear Serre Poncon Lake.


This tour also takes travelers through the famous geological site of the desmoiselles coiffees, a collection of huge boulders precariously balanced on top of thin pillars of rock. While the tour can be completely tailor-made for each individual, a typical route will take visitors to the Alps through the Champsaur Valley.


Other tours include the Col du Noyer, an eight-mile route with some sections reaching a 14 percent gradient. This mountain path, first created in 1850 and since used in the Tour de France, features panoramic views of Le Dévoluy’s arid ridges and the ample Drac Valley.


Undiscovered Mountains offers local, independent accommodations, and is committed to sustainable tourism and the protection and preservation of the mountain habitat and local communities. The weeklong Ride the Alps Road Cycling Holidays, available May to October, start from just under $750 and include accommodations, three vehicle-supported rides, a personalized itinerary, five activity points that can be redeemed for other sports, maps and route suggestions for self-guided walks and bike rides.


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