Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

8 days
from
£1,179
View Trips
Loading...
Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 8 reviews >
Trip code: 
MWU
Way to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays
Activity:
Drop Bars
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

A spectacular route through the Italian and French Alps

This epic ride starts in the charming Italian town of Cuneo, before climbing into France in search of some of the most iconic climbs in cycling history. The first big challenge is the Col de la Bonnette, at 2802m the highest col in Europe and a favourite of Robert Millar. From here on the legendary climbs come in quick succession as we make our way across the spectacular cols of Vars, Izoard, Galibier and Croix de Fer. We finish the route by tackling the famous 21 hairpins bends to Alpe d’Huez, a memorable finish to a memorable trip!

Highlights

  • Cycle through the Italian and French Alps
  • Conquer the highest paved road in Europe
  • Finish with an ascent of the iconic Alpe d'Huez

Key information

  • 6 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)
  • 100% tarmac roads
  • Climbs are long and steady (average 7%)
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus leader in support vehicle
  • 7 nights hotels 

 

What's included

  • All breakfasts 
  • All accommodation 
  • Flights (if booking flight inclusive)
  • Tour leader throughout 
  • 6 days guided cycling

What's not included

  • Visa and vaccinations 
  • Local bike hire (available on request)
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6

Pace:

Between 4 - 6 hours of cycling per day.

Terrain:

100% tarmac roads with high mountain passes.

Day by day breakdown
Day 279.0km/49.0miles
Day 376.0km/47.0miles
Day 459.0km/37.0miles
Day 558.0km/36.0miles
Day 675.0km/46.0miles
Day 788.0km/55.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly to Turin; transfer to Cuneo in the Italian Alps.

    Fly to Turin, transfer to Cuneo, a provincial capital in western Italy whose old town centre dates from the 12th Century when it was a fortified town. The Renaissance style arcaded main street is lined with shops and cafés giving it an elegant appearance. Cuneo was made famous in the cycling world in 1949 when the legendary Fausto Coppi dominated the stage there to win the Giro d'Italia. More recently it was a start town for the Tour de France stage to Jausiers in 2008. In the evening there will be a welcome meeting and a chance to check bikes and make any final adjustments.
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Ride from Cuneo to Saint Etienne de Tinee across the Col de la Lombarde.

    In the morning we enjoy a nice gentle warm up cycling along the Stura Valley to the village of Pratolungo. From here we start the Hors Category climb of the Col de la Lombarde (21.3 km, avg. 6.8%), located on the French/Italian border at 2351m. The climb was last used during stage 16 of the 2008 Tour. From here we are rewarded with a long downhill to the ski resort of Isola 2000 where we spend the night.


    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Ride to Barcelonnette over the Col de la Bonnette.

    After breakfast we descend to Isola (862m) where we reach the Tinée Valley. The valley is very narrow and typically alpine, with superb views and some attractive waterfalls. A relatively gentle climb brings us to Saint Etienne from where we tackle the infamous Col de la Bonnette (26km, avg. 6.5%), one of the highest paved cols in Europe (2802 m). This climb has only been used a few times during the Tour (in 1962, 1964, 1993, 2008 and 2016) but really is one of the highlights of the trip. After catching our breath we descend to Barcelonnette, where there'll be the option to climb to either Super Sauze or Praloup.



    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Climb the Col de Vars en route to Guillestre.

    Today's ride is a little shorter but still very challenging! In the morning we ride up to Jausiers and then climb the beautiful Hors Category Col de Vars, climbed 20 times since 1947 in the Tour de France. (2108m, 15km, avg. 5.5%). Here we enter the spectacular Hautes Alpes and enjoy some great mountain views on the ride down to Guillestre on the border of the Queyras Regional Park. If you'd like to do a few more miles then in the afternoon there's the option of a nice steady loop to Embrun or the more challenging climb to the ski resort of Risoul.


    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Ride to Briançon across the Col d'Izoard.

    The Hors Category Col d'Izoard (2360m) is a unique place to cycle and one of the greatest cols of the French Alps (32km, avg. 4.5%). The Tour organisers clearly agree as it has been included 23 times in the race since 1947! The scenery here is beautiful, from the sandy coloured eroded cliffs above the 'Casse Deserte' near the summit to the green wooded mountainsides above Briançon where we stay. From Briançon you have the option to continue on a relatively flat ride along the Clarée valley, or to climb the Montgenevre pass on the Italian border.


    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Climb the famous Col du Galibier before descending to Saint Jean de Maurienne.

    This morning the 'Giant of the Alps' awaits us, namely the Hors Category Col du Galibier (2645m). It is a mammoth 37km of climbing from Briançon, but it is the final 21km where the effort really kicks in at an average gradient of 6%. In 2011 the summit saw a solo stage win for Andy Schleck, but the real drama was a little further down the mountain as Thomas Voeckler heroically retained the yellow jersey with a mere 15 seconds to spare. A monument in homage to Henri Desgranges, the founder of the Tour, sits at the top of the Galibier. A seemingly endless descent brings us to Valloire where we have a short 4km uphill section to the Col du Telegraphe (1566m). We can stop here for an Orangina and take in the spectacular view over the valley below. From here we still have about 11km of descending down to the Maurienne valley and Saint Jean de Maurienne, where we spend the night. It is possible to extend the ride with a nice circular route to Bonvillard, or we can cycle up the Lacets de Montvernier, a spectacular climb which featured in the 2015 Tour de France.


    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Climb the Col de la Croix de Fer and the legendary Alpe d'Huez; descend to Bourg d'Oisans.

    For our final days ride, two superb challenges are on the menu! We warm up on the Hors Category Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m, 30km, avg. 5%). This is a lovely peaceful climb that has featured 15 times in the Tour since 1947. But no cycling trip to the Alps is complete without tackling the legendary 21 hairpins bends on the iconic climb of Alpe d'Huez (1845m, 14km, avg. 8%). From Bourg d'Oisans the road immediately ramps up with some of the steepest sections and is often the scene for the first attacks. 'The Alpe' has been climbed 29 times in the Tour since 1952 and the names of many of the winners are marked on plaques on the hairpins. The late Marco Pantani's record of 37 minutes 35 seconds in 1997 is quite humbling! Tonight we celebrate the weeks achievements in Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of Alpe d'Huez.


    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Free morning; transfer to Lyon; fly to London.

    Spend the morning relaxing in Bourg d'Oisans before transfering to Lyon airport; fly to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

UK passport holders do not need visas for this trip. Other nationalities should check with the relevant embassies.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are obligatory.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included.

For breakfast you can expect a continental style buffet with cold meat, cheeses, bread, eggs, jams and pastries as well as tea and coffee.
Throughout the trip you can expect really good food with strong influences from Spain and France. Lunches and dinners are not included in the trip price to allow you to take advantage of the local restaurants and cafes along the route and give you freedom over what you eat. Our guide will be able to recommend the best local restaurants and will have planned some stops at good coffee shops to break up the days rides.

Weather

This part of the Alps can get rain throughout the summer, although mostly at night time and afternoon thunderstorms. Maximum temperatures can be up to 30ºC, but this will vary with altitude. If we are riding through low cloud it can get very chilly on the descents, but these should be short spells only. There is of course the possibility of wet weather so you should come prepared for this.

MWU

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified Drop Bars

Activity Level: 6 (Challenging/Tough)

6 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)

Average daily distance of 72km a day (45 miles) with an average elevation gain of 1900m a day.  

The riding on this trip can be accomplished by any fit cyclist, but it is as much a state of mind as your fitness that will see you up and over the cols. The secret to making it up the mountains is to plug away at a steady pace and stop whenever you feel tired. We cover the same routes as the Tour de France but this trip is definitely not a race!

On all our drop bar trips the guide does not cycle with the group but leads from the support vehicle. This enables them to carry any spare parts, snacks and drinks whilst also being able to filter through the group on long climbs and react quicker in the case of an emergency.

The roads are good quality - they just aren't flat! Although the gradients do not get much steeper than 10%, they can be long (up to 26km). Daily distances are realistic and there are plenty of opportunities for stronger riders to add more kilometres if they wish. The support vehicle is always available for riders who have achieved their personal goal and require a lift up or down any of the hills.

Please note: Exodus drop bar cycling holidays are not run in a training camp style, all our daily rides are group rides and we aim to cycle as a group wherever possible. The days are broken up with food and coffee stops so it is likely that we will be outside for the majority of the day (sometimes between 9am – 5pm). It is common for the group to split on the longer climbs, please keep in mind that if you are looking to push yourself on the climbs you might have a wait at the top for other members of the group, however the support vehicle will be there to offer warm clothes and snacks.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

We stay in traditional alpine 2-star hotels throughout the trip; all are ideally located along the route and have private facilities. Rooms are allocated on a twin and sometimes triple share basis, single rooms are available on request.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed September 2017
    Catherine White

    Alpine Cols

    Great trip, fantastic scenery, superb guide

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the final climb up Alpe d'Huez

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Couldn't fault him, knowledgeable, helpful, fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can be very cold in mid September, pack some warm weather gear!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks for a great trip!
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Paul Cartwright

    Cols du Tour de France 2017

    This was a truly amazing experience and certainly one which I will remember for a very long time. The climbs are indeed challenging but manageable for most regular cyclists. The trip is well planned with most of the hard ascents in the morning with a good amount of downtime on most afternoons and with options for optional extra rides on the shorter days for those who are fit enough. We were blessed with good weather throughout which I am sure does make a difference as I would imagine that some of the descents would be hair raising in wet conditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had its highlights but for me the last two days of the trip were the best particularly the climbs up the Col du Galibier on Friday and Col du Glandon on the Saturday.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thierry was without doubt an absolutely top guy. He organised picnics for us most days buying baguettes,ham,cheese and fruit and met us at a pre-arranged place for lunch which was extremely welcome after the hard climbs. He also stopped part way up the climbs to hand out bananas and sweets to top our energy reserves.. He lives in a town which is on the route so knows the area very well so was very informative about the local history and geography of the area. At the start of each day he was very helpful in guiding us to the start of the days route in his van and likewise at the end of the day to our hotel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was very cold at the top of the Cols for the first couple of days of the trip particularly on the Col de la Bonette and I for one was under prepared. For the September trip it is necessary to take long fingered and insulated gloves as well as several extra layers of clothing for the top of the climbs and especially the descents which were bitterly cold.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip which certainly exceeded my own expectations.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Scott Chalker

    Alpine cols of the Tour de France

    I backed up from the Pyrenean coast to coast two days earlier. In comparison this is a much easier tour with less kilometres per day. The scenery is stunning and the climbs are achievable if you can do all of the seven peaks climbs in Australia. I took my own bike which was not a hassle and provided comfortable, confident riding which was an advantage as the descents are long. Go prepared with at least one set of winter gear, we needed it on one day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing alpe d'huez after 72km on the last day and being in the 50th percentile on strava, as I am not a climber.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thierry was motivated and fun. Would often provide further riding for those who were keen after the main ride which I took the opportunity to do on one day when we headed back over the mountains into Italy. It was nice to have an official photographer.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is much easier than the Pyrenean coast to coast if you are deciding on which to do and are not a fit rider.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Graham Burrows

    Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

    This is one trip that I won’t forget in a hurry. The climbs were tough, but the distances just about right to give some time off in the afternoon to relax and recover. The scenery was simply stunning and the descents were thrilling. Apart from one day when things turned a bit grim on the Galibier, the weather was warm, sunny and perfect for cycling. It was great having the minibus as backup, stopping at different locations each night and the group leader was excellent. I was a little perturbed about going on my own, but really needn't have been. The group were a nice mix of ages, abilities and nationalities and very easy to get on with. Highly recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It pretty much all was, but the ascents of the Col d'Izoard and Col de la Crox de Fer were exceptional.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very friendly and helpful, as well as being knowledgeable about the local area and all things bike-related.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather may suddenly take a turn for the worse, so bring winter gear as back-up. We needed it on one day, when temperatures plummeted to 7 deg.C and snow fell on the Galibier.
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Quan Nguyen

    Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

    Well supported and challenging holiday with an amazing, well informed and courteous tour leader. Loved that we rode from hotel to hotel an didn't take any motorized transportation. Rental bike was repsponsive and a joy to ride.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climb to the top of Alpe d'Huez...very challenging in 37 degree heat with unrelenting 10% grade. Felt amazing to reach the top!
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Bruce Woods

    Cols of Tour de France

    Cycling holiday cycling over some of the most famous Cols, which were climbed during the Tour de France over the years. Climbs like Col d' Izoard, Col d' Bonnet, Alp d' Huez, etc.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Summiting Col d' Izoard together with a friend after a tough day in the saddle, and another moment was coming to the top of the Col d' Bonnet (Last couple of hundred metres around 15%) with my Ipod on to keep me company, playing out Sam's Town from the killers just as I got to the top (The views, the other cyclists, the motorcycle, the lyrics, it was just a special moment).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I thought our group leader was awesome, as he was friendly, supporting, helpful, full of incite, and more important than anything else, a cycling enthusiast through and through.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are considering doing this trip, train, train, and train some more, plus get as light as froome (Sadly I wasn't, but still really enjoyed). A lot of preperation, training, and some grit at times is needed, but the potentials gains of experiences and memories from such a trip, well they will all be worth it (Plus you can watch the Tour, and say to your partner, oh look I cycled up there).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you for some fond memories of a adventure that will last forever!
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Geoff Noake

    Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

    I chose to go on this holiday in celebration of my 60th Birthday and as a long time road cyclist and massive fan of the Tour de France, I was looking forward to it immensly. It exceeded my expectations in every way. The week was amazing and in terms of the organisation, travel, scenary and the ride itself I had a wonderful time. The rides are carefully planned to be long enough to be testing, yet not so long that they wear you out. It was never a problem getting up and riding 5 or 6 hours the next day. An excellent week!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The week was full of 'big moments' really, but if I have to highlight any then they would be the Col d'Izoard climb, the Col du Galibier, and then the Col de la Croix de Fer and Alpe d'Huez on the Saturday. A fantastic finale to a great week cycling, with superb climbs and weather which couldn't have been better.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Vincent who did a brilliant job. He organised our days brilliantly, knew the routes and climbs intimately, took photos and greatly added to the experience of the holiday. Thanks for all your help, Vincent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The best advice I can give is to make sure that you have some 'hilly' miles under your belt before you go. The climbs are long and sustained and although the overall average gradient is not particularly high, there are a few fierce ramps along the way. I was riding a compact chain set with a 28 tooth cassette, which was fine, but couldn't help wondering if a 30 might have been slightly better. Other than that, my advice is to enjoy it. It's over all too soon!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Everything about the trip was spot on; good hotels, great food, spare time for a bit of sightseeing, shopping and an early bar! A superb holiday in every way!
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Gordon Drummond

    Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

    Simply an experience of a life time! A very well organised trip from the transport and support through to the accommodation and the food which was superb. All you needed to concentrate on was the cycling and I doubt you will find better cycling anywhere on the globe!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are too many to mention! Was it the giant Col du Galibier, the stunning ride in to the Col de Vars or the lunar landscape of the Col d'Izoard. Of course we can't forget the iconic Alpe d'Huez! Personally I enjoyed the Col d'Izoard for the combination of a great climb in spectacular, if slightly surreal, surroundings but each climb was unique in itself which was key to the enjoyment of the trip, no two days were the same.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vincent made the trip. Always well organised and there for support when needed. Knew a lot about the climbs, the surrounding area, local traditions, food and culture which added an extra dimension and interest to the trip outside the cycling. During the rides he was never too far away with the support vehicle carrying spares and refreshments which was reassuring.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is not an 'easy' trip so a good level of fitness and bike proficiency (downhill as well as uphill) is recommended as the fitter you are the more enjoyable this trip will be. It should be remembered that this is not a race and pacing yourself for a higher average speed is better than busting yourself on the flat or on the Col to 'bonk' later in the day. It can be very warm during the day so plenty fluids during the ride and plenty more at the end of the day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just a big thanks for a truly excellent experience!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 0208 772 3936