Cols Mythiques des Alpes

Price

£1,995.00 per person*

($2,753.10 USD or $3,451.35 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£425.00 single room supplement

Dates

26th Aug to 1st Sep 2018

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“Great trip – the climbs were the hardest thing I'd ever done, and the descents were the scariest. Spectacular event!”

-- Wally, Burlington, Ontario

Highlights

  • The 21 Hairpins of Alpe d’Huez
  • Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence
  • The Col du Galibier, legend of the Tour de France
  • Stunning views along the Lac de Serre-Poncon
  • The lunar landscape of the Casse Deserte on the Col d’Izoard
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Join us for a cycling adventure. All you have to do is pedal


Joining the tour

Start

Pickup from Grenoble airport and station

Finish

Drop off at Avignon TGV

Collection is from Grenoble Station. Drop offs are at Avignon TGV station. 

Cycling level

10 out of 10

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Our tour of the mythical cols encompasses many of the mountain passes that have passed into legend in the battlegrounds of the Tour de France. Each day includes at least one of the géants, yet is manageable for a wide range of sporting riders thanks to our outstanding support team.

You will take on such famous climbs as the Galibier, Alpe d'Huez and of course the fabled Mont Ventoux, which together with the Tourmalet in the Pyrénées make up the most mythical of the climbs of the Tour de France.

To view a map of the Cols Mythiques tour route click here

Day 1

We collect from Grenoble airport and station, and transfer to our hotel on the outskirts of town. The hotel has a lovely swimming pool in a sunny courtyard for relaxation in preparation for the week ahead. If there is enough time, we can head into the hills just south of Grenoble to warm up and check out the bikes, before a great dinner to prepare us for tomorrow’s ride.

Day 2

We start our day with a gentle climb passing through the village of Brie-Et-Angonnes and enjoy the wide open descent into Vizelle with its impressive 17th century Chateau. Now in the valley of Romanche we follow the river upstream and climb 440m over approximately 40km. We may stop for an early lunch in Allemond or continue to Bourg d'Oisans. This town has seen many Tours de France pass through, as well as La Marmotte cyclosportive each year. This is where the climb of the day begins. In 1997 Marco Pantani rode from here up to the top of L'Alpe d'Huez in 37 minutes, and although no-one is ever likely to beat that time, it’s our turn up the legendary 21 hairpins this afternoon. If you can make it in under one hour that’s an impressive feat by anyone’s standards. We stay on the Alpe that evening exchanging stories of the days adventures.

Total distance for the day: 78km 

 

Day 3

A very big day! Setting out from Huez village, we cut across the face of the valley to Villard-Reculas, pausing to look back at a perfect view of the hairpins of the Alpe, to Oz-en-Oisans. From there it's stunning scenery all the way to the Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m). Another climb in the shape of the Col du Mollard (1,638m) gives us an appetite for lunch before we descend to St-Jean-de-Maurienne and spin along the Maurienne valley to the base of the Col du Télégraphe (1566m). This Tour classic featured most recently in 2017, and proves a testing end-of day climb at a steady average of over 7%. From the top we roll down a few kilometres into Valloire for the night.

Total distance: 110km

Day 4

Straight up one of the most fearsome of all cols, the Galibier (2646m), first thing in the morning sounds tough but there are a few flatter kilometres at the bottom before it kicks up! After this it's an exhilarating descent to the Col de Lauteret (2068m, but it doesn't count in this direction!) and then we rocket downhill for 20km to lunch in the Serre Chevalier valley. Passing through Briançon, we head up to the Col d'Izoard (2361m). If time allows and it’s open, we can visit the cycling museum near the summit. On the way down we pass through the Casse Deserte, an alien landscape of jumbled rocks where there is a monument to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet. The descent follows the Combe de Queyras, a beautiful steep-sided river valley. Down in the valley we ride along with beautiful views of the Durance gorge to Embrun, where we stay just outside town.

Total distance: 103km

Day 5

Today has a number of lesser-known but challenging and beautiful cols, before we tackle Mont Ventoux tomorrow. We head down the valley of the river Ubaye to the unbelievably blue Lac de Serre-Poncon. From here, we take in a set of cols to add to the list –  the Col St Jean(1333m), the Col des Garcinettes (1,185m), and the Col des Sagnes (1,200m). We finish in the medieval town of Sisteron. If your legs aren’t too sore you might like to walk the town ramparts or visit the citadelle dating from the 11th century.

Total distance: 115km

Day 6

 

A gradually rising road gains us altitude as we head towards the 'Giant of Provence'. A series of small cols breaks the climb - the Col de Pigiere (968m), the Col de Macuègne (1068m) and the Col de l'Homme Mort(1211m), then we descend into the town of Sault, a crossroads for those setting out for le Mont Ventoux, and full of cyclists. From Sault, we climb to Chalet Reynard reaching the same point as the tour riders. Taking in the eerie lunar landscape, devoid of any vegetation we can stop to pay respects at the Tom Simpson memorial, and then take on the last kilometre to the weather station at the summit (1909m)! Our reward is then the superb descent to Malaucene where our hotel awaits with a welcoming swimming pool, and at dinner we can forget about big miles in the morning and indulge in a glass or three of the superb wine made on the slopes of the mountain.

Total distance: 115km

Day 7

After breakfast we transfer to Avignon for onward journeys via TGV to Grenoble, Lyon or Paris and beyond. Those wishing to stay on can try their hand at the triple ascent of Ventoux – once each from Bédoin, Malaucène and Sault in a day!

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays sports tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* and 4* auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Morning onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc. On sports tours we try to make sure that the meals are suitable for a challenging week of cycling!

We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 8 or 9 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.

Bikes & Equipment

Many people prefer to bring their own bikes for sports tours; however, if you would prefer to rent a bike locally, we can provide quality carbon fibre framed road bikes at a reasonable cost. If you are bringing your own bike, we will carry your bike case with us during the week, or arrange for it to be taken to the final hotel and stored.

 

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Château de la Commanderie, Eybens

On the outskirts of Grenoble (allowing a quick exit avoiding the traffic!), the 3* 17th century Chateau offers commanding views of the Vercors massif, and in addition to the outdoor swimming pool and indoor spa, the landscaped gardens are perfect for a post-ride beer or two.

commanderie

Le Pic Blanc, L’Alpe d’Huez

Completely refurbished in 2015, the 4* Pic Blanc is a fantastic hotel for cyclists (it is our partner for the annual La Marmotte cyclosportive) and is a stones throw from the top of the iconic 21 hairpin climb of the Alpe. An indoor swimming pool, and rooms with stunning balcony panoramas, make the Pic Blanc one of our favourites! ( Please note for tours that take place in September we stay at the Hotel L'Ancolie in Huez Village Offering views of the Oisans massifs, this casual, alpine-style hotel with an adjacent guesthouse is always welcoming)

pic blanc

Le Christiania, Valloire

A traditional ski-lodge in Valloire, the Christiania is perfectly situated between the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier. Although only rating 2*, we have found the hotel to be much more comfortable and welcoming than the neighbouring 3* establishment, and as an adherent to the Logis de France organisation, a fantastic dinner is guaranteed!

christiania

Les Bartavelles, Embrun

The 3* Bartavelles is beautifully situated by the Lac de Serre-Ponçon underneath the Boscodon massif. Another hotel with a much appreciated swimming pool, we love the Bartavelles restaurant- after 10 years of partnering with us, the owners know exactly how to combine local cuisine with the needs of hungry cyclists!

bartavelles

Grand Hotel du Cours, Sisteron

A traditional hotel in this bustling market town, the comfortable 3* Grand Hotel du Cours is in easy walking distance of the medieval citadel with its dominating tower. Another hotel with a splendid restaurant, accommodating the energy needs of a sporting cyclist within fantastic local culinary traditions, our long association with the Cours is reflected in the warm welcome our guests receive.

cours

 

Hostellerie du Beffroi, Vaison la Romaine

Set in two adjoining mansions from the 16th and 17th century, high up above the town of Vaison la Romaine, the hotel has been running for more than a century and today offers a unique stay, in style and comfort. There is a pool overlooking the town and the town itself is well worth a visit before dinner.

beffroi

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

“The Cols Mythiques was a very special week for all of us, and Peter, Becky and I are looking forward to doing the Grand Alpes ride next year.”

Mark Barron, Colorado, USA


“A stunning week in the Alps, still can’t believe the rides and the scenery, top notch service and backup, hotels and meals great. We will definitely be back!”

Scott McKinnon, Sydney, Australia


“Just back from doing the Alps – what an enormous sense of achievement!! Many thanks for the efforts of Dave and Chris in smoothing out the logistics and making the tour run like clockwork. Top marks – Pyrenees next! ”

Henry Lafarge, British Columbia, Canada

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