Cycling holiday in the French Alps

“Follow the route of the Tour de France with a mix of gruelling climbs and gentler rides through sublime Jura and Alpine landscapes.”

Highlights

Aix-les-Bains | Tour de France terrain in the Jura Mountains and French Alps | Lacets de Montvernier | Croix de Fer | Col d'Izoard | Col du Galibier | Optional climb: Alpe d'Huez

Description of Cycling holiday in the French Alps

Welcome to road cycling – the Intrepid way. This trip takes you from the Jura Mountains to the mighty French Alps as you ride through the same terrain as the Tour de France. Earn your bragging rights as you conquer the legendary climbs of the Croix de Fer, Col d’Izoard and the true legends of the Col du Galibier and the iconic 21 hairpins of the Alpe d'Huez. This is a trip to test your cycling skills but rewards you with sublime Alpine vistas, thrilling downhills, great company and an excuse to eat as much French pastry as you want!

Your base will be the lovely town of Aix-les-Bains – home to downtime pottering possibilities including Roman ruins or the picturesque Chateau de la Roche du Roi. Your first foray in the saddle is a gentle loop ride around Lake Bourget, cutting between the Jura Mountains and towering Bauges Massif past the 12th century Abbaye d'Hautecombe – though you can instead opt to do a steeper (unsupported) ride up the snaking road to the nearby Col du Grand Colombier.

Each day offers rides of changing difficulty through varying landscapes – with memorable highlights along every way. The sublime Lacets de Montvernier, for example, is often described as one of the most beautiful roads in professional cycling, heading through Chambery along the Isere River before a gentle Alpine climb – with 17 hairpin bends in one 2km stretch!

Another day serves up a legendary 'hors category' climb known as the Col de la Croix de Fer (Pass of the Iron Cross) that reaches an altitude of 2067m (average gradient 5.5%) - but with the compensation of stunning landscape – small villages, forests, alpine meadows dotted with stone shepherd's huts – before reaching the cycling mecca of Le Bourg d'Oisans.

Other highlights include the climbing route from Le Bourg to the Col du Lautaret (2058 m) and the the sublime Col d'Izoard loop (2361m) through stupendous countryside from Briancon. There's also the option one day to tackle the 21 hairpins of the most famous climb in cycling, the Alpe d'Huez.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

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08 Jun 2019
£ 1260
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22 Jun 2019
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21 Sep 2019
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Holiday type

Small group adventure

What is a small group adventure?
It's a great way to travel! Whether you are travelling on your own, with a partner or with friends, a small group trip is a fantastic way to see the world. You'll travel on a fixed itinerary that has been designed to help you discover the best of region. From the known highlights, the hidden gems that you won't find in the guidebooks.

Itineraries run on set departure dates, accompanied every step of the way by an English speaking local group leader. You chose the itinerary and the date that suits you best and you book on.

Why travel on a small group adventure?
Small groups allow us to explore where larger tour groups can't. Our maximum group size of 16 travellers allows us to use local transport to get from A to B, to visit rural villages, spend time with the locals and even stay at a local home overnight, and it allows us to give our travellers genuine, real life experiences of the countries we are visiting; what you'll be doing and how you'll travel depends entirely on your chosen itinerary.

Is an adventure right for me?
The word adventure means something different to everyone, and our range of trips reflects that. Whether you want to explore local markets, visit out of the way temples and meet local people or go on an early morning safari drive searching for the 'big five', we'll have a trip for you. If you are looking for a physical challenge such trekking the Kokoda Track or summiting Kilimanjaro, we can help with that too.

So what can I expect on this trip?
This is a classic style of small group adventure. You'll find your trip combines a good mix of included activities and free time, with some meals included as per your itinerary. We don't want you to feel chaperoned, it's your holiday not ours. Your group leader will be on hand to assist with organising anything you might wish to do in your free time, but how you spend it is up to you. Anything listed as included in your itinerary will be included in trip price; whereas anything listed as optional will be at an additional cost should you wish to take part.

These trips are great value, including things that you would struggle to organise independently, such as a night at a homestay in a remote village, or local guides around a remote place of interest. Transport will be a combination of private vehicle and public transport, whichever is the most appropriate for the route we are travelling; this might include train, plane, camel, tuk tuk, bicycle, boat…

On a majority of these trips you'll stay in 2-3 star accommodation, locally owned and reflective of the region you are travelling through. All solo travellers will be automatically roomed on a twin share basis with another group member of the same sex, unless you opt to pay for your own room at time of booking. There are no compulsory single supplements for solo travellers willing to share. Single rooms aren't available on camping trips, and you will be expected to help out with camp tasks such as setting up and breaking down your camp.

Can I book my flights with you?
Yes! We are a fully ATOL bonded tour operator meaning that we can book flights from the UK as part of your holiday package. Just ask us for a quote including flights when you make your enquiry.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cycling holiday in the French Alps

Environment

On cycling trips, it’s easy to use plastic excessively, especially in hot climates or during the summer months when we ride. Rather than use single-use plastic bottles, we refill our water bottles from a large drum kept in our support vehicle. We also encourage travellers to snack on fresh, seasonal fruits rather than processed foods in plastic wrappers. As well as carrying a large water drum, we also take advantage of the Baltic tradition of having a drinking water fountain in many villages and fill up our bottles directly from the source.

We have also spoken with many of the accommodation providers we use on this trip about minimising the overuse of linens and towels. Many hotels will display signs asking you to reuse yours and take short showers to minimise water wastage.

Our greatest contribution to minimising our transportation's impact on the environment is to travel by bike, avoiding the use of any energy or fuel. When we do use a vehicle, we are committed to providing local experiences and as part of this philosophy we use local forms of transport wherever possible. Where we use private transport, we stick to the small back roads, minimising the impact on locals using the main roads for their daily routines. Where we do use a support vehicle we will always ensure that it is an appropriate size to suit our cyclist numbers i.e. we wouldn’t use a 16-seater minivan for five travellers.

On this trip we use our own local Europe-based supplier who shares our commitment to responsible business, from waste and water management to ensuring we are leaving as minimal a foot (or tyre) print as possible. Where we use a third party to assist in the running of the trip we ensure they are educated on all aspects of responsible business and supported in making any changes they need to improve in this regard.

As a company we are strongly committed to carbon offsetting. The main sources of carbon emission from our trips (transport, accommodation and waste) are assessed and offset into renewable energy projects. We’ve offset over 250,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from our trips and offices worldwide, including over 40,000 tonnes of carbon in 2016. Part of the cost of your trip is also dedicated to carbon offsetting.

Community

An important part of travel is mixing with the locals and experiencing “real life” in a destination. On this trip, along with staying in locally-owned hotels and guesthouses, we visit small cafes and restaurants and buy locally produced crafts and food. This gives locals the opportunity to earn money directly and our travellers the chance to interact with local French people in their everyday environment. We also use only European cycling guides and support staff, as well as local guides in many destinations.

We source local activities that we believe are sustainable to the economy in that they allow the flow of income from visitors to be distributed to a greater audience rather than remain concentrated with tourism providers. This could be as simple as spending time in a local café, a cooking classes in someone’s home and shopping at small local stores.

The role of females in cycling has often been that of support staff. To help combat this we try and ensure as many of our cycling trips as possible have a head female cycling guide.

All aspects of this trip (on the ground) are operated by Europeans (most of whom live locally) including all our cycling guides, support vehicle drivers, local site guides and accommodation providers. We provide our cycling leaders with a formal four day cycling training course, so that they are up to speed with the needs of our travellers as well as building their skills.

Locals know where the best food, souvenirs, local crafts and entertainment can be found. This trip is operated by local Europeans and we ensure any shopping opportunities, from the larger centres like Chambery and Briancon to the tiny villages we stop off at along the way, are authentic experience and showcase France’s rich and unique culture and crafts.

This cycling trip has a maximum group size of 12, to minimise our impact on the smaller communities we cycle through. We believe this is the perfect size for a cycling trip while respecting the capabilities of the destinations we visit. Overtourism is an issue we are very conscious of and we are taking measures to ensure our impact on the communities we visit, and their environment is our top priority.

We have a foundation that was set up to empower travellers to have a positive impact on the communities they visit. It now supports over 50 local, grassroots projects around the world. And over the past 15 years, the foundation has distributed over AU $5 million to projects tackling areas such as sustainable development, human rights, child protection, environmental conservation, wildlife protection, education and healthcare.

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle.

In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and the wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles for Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed and helping the community to move away from aid dependence.

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