Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

“Six days of epic cycling through the Italian and French Alps, following the Tour de France route. Fully supported, and not a race, we stay in 2 star mountain hotels en route. ”


Six days of cycling on Tour de France route | Cuneo | Col de la Bonnette | Lombarde Col | Isola 2000 | Vars Col | Guillestre | Izoard Col | Briancon | Galibier Col | Saint Jean de Maurienne | Croix de Fer | Alpe d’Huez | Barcelonnette | Option to climb Super Sauze or Praloup

Description of Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

Cycling the Alpine cols of the Tour de France is a dream come true for many road cycling enthusiasts, and so we have created this fully guided and supported cycling holiday for those who want to do just that.

An epic ride that starts in the Italian town of Cuneo, we cycle for six days covering an average of 70km per day, but please note that this is not a race. There will often be long distances between cyclists as everyone tackles some of the route’s challenges at their own pace, taking breaks and being given refreshments and drinks by the support team when necessary.

Some of the classic cols to conquer include Col de la Bonnette at 2802m, the highest col in Europe. Or the very beautiful hors category Col de Vars, leading into the Hautes Alpes, which has been used twenty times over the Tour’s history. The most iconic col is perhaps Col du Galibier (2645m), a site of much drama for the professionals over the years, but also the location of a monument dedicated to the memory of Henri Desgranges, founder of the Tour.

There are plenty of opportunities for cyclists who really want to push themselves to take on additional challenges during some of the days, however most want to complete the most exciting of them all: the 21 hairpin bends that take you up to Alpe d’Huez on the last day of cycling. This has an average gradient of 8% although the average for the whole holiday, with long and steady climbs, is 7%. With 100% satisfaction at the end of this week of some of the world’s most iconic cycling.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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08 Sep 2019
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28 Jun 2020
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16 Aug 2020
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06 Sep 2020
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20 Sep 2020
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!) although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to get a real impression of the area.

Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Our guides can advise where to fill them and where to recycle litter.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.


Accommodation and Meals:
We stay in traditional alpine 2-star hotels throughout the trip; all are ideally located along the route and have private facilities. All hotels used are family run and locally owned and staffed. This is part of a conscious effort to encourage employment alternatives where there may not be many, and to keep tourist investment local. Waste is sorted and glass, card and paper are recycled in each establishment. Breakfasts are provided in each hotel in a continental style, there should be fresh, locally sourced produce available. Where meals are not provided, clients are shown cafes, restaurants and markets where they can buy traditional, authentic cuisine.

The trip route takes us through a number of small, Alpine villages and towns which depend on tourist commerce for their livelihood. We try to support these rural areas as much as possible by encouraging clients to use local businesses. For example, the bikes themselves are hired from a locally owned and run company in the village of Bourg d'Oisans, rather than a large company which might be slightly cheaper.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local. In exchange for their expertise on local wildlife, environment and culture that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. For example, clients are briefed on managing food waste on cycling days- litter can be collected by a guide in a support vehicle and disposed of appropriately, in respect of local recycling policies.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

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