France: Cycling Route des Grandes Alpes Itinerary

Join ATG as we follow this classic bicycle tour in France, starting in Geneva and following the spine of the Alps. This guided, fully-supported tour ends on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean sea. We have modified this scenic route to take advantage of spectacular villages and smaller roads, creating what is sure to become one of your most memorable bicycle vacations.


Arrive in Geneva

You can assemble your bike, relax and visit Geneva. Consider arriving a day or so early and take a trip to Chamonix and visit the Aiguille du Midi.

Day One Route des Grandes Alpes

Day 1, Geneva to Annecy

Ride: 35 miles/2,850 ft.

Relaxing warm up ride to Lake Annecy. Spend the afternoon visiting the medieval village of Annecy or relaxing by the lake or extend your ride. Welcome dinner together.

Annecy, known as “Venice of the Alps” for its quaint canals, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Located on the shores of Lake Annecy, the village offers an ideal location to meander through the historic old town, hike or bike along the lake, ride the scenic mountain roads, and enjoy local raclette cheese and fondue.

Day Two - Routes des Alpes

Day 2, Annecy Loop Ride

Ride Options: 61-81 miles/4,089-7,489 ft.

After some easy riding along Lake Annecy shore, we’ll climb a lightly traveled road up Col du Marais (8 miles/1,284 ft). We’ll have a fast, easy descent to Thones for a snack before climbing Col de la Croix Fry (7 miles/2,805 ft), included in the 2004 Tour de France. It’s all downhill back to Annecy from there, or you extend your ride. Dinner on your own at one of the many cafés in Annecy.

Optional Riding: Climb Col des Aravis (3 miles/1,200 ft) and enjoy fantastic views of Mt. Blanc, or Col de la Colombiere (7 miles/2,200 ft). Both climbs were included in the 2006 Tour de France.

Day Three Route des Grandes Alpes

Day 3, St. Jean de Maurienne

Ride: 70 – 82 miles/5,300-10,000 ft.

Our ride begins with a gentle climb and scenic views of Lake Annecy, and up Col de Leschaux (6 miles/1,215 ft). We’ll follow quiet country roads to Col du Frene, descend into the Val d’Isere, and continue along rolling terrain to our hotel in St. Jean de Maurienne. Dinner together.

Climbing Option: Col de la Madeleine (12 miles/4,946 ft).

Day Four Route des Grandes Alpes

Day 4, St. Jean de Maurienne Loop Ride

Ride Options: 37-63 miles/5,000-10,000 ft

Today, you’ll have a choice of a shorter or longer ride option. The group ride will tackle the Col de la Croix de Fer (19 miles/4,946 ft) and enjoy a downhill grade over the Col du Glandon and back to our hotel. Dinner on your own.

Climbing Option: Col de la Madeleine (12 miles/4,946 ft).

Day Five Route des Grandes Alpes

Day 5, Briancon

Ride: 47 miles/7,100 via Col du Telegraphe & Galibier

Today is the day you’ve been training for! We’ll conquer the Col du Telegraphe (7.5 miles/2,717 ft) and Galibier (11 miles/4,033 ft) – a spectacular day of climbing in the Alps. After the summit, it’s all downhill to Briancon. Dinner together.

Briancon, the highest town in Europe is a great fortress town, walled and fortified by Vauban, and it’s really something to see. The town has two parts: the lower town is at the junction of the Durance and Guisane rivers and the upper town is the walled area at the top, fortified by Vauban and including the Fort du Chateau fortress at the peak.

Day Six Route des Grandes Alpes

Day 6, Barconelette

Ride: 60 miles/7,386 via Col d’Izoard and Col de Vars

Quickly burn off your breakfast this morning as you ascend Col d’Izoard (20km/3,742 ft.) Stop for an espresso and a snack before your second big col of the day the Col de Vars (19.4km/3644 ft.) then it’s all downhill to Barcelonnette where we’ll stay for two nights. Dinner together.

Challenging Option:  Colle dell’Agnello   (2008/2011 Tour de France)

Day Seven Route des Grandes Alpes

Day 7, Barconelette- Loop Rides

Ride: 74 miles/11,000 ft
Shorter options are available.

Challenge yourself on the Col de Bonnette (14.3 miles/5,189 ft, 6.6% average) or  ride the famous “grande boucle” (big loop) that includes Col d’Allos, Col des Champs and Col de Cayolle. The grande boucle (74 miles/11,000 ft) includes some of the most challenging climbs in the Alps. Dinner together.

Day 8 - 11 Route des Grandes Alpes

Days 8-11, Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean Sea

Our route travels through the scenic Maritime Alps, along some of the most dramatic roads in France. On the final ride into Nice, we’ll climb Col de la Madone along Lance Armstrong’s famous training route. We’ll follow a spectacularly scenic road perched high above the Mediterranean and enjoy a final descent to our seaside hotel in Nice.

This trip offers three, two-night stays so settle in and relax without packing every day!

Ride Summary
Day 1: 35 miles/2,850 ft
Day 2: 61-81 miles/4084- 7.489 ft
Day 3: 70-94 miles/5,300-10,300 ft
Day 4: 37-63 miles/5,000-10.000 ft
Day 5: 47 miles/7,100 ft
Day 6: 60 miles/7,386 ft
Day 7: 39-74 miles/5,500-11,000 ft
Day 8: 52 miles/6,789 ft
Day 9: 49 miles/8,159 ft.
Day 10: 59 miles/4,200 ft.Total: 509-614 miles/57,284-75,276 ft