Cycling and Touring the French Alps
Without question cycling and touring the French Alps is something everyone should do at least once in their life. It is a beautiful and spectacular part of the planet offering crisp mountain air and majestic views.
From a cycling perspective, it is a region that offers some of the best and challenging climbs in the world. From riding the highest through road in Europe on col de la Bonette, to the dizzying gradients of Galibier, the climbs will test your abilities and deliver an unparalleled sense of achievement when you reach the summits. The thrilling descents that follow the climbs are fantastic. There is nothing quite like weaving down long winding roads with the mountain air filling your lungs.
One of the aspects that makes French Alp riding that little bit special, is the fact that so many of the alpine passes are connected. To ride Galibier, you ride col du Télégraphe or Lautaret first. Not only does this make for a more interesting ride, but it increases the challenge. This is something we cyclists relish.
The Tour de France and the French Alps
Since Le Tour began in 1903, professional cyclists have tested their metal to themselves and each other in the French Alps. In the early days, riders rode individually and not as part of a team. Often, they would ride through the night, covering great distances.
In its first edition, the Tour de France was won by Maurice Garin. Over six stages he spent 95 hours in the saddle. He finished 64 hours ahead of the last-placed rider.
Today, the well-drilled riders ride across The French Alps. This makes it a must ride for you, a budding amateur cyclist. It never gets old riding this part of the world. Here are some ti
- Use a Tour Company – It is advised to use a tour company to ride The French Alps. Should you experience bike issues or difficulty, having the back-up of a company is always reassuring and ensures you’re not stranded.
- Choose the Tour that’s Right for You – There are a range of tours from ‘La Route des Grandes Alpes’ to competitive sportives such as Marmotte Granfondo Alps or Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées. All will take you across Tour de France cols. The sportives in this part of the world tend to be tough but are so rewarding.
- Explore the Alps – It is not always possible to explore the villages and towns when riding on the bike, but you should explore as much as you can. Mountain life is like city life in the sense that it is unique. Take the time to soak up the atmosphere. It is majestic and wonderful and insightful.
- Savour the Views – The views across valleys and landscapes are spectacular and beautiful. Take some time to enjoy them, especially when resting after reaching a summit. You will be standing on the highest mountains in the region, and the views will stay with you for as long as you live.
- Don’t Forget ‘The Beast of Provence’ – Although it stands alone from the rest of the Alps, Mont Ventoux is technically part of it. This is one of the toughest climbs in cycling and one for you to try at last once. This legendary mountain is sometimes kind, often cruel, and it will test you psychologically as well as physically.
Touring the French Alps
You may decide to explore the French Alps by car or better an RV (Recreational Vehicle). If you are planning this, take a bike with you and explore the region. You won’t regret it. You may want to download an RV guide to learn about the best places to visit and to get you up and running.
The French Alps is an amazing part of the world, and you should explore it by bike at your earliest opportunity. You’ll never forget it.