Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Rhône-Alpes regions are located in southeast France. Go there and you’ll find yourself looking at the fantastic, spectacular and beautiful French Alps. The mountain range stretches into Italy and Switzerland and is the biggest mountain range in its entirety in Europe.
For over a century, it has had mass appeal to cyclists who are drawn by the challenging climbs and its association with the Tour de France, the most famous cycling race of all time.
For many, France is cycling’s spiritual home. Riding The French Alps is the ultimate cycling challenge and one that should be on your bucket list.
The French Alps have challenges in abundance. It isn’t just the hors category gradients but other aspects such as altitude and climate come into play too. Mont Ventoux which towers over Provence even has its own microclimate. Whatever the weather when you start the climb can change radically when you break the treeline at Chalet Reynard.
If you want cycling challenges few compare to The French Alps.
2 The Views
Without question, the French Alps offer some of the most beautiful and spectacular views in the world. You cannot help but feel you are at one with the land as you gaze out over valleys and across miles of landscape.
The terrain changes as you climb higher, and it is fair to say that riding a French Alp col is unique and brings new challenges every time you ride it. The region is a gift that keeps on giving.
The French Alps always can surprise you. The Shoe Laces of Montvernier (3.4 kms, 999m) that feature 17 tightly packed hairpin bends is a good example.
John describes his experience riding col de la Madeleine (25.3 kms, 1993 m) &
Les Lacets de Montvernier (3.4 kms, 995m)
There is nothing quite like the sense of achievement as you ride the summits of the big cols. Galibier (18.1 kms, 2646m), Alpe d'Huez (13.8 kms, 1860m) and the highest through road in Europe, Bonette (24.1 kms, 2802m), are gifts that keep on giving in terms of views and reward. When you gaze out from the summits of these cols you are truly glad to be alive.
Moreover, all your hard work, training, and effort are worth it when you reach the top of a great col.
4 Test Your Limits
Every road cyclist asks him or herself the same question: Can I get to the top of that col? The French Alps with its truly fantastic climbs allows you to answer that question. It is not just a physical endurance challenge, but it tests you psychologically as well. Standing at the bottom looking up at the col it is easy to get overwhelmed. It is only when you're in pursuit of the challenge and riding a steady pace that you know the col is achievable.
5 Experiencing History
Many of the great cols have various monuments to the great riders and cycling events of the past. This makes you realise that you're riding in the tyre tracks of history and you fully appreciate how good professional cyclists are.
This is part of the majesty of riding through the French Alps. It is something that stays with you for many years.
6 Camaraderie and Competition
When you ride The French Alps with a group your competitive instincts awake! This can keep you going when things get tough, and it adds a new delicious challenge as you race your buddy on stretches of road. What makes it more dynamic in the French Alps is where professionals race year in year out.
Riding The French Alps With SportActive Cycling
Every year, SportActive operates three spectacular cycling holidays in the French Alps. From riding the mighty Mont Ventoux to the amazing Geneva to Nice cycling tour, Sportactive has you covered. And did we mention Marmotte Granfondo Alps sportive?
Geneva to Nice over La Route des Grandes Alpes
Six days, 550 kms, 12 Alpine Passes
Geneva to Nice is a fantastic cycling adventure. You ride 550 kms over the Route des Grandes Alpes. Beginning in Geneva you head south heading towards Nice on the Mediterranean coast, riding The French Alps in the process.
The twelve alpine passes are often used in the Tour de France and include gems such as Bonette (24.1 kms, 2802m), the highest through road in Europe, Turini(15.3 kms, 1607m), and Izoard (20 kms, 2360m).
It isn’t just the challenge of the climbs that give this holiday the appeal. Numbers are capped at 15 to ensure quality support. Mountain life in France like city life has its own culture and as you ascend through towns and villages, you’ll get a glimpse at what it must be like to live up high in the mountains.
As well as the climbing challenge, altitude is also a challenge, as well as descending. You’ll be surprised how quickly you adapt to the challenges of high altitude riding, and descending has to be experienced as often you go for miles weaving through valleys.
Other high points of the tour are riding the 17 switchbacks of Montvernier(3.4 kms, 999m) and celebrating your triumph by drinking champagne in the Mediterranean Sea.
Joanna discusses Geneva to Nice
Discover Geneva to Nice Now: Geneva to Nice Details
Marmotte Granfondo Alps
174 km, 5000+Altimeters
Marmotte Granfondo Alps is arguably Europe’s toughest alpine sportive. It is a 174 Kms of ride and over 5000 altimeters. The course begins in Bourg d'Oisans and you take on the following cols:
- Glandon (20.9 kms, 1924m)
- Télégraphe (12 kms, 1566 m)
- Galibier (18.1 kms, 2646m)
- Alpe d’Huez (13.8 kms, 1860m)
The finish is the summit of the great col Alpe d’Huez.
To take on the challenges of Marmotte Alps you need endurance, strength, and power. If you have this in abundance getting to the top of the steep gradients is going to be considerably easier.
The challenges combined with the big event feel make it a truly glorious day with over 8000 riders taking part. SportActive provides full logistical support including Tour de France style backup cars and in-sportive riders giving you the encouragement you need to get your finisher medal.
Sean loved Marmotte Alps
Marmotte Alps Sportive Details
22 Kms, 1909m
Nestled in Provence France is Mont Ventoux one of the most formidable cycling climbs in the world. It towers above the region and you can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding looking up at the ‘Beast’. It has been the scene of controversy and is a legend in cycling circles.
The mountain is famed for being particularly hard to conquer. This is due to steep gradients, the weather as Mont Ventoux has its own microclimate, and the changing landscape means a cool head is required.
Again, the secret to conquering the ‘Beast of Provence’ is endurance. This will power you to Chalet Reynard and from there, despite the lunar like rock that you ride through, you know that you only have six kilometres to go and you’re going to make it.
SportActive provides you with full support as you make two ascents of the great mountain and take on fantastic rides through Provence including the beautiful and spectacular Gorges de la Nesque.
Sean Kelly gives you the lowdown on the great mountain, Mont Ventoux
Discover French Cycling
Take your cycling experience to a new level next summer. Take on a French cycling challenge and live.
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