Route des Grandes Alpes

The riding background

17 passes - of which 5 are classified as being outside the categories - amongst the most mythical, with more than 17,000 metres of differences in height, that is 3 times the Mont Blanc...

The ‘Grandes Alpes' Route is a monument to the efforts of touring cyclists. Its link with the legendary ‘Tour de France' route, mainly explains its popularity with tourists: the Route is one of the biggest challenges for cyclists to take up.
The Route des Grandes Alpes traverses six Alpine Departments (Haute Savoie, Savoie, Isère - via its variants - Hautes Alpes, Alpes de Haute Provence, and Alpes Maritimes) and is accessible in its entirety from June to October or in sections before the snow is removed from the highest passes.

From Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean sea, the Route meanders for almost 700 km (430 miles), and special road signs mark the way.



At the start of the 20th century. Innovation is the order of the day. There is great faith in progress of all kinds… particularly for roads, opening the Alps to mass tourism.
1909 ➝ The Touring Club de France initiates works on the Great Alps Route.
1913 ➝ The Compagnie Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée organises the inaugural run along the Great Alps Route, in five one-day stages…
1930 ➝ It now only takes a day and a half to drive from Nice to Chamonix.
1937 ➝ Albert Lebrun, President of the Republic, inaugurates the Iseran pass, the highest road pass in Europe.
1970 ➝ The Cormet de Roselend pass is opened.


Riding in 2016

La Route des grandes alpes

The 6th edition of la route des grandes alpes starts Monday Sept 1st, 2015 in Thonon-les-Bains (Geneve). The finish lies 10 days and 700plus kilometres south on the coast of the Mediterranean in the city of Nice.

The whole route follows paved, relatively quiet and scenic mountain roads. The course varies from serious hills to long, steep climbs like the Col du Galibier or the legendary l’Alpe d’Huez. Don't expect one single flat stage.
The tour is planned at the start of the autumn to miss the heat of the summer and enjoy the quiet of the rural countryside, although of course the weather conditions can always be unsettled. The circumstances can become heroic if you reach altitudes around or above 2.000 metres.
The tour is open for cyclists of all levels with a maximum of 12 riders. Ride with friends you know.

But it is not all about the riding, although this is the most important part. The atmosphere, the country side, the famous passes, the good company of like minded people, the physical challenge and a quiet wine after riding all add to an exceptional experience.

Daily Travel
 We leave the hotel at 0830 each day on the bike (having dropped the bags in the van) as a group and ride together to warm up. Soon though the group will split into smaller groups as riders go at their own pace. Everyone gets together at the col for coffee, lunch or otherwise, and descends at own pace to valley floor - maybe 20kms or more. 

If there is a valley ride to the hotel then the stronger riders would lead a pace line so that everyone could arrive together at the end of the day. 

The days are not super long or difficult and the angles are low (compared to riding Coronet Peak or the Crown Range) Only a couple passes have anything over 8 or 9 degrees and mostly less.  I do recommend a compact with a 28 on the back to make life a bit easier. 

After ride recovery food.  
I take enough protein powder / recovery drink and shaker and a daily muesli bar (bought there) to aid in that first hour recovery.

Each night we eat together - normally in the hotel, but on two or three occasions we have the chance to wander down the street to enjoy the ambience.

The journey is supported by two vehicles who follow the riders for most of the day. One at the back and the other following the lead group. Often they travel together. One of these is designated as the ‘day car’. It will have a small bag with anything that you may need during the day.

We will also have the capacity to carry bikes on the roof if required.

Breakfast ( bread, cereals, fruit ) is included for each night and dinner for half of the nights. Lunch is a riders expense, but a small baguette tucked in the back pocket from breakfast is always handy.
Any wine or beer is at riders expense.

The Itinerary 2016

Route des Grandes Alpes 2016

The Itinerary
Sept 7                Arrival in Geneva (or earlier)
Sept 8                Riding on the side of Lake Geneva
Sept 9               Thonon-les-Bains (Geneve) > Morzine > Samoens  60km
                         (Col de Joux Plane)     
Sept 10              Samoens - Saint Gervais 101km
                        (Col de la Colombière (1613 m)
Sept 11              Saint Gervais - Bourg Saint Maurice 115kms    
                        (Col des Saisies (1600m) and the
                        (Cornet de Roseland (1968m)    
Sept 12              Bourg St Maurice - Lanslebourg
                        90km  (Col de l'Iseran (2754m)
Sept 13              Lanslebourg -> Briancon 101km
                          Col de Telegraph 1570m and
                         Col du Galibier 2646m    
Sept 14              l’Alpe d’Huez    Briancon
                        Alpe d’Huez 1860m
Sept 15             Rest Day - ride to Italy
Sept 16              Briancon -> Barcelonnette  115km                         
                        (Col d'Izord (2360m) and the Col de Vars (2019m)
Sept 17              Barcelonnette -> Saint Sauveur sur Tinee 57km    
                        (Col de la Bonette (2715m)    
Sept 18             Saint Sauveur sur Tinee ->Col de Turini 69km
Sept 19             Col de Turini  - Nice 60km    
Sept 20              Nice -> Nice  Tourism & riding    
Sept 21             Nice -> Nice  Tourism & riding    
Sept 22              Depart Nice for connections to the world

Cost: NZ$3,900.00 which includes
• Airport transfers - pu Geneva / drop off Nice
• 13 nights accommodation in 2- 3 star hotels
• All breakfast, 6 dinners (excluding drinks)
• Team cycle tops by Tineli (2016 version)
• Support vehicle:   
• Pocket size cycle guide

A full information pack is available.
Contact Geoff


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