There are countless incredible cycling routes to explore in the French Alps, making it a true paradise for cyclists of all levels. From sweeping mountain passes to challenging climbs, picturesque villages to breathtaking panoramas, there is something for everyone in this stunning region.
To help you plan your next cycling adventure in the French Alps, we’ve put together a list of some of the best routes to explore. Whether you’re looking for an easy day ride or a multi-day challenge, there is sure to be a route that suits your needs.
Located in the French Alp between the villages of St-Jean-de-Maurienne and La Chambre, the Col du de la Madeleine is one of the most challenging and scenic cycling climbs in all of Europe. With an altitude of 1993 meters (6,538 feet) and a gradient that averages 8%, the climb is not for the faint of heart. But those who make it to the top are rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The Col de la Madeleine is one of the most famous climbs in the Tour de France, and has been used a total of 33 times since its first appearance in 1947. The Col du de la Madeleine is typically open from June to September, weather permitting. During this time, it is not unusual for there to be snow at the top of the pass.
Length : 19 km (11.8 miles)
The average gradient: 8 %
Total ascent: 1522 m
Steepest 100 meters 13.4 %
One of the most iconic cycling climbs in the world, Alpe d’Huez is a must-do for any keen cyclist. The route takes you past some of the most stunning scenery in the Alps, with sweeping views of the mountains and valleys below. It is 13.8 km long with an average gradient of 8.1%. The climb starts at the village of Le Bourg-d’Oisans and ends at the summit of the Alpe d’Huez. There are 21 lacets. The highest point of the climb is at 1805 m above sea level. Many professional cyclists use the route to prepare for the Tour de France. The Alpes d’huez climb is a challenging but rewarding experience.
Length : 13.8 km (8.57 miles)
The average gradient: 8.1 %
Total ascent 1118 m
Steepest 100 meters 15 %
One of the highest roads in Europe, the Col du Galibier is a true challenge for even the most experienced cyclists. Located between Grenoble and Briançon, the Col du Galibier is one of the most iconic cycling climbs in the world. The climb is notorious for its difficulty, with an average gradient of 6.9%. It is also one of the longest climbs in professional cycling, at 17.5 kilometres (10.8 miles) from Valoire . It reaches a height of 2,642 metres (8,658 feet)
Despite its difficulty, the Col du Galibier is a hugely popular climb among amateur cyclists. Every year, thousands of people attempt to reach the summit. For many, the challenge is as much mental as it is physical. The rewards for reaching the top are immense, with breathtaking views of the Alps
If you’re planning on tackling the Col du Galibier, make sure you’re prepared for a tough challenge. But don’t forget to enjoy the ride – it’s an unforgettable experience.
Length : 17.5km (10.8 miles)
The average gradient: 6.9 %
Total ascent 1213 m
Steepest 100 meters 11.9%
The highest paved road in Europe at an altitude of 2,802 metres (9,193 ft), the Col de la Bonette is a true test of endurance. The route takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Alps, with stunning views of the mountains and valleys below.
The pass is situated between the towns of Jausiers and Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée in the Alpes-Maritimes département. The road over the pass is often closed in winter due to snowfall and is only open from late May or early June until mid-September/mid-October, weather permitting.
The Col de la Bonette has an average gradient of 6.8% and a maximum gradient of 14.1%. The pass is 23.3 km (14.4 mi) long, making it one of the longest climbs in the Alps.
Length : 23.3 km (14.4 miles)
The average gradient: 6.8 %
Total ascent 1590 m
Steepest 100 meters 14.1%
The Col des Aravis is a high mountain pass in the French Alps. It connects the town of Le Grand-Bornand in Haute-Savoie with the resort town of La Clusaz in the Aravis mountain range.
The Col des Aravis is situated at an elevation of 1,487 metres (4,885 feet) above sea level and is therefore classed as a Category 1 climb on the Tour de France mountain classification system. The pass can be reached by two main routes: from Le Grand-Bornand, the climb is 11.6 kilometres (7.2 miles) long with an average gradient of 4.9%; or from La Clusaz, the climb is 18.8 kilometres (11.6 miles) long with an average gradient of 4.7%.
Due to its relatively easy gradients and scenic location, the Col des Aravis is a popular climb for both professional and amateur cyclists. In fact, it has been used numerous times in both the Tour de France and the Criterium du Dauphine, two of France’s biggest and most prestigious cycling races.
If you’re planning on visiting the Col des Aravis, there are a few things you should know. First of all, the pass is only open from June to September due to snowfall in the winter months. Secondly, there is a toll charge of €2.50 for cars and €1.50 for motorcycles. Finally, be sure to take plenty of water and food with you, as there are no shops or restaurants at the top of the pass.
Whether you’re a keen cyclist or simply want to enjoy the incredible views, the Col des Aravis is definitely worth a visit.
Length from la Cluzas : 18.8 km (11.6 miles)
The average gradient: 4.7%
Total ascent 876 m
Steepest 100 meters 11.3%
The Col de la Croix de fer is a mountain pass in the French Alps. It is located in the Isère département, between the villages of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and La Chambre. The name of the pass refers to a cross that was erected there in 1814, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Col de la Croix de fer is one of the most popular cycling climbs in the Alps, and has been included in several editions of the Tour de France. It is usually climbed from the south, starting in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. The climb is 28.1 kilometers long, with an average gradient of 5.5%. The highest point of the pass is at 2,067 meters above sea level.
Length : 28.1 km (17.4 miles)
The average gradient: 5.5%
Total ascent 1537 m
Steepest 100 meters 12.2%
The Col du Telegraphe is a mountain pass in the French Alps. It is located in the Hautes-Alpes department of southeastern France. The pass lies on the D902 road between the villages of Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and La Toussuire. It is the lower of the two routes over the Massif des Cerces, the other being the Col du Galibier. The pass is often Climbed from the Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne side as this is the easier of the two routes.
The Col du Telegraphe was first climbed by cyclists in 1876 as a stage on the Tour de France. The race has since visited the pass on numerous occasions. It was last included in the Tour in 2014, when it was climbed from the La Toussuire side. The Col du Telegraphe is also a popular climb with road cyclists who are not racing. It is regularly included in sportives such as the Marmotte, a popular gran fondo in the Alps.
The Col du Telegraphe is usually open from late May or early June to mid-October. Snow can sometimes block the road as early as October and as late as June.
It is possible to continue from the Col du Telegraphe to the Col du Galibier, another mountain pass in the French Alps.
Length from Saint-Michel de Maurienne : 11.8 km (7.3 miles)
The average gradient: 7.1%
Total ascent 837 m
Steepest 100 meters 11.2%
The Col du Glandon is a high mountain pass in the French Alps. It is located in the department of Hautes-Alpes, between the towns of Briançon and Gap. The pass lies at an elevation of 1,924 metres (6,309 ft) and is traversed by the D902 road. The pass is open all year round, weather permitting.
The Col du Glandon is a popular destination for cyclists, as it is frequently included in the Tour de France. The road up the pass is quite steep, with an average gradient of 7 %.
The Col du Glandon has been used in the Tour de France 18 times, most recently in 2014. It is often combined with the nearby Col de la Croix de Fer to create a longer and more challenging climb.
If you’re looking for a challenging climb in the French Alps, the Col du Glandon is definitely worth a try!
Length from la Chambre : 20.9 km (12.9 miles)
The average gradient: 7 %
Total ascent 1471 m
Steepest 100 meters 12.2%
Mont Ventoux is one of the most iconic and challenging cycling climbs in the world. The mountain, located in the Provence region of southeastern France, rises to a height of 1,912 metres (6,273 feet). The climb is notoriously difficult, with an average gradient of 7.7% and a maximum gradient of 13.3%. The climb is also very long, at 20.8 kilometres (12.9 miles).
Despite its difficulty, the Mont Ventoux climb is a popular destination for cyclists from all over the world. Many professional cyclists use the mountain as training ground, and it has been featured in several major races, including the Tour de France. In fact, the mountain is so popular that it has been nicknamed the “Giant of Provence”.
If you’re looking for a challenge, the Mont Ventoux climb is definitely worth considering. Just be sure to train properly and pack your climbing gear!
Length from Bedoin : 20.8 km (12.9 miles)
The average gradient: 7.7 %
Total ascent 1594 m
Steepest 100 meters 13.3%
The Col de la Loze is a mountain pass in the French Alps, located in the department of Savoie. It connects the villages of Méribel and Courchevel. The pass is 2360m high and has an average gradient of 7.5%. The climb is 16km long and is classified as a category 1 climb.
Length from Meribel : 10.1 km (6.2 miles)
The average gradient: 8.6 %
Total ascent 865 m
Steepest 100 meters 20.5%
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