Beautiful cycling routes
AlpBase is surrounded by mountain cols and beautiful cycling tours, the most famous of which is the Col de Lautaret (2,057m) regularly used in the alpine section of the Tour de France, as well as local events such as the Giro d'Italia, and the Luc Alphand Sportive.
Other killer cols around us include the Col du Galibier (2,642m), one of the highest in France, and the very long Col d'Izoard (2,360m) enough to satisfy the leanest and meanest!
I have ridden every month except December and January here in the Hautes Alpes. It's a huge area and the centre of Alpine road cycling. That's why the Tour de France comes through this region every year. Enjoy!
The Vallouise Valley, where AlpBase.com is located, lies right in the heart of the Pays Des Ecrins. This is just one sector of nine that make up road cycling in the Hautes Alpes. These sectors are all rideable using us as your holiday base. Each sector has as many as four day long rides and everything from easy 1 hour rides right up to full blown 8 hour marathons!
We are a cycling family so most of our accommodation includes safe and secure bike lock ups. Plus we are always on hand for support or information, whether you have a problem with your own bike or you want to hire one.There are many terrific itineraries you can do but the one below can be done from the doorstep of any of our chalets or apartments:
Col DeIzoard, 2360m
Time: 6-8 hours depending on fitness and which way round you go!
The hard way round: From Vallouise head down towards Guillestre via back roads and then take the road up into the Queyras. Take off up towards the Col D'Izoard as you approach Chateau Queyras (1345m). From Arvieux (1563m) it is sometimes quite steep on the south side with climbs up to 14%. The surface is perfect on the north side, but not nearly as good on the south, so it makes sense going from the south over this pass and all the nice views are on this side, like the famous Casse Deserte landscape.
The south side is dramatically different from the north side of this pass and clearly separates the Southern French Alps from the Northern Alps. Here you can experience both worlds on the same climb. The Casse Deserte â the strange, colorful and stony landscape on the higher reaches of the south side - is a major tourist attraction. This landscape goes all the way up to the pass itself. Once at the Col you have a great descent down to Briancon then take the Route Des Espagnols back to Prelles, then side road to Les Vigneaux ad eventually Vallouise. World Class tour - no question!
N.B. Don’t forget you can secure your bikes safely at any of our chalets or apartments
You can take children from age 6 on pretty much all of the itineraries in the Hautes Alpes. You just need to be realistic in terms of where you start and finish from.
Even in the height of summer there are plenty of quiet side roads that lead to beautiful viewpoints and pass spectacular mountain scapes.If you get stuck just ask us for advice and suggestions.Now read the AREAS notes for some inspiration!
AlpBase.com is surrounded by mountain cols perfect for road cycling. The most famous is the Col de Lautaret (2,058m) regularly used in the alpine section of the Tour de France. Here are a few we like.
Recommended road routes in the Ecrins:
1. La Bérarde, 1738m
For those going up the Romanche valley there is a very scenic ride into the Massif des Ecrins from near le Bourg d'Oisans. Well worth a look. There are 26km of road, mostly widened by 1997, superb views and the odd tunnel. It is quite steep between Bourg d'Arud and St Christophe.
2. L'Alpe d'Huez, 1860m
Often used by the Tour de France as a stage finish. It rises SE of Grenoble off the Lautaret road. There are 21 numbered hairpins and much of the 14km climb is as steep as 10%.
3. Col de Sarennes, 1996m
The classic Alpe d’Huez climb is part of the western approach to this pass. One could do the full Alpe d’Huez climb from Le Bourg d’Oisans (719m) or one could come from down the Col de la Croix de Fer/Col du Glandon road and take off at the southern side of the lower dam –Barrage du Verney (820) – and climb via Villard-Reculas and Huez to the pass. The eastern climb starts by the big dam –Barrage du Chambon (1040m) – on the Col du Lautaret road. All the approaches are steep, but the easiest is the one from Barrage du Verney, where the road is almost flat for some kilometers between Villard-Reculas and Huez. This is probably also the most beautiful way to go to the pass. The road goes a bit up and down between Alpe d’Huez and the pass. There are several rough water drainage passages (cobblestoned depressions in the road) on both sides of the pass. There are plenty of cyclists in this region because of the magnetism that Alpe d’Huez has on cyclists worldwide. The most "direct" climb from Barrage du Chambon may be preferable if you do not like too much traffic.
4. Col du Sabot, 2100m
It is the same road at start as the one going to Col de la Croix de Fer from Bourg d’Oisans. Just after the Barrage du Verney (772m) (a big dam) there is a road taking off right to Vaujany. The road is mostly steep, but not above around 11%. After Vaujany one continues ahead and soon enters the narrow and somewhat recently paved road to the pass with many serpentines. It was paved in 1999 for the female Tour de France. There are 4km at 10% and more than 8km at 8%, and the total climb (from Rochetaillée) is 1400m. It is a very quiet road with wonderful views at the top. There are only paths down the other side of the pass and the tarmac runs out just as one reaches the pass. There is a bar just after a little pass on the way – Le Collet (de Vaujany) (1400m). Water tap in Vaujany.
5. Col Du Lautaret, 2058m
It is uphill all the way from Grenoble, but first after Le Bourg d’Oisans (719m) the road begins to climb more like a mountain road. You start at the big (dam) Barrage du Chambon (1040m) if coming down from Col de Sarenne. The eastern climb starts in Briançon (1204m) and is almost flat for many kilometers, but after Le Monêtier-les-Bains (1477m) it is a more pronounced climb to the pass. There is often head-wind up this side to the pass. The nicest part of the climb is by the Chambon dam and the stretch around La Grave with the spectacular mountain peaks of the Ecrins massif, La Meije and others, looming high above in the sky. The main problem with this pass is the heavy, heavy traffic. There is no similarly easy passage over the French Alps into Italy if one wishes to avoid tunnels as it is over the Montgenevre pass and that leads a lot of traffic this way. (Unless the traffic comes from the south and goes to Briançon via Gap and Guillestre.) There is water in Le Monêtier-les-Bains on the east side, which is a good place to fill up at. You could also come to this pass via the much more interesting Col du Galibier or proceed to that pass.
6. Col Du Galibier, 2642m
You can go all the way from Grenoble up to Col du Galibier, which makes it hard and long climb with approximately 2400 height meters to climb. You can also start in Briançon (highest town in the Alps at 1204 m). The hardest side is the north side though. The climb starts properly in St. Michel de-Maurienne (712m) and passes by Col du Télégraphe (1566m) where it is downhill to Valloire (1430m). From Valloire it is fairly steep all the way up to the pass. It is however never steeper than 12%. This pass is only rivaled in popularity by the Passo dello Stelvio/Stilfser Joch in Italy. No high mountain pass have gained such a prominent place in the history of the Tour de France as the Galibier. It is difficult to find a cyclist interested in mountain cycling that has not been here already. The popular cyclist event La Marmotte also let ordinary cyclists compete over this (and other) mountain pass each year. It is quite beautiful (around the higher area) and quite hard as it is a long ascent from any direction. Water can be found for example at Valloire on the north side and at Col du Lautaret on the south side. There is much traffic down in the Maurienne valley and also until Col du Lautaret on the south side.
7. Col Du Granon, 2413m
The climb starts just a few kilometers outside Briançon in the direction of Col de Lautaret at Chantemerle (1356m). There is no sign and there are two possible roads to follow up to Villard-Laté (one steep straight short-cut and the regular road). But if you go up you are likely on the right road. From Villard-Laté to the pass it is almost always quite steep, though never extremely steep. Maximum is around 14%. The road actually continues down to a place called Granon, on the other side of Briançon, but it is an unpaved road that should be a bit too rough here and there with a racer. Bring water with you as there is none on this climb. The road is very exposed to the sun. There is a military area around the top region and some signs announcing this.
8. Col D’Izoard, 2360m
From the south the road takes off up the pass near Château-Queyras (1345m). From Arvieux (1563m) it is sometimes quite steep on the south side with up to 14%. From the north side the climb starts right in the center of Briançon (1204m). The surface is perfect on the north side, but not nearly as good on the south, so it makes sense going from the south over this pass and all the nice views are on this side, like the famous Casse Deserte landscape. The south side is dramatically different from the north side of this pas and as many have said this pass is good for separating the South French Alps from the Northern Alps. Here you can experience both worlds on the same climb. However, the Northern Alps are usually much nicer than this north side and the south side is exceptionally beautiful among the southern passes. The Casse Deserte – the strange, coulorful and stony landscape on the higher reaches of the south side is a major tourist attraction. It is very hard to understand the proportions because it looks as the mountainside has all slid down with some rocks and trees still standing here and there. The road goes down a little here on the south climb. This landscape goes all the way up to the pass itself.
9. Col De Vars, 2109m
From Guillestre to the north the road up to Col de Vars should be possible to find, though Guillestre is a confusingly widespread town. It is never very steep and has an almost flat stretch in the middle among the tiny tourist villages higher up. Near the pass it is, however quite nice with a little lake. The much more preferable south side is slightly harder, but also shorter and never above 11%. It is just slightly uphill all the time from Barcelonette (1136). After Les Geizolles (1309), where one could alternatively take right and go over Col de Larche to Italy, it soon begins to get steeper. This is a beautiful pass, mainly because of the quiet and charming south side. There is a bar at the pass.
There are many cyclosportive events in this area. Here are some of the best:
La Serre Che Luc Alphand is super fun.
I do it every year. Details on their website: http://www.cyclo-lucalphand.com
La Marmotte - it's huge (6,000+ riders), its brutal (I've done it twice and suffered a lot both times!!), but it is THE race in the Hautes Alpes.
Details on this website: http://www.cyclomundo.com/marmotte.html
The Risoul Vauban. It's up and down a lot but not very long - less than 120Km. but it still hurt me!
Details on their website: http://www.risoul1850.com/fr/la-station/les-evenements/la-risoul-vauban,152.html
L'ELDORADO DU VELO - If you are cycling in July or August you can apply for your free cycling top if you ride the 5 classic cols. On certain days they shut the roads to traffic so you can ride the classic cols in this region without ANY traffic! See the dates when these rides take place at this site:
LE BREVET DES 5 AIGLES - If you ride the 5 classic cols within a 7 day period you can apply for your certificate - Le Brevet des 5 Aigles!
Contact the Serre Chevalier Tourist Office on 0033 492 24 98 98
I start riding around Mid March when it is nice and sunny but you could ride all year round.
Why? Because this area is so dry - 300 days of sunshine a year - and the roads are so clear that people train here all the year.
If it is cold up in the mountains less than an hour's drive will put you in Provence where you can definitely ride all year round.
For the famous alpine cols I would leave it until May or June because although most are open, cols like the Galibier can still be blocked into early June.
Check out this website to see if the alpine col you want is open: http://www.infotrafic.com/route.php?region=FRANC&link;=cols.php?ALPS
Visit a local Tourist Information Centre and pick up a free copy of the Hautes Alpes bike brochure - "Cyclo et VTT itineraries partages Cols mythiques.
You can get a copy from their website: www.hautes-alpes.net
We have them in all our AlpBase rental accommodation - an invaluable guide MAPS
The Hautes Alpes is split into a whole series of IGN maps. You can order them here:
With all of our accommodation rentals we offer free use of our maps and guidebooks
Our local mountain bike only hire shop is La Montagne Blanche in Vallouise La Casse. Owner Chris Trevallion and his team of French and English speaking experts are always on hand with advice, a nice smile and often a free cup of coffee. 10% off if booking through AlpBase:
The most technical and best road bike hire shop is in Briancon - Cycles and Sk. Stephane is the owner and his Bike hire and cycle shop is close to the Casino near the centre of town:
N.B. Don’t forget you can secure your bikes safely at any of our chalets or apartments. And we provide free use of guidebooks and maps. To book any of our chalets go to Accommodation
Choose from a wide selection of high quality chalets and apartments ideal for familes and/or groups of friends.
How to find us
AlpBase, Southern French Alps