French Alps Classic Cols
Welcome to our exciting new tour of the French Alps Classic Cols. This week long tour explores some of France’s most spectacular scenery and tackles some of the Tour de France’s (tdf) most iconic climbs.
After arrival in Geneva on Saturday we transfer to the beautiful city of Annecy where we spend the first two nights of the tour. Nestled on the banks of Lake Annecy, with a backdrop of spectacular mountains, Annecy also boasts a perfectly preserved medieval old town which makes a fantastic place to explore.
The tour runs from Saturday to Saturday with 6 days cycling and covers the cols of Semnoz, Forclaz, Tamie, Madeline, Glandon, Croix de Fer, Mollard, Telegraph, Galibier and Alpe d’Huez.
This tour is aimed at cyclists who like a challenge but the tour is such that the mileages aren’t too long and generally we only take on one of the major climbs each day which should allow time for relaxation in the afternoon and should hopefully ensure that the climbs are achievable for most regular cyclists. It should be noted however that these are long, tough climbs and the tour is only suitable for riders who are used to climbing.
You will be rewarded by many fantastic vistas over the mountains of the French Alps and gain a great sense of achievement reaching the tops of these iconic climbs.
The tour runs in much the same way as our LEJOG or Channel to the Med tour with the ‘magic van’ providing refreshments throughout the tour. Your bags will be transported for you each day and we will be having some fantastic picnic lunches amongst some amazing scenery with an emphasis on finding local specialities to ensure that you sample the fantastic food on offer – you certainly won’t go hungry!
You are provided with detailed route notes and for those with Garmins we also have GPX files of the route (or you can hire a device from us with the route loaded on). Usually a tour guide cycles at the back of the group and there is a support vehicle on hand should you require assistance. We also carry a few spare bikes just in case you have any major mechanical problems.
At the end of the tour we transfer you back to Geneva to arrive back at the airport for 11.00. We also transport your bikes to the start point in Annecy and back to the UK at the end of the tour. This is included in the tour price.
Sat 8th – Sat 15th June 2019 Places available
Sat 22nd – Sat 29th June 2019 Places available
Sat 7th – Sat 14th September 2019 Places available
Saturday: Arrival Day
Arrive at Geneva and transfer to Annecy. Our guides will set off from our base in Glossop on Thursday with all the bikes and stop a couple of times en route to Dover. We will then be around to meet you on Saturday morning when you arrive. A coach will depart from Geneva at 17.00 to arrive in Annecy for 18.00 to allow time to settle in before the first evening meal.
Sunday: Semnoz and Lake Annecy (32 or 45 miles) Elevation Gain: 4653ft /1418m
Our first ride is a loop which takes you up to the summit of Mount Senmoz which last featured on the penultimate day of the 2013 tdf and on a clear day you may be able to make out to Mont Blanc in the distance. Continuing down to the lake for lunch you can take the shorter route back to Annecy or our longer route around the eastern side of the lake.
Monday: Annecy to La Lechere (49 miles) Elevation Gain: 5101ft /1554m
Travelling alongside the eastern shore of the lake we then climb up over the Col de la Forclaz (de Montmin). The tdf crossed the Col for the 4th time in 2016. If you choose to, you can miss the climb and continue along the lake to meet back up with the route before the Col de Tamie and the decent down to Albertville. A very gentle climb takes you to La Lechere to be in place to start the climb up the Madeline tomorrow.
Tuesday: La Lechare to St Jean du Maurienne (38 miles) Elevation Gain: 6256ft /1907m
Not long after leaving La Lechare, and the valley floor, we start to ascend one of the toughest climbs of the tour, the Col de la Madeline. With over 1500m of climbing over 16 miles, the Madeline is a serious test for any rider. However we will be tackling the mountain fresh and not after having already ridden 100 miles as is often the case with the tdf. The beauty of the climb through forested woodland, cascading waterfalls, stone bridges and finally the spectacular summit is well worth the effort and amazing sense of achievement when you reach the top. You will also be rewarded with a fantastic decent down to the lovely town of St Jean du Maurienne. You also have the option of riding the Col du Chaussy today or tomorrow if you would like an extra ride.
Wednesday: Glandon & Croix de Fer Loop (39 miles) Elevation Gain: 5843ft /1781m
Today we tackle another two of the tdfs most classic climbs with the Col du Glandon and the Croix de Fer. Essentially the Col du Glandon is the beast to conquer with the Croix de Fer only another few miles or so to the summit after the Glandon. This spectacular climb has featured in the tdf many times as far back as 1947. Once again the views are sublime and you have another winding descent back down to the valley below.
Thursday: St Jean du Maurianne to Le Grave via Col du Galibier (42 miles) Elevation Gain: 7710ft /2350m
This is our longest day in the saddle as we tackle the mighty Galibier however once at the summit, at 30 miles, the rest is almost all downhill or flat as we wend our way to the town of Le Bourg-d’Oisans. After a flat start we first tackle to Col du Telegraph through Alpine woodland. The road descends to Valloire before you tackle the mighty Galibier. After lunch at the top of the mountain you have fantastic descent down to the attractive little village of La Grave, situated in a most spectacular setting.
Friday: Alpe d’Huez (49 miles) Elevation Gain: 6380ft /1944m
We leave La Grave and continue towards Bourg-d’Oisans around the turquoise blue Lac du Chambon. Just away from Bourg, we start our climb up the Alpe d’Huez, which must be one of the tdf’s most iconic mountains. After lunch at the top of the climb we take a lovely winding route down the Col du Sarenne which drops us back down to the crystal clear waters of Lake Chambon and back to the hotel in La Grave for our final celebratory meal.
Saturday: Transfer to Geneva and tour ends
A coach will pick us up at 8.00 to arrive at Geneva airport for 11.00. Meanwhile your bikes will start their journey back home in our back up van and will stop of a couple of times en-route to Derbyshire
The tour price includes 7 nights accommodation, 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, snacks, tea, coffee, & hot chocolate, full trip support including a tour leader that cycles with the group (on smaller groups there will just be back up vehicles), back up van with spare parts and a few spare bikes, detailed route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, certificate, luggage transfer each day, lots of fun!
What’s Not Included?
Evening meals, cycle hire (available for a fee), transport to France, transport from Geneva.
The group will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 25 people. We feel that this size of group works best as there will always be enough in the group for some good company but there won’t be so many people that it becomes overcrowded.
Accommodation is in clean and comfortable 3 star hotels or top end 2 star hotels when 3 star aren’t available (France has an unusual rating system). Either sharing a twin or a double room or, if you would like your own space then you can choose the single room option, or sole occupancy of a double . All rooms are en-suite.
Covering approximately 260 miles over 6 days we average around 43 miles a day. This tour really isn’t about mileage but about conquering some truly majestic and iconic mountains. Generally you will have finished cycling by early afternoon with time to relax and explore.
All of your breakfasts and lunches are included in the price of the trip. Lunches will be provided each day in a cafe or restaurant or picnic lunches provided by the guides when the weather is good. Evening meals can be bought at your accommodation or in a nearby pub/restaurant. We also have fruit, biscuits, cake, nuts etc in the back up van that you are welcome to pick at throughout the day.
An experienced tour leader will cycle with you each day and be on hand to help with any bike problems that may occur. You will have detailed route notes so that you can go slower or faster than the leader if you prefer or you can cycle with the tour guide at the back so that you don’t have to navigate at all.
A back up van will leap frog the group a number of times each day so that help is never far away. We carry a range of spare parts so that repairs can be made en-route and we will have a couple of spare bikes available in the event that your bike has a serious breakdown.
We highly recommend that you use a bike that you are used to and feel comfortable riding. Your bike should be fully serviced and in good condition before you start, this will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and unnecessary stoppages along the way. Either a road bike or a touring bike is preferable. We have a range of road and touring bikes available for hire if you don’t have your own bike. We will take your bike over for you if you bring it to us before hand and we will take it back for you at the end of the tour as well (free of charge if you drop off and pick up or we can box the bike and post it to you for a charge).
This tour is suitable for someone with a good level of fitness and who wants a challenge. If you do plenty of training beforehand you should have no problem completing the ride. We will have a training day in the Peak District available if you would like to join the group before the main event.
It must be stressed that a good amount of training before the ride will make your tour much more enjoyable and ensure that you finish your ride. We are always happy to advise you about training plans in preparation for the ride.
Clothing & Equipment
Clothing for all weathers is recommended so waterproofs are essential. A full recommended kit list is provided and we are always happy to answer any questions that you may have.
It is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance to cover against, personal accident, loss of belongings and cancellation cover. This should cover you in the event that you have to cancel the tour anytime after the final payment has been made as we may be unable to fill your place. There are many insurance companies out there and we prefer not to get involved with recommending a particular company and there are so many policies available depending on your own personal circumstances.
What happens at the start of the tour?
The tour starts in Annecy on the first Saturday. The easiest airport for Annecy is Geneva and our guides will be around in Geneva on Saturday morning ready to meet you when you arrive. It’s about 45 minutes from Geneva to Annecy so we have a coach booked for 17.00. If you are arriving earlier then you can leave your bags with our guides if you want to have a look around Geneva before the coach arrives at 17.00. We have a group meal on Saturday night and then the cycling starts on Sunday. We will take your bikes over for you so that you don’t have to take them on the plane. You can either drop them off with us in Glossop, Derbyshire beforehand or meet us on the Thursday before the tour starts as we drive down to Dover. We will stop near Birmingham and at South Mimms services on the M25. Alternatively you can post your bike to us and we will take it over for you.
What happens at the end?
After the ascent (and descent) of Alpe d’Huez you have the afternoon free to relax in Bourg-d’Oisins. Meanwhile your tour guides will pack your bikes into our back up van ready to be transported back to the UK. On Saturday morning a coach will arrive to take everyone back to Geneva airport for 11.00.
How do I transport my bike?
Your easiest option is to drop your bike off with us beforehand and will will take it over for you and bring it back at the end of the tour – there is no charge for this option. We are based in Glossop, Derbyshire so this may not be a convenient option for you.
Another option is to take your bike with you at the start of the tour and at the end of the tour you can either take your bike with you on the plane (we will provide a cardboard box and packing material for you and help you to box your bike). Alternatively we can take your bike back to the UK for you and box your bike and post it too you – there is a charge of £70 for this option.
Another option is to rent a bike from us.
Whatever arrangements you make we will be happy to help.
How difficult is the tour?
The fitter you are and the more training that you do beforehand will add to the enjoyment of your tour and improve your chances of succeeding the challenge. If you need any advice about fitness please contact us and we will be happy to discuss any questions and concerns that you may have.
What mechanical knowledge do I need?
We don’t expect you to be an expert bike mechanic but there are a few simple skills that will be a great benefit to you. The most important skill you need to know is how to fix a puncture. It is quite likely that at some point you will have a puncture or two so it is essential that you carry a puncture repair kit & a spare tube or two with you. It is also helpful if you know how to change your brake pads and adjust your brakes and gears however this isn’t essential. Our guides will help you with any repairs and adjustments en-route.
What are the lunches like?
Lunches will be a mixture of picnic lunches and lunches in cafe’s or restaurants situated in some picturesque places. We will source local specialities and provide plenty of delicious French food every day of your tour, you certainly won’t go hungry. We will have plenty of food available and will cater for any special dietary requirements.
Will I be left behind?
No, a tour leader cycles at the back of the group so that you won’t be left behind if you are worried about cycling too slowly. Throughout the group there will be a mix of abilities and cycling speeds so you will usually be able to cycle with others that cycle at a similar pace. Some people like to cycle fast whilst others prefer to take their time, stop for coffee & cake or stop to take photos etc so whether you are a ‘speed demon’ or more of a ‘tourer’ there usually will be someone to cycle with each day.
What are the groups like?
Obviously each group is different but generally they are a fun, friendly, helpful & adventurous bunch. There will be people of all ages and from all walks of life. We tend to get quite a few older riders although there will always be a few younger riders as well. So far our youngest rider (for the Lands End to John o’Groats tour) was 15 & the oldest (for the Channel to Med Tour) was 82. We think that a group of 20-25 is ideal as there will be plenty of people with similar interests & character without being such a big group that it becomes too much.
Generally the group will be split 50/50 between people travelling alone and people that travel as a pair such as two brothers, two friends, two partners. There will be plenty of people to socialise with throughout the day and in the evening.
Many of the people on this tour will have cycled on a tour with us previously so you may even bump into someone you know!
What happens in the evenings?
Once you have arrived at your accommodation you should have chance for some time to relax, have a shower etc before the evening meal. We usually arrange somewhere to eat for the evening meal so that we can all get together & you won’t be left alone if you would like to eat with others. Quite often will simply arrange a certain pub to meet up & just drift in when you are ready whilst at other places we have a set time to eat – it just depends on the location.
Does the support vehicle follow the group?
No, the back up van doesn’t drive behind the group at all times but the van shouldn’t be too far away if you require assistance. In the morning we have a group brief and set off cycling, meanwhile the backup driver will collect all the luggage from the various B&B’s and hotels. Once all of the luggage has been loaded, the support vehicle will leapfrog the group stopping when necessary. The backup driver will be at the lunch stop should you need anything from the van & in the afternoon will go on ahead to ensure that your luggage is in place before you arrive.
How much luggage can I take?
There is limited space in the back up van to store luggage. We therefore request that you try to keep your luggage size to a minimum and try not to bring too much with you. Washing clothes can be done en-route so you shouldn’t need to bring a clean set of clothes for every day. The ideal size for luggage is 70 x 50 x 30 cm and a weight of 15-18kg (or less).
What training should I do?
The more the better. We will provide a training guide for you so that you can build up your cycling strength and prepare for the ride in the correct way. It is important that you cycle two long days back to back whilst training & also that you cycle on some hills. We hold training weekends at the start of the season so that you can meet with others in the group, ask any questions you may have & also test yourselves amongst the hills of the Peak District.
What bike should I use?
The most suitable bike for this trip is a road bike, however it is entirely up to you what type of bike you use.
Please ensure that your bike is fully serviced and in good working order before the start of the trip.
Tyre inflation & rubber composition is important & a tyre width of 25cm is recommended for this tour. Please ensure that you have hard wearing tyres with plenty of tread.
You are going to cycle 260 miles so it is important that your bike won’t let you down. You may want to fit new brake blocks, tyres & inner tubes before you start the ride and also bring 3-4 spare inner tubes, pump, puncture repair kit and multi-tool to carry with you each day. It is essential that you are able to fix a puncture.
It is also advisable to have lights from & rear lights on your bikes and try to be a visible as possible.
Can I hire a bike from you?
It is advisable to use your own bike if possible however we realise that it is not always possible to use your own steed so you may wish to hire one. We have two types of road bike and three types of hybrid/touring bikes bike available. Details of these bikes can be found by clicking on the ‘Tour Extras’ tab.
All of our hire bikes come fitted with cycle computer, pump, 2 water bottle cages, bell and front and rear lights. There is also a small saddle bag with a spare tube, multi-tool, puncture repair kit and tyre levers. We can also provide a helmet for you at no extra cost.
What gear should I take?
We provide a suggested kit list so please contact us if you would like a copy sending to you.
What is the male / female ratio?
This varies with each group. There are usually more guys than gals but an average would be about 1/4 ladies and 3/4s gents.
France is a wide and diverse country which contains a variety of different and changing landscapes. France is also 1/4 as densely populated as the UK and much more rural so the roads are quieter and cyclists are treated with much more respect.
France is the cultural home of cycling and everyone has heard of the Tour de France. We will cycle through some of the iconic landscapes that you will have seen whilst watching the tour.
France enjoys much better weather than the UK so chances of a dry and sunny tour is much more likely than if tackling LEJOG although it must also be noted that it can get very hot in the summer months.
France is also well known for it’s gastronomy and also fine wines and we will do out best to ensure that you sample plenty of the delights on offer. Added to that a rich culture, medieval villages and stunning architecture all of which makes France an ideal place for a long distance cycle tour.
To book a tour please send a completed booking form and (a) Deposit of £250.00 per person for tours of 7 days or longer or £50.00 for all other tours or (b) The full holiday cost. If only the deposit is paid at time of booking then full payment of the holiday is required no less than 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. No further reminder is sent. If you book your holiday within 8 weeks of the holiday start date, the full holiday cost is required at time of booking.
Cancellation by Us
In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the tour you will be entitled to a full refund of all monies paid or we will move you to a different tour date if you’re able to do so. If the tour is cancelled because the minimum number of people required to operate this tour hasn’t been reached then you will be notified no less than 3 calendar months before the departure date. If the tour is cancelled by us we will not be responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred such as travel expenses, visas etc & no compensation will be paid to cover these expenses.
Cancellation by You
If you have to cancel your holiday then please notify us as soon as possible. We always try to be fair and will always try to move you to different tour date if possible. If you cancel your tour less than 8 weeks before your tour start date then you will lose all monies already paid. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance to cover cover this.
Notice of Cancellation Charge (% of Full Price)
Length of time before the tour is due to start Cancellation Charge More than 60 days before start date Deposit Less than 60 days before start date 100%
Cooling Off Period
If you decide to cancel your tour after receipt of your booking form you will be entitled to a 14 day cooling off period. During this time you will be entitled to a full refund of any monies paid.
B&B Option – double or twin
If you chose the B&B only option you will stay in a mixture of B&B’s, hotels and country pubs. If you are travelling with a friend then you will be roomed together in a twin or or if you’re with your partner then you will be in a double room (or a twin if you prefer). If you are travelling alone then you will be roomed with another member of the group in a twin room (same sex). The actual stopovers may change from the advertised accommodation providers, if this happens then an equivalent standard of accommodation will be used nearby. The majority of the rooms you stay in will be en-suite however you may stay in a couple of rooms that are not en-suite.
Single Room Option
If you choose the single room option you will have your own room for the duration of the trip. This will be in either a single room or single occupancy of a double room in a mixture of en-suite and non en-suite rooms.
Sole Use of a Double room Option
If you choose this option you will have a guaranteed double room to yourself throughout the tour. You will always have an en-suite each night of your tour. There may be a rare occasion when you have a separate bathroom but this is very unlikely.
YHA (Youth Hostel) Option
This option is only available for the 14 day LEJOG tour. If you chose the YHA option you will stay in a mixture of hostels, hotels & B&B’s staying in single sex dormitory rooms, single rooms, twin rooms & triples.
On tours with 8 people or less in the group then there may only be one tour guide with you who will drive the back up van each day. Tours with 8 – 15 people in the group will have two tour guides with one guide driving the back up van and the other guide cycling with the group or both guides driving a back up van each. Tours with 16+ will have a guide that cycles with the group plus two back up vans do provide support.
If you choose the cycle hire option you will be provided with your bike at the start of your tour. The bike comes with everything you need for your trip although some people like you use their own saddle, peddles and/or helmet (just let us know beforehand). At the end of your tour you can simply hand your bike back to us when you finish cycling. Please see the additional cycle hire sheet for details of the bikes we have available.
If the minimum number of people required to run the trip is not met then we will have to cancel the trip. You will be notified at least 3 calendar months prior to the start date of the trip if the minimum number (usually 8 people) hasn’t been met & you will receive a full refund of all monies paid.
In order to comply with EU Travel Regulations 1992 your deposit & final payment will be held in a separate account until your holiday is completed. This is to ensure the financial security of your holiday.
It is compulsory that you take out adequate holiday insurance including medical cover, personal accident, loss of belongings & cancellation cover. We cannot be held responsible for your own illness, injury or loss/damage of your bike or belongings while on holiday.
EHIC – European Health Insurance Card (for EU nationals travelling in Europe)
This card entitles you to greatly reduced or free state medical services throughout Europe, including Switzerland. We recommend you send off for one of these before the trip and carry it with you. It’s important to bear in mind that these cards are not a substitute for travel insurance and adequate travel insurance is compulsory for this tour. This link will give you all the information you need about the EHIC. www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC
Cycling is a potentially dangerous activity & the risks involved should be considered before undertaking such a trip. We will be cycling mostly on quiet back roads however there will be times when we cycle on busier roads where traffic density is higher. All persons undertaking this tour do so at their own risk & Peak Tours cannot be held responsible for any accidents that may occur whilst on the trip. For further details please see our risk acknowledgement statement here which forms part of these conditions.
By signing your booking form you agree to the booking conditions as outlined above. Peak tours will carry out our obligations as detailed in the tour itinerary & any information supplied to you.
DUE TO ‘BREXIT’ AND THE EVER DECREASING VALUE OF THE POUND WE MAY HAVE TO APPLY A SMALL SURCHARGE TO THIS TOUR IF THE SITUATION DOESN’T IMPROVE. PRICES WERE SET BEFORE THE ‘BREXIT’ VOTE AND SINCE THEN THE POUND HAS PLUMMETED AGAINST THE EURO. IF THE POUND CONTINUES TO FALL THEN UNFORTUNATELY WE WILL HAVE TO APPLY A SMALL SURCHARGE TO THE TOUR. IF WE DO HAVE TO APPLY A SURCHARGE THEN YOU WILL BE ENTITLED TO CANCEL AND HAVE A FULL REFUND. WE HOPE THAT THIS WONT HAPPEN BUT IT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE OUR CUSTOMERS AWARE.