Reader Q&A: Cycling tours in the French Alps

Published by Lyn on 30 March 2014

Pat wrote in from Australia to ask about cycling tours in the French Alps that are suited to cyclists wanting to ride at a more leisurely pace. Here's our Q&A.

Col du Telegraph

On the Col du Telegraph. Photo: winniepix

Hi Lyn,

I enjoy your blog – you seem to be just the right sort of person to give me some advice.
I'm 53, reasonably fit and want to get over to France and cycle some mountains, particularly some of the more iconic climbs. Your words on the Maurianne Valley inspired me and it sounds like a lovely area.
I will be travelling on my own from Australia, but would like some company and was looking at going with an organised group. I'm a slow climber and like to ride at an easy pace, but most of the organised tours seem to be for quicker, competitive-type riders.
Do you know of any companies that do tours for riders who can tackle big hills but like to do it at a relaxed pace?
Lyn writes:
Hi Pat

I'm so pleased you've found my site useful (and especially happy to help out a fellow Aussie!)

The good thing about cycling in the Alps (or the Pyrenees, for that matter) is that most of the companies who know these routes well are able to organise tailored trips, as well as the more widely advertised group rides.

Who you choose will probably ultimately depend on price and also on dates, bearing in mind that July and August is fairly busy. I'd recommend the shoulder seasons of late spring and early autumn (cheaper flights from Australia, too).
The companies below should be able to either tailor something for you, or have an easier paced ride that covers the cols you want to climb. I feature all of them in my Organised Tours section for the Alps, and would be happy to recommend them. When you get in touch, let them know I suggested you write and they will look after you.
They should all be able to sort routes, ride support, accommodation and bike hire if you need it, plus airport or train station transfers to the Alps.
In no particular order of preference:

Tell Teresa and Roger I said hi. They have a base in the Drome and know routes to Alpe d'Huez and the High Alps very well.

Run by Bruno and his expert team out of Switzerland, but their tours cover all of France and run throughout the Alps. 
These guys are a little more 'serious' with their climbing, but they are a small company and may be able to tailor something just for you. They are based in Morzine. Ask for Joe and Amelia (Aussies, originally from Tasmania).

Cycling Languedoc
Run by a lovely guy called Gerry and his cycling buddy, John. They can tailor a trip for you though, as with Tri4theAlps above, they are a small company so it may depend on your dates as to whether they have availability.

Also worth checking out is Zenith Holidays' Geneva to the Alps ride; it's offered on a guided basis, though the pace may depend on who else is in the group.  
Another option is to choose your accommodation at a bike-friendly B&B or chalet and work with the guys at the chalet/B&B to devise routes and local rides.
The places listed on these pages are all bike-friendly and can help with local information and rides (many are run by cyclists who would probably enjoy heading out with you). You can also zoom in to see them below.

It would be worth getting in touch with a selection of them based near the cols you want to ride to check availability and weigh up cost against a structured tour.
I hope that helps – please shout if you need any more help or information. It would be great to hear how you get on and what you decide to do.

Pat writes:

What a speedy, fulsome and incredibly helpful reply.
Thank you so much, Lyn.

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