Legendary Cols of the French Alps


£2,295.00 per person*

($2,914.65 USD or $4,544.10 AUD)

£250.00 deposit

£425.00 single room supplement

Tour dates

There are currently no scheduled dates for this tour, but please contact us if you want to schedule a private tour for six or more people.

Contact Us

Many thanks to the French Cycling Holidays and especially to Susan and David for the great time in the mountains! We struggled, but it was a lot of fun. Thank you for helping us in gaining satisfaction and in setting new goals for the future!

-- Svetlana. Moscow, Russia

Legendary Cols of the French Alps cycling tour highlights

  • Stunning views of Lake Annecy
  • The fearsome Col de la Madeleine
  • Breathtaking panoramas of Mont Blanc from the Col des Aravis
  • The Col d’Iseran at 2,770m, the highest pass in the Alps
  • Climbs of the 2021 Tour de France

Join this cycling tour


Geneva airport or Annecy station


Geneva airport or Annecy station

Collection and drop offs are from Geneva airport and Geneva rail station.

Cycling level

10 out of 10

For riders who have strong confidence in their cycling fitness. Daily distances can be over 100 km on mountainous terrain. Tours will include climbs of over 10 km in length ( many made famous by the Tour de France!) .Cyclists should have the endurance to ride long distances and steep gradients over multiple days.

View Gallery

Our cycling tour of the legendary cols takes you over many of the great climbs of the northern French Alps — names familiar from Tours de France from the last 50 years. You will be following in the wheeltracks of Bartoli and Coppi, Anquetil and Poulidor, Mercx, Hinault, Lemond, Indurain and now Froome.

The natural beauty and clean air of the  mountains, traffic free roads and vista’s to take your breath away will be a holiday to remember for ever.  Enjoy the sensation of feeling very small in the majesty of these monuments.

A quick look at the climbs you will be vanquishing on our Cols Légendaires des Grandes Alpes cycling tour in France:

  • Col de Leschaux (897m)
  • Col du Frêne (950m)
  • Col de la Madeleine (1993m)
  • Col du Chaussy (1533m)
  • Lacets de Montvernier (754m)
  • Col d'Iseran (2764m)
  • Col de la Madeleine (1746m)
  • Cormet de Roselend (1967m)
  • Col de Méraillet (1605m)
  • Col des Saisies (1657m)
  • Col des Aravis (1483m)
  • Plateau des Glières (1445m)

…not bad for a single week of cycling! If it's in the northern Alps and the Tours de France goes over it, chances are we do too!

To view a map of the Cols Legendaires cycling tour route click here 

Arrival Day

We collect from Geneva airport and  Geneva or Annecy train stations, and transfer to our hotel on the shores of the Lac d’Annecy.  For those wishing to enjoy the panorama of the lake and the surrounding mountains take a Tour de Lac  Annecy on one of the oldest Cycle Paths in France, 37km. In the evening we enjoy a fantastic dinner planned with the weeks efforts in mind.

Distance:  37km (optional)

Day 1

Our week starts with the gentle climb of Col de Leschaux (897m), 11.8km at 4% average. Enjoy the stunning views of lac Annecy to our left as we climb and enter Massif des Bauges National Park with its beautiful prairies and forests. Staying within the Park we continue to warm up our legs  on the rolling terrain and collect another Col; Col du Frêne 12km at 2.5% average. Enjoy the swooping descent into the Olympic Host City of Albertville. Albertville has featured in many chapters of the Tour de France, most notability the 2019 dramatically shortened penultimate stage 20.

Leaving Albertville we enjoy flatter roads running alongside the River Isère to the Spa town of Bride les Bains and our hotel for the night.

Distance: 108km Climbing 1871m

Day 2

Our day starts with a roll down the valley  to the bottom of the Col de la Madeleine (1993m) 28km average of 5.4%. The tour has climbed the Madeleine 25 times and will feature again on stage 17 of the 2020 tour!

Stop at the top for a delicious homemade Myrtille tart before enjoying the spectacular descent, not all the way to the bottom though! Don’t miss the D99 on the left, taking us to our second climb of the day, Col du Chaussy (1533m) 9.5km at 7% average.

The top affords us specular views of the Massif de la Lauzière , les Aiguilles d'Arves and the chain de Belledonne.

The descent brings us to the stunning Lacets du Montvernier 18 hairpins in 3km, and a short run along the valley to St-Jean-de-Maurienne to our iconic cycling hotel for the night. 

Distance 86km Climbing 2954m

Day 3

Only one climb on day 4 of the cycling tour — but what a climb!  Following the valley of the Arc ( a 128km river) , we come to Lanslebourg situated at 1387m altitude, where a left hand fork puts us onto the lower slopes of this popular winter resort. First we roll over a smaller Col de la Madeleine (1747m) an amuse bouche before le plat principal or monster Col d'Iseran (2764m) 33km at 5% average, the highest road pass in the Alps.

Enjoy some of the most staggering views in the French Alps all the surrounding peaks are over 3000m as we pedal higher and higher!

The Iseran was the first ever mountain time-trial in the Tour (1947) and recently was the dramatic scene of stage 19 of the 2019 Tour de France. A freak hail storm and subsequent mud slide closed the road to the original finish in Tignes. The stage timings were taken at the top of the Col.

Our dessert is 40km of descent as we drop 1700m passing through the chic ski resort of Val d’Isere and into Sainte Foy Tarentaise to our hotel. 

Distance 128km  Climbing 3736m

Day 4

A very slightly gentler day today,  a deserved reward for the exertions of the previous 2 days. Even so, we tackle two renowned climbs from the Tour — first up is the Cormet de Roselend (1967m) 19km at 6% average. A beautiful climb to the glorious view of the turquoise waters of Lac de Roselend just down from the summit.

We continue our descent into village of Beaufort, famous for its yummy cheese of the same name and a treat for lunch.

The afternoon’s climb of Col des Saisies (1657m) 16.2km at 5.5% average will afford you exceptional views of the Mont Blanc and Aravis mountains. We stay tonight in the ski station of Saisies a great place to enjoy a well earned drink and wonder before dinner. 

Distance 66km  Climbing 2537m

Day 5

We start our day descending into the Val d’Arly.  Reaching Flumet we start the gentle climb of the Col des Aravis (1483m) 11km at 5.5% avg. We descend through la Clusaz careful not to miss small road on the left, cross the river Borne and start our ascent of the fearsomely steep climb to Plateau des Glières (1440) 8.7km at 9% avg! With stretches over 12%, we will surely get our hearts racing.

The Plateau des Glières first appeared in the Tour de France in 2018 as stage 10, Julian Alaphilippe lead the peloton over and went on to win the stage. The 2018 l’etape du Tour  ( amateur race for those wanting to ride a stage of the tour) featured this stage and  it was clearly a favorite of the organizers as we will see it feature again in stage 18 of the 2020 tour. 

As you cross the final 1.3km gravel section to the Plateau des Glières admire the beautiful sculptor of the sun held by a hand, a national monument of the Resistance.

The descent is fast and fun with a smooth surface (as always when le tour passes over).

Our final few km’s afford us spectacular views of Lac Annecy as we join the cycle path back to our starting hotel.

Distance: 95 km Climbing 1990m

Departure Day

After breakfast and an exchange of photographs or emails, we transfer back to Geneva for onward flights and trains.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays sports tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* and 4* auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Morning onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.


We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.


We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.


All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc. On sports tours we try to make sure that the meals are suitable for a challenging week of cycling!

We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 8 or 9 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.

Bikes & Equipment

Many people prefer to bring their own bikes for sports tours; however, if you would prefer to rent a bike locally, we can provide quality carbon fibre framed road bikes at a reasonable cost. If you are bringing your own bike, we will carry your bike case with us during the week, or arrange for it to be taken to the final hotel and stored.


Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.


Sunday and Friday - Hotel Beauregard, Annecy

The 3* Beauregard’s most obvious attraction jumps out at you – the stunning location! With lawns running down to Lake Annecy and the majestic mountains of the Aravis massif opposite, you would never tire of the views. 

Grand Hotel des Thermes, Brides les Bains

The luxurious 4* Grand Hotel features a well-appointed spa as well as an outdoor and an indoor swimming pool – so if your limbs are aching after a few days of cycling, book yourself in for a sauna and a massage! The gourmet restaurant is a real treat after a post ride beer in the piano bar!

Hotel Saint-Georges, St-Jean-de-Maurienne

This former coaching inn is an iconic cycling hotel. You will always find other cyclists here talking about their rides of the day. Close to the centre of St Jean de Maurienne, a bustling valley town ideally situated between a couple of big climbs – the Madeleine and the Iseran.







It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays cycling tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our cycling tours in France.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our cycling tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party who have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time consult their doctor before considering any activity-based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get to the cycling tours in France?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We may be able to drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into the following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.


This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We may be able to arrange parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long-distance tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience has the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. 

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each cycling tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

"Our third tour with French Cycling - they keep getting better! You'll have to add some more routes!" 

Connor and Geoff, Cleveland OH.

"Met our expectations and much more! Some tough climbs, but the encouragement and support (and cakes!) from Ken and Dave meant we all got to the top of each one. Planning next year's trip already!" 

Jarrod, Vancouver BC

"Loved it! Ticked off so many Cols from my list! Fantastic organisation and support, and I met some great folks who I'll stay in touch with. Maybe a reunion tour in a couple of years!"

Terry, Christchurch NZ.




Legendary Tour Map