Tour de France

As I do most certainly not object to an opportunity to destroy myself in other areas than the Dolomites, I have no problem with organizing my own versions of the ‘Tour de France’.

Although my cycling heart belongs to the Dolomites, Paula is more charmed with the French part of the Alps, so sometimes you have to compromise 🙂

We planned a first trip there for the summer of 2010, but Paula ended up in the hospital on our day of departure, so those plans were put on ice until 2014. In September 2017, I went back for another ‘Tour de France’…

Regions

Rhône-Alpes

Certainly one of the areas popular among cyclists, more specifically the (Haute-)Savoie and Isère regions.

If you’re looking for famous climbs like Alpe d’Huez, La Plagne, Croix de Fer or Madeleine to name a few, as well as Europe’s highest natural pass the Iseran, this region is for you.

The Lautaret (Isère) and Télégraphe/Galibier (Savoie) are also waiting for you here and they both connect to the neighboring Haute-Alpes.

On the Iseran

Alpes-Côte d’Azur

South of the Rhône-Alpes, this region is most known for the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Haute-Alpes, although the Vaucluse is home to the infamous Ventoux.

In the Haute-Alpes you’ll find a score of well known climbs, like the Lautaret/Galibier (the other end, from Briançon) the Izoard and Risoul. The Agnel is leading into Italy, the Vars is connecting to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

There, you will find the Allos, Bonette and Cayolle, both of which, like the Col des Champs, connect to the southern Alpes-Maritimes.

Where to stay?

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

I really enjoyed our stay in Jausiers, close to Barcelonnette. I guess Barcelonnette can be compared to a village like Cortina d’Ampezzo or Val Gardena.

And there are plenty of cycling adventures to undertake from there.

View form Jausiers towards the Bonette

You can even get a ‘Brevet des 7 Cols d’Ubaye’, for which you need to climb the Bonette, Vars, Cayolle and the Allos. Plus three lesser known and smaller climbs: Saint-Jean, Pontis and the Montée de Sainte-Anne. Those last two are quite steep by the way…

Other than those, the area offers some climbs to other ski resorts, like Pra Loup and le (Super) Sauze and the Col de Larche. A little further out, on the south side of the Bonette, you can go from Isola to Isola 2000 and the Col de la Lombarde.

While we were there, I was able to squeeze in a stage involving the Agnel (French side) and the Izoard, so those are not too far out either, though you have to get over the Vars first…

Hautes-Alpes

Looking at the map of the area, either Guillestre or Briançon looks like the place to start your cycling adventures. The two cities are connected by the Izoard – Guillestre is at the base of the Vars and Risoul. Briançon, at the north side of the Izoard, is located at the base of the Lautaret and the climb up Montgenèvre, leading into Italy.

I’m expecting a lot of fun and new opportunities – Col du Granon, Sestriere, Finestre – during our Tour de France 2017.

Savoie

Both during our training stage and our first week in the Tour de France of 2014, I discovered that the area around Moutiers is not so bad either. In 2014 we were based close to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, with three major cols starting from there: Petit Saint-Bernard, Cormet de Roselend and the highest ‘natural’ pass of Europe, the Iseran.

Actually, there are five cols to be had, if you count the dead end climbs to the ski resorts of les Arcs and the more famous La Plagne.

From Moutiers you can eat your heart out on the 35+ kilometer long climb to Val Thorens, near the summit of which we stayed during our training in 2012. Just north of Moutiers, you can find the Madeleine…

Isère

Probably the obvious choice for this area, would be Le Bourg-d’Oisans, although Allemond or Vaujany offer good alternatives. We stayed in Villard-Reymond during our 2012 Alpe d’HuZes, but that village turned out to be rather remote…

Tour de France 2017

In September of that year, I paid another visit to the French Alps for my very own Tour de France 2017.

Other than during my previous Tour in 2014, when we switched locations four times, I picked a single location for our base camp that year: Briançon.

Like Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Jausiers in 2014, the city of Briançon is strategically located at the base of several mountain passes…

More on this trip here.

Tour de France 2014

After I had a taste of the French Alps during our 2012 training for Alpe d’HuZes, I eventually organized my first Tour de France in 2014. We were located close to Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Barcelonnette respectively.

During that tour, that was originally planned for 2010, the ‘Brevet des 7 Cols d’Ubaye’ was on the to-do list.

I also engineered a ‘little detour’ to pay a visit to Bédoin, with the objective of obtaining the Cinglé du Mont Ventoux.

You can find everything you never wanted to know about that trip here.

What about the Pyrenees?

As of now, I have not yet gathered a lot of ‘intel’ on the Pyrenees. I very nearly organized another Tour located in the area, but that plan didn’t make it, in favor of another Giro.

However, I most likely will get there eventually. After all, my (cycling) life will never be complete if I have not cycled up legendary cols like the Aubisque, Peyresourde, Tourmalet or Luz-Ardiden 🙂

Tour de France 2014 – Part 3

Post stage reports of my Tour de France 2014 – part 3, with the “Brevet des 7 cols de l’Ubaye” and some amazing side events.

Jausiers

Our final stay this Tour was in Jausiers, located some 7 kilometers from Barcelonnette, were we had an apartment in La Mexicaine, right at the foot of the Bonette.

In fact, no less than three of the cols for the “brevet des 7 cols de l’Ubaye” are starting here: besides the Bonette, the Vars and the ‘Montée de Sant-Anne’ start around the corner. Plus, the Larche is nearby, but that is no longer part of the brevet.

However, I planned on climbing that anyway, perhaps combined with the Fauniera.

Two more climbs – the Cayolle and the Allos – are starting from Barcelonnette and the final two – Saint-Jean and Pontis – are a bit further away, starting from Le Lauzet, some 20 kilometers from Barcelonnette, between 25 and 30 from Jausiers.

You can also rent a B&B room with Heidi and Kristof – if you ever consider going to the area, I highly recommend this place!

Read moreTour de France 2014 – Part 3

Tour de France 2014

During the second half of June, we had another expedition to the high mountains: in the French alps, crossing into Italy several times, new cols were conquered during my own “Tour de France 2014”.

We had to abort the planned trip in 2010, when Paula was hospitalized, but for this year’s TDF, I pretty much constructed a similar road book.

With a few additions…

Other than all the climbs/passes for “Le Brevet des 7 Cols d’Ubaye”, I added the triple ascend of the Mont Ventoux for another certificate,  the “Cinglé du Mont Ventoux“.

Furthermore, while studying the areas where we would stay, one of them being in the area of our 2012 training for the Alpe d’HuZes, I found a lot of other interesting cols.

Read moreTour de France 2014

French Alps in Türkiye

Relaxing in Türkiye

Due to a lazy holiday in Türkiye, the Strava challenges for September and October did/will not bring new “records”. Not that I care much – before going to the beach, I had a ball in the Eifel during and the day after the Eifel Cycling Classic and I really needed the time off “zee baik”…

(Garmin: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/378911239 and http://connect.garmin.com/activity/379499168)

For Paula, my faithful companion on most of my ridiculous cycling expeditions, it was a long overdue “holiday in the sun”. Being Portuguese, the summer in the Netherlands was not that bad (July/August), but compared to the real stuff, to her it it was like it is for me to cycle in the south of my country…

Read moreFrench Alps in Türkiye