Just a quick note to say a big thanks once again for yet another fantastic Marmot trip. The organisation was impeccable as ever and we really enjoyed it. You guys are the best at what you do!
The official, and original, Raid Alpine (S-N) is a classic road cycling challenge from the Cote D’Azur to the shores of Lake Geneva over some of the most legendary Alpine climbs including the two highest; the Col de l’Iseran and the Cime de la Bonette.
Originally devised by Paris Audax club to run in this direction, the S – N served as a ‘pre-amble’ to the Raid Dolomites. ‘Amble’ does no justice at all to this route which is anything but! As with the Raid N – S, the joy of this 6 day route is getting to know the hidden corners of the Alps, and to appreciate their variety. Typical views of Alpine meadows are included but there are a host of other dramatic, beautiful and interesting things to see before you reach the Savoie-Alps just south of Lake Geneva.
The jury is still out as to whether this is a tougher direction to take on the Raid Alpine though it probably is a little harder at the start of the week. Of course we have had a few people go one way and then the other, just for fun!
For a decade now we have been supporting cyclists in achieving their Raid goals. We are passionate about our product being the best it can be, and we enable over 100 cyclists a year do the official Raid Alpine route. We provide two highly customised support vans per group, our guides are attentive and energetic, and we know that this is not just a cycling challenge – it is also a holiday, so we keep it fun.
If you want to visit the Alps, but do not want to do a Raid challenge, then the Classic Cols of the Alps, with its flexible itinerary, may be the cycling holiday for you.
It is important to us that you book the correct holiday so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works; food, accommodation & travel… For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off trip costs (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount.
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount
- Group organisers of 6+ are eligible for a £50 discount voucher
Please note there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included transfers from Nice Airport to the hotel in Antibes (45 mins) at specified times.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.
Meet your guides, assemble bikes and have a welcome briefing and great dinner.
Day 1: Antibes to Valberg (144kms with 3450m ascent)
You leave the urban sprawl of the coastal plain, past luxury apartments to the perfume capital: Grasse. After 35kms you reach St Vallier de Thiey to take some quieter roads towards glorious Alpine foothills. This is shrubby Mediterranean landscape and undulates pleasingly, with a few small peaks to climb; the Col de Bleine (1439m) being the most noticeable. The fortified town of Entrevaux is worth a quick coffee stop before you take on the stunning cliff hugging road through the Gorge de Dalius. Your first taste of the big climbs comes with the Col de Valberg (1672m) up to your hotel.
Day 2: Valberg to Vars (138kms and 3440m ascent)
There are quintessential Alpine climbs in the route today, starting with the lush meadow ‘feel’ to the Col de la Couillole (1678m), followed by a truly epic climb from St Saveur de Tinee 53kms (!) to the highest road pass in Europe , the Cime de la Bonette (2802m). This ascent in itself is an incredible achievement and you will be rewarded suitably with the views! A lovely descent and gentle climb through a limestone gorge takes you to the last climb of the day: the Col de Vars (2109m).
Day 3: Vars to Cesana Torinese (107km and 2700m ascent)
Another beautiful gorge ride into the Queyras National Park, home to the infamous Col d’Izoard (2361m) with its monuments to Fausto Coppo and Louison Bobet. From the top, descend to Briancon, headed for the Italian border, the other side of the Col de Montgenevre (1854m). It’s downhill all the way to Cesana, where you must resist the urge to pause at our hotel, cycling on up the Col de Sestriere (2035m) for a carnet stamp. Roll thankfully back down to the 3* hotel and await your feast – we love this place!
Day 4: Cesana Torinese to Val d’Isere (125kms with 3091m ascent)
Plenty of breakfast digestion time on the long descent into Susa this morning. The Col de Mont Cenis (2081m) will take you back into France, and it’s a tough climb from this side! Refuel in the cafe at the top before facing another classic – the 2nd highest col in Europe: the Col de l’Iseran (2764m). This is the most picturesque side to climb and the views are stunning. That’s you done for the day – roll down the hill to Val d’Isere and our water-side hotel.
Day 5: Val d’Isere to Megeve (114kms with 2450m ascent)
Descend first thing to Bourg St Maurice before your legs have to start working on the climb to the Cormet de Roseland (1968m). This is the heart of the Alps and very beautiful. You will hardly notice the Col du Pre (1740m) and will enjoy the technical descent to Beaufort. Still 950m of climbing to do with the Col de Saises (1633m) before cycling on to Megeve for the night.
Day 6: Megeve to Thonon Les Bains (114kms with 2000m ascent)
Another starting descent, with distant views of Mt Blanc. The busy Chamonix valley is a shock to the system but you are soon climbing again: the Col de Ramaz (1557m) is not particularly high but is rather steep – making it probably the most challenging climb on this Raid. Enjoy the Alpine meadow scenery around the Col de Jambaz (1027m) and Col de Terramont (1080m) before the last col of the day (and holiday!): the Col de Moises (1118m). The shores of Lake Geneva are in sight and it’s downhill all the way!