The holiday was exactly what it said on the tin except it was better. I've been on trips with other cycle touring companies and Marmot is streets ahead in terms of service and quality. The vans were always in the right places, stocked with the right sort of food and snacks. The guides were second to none in terms of professionalism, friendliness and efficiency and the hotels, particularly the family run ones, were perfect. I now feel torn between recommending Marmot and shouting about you but also keeping quiet so that you don't become too big and lose your fantastic specialness!
Since 1952, L’Alpe d’Huez has featured regularly and famously in the Tour de France. Its 21 hairpins have given the mountain an iconic reputation and when the Tour visits, L’Alpe d’Huez becomes the very epicentre of Tour de France festivities. Winners of an Alpe d’Huez stage have their name added to one of the hairpin signs, to be revered by infinite numbers of ‘normal’ cyclists who challenge themselves up this climb year on year. For Tour de France supporters, nowhere else offers the same opportunity for Tour immersion: over half a million people are expected to descend on the mountain for just this one Tour de France week in July. For many companies, the chance of getting accommodation in L’Alpe d’Huez are nil, but we have nurtured our hotel relationships for many years and as a result, we have secured the entire Hotel Chamois in the centre of the resort for 4 nights. This hotel’s prime location could not be better for lapping up the ambience (hysteria?!) of the summit stage ending and for manoeuvring to within arm’s reach of the pros at the start of Stage 13 the following day. Throw in a barbecue lunch on the sun terrace of the hotel with big screen TV coverage of the approaching riders and a spectator’s TDF experience could not get much better … This is not just any ‘Tour de France Holiday’ – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
During the week you will also have the chance to ride most of the Classic TDF Climbs of the Maurienne and Oisans valleys, including the Galibier, Croix de Fer, Madeleine and the modern classic of the Lacets de Montvernier … not forgetting L’Alpe d’Huez itself (up to 3 times). The serenity of the neighbouring mountains to Alpe d’Huez will be the perfect compliment to the hype of the Tour.
This is a ‘Classic Cols’ style cycling holiday, so each day we offer a variety of ride options to suit cyclists with a range of fitness levels and aspirations. You really can ride the climbs at your own pace and with 3 support vehicles, we will never be far away with that much needed morale boost, snack, top up of water or other assistance.
For more information, including room share options with different price tags and discounts, please read our Trip Notes and 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
Day 0: Travel Day
We offer morning and afternoon transfers (at the times specified on the Trip Notes) from Geneva Airport (GVA) to our start hotel in Saint Jean de Maurienne, a journey of about 1hr 30 mins.
There will be time to assemble your bike or set up your hire bike before a briefing and hearty dinner with the group.
Day 1: Montvernier, Chaussy and the Madeleine
Saint Jean de Maurienne is a Mecca for road cyclists from all around the world and today you’ll find out why.
The gravity-defying stack of hairpins of the Lacets de Montvernier is a classic and a Marmot Tours favourite that is bound to put a smile on your face. This leads nicely into the Col de Chaussy (1533m) which is a ‘characterful’ climb with spectacular views to ease the pain of the few punchy sections.
Following a nice lunch, retiring back to the hotel to find a TV for some Tour viewing is a good option, or for those with energy left to burn, you will be seriously tempted to take on the Col de Madeleine (2000m)
Day 2: Telegraphe, Galibier and L'Alpe d'Huez
Your main objective today is the Col de Galibier (2642m) which whilst not featuring in the 2018 TdF route, is steeped in Tour history. Starting down at 550m, it is a climb full of variety and character as you rise out of the industrial valley floor, through lush forests to the Col de Telegraphe (1566m). After a little respite in the ski station of Valoire you continue through open moorland and spectacular mountain scenery motivating you onwards and upwards to the Col.
What goes up must come down and your efforts are rewarded with an incredible 50km (yes, 50km!) descent down to Le Bourg d’Oisans. Here you have the option of jumping in our support van for a lift back to the hotel, or the opportunity of taking on the infamous Alpe d’Huez climb for the first time.
Our accommodation for the next 4 nights is the comfortable and welcoming Hotel Chamois in the heart of L’Alpe d’Huez.
Day 3: Auris, Les Deux Alpes + Col de Sarenne
On the eve of the Tour de France Stage 12 finish the tension will be mounting as spectators battle for any ‘flat’ piece of land on the already-full 21 bends. Over half a million people are expected on this mountain, so the ambience is sure to be electric (mad!).
Descend through a sea of camper vans on a road freshly adorned with the names of cycling idols. In La Garde we turn off on a cliff-hugging balcony road that edges its way up the Oisan valley to Auris and Le Freney. Here we cross over the barrage of Lac Chambon and start the climb up to the Col de Sarenne (1999m) before descending back to our hotel.
As always there are extra options for a little more time on the bike and the ski stations of Auris (1595m) and Les Deux Alpes (1650m) are both very worthwhile additions.
Day 4: Watch the TDF stage finish on L'Alpe d'Huez
Today you will be at the very heart of the action! Watching the Tour de France live from L’Alpe d’Huez is a goal for anyone even vaguely interested in cycling.
Your day is very flexible so you can get out of it exactly what you want and there is no need to even look at your own bike if you want to focus on the Tour festivities! However, it might be nice to descend (carefully) down to Le Bourg d’Oisans and then head back up the Alpe D’Huez to lap up the ambience of the 14km long street party. Assuming that you make it past ‘Dutch Corner’, it is well worth heading to the stage finish to see the scale of this mobile roadshow.
Back on the sun terrace of the hotel (150m from the road and 1km from the actual finish) you can enjoy the Marmot Tours Hospitality Suite with BBQ lunch and live TV coverage (with English commentary) of the approaching riders.
The show starts in earnest about 2 hours ahead of the riders when the elaborate publicity caravan fills the mountainside with blaring music, throwing out TDF memorabilia ranging from hats & washing powder to saucisson! A brief moment of calm follows until the arrival of helicopters heralds the approach of the pros and all the spectators go nuts! Need we say more …
Tour de France 2018 – L’Alpe d’Huez (29km with 1130m ascent) [ride profile]
Day 5: Tour de France stage start in Le Bourg D'Oisans
In order to get a complete picture of the TDF, you really need to watch a stage start! The whole thing is geared up for spectators, with pros going out of their way to come and meet their fans. Riders have to sign in and are introduced to the audience before the inevitable final bike checks and line up. Finally it goes quiet as each rider prepares for the day’s challenges that lie ahead.
All you have to do today (sore heads permitting?!) is roll down ‘the hill’ to Le Bourg D’Oisans, watch the start, have some lunch and then decide on your afternoon’s activity: The Classic Route involves riding back up L’Alpe d’Huez for a second time, this time without interruption from revellers. We then suggest you venture beyond the ski station, through the Alpine meadows to Lac Besson, where only the squeal of Marmots disrupts the serenity of the mountainside.
In an attempt to distance ourselves from the crowds, the Challenge Route heads into the Écrins National Park on a beautiful narrow road to the remote village of La Berarde.
Day 6: Croix de Fer, Mollard and La Toussuire
Bid a fond farewell to L’Alpe d’Huez and enjoy the northern balcony road over the Pas de la Confession to the vast reservoir of Lac du Verney at the start of the climb to la Croix-de-Fer (2067m). The gradients are generally kind but there are a few cheeky sections, of course. However, the scenery is varied and there is a great café half way up! From the Col, you descend down into St Jean de Maurienne, where it all began 6 days ago.
Yet again there are options for those wanting more. The first detours up to the remote and beautiful Col de Mollard (1630m). The second is the much feared TDF stage ending of La Toussuire (1705m), which has historically always been a bit of a battle ground for the polka-dot jersey.
Day 7: Travel Day
All good things have to come to an end. We offer morning and afternoon transfers back to Geneva Airport at the times specified in the Trip Notes.