Classic Cols of the Southern Alps

Road Cycling Holidays in the Alps

  • Six days of spectacular cycling in the rugged and unspoilt Southern Alps
  • Climb Tour de France Alpine cols: Cime de la Bonette, Col de Turini, Col de Vence, Col de la Cayolle, Col de la Madone, and many more – at your own pace!
  • Flexible itinerary with a manageable Classic route plus plenty of optional extras for those looking for more of a challenge
  • Discover why the pros favour cycling in the Alpes-Maritime for their training
  • Comfortable and friendly hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
  • Transfers from/to Nice airport with numerous direct flight options
  • Excellent support from two customised support vans and two expert, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the best it can be

Days on the bike

6 days

Loved absolutely every minute.

E Allen


Just inland from Nice, the Mediterranean Alps (Alpes-Maritime) are an idyllic playground for cyclists looking for quiet roads and a variety of both challenging and gentle climbs. Throw in spectacular and varied scenery, the Mediterranean climate, comfortable hotels, and the peerless support of the Marmot Tours team and this has to be the perfect road cycling holiday! This full-support itinerary explores the Mercantour National Park on a point-to-point journey which takes in many of the iconic climbs that you’ll know from the Tour de France.

The mountains where you’ll be riding comprise a rugged landscape of deep gorges, sheer cliffs, oak & pine forests, and serene alpine pastures. Linking the remote villages is a network of roads that cling to the mountainside, gaining height with tightly stacked hairpins and gravity-defying feats of military engineering.

This is a stunning and iconic area for road cycling! We’ve crafted this itinerary so that there are two to three route options daily, depending on how much you want to push yourself. You can ride at your own pace, stopping for a break whenever you like. Our expert (and fun!) guides are there to support you as an individual, so there’s no fear of holding others up or being held up by riders taking it more slowly. This is your holiday! We’re passionate about helping you achieve your goals, and to help you have an unforgettable cycling experience.

It’s important to us that you book the right cycling holiday for you, so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need to know about this holiday, which gives you a detailed itinerary of each day plus information on food, accommodation & travel.

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Departure Dates & Prices

Single Room Supplement
1st Jun - 8th Jun
Single Room Sup. £380.00
9th Jun - 16th Jun
Single Room Sup. £380.00
8th Sep - 15th Sep
Single Room Sup. £380.00

We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):

  • Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% early bookers discount
  • Get a group of 10+ people together for a 7.5% group discount and, as the group organiser, receive a £150 voucher for your next holiday
  • Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards

Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.



Day 0: Arrival day

We offer included transfers at set times of the day from Nice (NCE) airport to our start hotel in Carros (25 min away), nestled in the hills of the Var valley.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.

Those arriving early will have time to relax in the hotel grounds, with bar and swimming pool, or there is the option of going for a warm-up ride.

Meet your guides and have a welcome briefing and a great dinner!

Day 1: Circular ride from Carros

The Col de Vence (963m) is the perfect way to kick-start your week of cycling. The gradients are kind (6.5 to 7%) and the scenery is quite simply, incredible. From the col, mountain after mountain stretches before you into the distance – this is all yours to discover for the rest of the holiday!

As always on our flexible-pace cycling tours, we offer various route options, the most challenging of which takes you on a big loop of the Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur over the Col de Bleine (1440m).

Easier route: 61km with 1150m ascent [ride profile]
Classic route: 101km with 1420m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 128km with 2410m ascent [ride profile]

Day 2: Carros to Valberg

The impressive Gorges du Cians dominates today’s ride. Hewn into the sheer burgundy cliffs is a famous balcony road, which snakes its way up to the ski resort of Valberg (1673m). En route, you pass waterfalls, deep ravines, and precariously placed natural rock sculptures. It is a truly memorable ride.

Our route options split at the start of the day. Those choosing our Classic route enjoy a descent to the valley road and follow the River Var to the base of the gorge. The Challenge option is to head over the Col de Vé Gautier (1093m) and the Col de Saint-Raphaël (876m) on another beautiful, tranquil road.

For those wanting even more of a challenge, you have the extra option of descending to Guillaumes and climbing back up at the end of the day!

Classic route: 68km with 1500m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 96km with 2600m ascent [ride profile]
Extra option: adds 28km and 900m ascent

Day 3: Valberg to Barcelonnette

We start the day with a wonderful descent to Guillaumes at the head of the Gorges de Daluis. From here the only way is up, as we follow the river Var towards its mountainous source. After 33km of spectacular riding you arrive at the Col de la Cayolle (2327m), where your efforts are rewarded with some stunning mountain vistas. This is an incredible ride and a firm favourite with many of our previous cyclists.

The descent to the lively mountain town of Barcelonnette, where we spend the night, is a delight. Here you can decide to either retire gracefully or head out for more cycling in the form of the Col d’Allos (2247m) climb, which is a cracking ride.

Classic route: 77km with 1600m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 112km with 2700m ascent [ride profile]

Day 4: Barcelonnette to Auron

The gravity-defying road to the Cime de la Bonette (2802m) was built in the 1930s as part of the Maginot line military fortifications along the French-Italian border. Cyclists get to fully appreciate this magnificent bit of road building into the remote mountains, with only the occasional crumbling concrete gunning post deterring from its natural beauty. The actual Col de la Bonette (2717m) has been cut out of the narrow ridge, providing a handy short cut for those who can’t face the final gradients!

The descent to Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée is a treat. All that remains is a final push to the ski station of Auron (1610m).

Today’s optional extra takes you up the very narrow, remote, and challenging Col de la Moutière (2452m), which in places is not much more than a surfaced farm track. It’s a wonderful climb, nonetheless.

Classic route: 65km with 1800m ascent [ride profile]
Easier option: 55km with 1400m ascent
Challenge route: 93km with 3100m ascent [ride profile]

Day 5: Auron to Col de Turini

Today is the most challenging day of the holiday, but despite this, we start with a nice 37km descent into the gorge of the river Tinée. From here you’ll climb abruptly up the valley side to the Col Saint Martin (1502m).

A sweeping descent lines us up for the main event and one of the highlights of this week – climbing the Col de Turini (1605m). Etched into the mountainside, this road was made famous by the Monte Carlo Rally, which enjoys its endless, well-graded hairpin bends. Naturally, it’s also great on two wheels and is a favourite of many of the pros, who frequently train in this area. Our hotel is on the top of the climb – the thought of a cool beer on the hotel terrace might help motivate you for the final push!

Today’s optional extra is early in the day and takes the form of the brutal but no less stunning Col de la Lombarde (2347m).

Classic route: 90km with 2050m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 131km with 3500m ascent [ride profile]

Day 6: Col de Turini to Nice

We end this week of world-class cycling in the city of Nice, where our 4* hotel is within easy walking distance of the Vieux Port and the Café du Cycliste retail haven.

We start the day with a rollercoaster descent down the Turini, although there is the option of first cycling the Circuit de l’Authion (2016m). This is a noose-shaped loop around the mountainside on a narrow military road which is favoured by many of the pros (and recommended by Chris Froome; Cyclist November 2017 – we featured in The Big Ride in this issue). This lines you up nicely for the Col de Braus (1005m). The climb itself is not extraordinary, but the descent down a series of tightly stacked hairpins is truly epic!

The climbs keep coming today and the next is the Col de Saint-Pancrace (673m). For those of you wanting even more of a challenge, you can continue to the Col de la Madone (927m). Descending to La Turbie, we pick up a high balcony road that snakes along the coastal mountains with spectacular views of the Mediterranean far below. Known for the time trial on the Paris-Nice Classic (known as the ‘Race to the Sun’), the Col d’Èze (507m), is a fantastic finale to an incredible week of cycling.

Classic route: 86km with 1200m ascent  [ride profile]
Challenge route: 110km with 2000m ascent [ride profile]

Day 7: Departure day

Sadly, all good things must come to an end! We offer transfers at set times during the day to Nice (NCE) airport (20min).