Excellent - Perfect. Plenty of distance/elevation options, with lots of opportunities to change plans depending upon how you feel on the day.
Inspired by the 2023 Tour de France route through the Northern French Alps, Marmot Tours is thrilled to add this exciting new itinerary to our portfolio of road cycling adventures.
Starting on the shore of Lake Geneva and ending in Les Trois Vallées, this journey involves six exceptional rides through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Northern Alps. Some of the climbs are already infamous, and some are future classics, but all the cycling is world-class. Every day our Classic route takes on a bucket-list col, and the Harder and Challenge routes add some lesser-known but equally worthy and beautiful climbs. The grand finale of the week is that you get to ride the recently surfaced, traffic-free mountain roads linking Val Thorens, Méribel, and Courchevel.
Like all our flexible-route, flexible-pace holidays, our Classic route can be taken steadily and is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists, regardless of your experience cycling in the mountains. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge for those wanting to push themselves further: each day there are optional extra loops and climbs, increasing the possible daily stats to around 110 km per day with 2800 to 3500m of climbing on our Challenge route. This is your ride, and we are here to support you as individuals. As with all our holidays, we do not insist that everyone rides as a group; you are free to ride at the speed you like, stop when you want, and make the days your own.
With our experienced support team in customised vehicles, we will provide you with all the moral, nutritional and mechanical support you require. All you have to do is eat, sleep and cycle – we do the rest!
Departure Dates & Prices
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 transfers from Geneva Airport (GVA) to our start hotel in Thonon-les-Bains (1hr 10min) on the southern shore of Lake Geneva.
Comprehensive travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights or trains) can be found in our Trip Notes. If travelling long haul, we suggest you arrive in Geneva a day or two early to adjust to the time zone.
Once hire bikes have been set up or your own bikes assembled, we will have a welcome briefing and dinner. Those arriving earlier in the day can go for a warm-up ride along the lake for some beautiful views.
Day 1: Thonon-les-Bains to Les Gets
The gentle and forested 26km climb of Col de Jambaz (1028m) is the ideal introduction to cycling in the Haute-Savoie. From the col, you join a quiet alpine road that undulates through meadows and well-kept villages to the base of the Col de la Ramaz (1619m). This climb is no stranger to the Tour de France and is most famous for the steep middle section hewn out of a sheer cliff. After the ski station of Sommand, the gradients become kinder, and it opens out into high pastures with extensive alpine views. The descent is worth the effort, and all there is left to do is ride up to our lovely hotel (with spa facilities) in the centre of Les Gets (1164m), where we spend two nights.
Today’s Classic route is slightly tougher than others on this holiday, but it can be made easier by catching a lift up the steeper section of the Ramaz.
Classic route: 62km with 1690m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 67km with 2140m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 89km with 2720m ascent [ride profile]
Day 2: Day ride from Les Gets
The Col de Joux Plane (1691m) is a climb that has to be on every cyclist’s bucket list. It is by no means the highest in the Alps, but it is one of the most characterful. The gradients and scenery are constantly changing, the views towards Mt Blanc are breathtaking, and an idyllic mountain lake and cafe adorn the col. We take on the climb from the south, so we get to enjoy the descent into Morzine before climbing up the Col des Gêts (1172m) and back to the hotel. Les Gets in the Summer is a vibrant but relaxing place to spend the afternoon.
There are a couple of optional extras today. The first is a truly pleasant ride up the Vallée du Fer-à-Cheval (999m) for a look at the famous Cirque. The second is a loop from Morzine up to the Col de la Joux Verte (1760m) and the ski station of Avoriaz.
Classic route: 53km with 1390m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 77km with 1720m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 106km with 2560m ascent [ride profile]
Day 3: Les Gets to La Clusaz
Today’s destination is the popular Alpine ski station of La Clusaz – a town well worth exploring. To get there, we must cycle over the Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses (741m) and then the Col de la Colombière (1613m) – another Tour de France classic. This punchy 16.3km climb passes through lush meadows dotted with picture-perfect chalet-style houses. The serenity is only broken by the sound of cowbells – this is Reblochon cheese country!
The optional extras are at the end of the day. Heading up to the lakeside cafe at the Chapelle des Confins (1420m) is an extremely pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Meanwhile, the Col de la Croix Fry (1460m) from the Manigod side will not disappoint those wanting more of a challenge.
Classic route: 58km with 1500m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 84km with 2240m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 93km with 2590m ascent [ride profile]
Day 4: La Clusaz to Beaufort
Cycling up the Col des Aravis (1487m) is the perfect way to start any day! It is a truly beautiful climb through stunning alpine scenery.
A mid-morning coffee in Flumet is a good way to psyche yourself up for the series of irregular switchbacks that kick off your next climb – the Col des Saisies (1650m). Its flowing descent offers vast views of the Mt Blanc Massif, and is a highlight of this alpine cycling holiday.
Once in the pretty village of Beaufort, where we stay the night, you can retire gracefully and spend the afternoon sampling the local Beaufortain cheese.
For those who want more cycling, venturing up the quiet dead-end road to the Barrage de Saint-Guerin (1570m) is the obvious choice. Those who like a cheeky gradient might also be tempted to cycle up the Col du Pré (1703m), which is not much more than a surfaced farm track.
Classic route: 53km with 1380m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 76km with 2220m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 93km with 2860m ascent [ride profile]
Day 5: Beaufort to Brides-les-Bains
This morning’s ride is dominated by the Cormet de Roselend (1968m). This is one of the few Alpine climbs without a ski resort at the top, making it a scenic journey around the edge of a vast reservoir, past waterfalls and through alpine meadows inhabited by Marmots.
The descent to Bourg-Saint-Maurice is equally magnificent. From here we pick up a surfaced cycle path down the river Isère to La Plagne-Tarentaise. Leaving the base of the glaciated valley, we climb over the Côte de Longefoy (1174m) and the Col du Tra (1309m) to Notre-Dame-du-Pré. This was first included in the 2023 edition of the Tour de France and became an instant classic! A technical descent takes you to Moûtiers and onto the spa town of Bride-les-Bains, where we spend the final two nights of our cycling holiday.
If you fancy an easier day, then catching a lift down the Isère Valley (either by train or in our support van) is a good option. Those wanting more (a lot more!) might be tempted to follow in the pedal strokes of Laurent Fignon and take on the road to the ski resort of La Plagne (2093m).
Classic route: 46km with 1450m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 85km with 2150m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 120km with 3500m ascent [ride profile]
Day 6: Les Trois Vallées from Brides-les-Bains
Les Trois Vallées is world famous for being a vast ski area. In recent years the governing bodies have seen the rise in cycle tourism in other parts of the Alps, and have evidently decided to trump the lot. They have set about surfacing dirt trails, ski runs, and mountain bike tracks to connect the three valleys. If that is not exciting enough, wait until you hear that these new roads are closed to vehicles! They have created a mecca for road cycling, and today we get to check it out.
The Col de la Loze (2304m) provided an exciting ending to the 2023 Tour de France queen stage, as it will to your holiday. You start by climbing to Méribel-les-Allues (1430m), a notable climb in its own right and where the ‘cycle path’ begins. Cycling on pristine car-free asphalt through this harsh, high mountain landscape is a unique experience that hopefully distracts you from the ever-changing (but generally very steep!) gradients and the final wall to the top of the cable car station on the col.
For those of you keen for the ultimate Trois Vallées challenge, your day starts by cycling up to Les Menuires (1800m), where you pick up the new road to the Col de la Tougnète (2400m) [this road is so new that at the time of writing this in July 2023 it has not yet been surfaced!]. This climb is well-positioned to become a future Tour de France favourite. From here, you descend to Méribel and pick up our Classic Route to pass over the Col de la Loze to Courchevel.
If this all sounds too much, the easier option is cycling to Méribel-Mottaret (1692m) and then nipping around the mountain to Courchevel via La Tania.
Whatever you choose, today will be a truly memorable ride!
Easier route: 42km with 1220m ascent [ride profile]
Classic route: 49km with 1750m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 84km with 2820m ascent [ride profile]
Day 7: Travel home
Your road cycling holiday in the Alps may be over, but the memories will last a lifetime.
We offer transfers from Brides-les-Bains to Geneva Airport (GVA), a journey of 2 hours, at specified times throughout the morning. For those of you travelling by train, we can provide lifts to Moutiers SNCF at specified times.
Full travel advice can be found in our Trip Notes (essential reading before booking your flights or trains).