With its 18 passes, some of which are very steep, Route des Grandes Alpes is among the most testing of mountain itineraries. Between Lake Geneva and the Mediterranean, it extends for 720 km across the Alps, with 16,000 vertical metres of climbing. It’s an integral part of the Tour de France, from the mountain pastures to the sea. A challenge for the cyclist…
Some technical information that will help you organise your Alpine cycling trip.
- The best time to explore Route des Grandes Alpes is between mid-June (after the passes have reopened) and mid-July. The days are long, the weather agreeable. And there aren’t too many people on the road.
- September is also a good time, though of course the days are somewhat shorter.
- If possible, avoid August, when the traffic is at its most dense. This can be irksome, and also dangerous.
You’ll need at least 8 days to get the most out of this mythical itinerary, at around 85 km/day. It’s all down to your preferences and capacities.
And remember, distance isn’t the only factor – there are also considerable variations in altitude.
We divided the route in 14 stages so you have a wider range of possibilities to choose the length of your trip. A rest day in the middle of your trip may be a good idea per se, while also providing you with an opportunity to discover the charms of a particular area.
It’s true that besides the grandeur of the landscapes you cross, cycling in the Alps may expose you to certain risks, depending on your level of technique, the presence of other vehicles, and the weather conditions, which can change without warning.
Some safety hints :
- Respect the rules of the road.
- Be sure to maintain your equipment: brakes, tyres, lights, transmission, pedals, steering column.
- Wear a helmet for protection against head injury in case of a fall.
- When cycling in the countryside in darkness or fog, wear a fluorescent jacket.
- Keep to the right, and avoid weaving around unnecessarily. Never ride more than 2 abreast.
- Keep your speed under control at all times.
NB : in case of accident, the emergency number is 112 or 911. (Make sure your mobile phone is charged.)