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The French Alps by road bike

The Alp’s wild and rugged landscape contains some of Europe’s most stunning mountain landscapes and natural scenery. The region’s number one sporting playground, visitors can enjoy thrill seeking activities from skiing and mountain climbing, to road cycling in either high-adrenalin resorts or relaxed national parks. There are also charming towns and villages to discover which are worth exploring, perfectly suited to road bikes and culture hungry visitors. 

French Alps Biking
French Alps Biking

When deciding where to go and what to see, you can be forgiven for being overwhelmed at the abundance of choice the region offers. However, along with this handy guide on the best places to go and how to prepare, you can find an excellent selection of routes online.

What do I need?

Before setting off, you need to consider three essential factors; weather, route and personal ability, as they will all dictate what you need for a safe and enjoyable trip. If we assume you’re going between the months of June and September, the most popular due to favourable weather, you still need to prepare for varying conditions. The best way to do so is pack clothing that can handle anything from chilly rains, baking sunshine, cool fog and energetic winds. You will also need a sturdy road bike suitable for the varying terrain of the cycling routes available.

If you are a seasoned cyclist, then your personality ability will most likely allow you to tackle more challenging routes. However, those just building up their experience may want to stick to a more forgiving climb, but do challenge yourself within reasonable limits.

Where do I go?

Although it can be hard to pinpoint the premier area for your cycling trip, rest assured that no matter where you choose in the Alps, you’re guaranteed to discover stunning scenery. Often, the best way to choose a suitable location is to think what it is you want to see. Mountains, castles, hotels or markets or picturesque towns and villages? Once you know this, it’s a lot easier to plan your route.

If you’re after a more challenging route, Col de la Madeleine is one of the toughest climbs in France. Often described as breath-taking but heart-breaking, the 1,501 metre pass can be found in the Jura mountains and offers cyclists two famed routes to complete the challenge, and a third not as often attempted despite its quieter appeal. The trip will provide stunning scenery and natural beauty for those looking to experience a big Alp climb.

Another famed ride that offers a hefty challenge is the Mont du Chat climb. Starting low but manifesting into a daunting steepness, the challenge is more suited to the very experienced rider. However, because it starts so low, unlike most big climbs, it is forested throughout the entire ride and there is little road traffic to obstruct the view.

There are of course intermediate routes such as the Mont Revard via Col de Plainpalais, which whilst long is not too steep. The Col de la Croix Fry and Col des Aravis are also suitable for less experienced cyclists and make for stunning winter rides, as do Col de Basse-Combe and Col de Véry.

If you’re looking for a cycle route through local cities, towns and villages that provides a more relaxed experience there is plenty of choice. Worth visiting is Grenoble, the self-styled “capital of the Alps” and France’s lowest city, watched over by the snow-capped mountainous peaks.  Nestled comfortably between two mountain ranges – the Vosges to the north and the Jura to the south – it’s perfect for a day trip via road bike. Lons-le-Saunier, a quiet spa town that dates back to the Roman times is a peaceful setting and also worth a visit, although try visiting on a Thursday when locals and people of neighboring towns flock to the huge market.

Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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