cycling ALPE D’HUEZ AND surrounds: CYCLING’S MOST FAMOUS COLS
The French Alps are the motherland for many road cyclists. They are home to the iconic climbs you see on TV and magazine centrefolds. They are synonymous with legendary climbs, unbelievable feats of endurance, crowd filled roads, the brightly coloured peloton and the circus that is the Tour de France.
Of all the Alpine big hitters, one name is more famous than any other: Alpe d’Huez. If you love cycling, cycling Alpe d’Huez is one you just have to do. And while you’re in the area, why not pit yourself against the other big names: the Galibier, Glandon and Croix de Fer to name a few. If you’re looking for French Alps cycling and want to feel close to cycling legend and get a taste of the suffering, pain and glory, this is the place to come.
Everything you need to cycle the french alps
In this guide you’ll find information on rides, accommodation and bike hire that’s all accessible from charming Bourg d’Oisans. The town sits at the base of Alpe d’Huez and close to Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col de Sarenne and Col du Galibier.
If you’re looking for riding from other Alpine towns, head to our other French Alps guides:
Planning some cycling in the Alps? Drop us a line; we’d love to hear from you!
Cycling Alpe d'Huez: Routes
The challenge in the French Alps is not finding rides (there are so many!) but finding the best ride for you, the one you'll never forget. So, what motivates you?
The famous Alpine cols? The best Alpine cycling climbs? The most epic landscapes? The hidden gem? Pushing yourself to the limit or taking time to enjoy the scenery?
We’ve got routes that tick all these boxes, including some of the best climbs in the Alps, all within easy access of charming Bourg d’Oisans.
Don't miss the car-free days during July and August each year. Plan carefully and you can ride the big names (including Alpe d'Huez, Croix de Fer and Col de Sarenne) without the hassle of cars! More details:
You could also consider taking part in one of the many sportives/gran fondos in the region. Of these, the notorious La Marmotte Granfondo Alpes is the most famous (this article delves into the detail of the Marmotte).
Another huge challenge is the 700 kilometre Route des Grandes Alpes.
- Distance: 14km
- Elevation: 1,120m
- Epic rating:
Croix de Fer and Glandon
- Distance: 42km
- Elevation: 1,650m
- Epic rating:
Col d’Ornon Loop
- Distance: 111km
- Elevation: 2,540m
- Epic rating:
Lauteret and Galibier
- Distance: 48km
- Elevation: 2,390m
- Epic rating:
Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans and La Bérarde
- Distance: 33km
- Elevation: 1,250m
- Epic rating:
Col de Sarenne
- Distance: 57km
- Elevation: 1,980m
- Epic rating:
- Distance: 34km
- Elevation: 910m
- Epic rating:
Family cycle routes in the French Alps
This area isn’t ideal for family cycling, especially with young children. It’s difficult to avoid the mountains and valley rides are along a main road.
Older children who are confident cyclists may be able to tackle some of the less ferocious routes mentioned above, perhaps La Bérarde after St-Christophe-en-Oisans or the Col de Ornon. But take it easy. You don’t want to put them off!
This section includes details of hotels and villas we have either stayed in or which we think look great. Full disclosure: if you click on a link and make a booking, we may earn a commission. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.
The rides in this guide are grouped around Bourg d’Oisans. This is where we stayed, and we think it’s one of the best towns in the Alps for excellent riding. From Bourg d’Oisans you’ll find the following rides within easy reach: Alpe d’Huez, Col du Glandon (south side), Col de la Croix de Fer (south side), Col de Sarenne and Col du Galibier.
Our choice: Chalet Ribot, Alpe d'Huez (half board)
Chalet Ribot is a 300 year old farmhouse perched in a tiny hamlet half way up Alpe d’Huez. It’s a spectacular location with far-reaching views over the valley. The steps up to the house pass dilapidated buildings - but once through the gate, there’s a warm welcome from Letty, Harun and Denzil (the Bernes mountain dog) and you know all will be well. For us, this was a truly special place to stay.
What we loved
Things to be aware of
We felt very well looked after and thoroughly at home throughout our stay at Chalet Ribot. Letty and Harun were charming hosts and a major part of the reason we’d recommend Chalet Ribot to anyone looking for cycling accommodation in the French Alps.
There’s a lot of accommodation suitable for cyclists in and around Bourg d’Oisans, but we found it hard to find many places up to Epic Road Rides standards! Notable exceptions are where we stayed (of course) and the three B&Bs on our long list: Chalet Saskia, Chateau d’Oz and Chalet Morville.
A beautiful ski chalet in the small, pretty village of Vaujany, about 19km north of Bourg d’Oisans. It’s halfway up the Col Sabot (on the way to the Col du Glandon from the south) - but they say they will come and pick you up at the bottom of the mountain if your cycling legs have given way!
Chateau d’Oz is in Oz en Oisans, about 14km north of Bourg d’Oisans and well placed for the major climbs of the area.
One of the more luxurious options, Chalet Morville is in the medieval village of Venosc about 15 km south-east of Bourg d’Oisans, on the road towards the Col du Lautaret and Galibier.
There are plenty of options for road bike hire around Alpe d’Huez, both in Bourg d’Oisans at the base of Alpe d’Huez and in the village at the top of the mountain. Cycles et Sport is the most prominent name you’ll see in Bourg d’Oisans, though our hosts at Chalet Ribot recommended Cycle Huez over Cycles et Sport.
We didn’t need to hire on this trip so can’t say either way. It will probably come down to whichever is more convenient for where you’re staying.
This information is offered as an indicative guide only: we periodically update it but prices, services and bike brands may change. Please let us know if you find anything that is incorrect.
Bikes and Services
Cycles et Sports, Bourg d'Oisans
Place du Docteur Faure
+33 (0)4 76 79 16 79
A good variety of bikes from BMC, Scott and Specialized to Pinarello F8 Dura-Ace and Dogma 65.1. You can also stock up on kit, energy food and there is a repair shop too.
From 39-90€ per day, depending on the bike.
Au Cadre Rouge, Bourg d'Oisans
20 rue du Général De Gaulle
A small shop in town. Their website is poor.
Prompt, Bourg d'Oisans
18 Rue du General de Gaulle
+33 (0)6 44 73 08 38
Has a selection of 36 bikes of different sizes and qualities to meet most needs.
Cycle Huez, Alpe d'Huez
Route d'Huez, Place Joseph Paganon, Quartier Le Vieil Alpe
+33 (0)9 70 40 59 21
Wilier GTR 2017/2018, carbon, shimano ultgra compact groupset, 11-22 cassette.
Bikes are supplied with a saddle bag containing a spare tube and tyre levers, a pump mounted on the frame. All have two bottle cages (except the XXS frames).
Also provides bike servicing and repairs.
Rocky Sports Shop, Alpe d'Huez
Rue du 93ème RAM
+33 (0)4 76 80 63 02
Lapiere Sensium 500, carbon bikes.
1 day - 45 euro
2 days - 80 euro
3 days - 115 euro
4 days - 145 euro
5 days - 175 euro
6 days - 200 euro
7 days - 225 euro
Saint Jean de Maurienne
SPORT 2000 / Espace Mondo Vélo
Av du 8 mai 1945
Also has mountaineering and other equipment rentals, as well as sports and fashion items for sale.
1 day - 19 euro
Weekend - 35 euro
Week - 70 euro
Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this now.
Tips and articles
This section includes details of products we have either used and liked or which we think look great. Full disclosure: if you click on a link and make a purchase, we will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy (which includes our Amazon Associates disclosure) for further information.
Maps and books
Good to know
Enjoyed our guide?
We'd love to hear from you - comment below or drop us a line.
Want more? Don’t miss our guides to the best cycling routes in the Alps and other articles on the French Alps, below.
Want to check out some other destinations? How about cycling in Slovenia's Alps or Austrian Alps? Or stick within France and find lots more destinations here. Search by the month you want to travel or cycling destination you want to visit, here.
(Banner photo credit: Kartouchken/Shutterstock.com)
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
our (impartial) pick of the best Alps bike tours
a cyclist’s guide to when to visit the Alps
and La Bérarde,