CYCLING IN FRANCE

From the Pyrenees to the Alps, all the way to Provence, the home of the world’s biggest bike race never disappoints when it comes to exploring on two wheels.

The high mountains of the Pyrenees are a playground for cyclists and promise to excite, enthrall and challenge with classic Cols such as the Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde & Aubisque.

The Alps are home to legendary climbs turned household names by the annual visit of Tour de France. Pro riders battle up the likes of the Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier, Col de la Madeleine and the Alpe d’Huez.

The South of France offers unique and contrasting regions to experience by bike. From the picture-perfect lavender fields of Provence, to the iconic Mont Ventoux, to the wild  remote Cevennes & Ardeche mountains, to the luxury of the Cote d’Azur, the South of France offers something for every cyclist.

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France Cycling Highlights

Alpe d'Huez

From Bourg d’Oisans

The 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez may not be the toughest, steepest, longest or most beautiful, but they provide what must be one of the most iconic stretches of climbing in cycling history.

El Pirata, Marco Pantani, holds the record for the fastest ever ascent at 37 mins 35 seconds. Mere mortals fulled on jam sandwiches and espresso can aim for the hour as being an exceptionally good time.

top 1,850 m

80%

14.45 km

70%

1,071 m elevation gain

70%

8.1 % average gradient

85%

11.5 % max gradient

80%

Col du Tourmalet

Col Du Tourmalet Through Barèges

The roughly east-west road over the Col du Tourmalet is the Tour de France’s favorite high pass, having been included more than 80 times. It is situated in the central Pyrenees (between France and Spain) in the French department of Hautes-Pyrénées.

top 2,115 m

95%

18.2 km

85%

1,404 m elevation gain

75%

7.7 % average gradient

77%

10.2 % max gradient

85%

Mont Ventoux

The Giant of Provence

The Mont Ventoux is without a doubt one of the most famous mountains in Europe. Although only 1912 meters high, the Ventoux rises up as a giant up surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Provence. Located on the last Alpine ridge near the Rhone-platform, you can see the Mont Ventoux from almost anywhere in the Vaucluse-Provence.

The giant of Provence is also the highlight of many trips through this beautiful region in southern France. Its remoteness gives the mountain something gigantic and dominating and if the weather is clear, you can see the Alps in the east, the Cevennes to the west and the Mediterranean see in the south from its top.

top 1,912 m

80%

21.4 km

90%

1,639 m elevation gain

90%

7.6 % average gradient

80%

12 % max gradient

80%

Annecy

Picture Postcard Alpine Town

In the Haute Savoie region of the Alps overlooking the snow-capped mountains and nestled next to the beautiful lake is the town of Annecy.

Cycling-wise Annecy is perfectly situated; a stone’s throw away from some of the most iconic climbs in the sport it is an ideal base for tackling the classic Alpine Cols. Post-ride activities are also aplenty including a walk along the canals which run through the pastel-coloured town giving it the nickname: ‘the Venice of the Alps’.

The vast beauty of ‘le lac d’Annecy’ is something that needs to be seen to be believed. So blue is the lake and so unrealistically perfect the snow-topped mountains that it’s hard to believe it isn’t in fact a painting. Indeed, the French artist Cézanne, despite sneeringly describing the view as one which “young lady travellers like to sketch in their albums”, painted it anyway, an indication of just how stunning it is.

Gorges du Verdon

Europe's Most Beautiful River Canyon

Located in the south-east of France the Verdon Gorge is often considered one of Europe’s most beautiful river canyons. Formed by the Verdon river so-called because of its stunning turquoise hue, it is around 25 km long and 700m deep.

At the end of the canyon, the Verdon River flows into the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon.

It is the world’s second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon.

I loved traveling with ESC and would book another trip with them - for sure! The emphasis was about having fun and achieving our goals as a group. The guides were safe, easy to get to know and encouraging throughout the rides. The support was amazing! We had plenty of food, snacks and drinks along the ride and Lee and his team were totally accommodating to riders of all levels. The hotels were great and meals excellent. Really - nothing negative to say except that they are not located in the USA so I can’t use their company more frequently. I guess I have to get back to Europe! Thanks Lee and Team. What a trip!!

C.S

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