HighRoad Northern Alps Cycling Tour
Epic Riding and Inspiring Landscapes
8 Days / 7 Nights
The Northern Alps is a treasure trove of giant massifs (Mont Blanc, at 4808 meters, is the highest mountain in western Europe), Alpine lakes and glaciers, and historic Tour de France climbs (you’ll be climbing the Madeleine, Glandon, Alpe d’Huez and the Cormet de Roselend to name only a few). We have also scoured the area to find a few roads that only locals ride. HighRoad Northern Alps has been years in the making and couples perfectly with our original Alps tour – HighRoad Southern Alps, giving returning friends the opportunity to cross the entire Alps range by doing these two tours with us.
HighRoad Northern Alps begins with perhaps the most famous climb of them all – Alpe d’Huez, where we’ll spend a couple of days getting to know the area. From The Alpe we head north for several days of riding up high Alpine cols and descending into glacier-fed valleys. Our tour finishes in the pretty town of Annecy, with it’s famous lake and magnificent mountain views. Like our other HighRoad tours, once you arrive in the mountains, you will be on your bike, not sitting in a van – after your airport pick-up (Geneva) there are no more transfers until you fly back home.
HighRoad Northern Alps is one of our ‘Hors Catégorie’ tours, which are reserved for strong riders who can handle multiple days of long distances and sustained, steep gradients.
- Double occupancy: €3175
- Single Supplement: €500
- Deposit: €500 per person
Accommodation and Dining
- 7 nights accommodation
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners (including wine)
- Energy bars, gels, snacks and water on your rides
- Pick-up and drop-off at Geneva Airport
- All ground transport
- All baggage transfers
- Owner-operator guides to see to your needs
- Maps and elevation profiles of each day’s route
- Support van that will be on the road with you, offering assistance, encouragement, and nutrition
- 44|5 Cycling Tours jersey/vest
- Transportation to France
- Alcohol outside meals
- Hotels before and after your tour
- Personal expenses, such as mini-bars, telephone or souvenir purchases
- Bikes (we can arrange for rentals)
Transfer to hotel and afternoon ride
Your bike tour begins at Geneva airport, where we’ll pick you up and transport you to your luxury hotel perched at the top of the 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez. After setting up your bikes and taking a “shake-out” spin up a local col, we will have a ‘welcome dinner’ and talk about the amazing rides to come.
Alpe d'Huez Loop. Approximately 70 km and 2100 m of ascent
We dive right into the legends and lore of the Tour de France today with a loop that will take on a ’balcony road’ high above the Romanche Valley, with your first series of spectacular views. The ride ends – just like a Tour stage – with a climb of those famous 21 hairpins.
Tonight we walk into the village center for some great local fare.
To St Jean de Maurienne via the Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Glandon and les Lacets de Montvernier. Approximately 90 km and 2100 m of ascent
We leave Alpe d’Huez this morning by the sister balcony road from yesterday’s ride, descending into the valley before our 2nd Hors Catégorie ascent of your HighRoad tour – the Croix de Fer / Glandon double. After enjoying the amazing views from atop the cols, and maybe a hot coffee, we’ll descend to the Maurienne Valley and climb the Lacets de Montvernier, an outrageous series of switchbacks that will take your breath away. From the top it’s a short descent to our hotel in St. Jean de Maurienne.
Dinner is a short walk from our hotel tonight.
To Môutiers via the Col de Chaussy and Col de la Madeleine. Approximately 90 km and 3100 m of ascent
More legendary riding on Day Four, as we ride the Col de Chaussy and Col de la Madeleine to take us north into the Tarentaise Valley, famous in winter for its swanky ski resorts. After a tour of the western end of the valley we’ll land in the pre-Roman town of Môutiers and our hotel for the night.
We dine just down the street tonight at a charming restaurant.
To Megève via the Col du Tra, Cormet de Roselend, Cos des Saisies. Approximately 140 km and 3600 m of ascent
As we slowly move northward the dominance of the immense massif of Mont Blanc comes into full view. Our ’Queen Stage’ today starts with a quiet climb on a tiny road that will be sure to warm up the legs (there are more switchbacks than Alpe d’Huez!), followed by a high-ridge ride offering more excellents views. From here it’s up to the high-altitude lake of the Cormet de Roselend and then the Col des Saisies – both surrounded by a beauty only the Alps can produce. Finally, we descend to the ski town of Megève and our chalet-hotel for the next two nights.
Tonight we eat at our hotel.
Megève Loop. Approximately 104 km and 2700 m of ascent
Today we stay put in Megève and do a fantastic loop that takes in no less that five climbs – the Col de l’Arpettaz, Col de l’Epine, Col du Marais, Col de la Croix-Fry, and Col des Aravis. At the end you’ll be tired, but elated and ready for a delicious Alpine meal that is sure to revitalise you for tomorrow’s final ride in to Annecy.
Dinner at a local restaurant.
To Annecy via the Col des Aravis and Col des Glières. Approximately 81 km and 2000 m of ascent
Our final day on the road brings us back over the Col des Aravis (but in the opposite direction) before hitting one of the highlights of 2018’s Tour de France – the gravel road on top of the Col des Glières. We’ll stop at the WWII memorial on top of the plateau before descending (mostly!) all the way to ’The Pearl of the French Alps’: Annecy. Our hotel is right on the lake and steps from the old town, with its winding streets of cafés, shops and restaurants.
Celebratory dinner in Annecy.
Transfer to Geneva Airport
Following a rejuvenating breakfast at our hotel we’ll transfer you the short distance back to Geneva Airport for your departure.
44|5 has chosen your accommodation for the best mix of comfort, cycling services and location. You’re always within walking distance of village centers, restaurants, bike shops and other necessities.
Le Pic Blanc
Situated down the road from the Tour de France finish line of Alpe d’Huez, our 4-star pick for The Alpe has the perfect mix of comfort and amenities to ease you into your HighRoad Northern Alps tour.
Le Saint Georges
In business for over 150 years, 3-star St. Georges is our home for a night in the Maurienne Valley. The hotel is very cycling friendly and also well located right in the heart of St. Jean de Maurienne.
Auberge de Savoie
The Auberge de Savoie (3-star) sits in the ancient town (pre-Roman) of Môutiers, in the heart of the Tarentaise Valley. The hotel sits on a leafy square and the terrace in front is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy and après-ride drink.
Les Loges Blanches
This 4-star hotel is comprised of several chalets that surround an inviting outdoor pool. The hotel is in a quiet residential neighborhood, but only steps from the center of Megève.
Our choice for your last night, in Annecy, is 3-star Splendid hotel. The hotel has about the best location you could ask for, being right across the street from Lake Annecy, and just at the edge of the historic old town.
Arguably the most famous climb in the Tour de France, The Alpe is certainly its most iconic, with its 21 hairpins that every self-respecting cyclist has on their bucket list.
The climb is 13.2 km long, with an elevation gain of 1071 meters. The average grade is 8.1%.
This Hors Catégorie (HC) climb is long, with some steep stretches. It is also one of most scenic and natural of the big Tour de France climbs in the area, with mile after mile of high alpine meadows, towering peaks and cascading waterfalls.
The climb is 27.5 km long, with an elevation gain of 1292 meters. The average grade is 4.7%.
The is perhaps the most stunning 3 km of of road you will ever ride. From almost any angle the 17 switchbacks of Montvernier look like an impossible thing to create. They were though – by 36 workers and entirely by hand! The road has been used once in the Tour de France, in 2015.
The climb is 3.4 km long, with an elevation gain of 277 meters. The average grade is 8.5%.
This hors catégorie climb (1993 m) separates the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys and has been a mainstay in the Tour de France since 1969. We do the shorter, but steeper, southern side of this famous climb.
The climb is 19 km long, with an elevation gain of 1522 meters. The average grade is 8%.
Another climb only locals know, the Col du Tra (1305 m) is a hidden gem that will wake up the legs if they aren’t already. It is long and steep for long sections. The last time we were there we counted more switchbacks than Alpe d’Huez!
The climb is 12 km long, with an elevation gain of 809 meters. The average grade is 6.4%.
A long climb deep in the Northern Alps, the Cormet de Roselend (1967 m), offers lovely views and some steep pitches to warm up the legs. The Roslend has been used 10 times in the Tour de France.
The climb is 19 km long, with an elevation gain of 1154 meters. The average grade is 6%.
The Col des Saisies (1657 m) connects the Doron and Arly valleys in the shadow of Mont Blanc. This is not a difficult climb, but it is still long and more importantly, at the end of our Queen Stage. Saving your legs is the order of the day!
The climb is 15.7 km long, with an elevation gain of 890 meters. The average grade is 5.7%.
One of the highlights of HighRoad Northern Alps, this unknown col (1581 m) is a treat to climb.
The climb is 16.3 km long, with an elevation gain of 1161 meters. The average grade is 7.1%.
The penultimate climb on our Megève loop day, the Col de la Croix Fry (1467 m) is not the highest of mountain passes. It is a long climb near the end of a challenging week, so pick a small ring and enjoy the pretty views!
The climb is 12.8 km long, with an elevation gain of 842 meters. The average grade is 6.6%.
One of our favorite little climbs in the Alps, the Col des Aravis (1486 m) is one of the few on our tour that remain open year round. From Flumet the flat route follows a river for 5 km then climbs quickly into alpine pastures, with views of Mont Blanc in the distance.
The climb is 11.7 km long, with an elevation gain of 567 meters. The average grade is 5%.
This unique climb will be used in the Tour de France for the first time in 2018. The col *1445 m) sits on a large plateau that has a soon-to-be-famous gravel section of road. This one is on our last day, so save some energy for the long stretch of 11% that awaits you!
The climb is 8.7 km long, with an elevation gain of 700 meters. The average grade is 9%.