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!
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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).
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!
Alps cycle tours
If you’d like some help with organising your trip to the Alps, check out our article on the best bike tours in the Alps. You might also be interested in our tips for how to pick the best bike tour company for your needs and the different kind of French cycling holidays out there.
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.
Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.
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
- Food. Harun is passionate about food and our evening meals were truly excellent. He also cooked a 6 pm tea for the children, which worked brilliantly as it meant the children were in bed while the adults ate at 8 pm. Our son happened to mention his favourite food was pizza – and guess what appeared on the table the following night. We also enjoyed the complimentary Nespresso available in our rooms and the living room!
- Lap pool, jacuzzi and sauna. The lap pool is ideal for young children that want to splash around. The facilities are also excellent for adults and with the lovely sun deck too, there’s enough for a non-cyclist that wants to spend a morning/afternoon relaxing while their partner is cycling.
Things to be aware of
- Location at bend 12 of Alpe d’Huez. This could be a positive or negative depending on your perspective. Not being in the centre of a town has its drawbacks, as does having to cycle halfway up a mountain at the end of a ride. On the other hand, you get to know cycling’s most famous mountain, you get superb views, you’re in an excellent position to ride routes you might not otherwise get around to (for example the Pas de la Confession loop), and you’ll undoubtedly be a better climber by the end of a stay!
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.
Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.
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.||Please enquire.|
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.||Please enquire.|
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.
1 day – 40 euro
2 days – 80 euro
3 days – 110 euro
4 days – 140 euro
5 days – 170 euro
6 days – 195 euro
7 days – 220 euro
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.
When to go
Read our article, Cycling in the Alps: when to go for full details.
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.
Or head to our France hub page to find info on lots more regions of this amazing country.
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