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. Alpe d’hHuez cycling is 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 but a few. If you’re looking for French Alps cycling, 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 to cycle Alpe d’Huez. It’s all accessible from charming Bourg d’Oisans. The town sits at the base of Alpe d’Huez and is 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:

  • Col de l’Iseran (and surrounds) covers the Isère Valley, including climbs such as the Col d’Iseran and Cormet de Roseland.
  • Provence and Ventoux covers Mont Ventoux and the beautiful Luberon hills.
  • Nice covers the unmissable climbs of the southern Alps close to the Côte d’Azure.

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 Alpe d’Huez route 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 Alpe d’Huez cycle rides that tick all these boxes, including some of the best climbs in the Alps. All within easy access of lovely Bourg d’Oisans.

Top tips

Don’t miss the car-free days during July and August each year. Plan your Alpe d’Huez bike adventure 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 during your Alpe d’Huez cycling holiday. Of these, the notorious La Marmotte Granfondo Alpes is the most famous (this article delves into the detail of the Marmotte and this is a Q&A on the event).

Another huge challenge is the 700 kilometre Route des Grandes Alpes. Or perhaps you want to take on an Everest on Alpe d’Huez challenge?!

Family cycle routes in the French Alps

The Alpe d’Huez road climb means this area isn’t ideal for family cycling, especially with young children. When tackling the cycling routes of the Bourg D’Oisans area it’s difficult to avoid the mountains, and the valley rides follow 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.


Which town to stay in?

When tackling Alpe d’Huez in France, we’ve stayed in both Bourg d’Oisans and in Alpe d’Huez village itself previously. If you’re debating whether to stay in the valley in Bourg d’Oisans (or one of the other small towns) or at the top of the mountain in Alpe d’Huez village, there are various factors to consider. Which Alpe d’Huez cycling accommodation to choose also depends on what kind of holiday you’re after. There’s more on the pros and cons in our Alpe d’Huez accommodation article. 

The rides in this guide are grouped around Bourg d’Oisans, because on balance, we thought that would be most useful to anyone reading this. 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.

Which hotel/accommodation to stay in?

To make this (rather long) article more readable, we’ve moved our specific accommodation tips into this article on hotels/accommodation in Alpe d’Huez and the surrounding towns. If there’s anywhere you’ve stayed while sampling Alpe d’Huez road cycling that you think we’ve missed, do let us know in the comments below or by email!

Bike hire

There are plenty of options regarding road bike hire for Alpe d’Huez and Bourg d’Oisans cycling. There are options 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.

Town centre Bourg d'OisansBeautiful Bourg d’Oisans
Bike hire Bourg d'OisansBike hire at Cycles et Sports in Bourg d’Oisans
Boulangerie in Bourg d'Oisans with bicyclesEven the boulangerie is pro-bike in Bourg d’Oisans!

We didn’t use bike hire on our visits, but we did pop into both shops (who each helped us in different ways with our Everesting attempt on Alpe d’Huez!). Which shop you use will probably come down to whichever is more convenient for where you’re staying. It might also be helpful for you to know that Cycle Huez is run by an English speaking couple.

Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.

Bourg d’Oisans

Cycles et Sports, Bourg d’Oisans

Rue du Général de Gaulle

+33 (0)4 76 79 16 79

A good variety of bikes including Scott Pinarello F8 carbon road bikes. You can also stock up on kit and energy food, and there is a repair shop too. From 46-89€ per day, depending on the bike.

Bike Experience 21, Bourg d’Oisans

28 Rue Aristide Briand

+33 (0)7 84 68 60 92

Has a large selection of bikes of different sizes and quality levels to meet most needs. Please enquire.

Alpe d’Huez

Cycle HuezAlpe d’Huez

Place Joseph Paganon, Quartier Le Vieil Alpe

+33 (0)9 51 43 89 86

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 – 45 euro

2 days -90 euro

3 days – 125 euro

4 days – 155 euro

5 days – 180 euro

6 days – 210 euro

7 days – 230 euro


Saint Jean de Maurienne

SPORT 2000 / Espace Mondo Vélo

Av du 8 Mai 1945

+33 (0)4 79 83 07 25

Also has mountaineering and other equipment rentals, as well as sports and fashion items for sale.

Please enquire.



Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this now.

Cycling tours/camps

When to go

Read our article, Cycling in the Alps: when to go for full details.


Highway code and travel information

As ever, it’s a good idea to check current travel information before you book and travel. For UK visitors, the UK government travel information pages for France are here.

You should also read and follow France’s highway code.

Maps and books

  • IGN has a useful map covering Bourg d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez at 1:25,000 scale. It doesn’t cover all the climbs you’ll want to do (e.g. Galibier, Glandon, Croix de Fer). Click here to check prices
  • If you want to see the whole region, the Michelin Rhone-Alps map is helpful, at 1:200,000 scale. Click here to check prices
  • For an awe-inspiring sense of the history and grandeur of the mountains, take a look at Friebe and Goding’s Mountain High and Mountain Higher. We’ve reviewed Mountain High, here.

Good to know

  • Cycling the French Alps (and Alpe d’Huez in particular) is demanding and should not be underestimated. Read our cycling Alpe d’Huez tips before you go.
  • The Alps fall into eight different countries: France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Monaco.

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 head to our France hub page to find info on lots more regions of this amazing country.

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

Last Reviewed: 08 March 2023

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