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Riding in the sunny French Alps – between cycling history and beautiful nature

Simon Rosmolen

Riding in the sunny French Alps – between cycling history and beautiful nature

Road Cycling Collection by Mountainhotel Saint Roch

15

Tours

88:19 h

923 mi

114,750 ft

In Puy Saint Vincent, in the middle of the Ecrins Massif in France, lies the mountain hotel Saint Roch. This hotel is run by outdoor sports enthusiasts and cycling fanatics. They work here for a reason – the Ecrins is known as one of the most beautiful nature parks in France. Add to that the Col du Galibier, Col d'Izoard, Col Agnel and the Col du Granon in the immediate vicinity and your cycling holiday is complete.

The hotel is located in the sunny southern French Alps, a few kilometres from Briançon. This is worth mentioning, because unlike the other sides of the Alps, the sun shines here more than 300 days a year. This hotel is a great base year-round both for active winter getaways and summer holidays.

The area around the hotel is a wonderful place to explore by bike. This Collection has 15 different Tours, with rides over the most famous cols such as the Galibier, Izoard, Agnel, the Bonette and the Italian Finestre. Conquer the Alpine cols and follow in the footsteps of great Tour winners such as Anquetil and Hinault, Merckx and Zoetemelk, who all wrote cycling history here.

There’s so much to discover in the region following small, quiet roads that are great fun to cycle. For example, you can ride to one of the three valleys around Puy Saint Vincent. The route takes you to the heart of the Ecrins, where nature is at its most beautiful. You really feel that you exist as you climb Pre Madame Carle, surrounded by snowy peaks of 4,000 metres (13,120 ft), giant glaciers and roaring rivers. Or, you can ride the circular around Serre Ponçon lake, with numerous panoramic views over this azure reservoir.

Apart from the mountains and nature you also find culinary highlights in this Collection. You can combine bike rides with visits to the finest restaurants, boulangeries, ice cream stores and cafes for coffee and cake. You can count on being able to nourish your inner self in cycling cities such as Briançon, Embrun, Guillestre, Barcelonnette and Bardonecchia. And of course, no cycling Collection is complete without a real Coffee Ride. Santé!

Finally, some practical announcements. Always make sure you have enough warm and windproof clothing with you, especially if you plan to ride one of the cols. Always check the weather forecasts, because there are days you'd rather not be on top of the Galibier. Make sure you have enough food and drink with you too. There are many opportunities to refill water – almost every village has fountains where you can find delicious mountain water.

Hotel Saint Roch is open from June to September and December to April. The hotel has spacious rooms, a sauna, jacuzzi, swimming pool and a sunny terrace. Chef Anne Pekelharing prepares feasts for you in the kitchen that are local, nutritious and colourful. Moreover, the team is knowledgeable about cycling and route planning, so you only have to think about riding yourself. Want to make a reservation or learn more about our cycling packages? Check out our Instagram instagram.com/hotelsaintroch and website hotel-st-roch.com/nl/fietshotel.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    05:59
    64.2 mi
    10.7 mph
    8,125 ft
    8,125 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The round about Col d'Izoard, or the 'Boucle d'Izoard' is a cycling classic. The mountain is rarely skipped during the Tour de France. Hotel Saint Roch is practically on the route, no wonder that this route is so popular among hotel guests.

    

    The tour starts from Hotel Saint Roch and starts with a descent

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  • Difficult
    04:40
    44.1 mi
    9.4 mph
    6,725 ft
    6,725 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The Trois Vallées route gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the nearby area by bike. But make no mistake, because if you want to cycle all three valleys, you will have no less than 2000 meters in altitude in 70 kilometres. Is this too much for you? Then feel free to drive one or two valleys

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  • Difficult
    04:41
    48.1 mi
    10.3 mph
    6,700 ft
    6,700 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The Col du Granon is known to only a few, but the question is how long that will last. On July 13, 2022, the Tour de France will finish on this 2404 meter high Alp. The round also topped this in '86, after which it was the highest finish of the Tour for 25 years. In 2011, this record was only broken

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  • Difficult
    05:11
    49.4 mi
    9.6 mph
    8,025 ft
    8,025 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    To keep the trip 'human', you can first drive to Le Monêtier-les-Bains by car. This place is located in the run-up to the Col du Lautaret, the first col of the day. The first 13 kilometers to Col du Lautaret are a good warm-up with a gradient that does not exceed 5.3%.

    

    The next 8 kilometers to the Col

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  • Difficult
    06:32
    76.5 mi
    11.7 mph
    7,725 ft
    7,750 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The climb of the Col de Vars starts directly from Guillestre. The Col de Vars is the easiest 'big col' near Briançon and climbs gradually with an average percentage of 6%.

    

    The 1070 vertical meters are spread over a distance of 18 kilometers, so you can do this climb relatively quickly. After leaving the

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  • Difficult
    05:35
    61.3 mi
    11.0 mph
    7,325 ft
    7,325 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The first 14 kilometers you string together, until the Rampes de Freissinières looms. The two-kilometer climb is steep, with gradients of up to 20%. Once at the top, you have a beautiful view of the valley of the River Durance from the viewpoint.

    

    Then you descend via a rural road, past a glider airfield

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  • Difficult
    02:32
    25.7 mi
    10.1 mph
    3,500 ft
    3,500 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    A one-way drive to Pre Madame Carle is a good opportunity to warm up and enjoy the scenery of the Parc des Écrins. The tour starts with a descent to Les Vigneaux after which you pass the village of Vallouise. You follow the road in the direction of Pelvoux, until it rises falsely. After the tunnel, the

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  • Difficult
    04:34
    56.8 mi
    12.4 mph
    4,725 ft
    4,750 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The Embrun round is a relatively easy ride in which it never gets really steep except for 2 kilometers. These steep kilometers can be found after 13 kilometers at the Rampes de Freissinieres. The wall is a real killer with gradients of up to 20%. Once you've conquered it, it's a lovely descent on a quiet

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  • Difficult
    06:50
    77.4 mi
    11.3 mph
    8,700 ft
    8,700 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Imagine yourself in Provence during this tour around Lac de Serre-Ponçon. This tour gives you the best views over this azure blue reservoir, which is supplied by the rivers Durance and Ubaye.

    

    This tour starts in Embrun, but you can also get on further north at Saint-Clément-sur-Durance. From Embrun (848m

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  • Difficult
    06:13
    55.4 mi
    8.9 mph
    5,525 ft
    5,525 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Where every cyclist passing Cervières turns right for the last 9 kilometers of the Col d'Izoard, you turn left. Here is a hidden gem that few (cycling) tourists know about: Les Fonts, a large valley in the high mountains against the Italian border, which you have almost to yourself.

    

    You descend from Puy

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  • Intermediate
    02:33
    30.4 mi
    11.9 mph
    2,875 ft
    2,875 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Not too long, not too heavy, good company and of course good coffee: that is the recipe for a coffee ride. Only the coffees in France are not necessarily highly regarded. A delicious cappuccino, noisette or espresso is not a given here. Fortunately, we have found a few places in Briançon where you can

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  • Difficult
    03:45
    43.6 mi
    11.6 mph
    4,400 ft
    4,400 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The Col de Montgenèvre is a 9 kilometer climb with an average gradient of less than 5%. There are more beautiful climbs in the region and on the way it can be busy due to summer holiday traffic. The most beautiful part of the tour starts after the Col de Montgenèvre.

    

    You descend to Oulx, after which the

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  • Difficult
    06:41
    59.3 mi
    8.9 mph
    9,275 ft
    9,275 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Following on from the well-known La Marmotte, Italy has had its own comparable cyclo, La Marmotta, since 2015. A tour that is completely driven in Italy and starts less than an hour's drive from Puy Saint Vincent. The Colle Delle Finestre is the centerpiece of this Tour and also the highest point (Cima

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  • Difficult
    12:05
    114 mi
    9.4 mph
    18,650 ft
    18,625 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Where the 'real' Marmotte has 177 kilometers and 5368 altimeters, this 'small' variant is almost not inferior. In addition, this route contains the Col de Croix de Fer instead of the Glandon. From the Lautaret you descend to Le Bourg-d'Oisans, the cycling village at the foot of the well-known Alpe d

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  • Difficult
    10:25
    116 mi
    11.2 mph
    12,500 ft
    12,500 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Welcome to the cycle route of the Embrunman, the toughest triathlon in the world. If you have a hard time during this trip: one consolation, because during the triathlon this is only one of the three parts. So you will be spared a lot of suffering.

    

    From Embrun you start relatively easily with a tour around

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    15
  • Distance
    923 mi
  • Duration
    88:19 h
  • Elevation
    114,750 ft

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Riding in the sunny French Alps – between cycling history and beautiful nature

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