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Drôme Provençale to the Alps — Tour de France’s legendary passes

Bart Rock and Blue

Drôme Provençale to the Alps — Tour de France’s legendary passes

Bike Touring Collection by Vincent Reboul

7-14

days

3-6 h

/ day

376 mi

34,375 ft

32,200 ft

The Tour de France is a bit of a trendsetter. During some editions, little-known places appear on the route, such as the summit of La Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges mountains. Some places feature in the Tour year after year, timeless parts of this world-famous race. They’re part of the history and the myth of the ‘Big Loop’ (La Grande Boucle), just like the most famous riders or the finish on the Champs-Elysées.

The passes and summits are often the most renowned. Among the 10 most famous cols, I’ve chosen to link three of them in this Collection. They are located in two very different regions: the Mont Ventoux between Drôme and Vaucluse, the Alpe d'Huez and the Galibier pass in the Alps.

This route also takes you to other lesser-known passes as you ride between two regions that lend themselves perfectly to cycling.

This seven-stage Collection leads 600 kilometres (373 mi) from Montélimar to Gap. You cycle along the deserted roads of the Drôme Provençale, passing through the Mont Ventoux Biosphere Reserve and the Baronnies Regional Park. After the Diois, you head for the Vercors plateau and ride on the edge of its Regional Natural Park. After, it’s time to confront the high alpine valleys such as the Romanche, passing through the northernmost part of the Écrins National Park before descending towards the Serre-Ponçon lake and arriving in Gap. Along the way, you discover beautiful towns such as Briançon, Buis-les-Baronnies and Embrun.

This adventure is perfect for cycling enthusiasts who like to cover long distances and climb. Over seven stages, the cumulative difference in altitude approaches 10,500 metres (34,500 ft). Note that the route doesn’t ascend the three passes mentioned above, instead taking you to the starting point of the climbs so you can choose. You can easily shorten the stages according to your level to make this route easier.

As we’re dealing with mountains and passes, it’s imperative you’re well equipped with warm clothes. Winter should be avoided as the high passes are rarely open and it’s not pleasant to ride when it’s freezing. Bikepacking lends itself perfectly to this route,especially in the warmer months, but pack light

For each stage, I’ve made sure that you arrive in a village or a town where you’ll have no problem finding food and accommodation. The itinerary starts at Montélimar train station and finishes at Gap train station.

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La route des cols légendaires du Tour de France

373 mi

34,075 ft

31,900 ft

Last updated: June 26, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Étape 1 : De Montélimar à Buis-les-Baronnies — La route des cols légendaires du Tour de France

    Difficult
    06:39
    59.6 mi
    9.0 mph
    5,100 ft
    4,150 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    For this first stage, before starting to pedal, I recommend that you visit the town center of Montélimar, which is really worth it.

    

    Very quickly, after crossing the Rhône, you will find yourself surrounded by nature on a road without traffic. It goes up hillsides through oak woods. After a first pass

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  • Difficult
    02:45
    23.9 mi
    8.7 mph
    2,250 ft
    950 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This second stage is much shorter than the previous one. By arriving early in the village of Sault you can, if you wish, set off to climb Mont-Ventoux.

    

    The Ventoux will be omnipresent today as you will follow its north face. Leaving Buis-les-Baronnies, you go through the col de Fontaube. In doing so

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  • Difficult
    05:26
    49.9 mi
    9.2 mph
    4,800 ft
    5,825 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    For this traffic-free day, you will evolve within the Baronnies Provençales Regional Natural Park. What a pleasure to pedal on deserted roads, where you can fully savor the pleasures of cycling!

    

    The road is very varied and takes you from pass to pass. Today no less than five are on your way, but all at

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  • Difficult
    05:22
    52.1 mi
    9.7 mph
    3,575 ft
    3,700 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    It's a relatively easy day ahead of you, with some very nice surprises! You start the first 30 kilometers with a gradual climb that takes you from 400 meters to over 1,000 meters. After Saint-Dizier-en-Diois, the rest of the day will be mostly flat and downhill with a few small bumps.

    

    At around 40 kilometres

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  • Difficult
    10:30
    89.8 mi
    8.5 mph
    9,000 ft
    8,000 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This stage is the longest of this itinerary. Almost 150 kilometers with more than 2,500 meters of elevation gain, it may seem long and difficult for you for a single stage.

    

    However, nothing to worry about. Once you arrive on the Vercors plateau, you can easily split this day in two by staying, for example

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  • Difficult
    05:24
    42.6 mi
    7.9 mph
    5,725 ft
    3,750 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage makes you explore the northern part of the Écrins National Park by taking one of the most famous passes in the Alps, that of Lautaret. You will also have the option of climbing that of Galibier, which happens to be barely six kilometers away from its neighbor. Everything will depend on your

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  • Difficult
    06:03
    58.5 mi
    9.7 mph
    3,925 ft
    5,850 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The last day of your itinerary takes you to discover many lakes. This time you are following the Durance and water will be an omnipresent theme today. In addition to the huge artificial lake that is the Serre-Ponçon lake, you will discover the small natural glacial lake of La Roche-de-Rame. Villages

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    376 mi
  • Duration
    42:10 h
  • Elevation
    34,375 ft32,200 ft

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