From small country roads to solitary mountain passes lost in the clouds, the Oisans is a very popular place for cycling. As you will discover, each road has its own history and each village has its own distinctive character. Most of these cycle routes begin in Bourg d’Oisans but they can of course be started from Vaujany and Allemont. They are designed both for sports cyclists and leisure cyclists.
Cycle Guides / Leaders
If you are near the Col du Mollard or Croix de Fer and have enough in the tank to take in some more Maurriene valley scenery then this is a perfect accompaniment to your day out with open pastures and mountain views of Les Aguilles d’Arves.
The most famous climb in cycling. Since 1952, the climb of l’Alpe d’Huez has been a finish for many a dramatic stage of The Tour de France. Ride the famous 21 hairpins that ascend from the valley floor at 719m for 13.6km up the mountain, finally finishing at an impressive 1850m. It is possible to continue from Alpe d'Huez over the Col de Sarennes and descend to the Barrage du Chambon at the foot of Les Deux Alpes.
This is a local Col, less known by the world stage. It was first used in the Tour de France in 1966 and most recently in 2013 when it was climbed from the South during stage 18 won by Christophe Riblon for France. It is a beautiful climb and follows the stunning Liganarre Valley.
This climb is often riden in the Tour de France before Alpe d'Huez. There is a welcoming bar at the summit with a sunny terrace, an ideal spot to enjoy the spectacular views towards the peaks of the Aiguilles d’Arves to the south. There is the option of adding the Col du Molard (1638m) to the climb when starting from St Jean de Maurienne.
Col du Galibier is one of the most impressive climbs in all the French Alps. It is located between the massif des Cerces and the massif d'Arvan-Villards, taking its name from the secondary chain of mountains known as the Galibier. From the northern side there are two kilometres of vertical climbing to be conquered, with glaciers and high peaks in the background to make a truly extraordinary landscape. It connects Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and Briançon via the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Lautaret and is often the highest point of the Tour de France.
A beautiful route passing through many rural villages, pastures and the blue lake of the Barrage de Grand Maison. Tough from the north and undulating from the south. From the summit there are far-reaching views to Mont Blanc and a closer view of the Col de la Madeleine. One can only imagine what the TdF riders must be thinking with the prospect of descending to the valley floor and then having to climb 2000m again.
A climb that is never too steep but challenging due to its relentless length. The open ride takes you through the town of La Grave and on to the summit where the road to the Galibier can be seen snaking above you. Expect great views of the glaciers on the Ecrins Massif, among the most spectacular in the Alps.
This climb can be reached via the Col de la Croix de Fer. There are two ascents, both on quiet tree lined roads. The southern ascent is a more technical 20km climb from Villargondran, while the northern ascent is just over 6 km. Once at the top you are greeted by a small alpine village, a ski resort in the winter months. The Col du Mollard has featured in the Tour de France most recently in 2012.
The Col de la Morte is used in the Alpe d'Huez Triathlon and the Granfondo Les Deux Alpes. It is one of the few Cols in the area accessible all year round. Like Alpe d’Huez it has numerous switchbacks leading up to the ski resort of Alpe de Grande Serre.
This can be attempted from two directions from Vaujany and involves one of the steepest gradients in the area at 15%. It can either be accessed after the Col d’Ornon from Bourg d’Oisans or you can head towards the Col de la Morte and on to Valbonnais.
Our most local Col and one we have done numerous times. It is the perfect starter for the first day or a daily occurrence for the eager person in the group who gets up before anyone else. Indulge in the wonderful hairpins, quiet surroundings and the gorgeous mountains. Just be careful of the sheep!
The Col du Sarenne takes you through many pretty villages and wild countryside. It can be used as an alternative way of ascending Alpe’d’Huez, approached from the Barrage du Chambon, close to the foot of Les Deux Alpes. The other route is a further 8km continuation after climbing Alpe d'Huez from where the descent starts. A full circular route of Alpe d’Huez can be achieved by using this col.
The Col du Telegraphe is a lovely wooded climb which has a steady gradient. It lies in the Maurienne valley with impressive views over St Michel de Maurienne below. It is the ‘warm up’ col in the Marmotte race before tackling the Col du Galibier.
The road to La Berarde is a one-way climb into the heart of the Ecrins massif. It is 27km long with unmissable views of the high mountains and glaciers. It is not difficult but becomes narrow on occasion. On route you will pass some quintessential rural French villages such as St Christophe. Both villages are popular destinations with climbers and walkers.
The climb to Les Deux Alpes was made famous in 1998 when Jan Ullrich lost over eight minutes to Marco Pantani on the Tour de France. It is a few kilometres further from Bourg d’Oisnas than Alpe d’Huez and worth a visit.
A cliff road route linking the historic Alpe d’Huez hairpins at La Garde to the ski resort Auris. Jaw-dropping valley scenery as you ride on the knife edge road cut into the mountain side. This can also link into the Col du Sarenne for a loop of Alpe d’Huez.
This little known gem-of-a-climb starts just a few couple of kilometres from Bourg d’Oisans and it is very popular with cyclists trying to find their legs before attempting Alpe’dHuez. Expect small roads with lush greenery and epic valley views.
A great warm up for either an assault on the Alpe d’Huez hairpins or alternatively the Glandon/Croix de Fer. It is also a way to get to Alpe’d’Huez on TdF day and avoiding all the Gendarmes roadblocks!