Thomson Tales

For the Climbers — The French Alps

For the Climbers — The French Alps

The French Alps are steeped in cycling folklore. Long since embedded into the history of the most famous races on earth, these mountains are a playground for cyclists.

A playground they might be, but only for cyclists with a certain resolve and an appetite for suffering. These huge mountains, ski resorts in the winter, are harsh and rugged, giant and imposing. To take on an Hors Categorie and win takes more than fitness, it takes ambition and a willingness to suffer before reaching the final rewards. And the rewards are rich; accomplishment, unforgettable views and – of course - thrilling descents.


Just this year the king of the Alps, Alpe d’Huez, was the stage for yet another chapter of cycling folklore when Tom Pidcock bagged his first ever Tour de France win. “To ride up Alpe d’Huez, the most iconic finish in cycling, at the head of the race, that’s one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. Pidcock’s breakneck descending, from the summit of the Galibier and on the slopes of the Croix de Fer, at speeds nudging 100kmh, was one of the most thrilling moments of the Tour and drew gasps of wonder from French TV commentators. The gap he created allowed him to take on the Alpe and ride away to victory on Bastille Day.


Even when the race isn’t in town an aura pervades the Alps. Road graffiti remains where motorhomes don’t, but the echoes of races past ring around the mountains. The unseen atmosphere gives the Alps an X Factor that you can’t put your finger on. The history of battles, of pros and amateurs tackling these monster climbs, spurs you on. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s possible. There’s no greater inspiration.


Away from racing, the Alps have a distinct character. Snow capped mountains decorate the horizon and cow bells tinkle gently in the distance carried on the fresh alpine air. We ride through picture perfect hillside villages, the only landmarks that offer perspective to the scale of the geology we aim to conquer. You can’t help but feel small in this environment, giving even greater satisfaction to the cresting of a summit. The scene uncluttered and clean, almost as if it was created just for cycling.


We’ve prepared two awe-inspiring challenges that will test your limits and introduce you to the majesty and wonder of road cycling’s most celebrated terrain. You’ll conquer the newest paved road in the Alps, the massive Col de la Loze, which is now rated the most challenging climb in the French Alps! You’ll enjoy a classic ride over the Lacets de Montvernier, the Col de Telegraphe, the Col du Galibier and Alpe d’Huez. And many more.

We have two trips; Trans French Alps and the Epic Epic Trans French Alps. Averaging 38 miles / 6,388 ft and 58 miles / 9,570 ft a day respectively, these trips will introduce you to the greatest climbs in the Alps.

Both trips offer the rewarding challenge of this famous mountain range, with the Epic version being for the real mountain goats. Read more about both trips by clicking below.

Trans French Alps

EPIC Trans French Alps