The mythical mountain passes of the Tour de France

If you’re one of the many thousands of people who await the excitement of the Tour de France impatiently every year, why not follow the lead of the world’s greatest cyclists on the mythical mountain passes of the Alps!

Etape 1Col de la Bonette

For this first stage, head to Col de la Bonette, in the Parc National du Mercantour. Europe‘s highest mountain pass, it is especially the Tour de France‘s highest-altitude challenge. Although it has been featured just four times in the race’s history, Col de la Bonette overflows with spectacular scenery! Set out at dawn for an unforgettable excursion: it’s the best time of day to view the local marmots and revel in the pastel light bathing the mountains…

Etape 2Col d’Izoard

This mountain pass offers one of the most incredible panoramic views in the entire Hautes-Alpes area! Set at the entrance to the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras, Col d’Izoard has been featured no less than 33 times in the Tour de France. It is therefore highly-coveted by cyclists and walkers alike. Take along your camera to get some shots of the famous Casse Déserte: a rocky slope resembling a lunar landscape and location for the film Les Valseuses by Bertrand Blier, starring Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere and Miou-Miou.

Etape 3Col du Galibier

A genuine institution on the Tour de France and the 4th highest pass in the French Alps, Col du Galibier has featured in the race an impressive 58 times – a legend indeed! Although tackling it by bike isn’t recommended unless you are a very seasoned cyclist, you can roam the route by car and enjoy snapping some dizzy pics of the road snaking down to the valley.

Etape 4Col du Lautaret

An intrinsic part of the Tour de France for decades, Col du Lautaret winds its way through Vallée de la Guisane. Located at the top of the Hautes-Alpes area, between La Grave and Briançon, it features long, straight stretches much appreciated by cyclists. From Monêtier-les-Bains onwards, its uphill slope is around 600 metres. With good lights, you can safely cross the many tunnels dotted along the way to La Grave – a mountaineering mecca in summer and temple of skiing in winter.

Etape 5Reserved passes event

The final stage of your tour – and it’s your turn to pedal. Throughout summer, test your skills on the Tour de France‘s finest mountain passes in the Hautes-Alpes area. Aimed at confirmed cyclists, the Cols réservés (reserved passes) event is an opportunity to explore the race’s most famous stages in all safety as no cars are allowed on the route – a perfect opportunity to pedal your way over Col d’Allos, Col d’Izoard and Col du Galibier or top up your training while taking in the Alpine landscapes. On your bike!

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