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Geneva to Nice Alpine Challenge

Guided Road Cycling Holiday




8 days

Prices from

£2,180 P.P.
This magnificent traverse of the French Alps begins in Thonon les Bains close to the Swiss border and ends 740km later by the shimmering shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This is a real challenge which takes in some of the highest mountain roads in Europe and is designed to appeal to experienced riders.
The route takes us over 43 categorised cols, naturally including many made famous by the Tour de France. After arrival in Geneva we transfer to Thonon Les Bains, a picturesque spa town located on the southern shore of Lake Geneva. The following morning we set off leaving the lakeside behind and follow the road as it rises into the mountains.
It’s not exactly a gentle start to the tour, it is however just a small taste of what’s in store during the next few days. As the week progresses, the climbs, and, of course, the descents, get longer and more challenging and during the course of our journey we will exceed 2,000m in altitude several times as we take on the Izoard, the Col de Vars and other legendary mountain passes. We’ll also be tackling Col de l’Iseran and Cime de la Bonette, which, at over 2,800m stakes a claim as the highest mountain road in Europe.
The last couple of days are not without their challenges, however the going does get easier as the altitudes become more 'normal'. Eventually we arrive at the coast where we can take a dip in the Mediterranean to mark the end of our adventure.

Holiday Highlights

  • Legendary Tour de France challenges every day
  • The unusual Casse Déserte landscape at the top of Izoard
  • Paying homage to the Coppi and Bobet memorials
  • Conquering the 2,800m summit of the Cime de la Bonette, Europe’s highest road
  • Exhilarating descents from Col de l‘Iseran and the Restefond
  • Last night celebrations on the French Riviera

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Day 1
Arrival: Geneva / Thonon les Bains
Non Riding Day

We will meet you in Geneva to transfer you to your first night’s accommodation in Thonon les Bains. Help will be on hand if you require assistance to build your bike and if time permits, we’ll suggest a suitable gentle route to stretch your legs.

Day 2
Thonon les Bains to Megève
68 Miles / 109 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 2,800 Metres Approx.

Climb of the Day: Col de Ramaz

We’ll start the day with a short ride to the lake shore where we can mark the beginning of our journey with that all important group photo before weaving our way through the streets of Thonon to get onto the route.

There is nothing too demanding on the first day and it is a great opportunity to find our climbing legs as we enjoy the spectacular scenery. It is not entirely without challenges however and within the first 11km we will have 3 cols under our belts; Cols des Moises, Mouilles and Jambaz, all just over 1,000m with little descending between them. A little later in the day we come across the Col de Ramaz (1,608m) which will be our biggest test of the day.

Our final challenge of the day delivers us to Megève (1,107m), a luxurious ski resort town, considered to be one of the finest in France. It’s well worth taking a wander round the boutique lined streets later, even if it is just window shopping!

Day 3
Megève to Val d’Isere
74 Miles / 119 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 3,700 Metres Approx.

Climb of the Day: Cormet de Roselend

Our day begins with a short descent out of town before reaching Col des Saisies at 1,633m, which is quickly followed by the Col du Pré at 1,703m. From the top of the Col du Pré there are beautiful views of the bright blue Cormet de Roselend lake, a great photo opportunity. Both the Saises and the Cormet de Roselend featured in a stage of the 2002 Tour and this was the stage used for the Etape du Tour, the same year.

For much of the day we can admire stunning views of the permanently snow-capped Mont Blanc as it towers above the surrounding peaks.

We finish the day by climbing the first stages of the Col de l‘Iseran, ending in the world famous ski resort of Val d‘Isère, where we will spend the evening.

Day 4
Val d'Isère to Serre Chevalier
94 Miles / 152 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 3,400 Metres Approx.

Climb of the Day: Col du Galibier

What lies ahead today is likely to be, for many of us, the most challenging stage of our tour. Having climbed approximately two thirds of the Col de l‘Iseran already, we start our day by completing the remaining, and most spectacular, 10kms to reach the summit of the second highest mountain pass in France, where we will regroup, enjoy the magnificent views and wrap up for the lengthy and exhilarating descent to the base of Col de la Telegraph which follows.

We’ll spend the rest of the day in the company of the Telegraph and its big brother, the Col du Galibier, two of the most famous climbs in Tour de France history, which, when paired together as they so often are, make for an unforgettable afternoon’s cycling.

Day 5
Serre Chevalier to Jausiers
63 Miles / 102 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,700 Metres Approx.

Climb of the Day: Col d‘Izoard

A shorter but no less dramatic day awaits which we begin with a morning assault of the stunningly-beautiful Col d‘Izoard, a regular feature in professional cycling and a gateway to the high alps.

On reaching the summit we are welcomed by an unusual and rugged Casse Déserte landscape, where, once again we will don extra layers as we prepare for the descent, two kilometres into which we may wish to pull in to admire the monuments erected to commemorate legendary Tour de France winners Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet.

Finally, having descended to the town of Guillestre we end the day with the Col de Vars, a spectacularly pretty climb littered with the remains of numerous Napoleonic forts which hark back to the time when this region of the alps was the main frontier between France and Italy.

Day 6
Jausiers to Puget Rostang
84 Miles / 135 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 3,300 Metres Approx.

Climb of the Day: Col del la Bonette

We have a dramatic, challenging and spectacularly beautiful day in store as we take on the Col de la Bonette. The highest point of the stage, and indeed our entire journey, is the Cime de la Bonette, sitting at 2802 metres above sea level. The cime is in fact a supplementary loop constructed 87 metres higher than the actual mountain pass, built with the sole purpose of putting the region on the map and staking a claim as the highest paved road in Europe and the highest point ever reached by Tour de France.

After admiring the magnificent views from the rarified summit we indulge in a thrilling 26km descent which swiftly delivers us to Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée where we will regroup before dropping even further into the gently-descending Vallée de la Tinnée.

By the time we’ve lost 2000m in altitude it is time to start climbing once again as we embark on the Couillole, a relatively minor col but a dramatic one into an ever-more Mediterranean terrain. We end this fantastic stage with a spectacular descent through the beautiful Gorges de Cians and one final minor climb to the peaceful and secluded hamlet of Puget Rostang.

Day 7
Puget Rostang to Nice
100 Miles / 161 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,500 Metres Approx.

Climb of the Day: Col de Bleine

The high alps and the majority of the climbing might well be behind us but with around 100 miles of fantastic riding still ahead of us, our final day in the saddle still gives us a lot to look forward to.

We begin by retracing the last few kilometres of yesterday’s stage as we drop down to Puget Théniers and cross the Vars river before starting to climb the Col de Saint Raphael. It is the first of a series of relatively minor cols that we will explore via a network of narrow country lanes which wind their way through numerous pretty hamlets and villages such as Sigale and Le Mas.

After completing the Col de Bleine, the last significant asset of our entire journey, we’ll pass through Grasse, capital of the world’s perfume industry and one the French Riviera’s major attractions, before making our way down to sea level, emerging at the coast near to the historic resort town of Antibes.

From Antibes we will make our way along the glitzy coastline of the Côte d‘Azur, ending our adventure on the world-famous Promenade des Anglais where we can celebrate with a glass of bubbly and customary dip in the Med.

Day 8
Departure: Nice
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Alas it is time do bid farewell, hopefully with fond memories and a great sense of achievement. After breakfast, we will transfer to Nice for your onward journey.

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The Cycling


The terrain is what you might expect from one of Europe’s major mountain ranges. Including numerous serious Tour de France cols, the tour involves a lot of climbing. Two or more significant climbs a day is not uncommon and many will include steep sections. Take caution when descending as the odd pothole and gravel patches do occur. Many descents feature numerous tight bends and switchbacks. Confident descenders will enjoy the downhill stages whereas less confident riders will be expected to exercise caution.


Road Cycling Grade

Grade 5: Demanding

60-100 miles / 95-160 kms per day

Designed for cyclists with good stamina and a high level of fitness

Consecutively long, challenging days with multiple serious or high altitude ascents

Frequent steep or very steep stages occasionally over extended distances

Includes long and often technically demanding descents

Serious road riding for experienced riders

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re not unlike a Grade 4 rider, in fact you’re probably the same person, but you’re looking for the ultimate challenge. You’ve ridden in the high mountains on numerous occasions and you’re keen to push your boundaries a bit further. You’re well-equipped with all the gear necessary to keep yourself warm and safe in the mountains in all conditions, a self-sufficient rider who likes to get on and ride with minimum fuss and faffing. Your riding experience is the most important aspect of your trip. You live to ride, love to climb and the prospect of consecutive days of long distances and/or multiple extended or high altitude ascents fills you with joy. You’re a very competent descender, but you understand the risks of road riding and always ride with your own safety, and that of your companions, at the forefront of your mind. You’re already fit and you’re prepared to work hard to stay in shape in order to get the best possible experience out of your holiday. You will love a Grade 5.

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Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Price p.p.
Start Date
Return Date
8 days

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Geneva airport (GVA)

G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Nice airport (NCE)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Your tour starts in Thonon les Bains and finishes in Nice.

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday and both the arrival transfer from Geneva airport (GVA) and return transfer to Nice airport (NCE) will be co-ordinated with the group flight schedule.

We will provide you with details of suitable flight/arrival/departure schedules as flight timetables become available.

Please check with us before making any travel arrangements to ensure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to make sure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers.

Please note If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the scheduled transfer windows, there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.


Accommodation (shared twin or double ensuite rooms) will usually be in hotels, chambre d‘hôtes, and local auberges, with a 3 star rating or of an equivalent standard. Our accommodation has been hand-picked and chosen for room and service quality, as well as food quality and, of course, French charm.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own, we have bikes available to hire. The standard hire bike is a fully-carbon Scott Addict (pictured above) fitted with rim brakes and Shimano 105 components. On this holiday it is possible to upgrade to an Ultegra Disc model. The bikes come with flat pedals as standard, so if you prefer to ride with clip-in pedals please bring your own pedals along with you. We can also include a helmet which should be requested at time of booking.

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News, Reviews & Stories

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