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 Post subject: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:37 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1392
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Along the lines of dgasmd's question, but looking a long way ahead to next August...

Hoping to find two weeks at the start of a possible holiday back to Malta (visit my wifes family) and go via the French Alps.

Trying to factor in keeping the budget down, is it possible to fly then train/bus and base myself in a central location without a car and ride various Alps peaks and passes? Or to get the most out of the short period a car is needed to get to more rides and fit in some rides in the Pyrenees too?

If a central location would work, where would you suggest? Would it be possible to hire bikes from there too or should I bring mine along?

Also is there a good site with information about the various popular / must do rides? Links etc would be much appreciated.

Inspired by Stefan R's photos - I will go through his posts and check these against maps to figure out where he actually is riding too.

Thanks

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 Post subject: French Alps rides?
Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:37 am 


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:19 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1392
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Did a bit of searching during my lunch break and came across http://www.grenoblecycling.com/

Having never been to Grenoble, would this be a good place to use as a base ride the surrounding cols from or would another town be better?

I can see I have a lot more searching and reading to do!

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:13 am
Posts: 613
Location: Vancouver
I based myself in Grenoble for a week to do all the climbs around Alpe d'Huez last year. Was good, but I had a car to get a bit closer to Bourg-d'Oisans before I started my rides. I also stayed a week in a town called Saint Pierre d'Albigny to do some climbing on the other side of the National park. Both were good places, but Im sure if you didnt have a car you would be better off finding somewhere closer to the climbs you want to do...

Laters
B

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:27 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:23 am
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Location: Pack filler
The Alps are pretty spread out.
You'd really need transport if your hoping to hit all the big/famous climbs.
Majority of flights into region go through Geneva, which can create its own problems when hiring cars etc..
Grenoble has its own microclimate which can be nothing like anywhere else remotely local (due to all the chemical plants??).

From my own experiences, its far better to cut down travel, but explore more in one area; there's plenty more climbs about than the tour ones (often more rewarding/ harder etc as they're too inaccessible for all the entourage etc..
I'd suggest somewhere in the Annecy/ Albertville corridor; plenty of riding out the door, Cormet de Roseland,colombiere, saisies, forclaz to name but a few..also less well known ones - arpettaz, tamie and so on...
Plenty more in relatively easy travelling distance too,eg alpe d'huez etc.


http://www.climbbybike.com/ is a good site for locating climbs and their starts etc

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:31 am 
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Location: Natovi Landing
I'd second the Annecy suggestion. You get a very nice base on the lake with climbs galore.

On your logistical question, it is possible to do what you want by train yes but obviously easier by car. I'd say if you want to have more than one base then hire a car, but otherwise do it by train. Just take some bike lights to widen your options for dinner!

If I was going two weeks I'd do at least two bases. Perhaps one at annecy and then perhaps another either up towards Megeve/Mt Blanc or down near the Ecrins - perhaps Bourg or La Grave etc.


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:32 am 
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 8:51 pm
Posts: 917
Location: France
I wouldn't stay in Grenoble, it is a big city and carries with it the traffic problems of all big cities. Having ridden across it a few times on a road bike and had the traffic lights drive me in sane I would recommend staying somewhere in which you have a clean run at the Alps without travelling through the city.

If you want to base yourself somewhere also avoid staying up on a hill at a ski-resort. While very pleasance you will have to cycle up to the top at the end of every ride and it also offers very little scope for rest day riding.


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:52 pm
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Location: The Alps
Like others, avoid Grenoble. It can be a nice place but you have to stay in the right place. It's quite a ride up to the Glandon or Alpe d'Huez. Nearby Vizille is better located.

Annecy is a very nice place, you have some famous climbs within reach but also smaller but still excellent rides in the area, including the Semnoz mountain. If you are coming with your wife, she might appreciate the town and the nearby lake, it's a great tourist destination. If you are alone and want to be more centrally based, look at Megeve. It is a town with ski runs nearby, but not an empty ski resort. It is more Alpine and boring for non-cycling but handy for many good climbs.


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:30 pm
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Location: Bay Area
cycling-challenge.com has a lot of information about the climbs for the Alps. My advice would be to base yourself around Annecy/Geneva/Annemasse or something of the sort so you can hit up all the major climbs. Annecy has the advantage of letting you hit a few of the southern climbs, but if you look at the map there are more total that are accessible from the Geneva/Annemasse general area. I'm sure others can provide some more info, but it would be quite a long ride to get to most of the climbs from Annecy. I live here now and have ventured into the alps a bit and I would rather be based where I am and take a train/car to do Alpe d'Huez and the like than have to be based in Annecy IMO just because there are a lot of beautiful rides and climbs that would be quite a ways away. Its hard to explain, but you would have to ride basically up through St Julien Genevois and over to Annemasse to hit the front side/starting point of some of the major climbs out of that valley, which would be a pain in the ass in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:13 am
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Location: Vancouver
jekyll man wrote:
I'd suggest somewhere in the Annecy/ Albertville corridor; plenty of riding out the door, Cormet de Roseland,colombiere, saisies, forclaz to name but a few..also less well known ones - arpettaz, tamie and so on...


Jekyll Man is right :D

Better to go for quality rather than quantity. In terms of ease of riding, staying around Annecy was a lot better than Grenoble. There are so many great climbs in and around there you will be in climbing nirvana :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

If you dont want to rent a car or anything, you can always fly into Geneva and catch the train. I did that and it was too bad at all in the end... :beerchug:

Laters
B

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1392
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for all the suggestions. Much appreciated!

I'm planning on being in France by myself. My wife is planning on going via Toronto for a Performance Science Conference at that time, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to finally get to Europe with the bike and then meet up in Malta.

When suggesting Grenoble I didn't realize the distances to the climbs... I found an old email from a friend who suggested Le Bourg D'Oisans as a potential car free base. This would give me Alpe d'Huez, Glandon, Croix de Fer, La Toussaire, Telegraphe / Galiber, Lautaret, Deux Alps, and the Madeleine.

I'll check out the links and look into what's around Annecy and Megeve too.

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:50 pm
Posts: 452
Location: Bolton
Just had 5 days staying close to Albertville, stayed here: http://www.chaletverger.com/

Managed to do the Croix de Fer, Madaleine, Saises, Aravis, Columbiere and a few minor cols without any trips by car :D

Albertville's a nice place, a little quiet at night but there's a great Irish bar in Conflans, run by Cyril, stay for a lock-in and he buy's the beer's :beerchug:


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:45 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:52 pm
Posts: 2327
Location: The Alps
Dalai wrote:
Thanks for all the suggestions. Much appreciated!

I'm planning on being in France by myself. My wife is planning on going via Toronto for a Performance Science Conference at that time, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to finally get to Europe with the bike and then meet up in Malta.

When suggesting Grenoble I didn't realize the distances to the climbs... I found an old email from a friend who suggested Le Bourg D'Oisans as a potential car free base. This would give me Alpe d'Huez, Glandon, Croix de Fer, La Toussaire, Telegraphe / Galiber, Lautaret, Deux Alps, and the Madeleine.

I'll check out the links and look into what's around Annecy and Megeve too.

The Galibier is such a big climb that you can do it, but you will struggle to descend the other side and then go anywhere. So it means all you do is ride up it and down it. The Lautaret takes you to the Galibier but it is a big road with a lot of traffic across the Alps so I'd avoid it. In general, Bourg is ugly but if you go, look out for the Col d'Ornon and the Alpe du Grand Serre, plus the climb up the back of Alpe d'Huez. What I'm really saying is that it is much, much nicer to do several smaller climbs together than to do one big famous Tour de France climb. Yes they are worth doing once but I find the traffic makes for a less pleasant ride.


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:15 pm 
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Location: France
Another 'must do' if you're staying around Bourg is the the climb up to La Berarde.

http://www.climbbybike.com/climb.asp?qryMountainID=6868

La Berarde is a mountain refuge in the mountains and as such a dead end. The great thing about this however is that there is very little if any traffic on the road. Well worth doing.


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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:03 pm 
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Location: Leg hurty
Dalai, if you decide to go without a car you may want to look at Bourg St Maurice, a bit further up the valley from Albertville?
I spend lots of time around here in both summer and winter and love the area and the town as it's quite light and airy (unlike some other Alpine towns of reasonable size)
You've got good climbing straight out the front door and the town is big enough for shops/bars and keeping the other half happy.
Loads of cheap accomodation available and......it's got a TGV station and is well served for bus travel as well. :thumbup:
Direct coach and bus links from Lyon (St Exupery airport) and Lyon train station too. Also linked to Grenoble.
Climbs like the Cormet de Roseland, Iseran, Col de petit St Bernard come straight out of the town as well as loads of other small (relatively speaking) climbs up to ski resorts like Les Arcs, St Foy.......etc.
You won't need a car in this place as there's enough right on your doorstep. :)
Decent restaurants too. :thumbup:

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:15 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 1392
Location: Melbourne, Australia
I understand where you are coming from Danton, but I would still like to do some of those bigger climbs whilst there. It's what I've seen footage of so would like to do a few of them even if the traffic is heavy.

Bourg St Maurice sounds good legs 11. Since both here and Bourg D'Oisans are accessible by public transport, I could even look at one week at both? Feel free to PM accommodation recommendations. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: French Alps rides?
Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:15 am 


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