Whether you're a cyclist or someone who hates cyclists, you've probably heard of Le Tour De France. Hollywood spoofed it with Tour De Pharmacy while Lance Armstrong has been main stream media for years. A bike race that tours across France and frequently travels into neighboring countries for 21 stages over the course of 23 days. France is home to some of the most breathtaking mind blowing climbs in the world. The magnitude of the sheer rock faces of the Alps leaves you speechless. Competing at the Tour De France is something most cyclists only dream about. Dreams are free, but flying to France and riding iconic Tour De France climbs is something everyone can do.
A family trip to France was prompted by my cousin, Ali Riley, playing in the Fifa Women's World Cup. With her second match being in Grenoble we realized we would be an hours drive to Bourge-d'Oisan, the base of Alpe d'Huez. It didn't take us long to start planning our vacation to sneak in some of the best riding in the world and tackling world famous climbs. Alpe d'Huez may not be apart of the tour this year, but next time it is, I will be glued to the tv reliving my experience.
Here's a glimpse into my family vacation where we sought out world tour climbs. Discovered we were an hours drive to the start of Stage 7 of Critérium Du Dauphiné. Ate tons of pizza, croissants, bread, cheese, and rocked ridiculous tan lines.
I played ultimate tourist on this trip and took way too many photos so I'll keep it short and to the point.
The city streets were covered with graffiti in Grenoble. We asked the gentlemen at the currency exchange what the crime rate was like and whether graffiti was acceptable in Grenoble. His response, "There are a lot of bad people in Grenoble, safe during the day, not so safe at night."
The climbing was beautiful, the descents were sketch. As much as I wanted to go full send, the descents don't leave you much room for error. In order to make sure I made it home in one piece I enjoyed the scenery after climbing Alpe d'Huez. The rolling hills of greenery and mountain views leading to the top of Col de Sarenne is a must do ride while in France. This was a highlight of the trip for everyone. The climb was short, scenery was next level, and the descent was a death wish but 100% worth it. Small rocks, boulders, cliffs, hair pins, and a few motorcycles are just a few reasons we descended at snail pace. Take note of the gravel roads in the photos below that we did not ride. If you're in France heading to the Alps, put this ride on your list, adventure awaits.
“ The French Alps leave you gasping for breath. Never ending pitches leading into switchbacks that give you a second of recovery before you hit your next pitch then the views make you forget to breathe. ”