2018 Le Grand Tour 25 Days

Bikestyle 2017-07-02-91

TRIP DETAILS : 
Duration: 25 days (45 nights)
Dates: Friday, July 6 – Monday, July 30, 2018
Start: Nantes, Pays-de-la-Loire
Finish: Paris, Île-de-France
Accommodation: 3 and 4 Star hotels
Group Size: 20 Guests (4 Staff)
Suitable for: Cyclists and Non Cyclists
TRIP COST: AUD$13500.00 (US$10125.00)
OPTIONAL SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: AUD$2200.00 (US$1650.00)

Note: All trip costs are per person, not including airfare and based on two persons per room. If traveling alone we will match you with a person to share. Alternatively, you may choose to have a room of your own by paying the single supplement.

Optional Extras:

Highlights:

  • Experience the excitement of the 2018 Tour de France
  • Experience the exciting opening stages in Vendée, including a stage start, stage finish, the teams’ time trial and the unique experience of a feed-zone
  • Visit Loire valley and Châteux Azay-le-Rideau
  • Wine tasting and tour of Chinon caves
  • See it Live! 11 Tour de France stages, including the first challenging stage for the yellow jersey
  • Escorted by former professional rider Eric de Clercq
  • Ride the famous climbs of Tour de France, including Alpe d’Huez, Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux and Col du Galibier
  • Watch the exciting French Alps stages including the pretty Annecy stage start and the stage finish to Alpe d’Huez from your private balcony
  • Experience catching the TGV to Paris
  • Concerned about ‘tour-legs’? Take the easier option over the challenging ride on the day of your choosing.
  • Ride around the sights of Paris, including Notre Dame, Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower

This Trip will be Escorted by Former Pro-Cyclist, Eric de Clercq

Eric is a native Belgian whose career spanned 11 years from 1991 to 2002, in which he had 19 victories including a stage win in the Tour of Britain. He is one of the hard men of Belgium having raced the big Classics such as Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. Eric rode for La William-Duvel from 1991-1993, and Collstrop from 1994-2002.After he retired from racing, Eric became a Director Sportif from 2004-2007 for the Vlaanderen Women’s Pro Team. It was here that Eric learnt the organisational skills that make him such an asset to Bikestyle Tours.

Eric has been with Bikestyle Tours for several years and has run trips to the Spring Classics, Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a Espana and of course, le Tour de France. Speaking three languages, you will find Eric to be a very capable guide and good guy to socialise with after a ride.

Who is this trip for?

The ultimate Tour de France experience. Our trip has great race viewing and cultural experiences on our way from the Atlantic coast to the rolling countryside of Normandy to the big mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees. Our carefully planned itinerary catches eleven stages live and our rides are along quiet and flat roads to the famous climbs of Le Tour. A highlight off the bike will be visiting the famous UNESCO World Heritage listed Val-de-Loire where our daily activities will explore the fairy-tale castles and pause to taste some beautiful French wine.

The 105th Tour de France peloton will depart from the island of Noirmoutier. Our trip starts in Vendée where the riders will face a difficult opening week confronts the peloton and has stages that favour different riders. Sprinters will initially have their opportunity to claim a yellow jersey before a team’s time trial. Then there are some short punchy climbs and the cobbled roads that are maintained by the friends of the Hell of the North. A daunting week for contenders. 

From the North we will transfer across to the beautiful Savoie region of France, where we visit the lakeside towns of Aix-les-Bain and Annecy. We then visit the spectacular Alps, waking each morning with breathtaking views. On departing the Alps, we sample some culinary delights in Provence and conquer Mont Ventoux. We stop off and visit France’s best preserved medieval city of Carcassonne. Our second last stop is in the Pyrenees, where a plethora of famous climbs are at our doorstep and then finally our TGV transfer to Paris for the finish on Champs-Elysees. This trip is our ultimate Tour de France experience.

This is a trip that is suitable for cyclists and non-cycling friends and partners who want to follow the Tour de France, while taking in some of the most famous sights in France.  Our Le Grand Tour trip combines our two premier trips the Grand Depart and GC Classic. Le Grand Tour offers, more than any other trip the most variation in ride terrain and distance, allowing you to target particular days, take it easy or have a day off the bike. It is the ideal trip for those wanting a choice of rides, with everything from challenging alpine climbs over some of the best cycling roads in France.

Our trips are geared to suit anyone with an interest in Cycling who wants to see the biggest of the Grand Tours, the Tour de France. This (and riding our bikes) is our main focus for the trip although this trip will incorporate some tourist days as well. We cater for cyclists of all abilities by providing riding options each day. To enjoy our trips you don’t need to be an athlete, but do need to be someone who cycles regularly and in good health.

Each day we’ll have options for rides to suit people who feel like a challenge, or an easy day enjoying the scenery. We ride on quiet scenic roads and where possible we ride on the race route ahead of the race. As with all of our tours you’ll be guided by our expert team of ride leaders, drivers and guides.

Itinerary

Friday 6 July: Bienvenue (Welcome) to France

Our staff will meet you at Nantes TGV station at 11:00 am. Nantes is easily accessible by TGV from Paris and other French destinations. You can also fly into Nantes Atlantique Airport which is accessible to the train station with the shuttle service. Nantes is a city recognised for biodiversity, green spaces, and well-managed public transport system. Arriving a day early is the best way to prepare for your trip.

After collecting you from the station, we’ll transfer you to our 4-star spa hotel on the sandy beaches of our seaside resort, conveniently located near tomorrow’s race route. Staff will help you ready your bike, or fit your pedals to your hire bike before heading out for an easy warm-up ride. The Vendee region is famous for its sunny weather, fine sandy beaches, seafood cuisine, sailing and not far from the coast there are many nature trails to explore.

Bikestyle 2017-07-11 -17

If you are not riding today, after settling into our hotel, you may like to walk along the beautiful seafront promenade lined with its shops and cafes.

Tonight we will enjoy a special welcome dinner at a local restaurant, a perfect opportunity to meet fellow guests and staff who will be on hand to answer questions about your cycling holiday with Bikestyle Tours.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Welcome Dinner (with drinks)

Overnight
Vendée, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Saturday 7 July: Opening stage along the Atlantic coast

A bridge connects Noirmoutier to the mainland, or a more adventurous route is via a submersible road – Passage du Gois. The 4km stretch of road is only passable twice a day as it floods during high tide. Le Tour has crossed Passage du Gois, with varying levels of success, in fact during the 1999 edition, the slippery surface caused a crash, forcing some riders to abandon. In 2018, such drama will be avoided and riders will cross the bridge, hugging the Atlantic Coast.

After breakfast, we will travel to Noirmoutier to watch the excitement of the opening stage start. Starts are a great buzz seeing the team buses arrive. Riders will make their way between their bus and the announcers stage to sign on. You may snag a selfie with your favourite riders before they gather behind the lead commissaire car to begin their lap of France in the 105th edition of the Grand Boucle. We’ll follow the riders out and you’ll have a choice of ride distances. Our ride will pass through the seaside villages and beach promenades, some of it on today’s race route.

Bikestyle 2017-07-19-10

We will return to our hotel in time for you to see the final moments of today’s stage. The winds across the prairie may cause havoc among riders. Either way, there will be a sprint to decide the rider taking the first line honours and the yellow jersey. Tonight, you are free to dine at one of the many restaurants in our resort town.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Vendée, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Bikestyle 2017-07-12-313

Sunday 8 July: Stage Finish

Relax this morning at our spa hotel before leaving for today’s stage. Our cycling guests have a pretty ride through quiet roads and small French villages before arriving at today’s finish town of La Roche Sur Yon. Most villages on our scenic route were established during the renaissance period. There are also some neolithic sites. If you aren’t riding today, we will transfer you to today’s finish village and explore La Roche Sur Yon for the afternoon before the riders arrive. Popular with the locals is the award-winning Napoléon Square celebrating the diversity and history of Vendée.

After seeing an exciting sprint finish and the presentations, we will travel back to our resort. From our hotel, you can walk along the beach promenade to a restaurant of your choice and catch the setting sun over the Atlantic.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Vendée, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Monday 9 July: Team’s Time Trial

In 2018, the new rules of the UCI reduce the size of peloton at the Tour de France from 198 to 176 riders, as teams consist of 8 riders, not 9. Fewer riders makes it more difficult for teams to close gaps to breakaways. Today’s team time trial with one less rider will be more demanding as riders have less time to recover in the draft of their team-mates. Look out for the dominance of Orica-Scott, Sunweb, and BMC as when it comes to the race of truth, they all have a lot of depth in their squad.

Nice Orica TTT2

After breakfast, we will travel to Cholet, the host of today’s time trial. We will arrive early enough for our riders to ride parts of the today’s course. After your ride, you can freshen up using the hot shower on our luxury coach. You will have lots of time to see the teams prepare around their team buses and roll off the wide starting ramp. All of the on-course action will be available from the big screens around the village, as well as being able to watch riders on the course.

We have a short transfer to our next hotel after the winner’s presentation. On arrival to Saumur, we will head out to a local restaurant for a delightful dinner together, sharing our stories of watching Le Tour live. Our hotel for the next 3 nights is a 4-star hotel situated on the Loire river. Our hotel has easy access to the famous châteaux of the Loire Valley and the wineries in the area.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Tuesday 10 July: Wineries of Chinon and Saumur

We recognise the importance of taking time to enjoy the best of France on all of our trips, after all it is not only about the bike race. As the racing heads into the North-Western corner of France, on an otherwise transfer day, we will explore the beautiful Loire Valley.

Loire showcases France’s splendour, style and gastronomy. Some of the best dining experiences are found in the Loire. Strategically located a short distance from Paris, the castles in the Loire valley were once pleasure places for the aristocracy, and are now marvelled by their visitors. Beyond the pleasure palaces is the excellent food sourced along the fertile river valley, and the local wines are even better.

saumur-castle-france-gg
Bikestyle 2017-07-02-90

Today we will sample the local wineries around Chinon and visit the underground cave systems used by producers to store their vintage in ideal temperatures and humidity. You can either ride or we will transport you to meet up with the riders in this beautiful setting.

On return to our hotel, you’ll have the afternoon to explore the sophisticated yet laid back city, catch up with today’s stage, visit the local châteaux and possible sample more wine. If your dirty clothes have started to out number your clean ones, you’ll have the opportunity to drop them in a washing machine.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Wine Tasting

Overnight
Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Wednesday 11 July: Châteaux of the Loire

Today, we’ll venture a little further afield toward Tours, along the Loire river. One of the feeding waterways is the Indre River. During the 1500s, on a natural island in the middle of the Indre, Francis I assumed possession of Châteaux Azay-le-Rideau. At the time, the Treasurer of France owned the property but had fled after being caught for embezzlement.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau

Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most beautiful castles in Val-de-Loire, an icon of French traditions with Italian influences. A beautifully landscaped park complements the château’s elegant turrets, perfectly proportioned windows, delicate stonework and steep slate roofs. The château’s most famous feature is the open, Italian-style staircase overlooking the central courtyard.

You have the option of visiting the château or returning to our hotel by bike, enjoying a longer ride option today. We will transport guests back to our hotel if you aren’t riding or would like to spend more time seeing the castle. Once back at our hotel, you are free to explore this beautiful city and catch up with the finish of today’s stage to Quimper.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Thursday 12 July: Rolling hills of Normandy

After breakfast, we will travel north to Normandy, just a short distance. The rolling hills are separated by valleys, small rivers, fields and forests. Among the scenic villages and nestled into the landscape are charming manor houses.

We will start our rides today from the fascinating town of La Ferté-Bernard, where its centre has many restored medieval façades and some of the town’s defensive walls are still visible. The old town also has an impressive gothic church. From here we will ride our way through the Perche forests, enjoying the quiet roads and changing landscape.

Our hotel for the next 2 nights is part of the Country Club, situated in the Natural Regional Parc du Perche, an area of natural beauty.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Orne, Normandie

Harder Ride Option

Friday 13 July: Cycling museum and feedzone

France has some incredible museums. Few are dedicated to cycling. This morning we will ride the short distance to Musée du Vélo “La Belle Echappée”, a stunning museum dedicated to cycling and celebrating “Le Grand Boucle” – the Tour de France. There are over 60 bicycles on display, spanning the eras and a series of displays showcasing bikes, jerseys and videos.

The racing bikes and jerseys on display belonged to or are on loan from the most famous and greatest cyclists in history such as Anquetil, Armstrong, Bobet, Hinault, Indurain, Merckx. The interactive video hall allows you to select a rider and watch a highlight from their career – such as Richard Virenque’s solo victory over Col de Peyresourde in 1995.

After walking through the history of the Tour this morning we will catch up with today’s stage, the longest of the tour. Riders will be searching for their nutrition at the feed-zone today, so we will head for there and try to souvenir some of their musettes and unwanted goodies.

Once the race has passed, we will head back to our hotel for a special farewell dinner. Our final night is celebrated with a lovely meal and accompanying wine. We’ll acknowledge our new friendships and enjoy recalling our stories of the past week on the Grand Depart.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Farewell Dinner (with drinks)

Overnight
Orne, Normandie

Harder Ride Option

Saturday 14 July: Hello Lyon

After an exciting 9 days, our Le Grand Tour will continue on today after bidding farewell to our guests from the first part of our trip. We’ve had a few days of big rides, and with our transfer, we’ll take a little bit of rest from the bike today. Our final destination today is Lyon.

Lyon city is the 2nd largest in France and known for its historical and architectural landmarks spread out along the river Rhone. Lyon was historically known as an important area for the production and weaving of silk and in modern times has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France. It has a significant role in the history of cinema due to August and Louis Lumière, who invented the cinematography in Lyon.

Lyon has a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France. You are free to dine in one of the many great restaurants within walking distance from our hotel. For those who would like to try an amazing experience, Lyon is home to the famous 3 star Michelin Restaurant of Paul Bocuse. If you are considering Paul Bocuse’s restaurant we suggest booking several months in advance.

lyonfrontpage-1140x684

Easier Ride Option

N/A

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Lyon, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

N/A

Sunday 15 July: Le Tube

We will slow down the pace today as we get ready for the second portion of our Le Grand Tour. We will enjoy a sleep in before leaving our hotel and ride down to the Rhone river onto the major bike path that leads out of town. If you have not released the investment to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure you soon will as we will ride through the Le Tube.

Officially known as the Tunnel de la Croix-Rousse, the tunnel is located beneath the hill of the same name in the city’s 4th arrondissement, to the north of the city centre, and links the banks of the Rhône to the east with those of the Saône to the west.

Lyon_tunnel1_

Costing €282.8 million, the tunnel accommodates a bus lane, segregated by a barrier from the adjacent pedestrian path, alongside which runs the cycle lane. No cars!

We will return to our hotel by lunchtime so you can choose to have a relaxing afternoon or you may choose to visit one of Lyon’s best know destinations, Notre-Dame Basilica on Fourviere Hill. We amazing views of Lyon it was constructed between 1872 and 1884 with private funds to demonstrate the power of the Catholic Church to the rising secular powers and to show thanks to God, who the church believed was responsible for the retreat of Prussian forces during the France-Prussian War.

Tonight you are free to explore one of the many dining options nearby.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Lyon, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Monday 16 July: Aix-les-Bains

Today we will meet your new traveling partners for the next 2 weeks. After collecting the new riders from Lyon airport, we’ll transfer you to our 3-star hotel in Aix-les-Bains. Our hotel has a pool and is conveniently located near the centre ville, giving you the opportunity to explore this thermal spa town. We have a great long ride option available today as we circumnavigate Lac du Bourget. 

Tonight we’ll enjoy a special welcome dinner at a local restaurant, a perfect opportunity to meet fellow guests and staff who will be on hand to answer questions about the final 2 weeks of your trip

Aex les Bains

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Welcome Dinner (with drinks)

Overnight
Savoie, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Tuesday 17 July: Lake Annecy and a Stage Start

Today, staff will load your bikes onto our custom trailer and our chauffeur will transfer us the short distance to Annecy for today’s stage start. Annecy is one of the most beautiful towns in France, partly due to its stunning location on the shores of Lake Annecy. The centre of Annecy is crisscrossed by canals and medieval buildings, giving it the nickname of Venice of the Alpes.

We will arrive in time to see riders sign on and gather for the start, giving you time to take a selfie with your favourite riders or for the bike-tech guru, see the latest gadgets on this year’s bikes in the bunch. Annecy is a beautiful village to explore, even without today’s race start. It will be an enjoyable day in Annecy for our cyclists and non-riders. We’ll also have the spectacle of watching the Women set off on their battle for La Course.

Annecy

Non-riders will be able to have a little more time to enjoy Annecy after the stage starts. For the rest of us, we will take to the bikes ourselves. We have two ride options available today. Our easier option will stick to the valley roads and return to Aix-les-Bains. But if you’d like to test your legs more, we have one of the nicest climbs in the area marked out for us, Semnoz.

Semnoz is a popular climb with the locals and was only included in the Tour de France as recently as 2013 for the penultimate stage. A stage Nairo Quintana won. The climb from Annecy is 17km long with an average gradient of 7%, so it is comparable to the biggest climbs you’ll conquer during our trip.

We will return to Aix-les-Bains in time for you to explore the Centre-Ville, even take a dip in the cooling waters of Lac du Bourget. It will be an exciting finish to today’s first mountain stage of the tour, only the riders with form will make the final selection to Le Grand Bornand. You are free to dine in one of the many restaurants in Aix-les-Bains this evening.

Non-riders will be able to have a little more time to enjoy Annecy after the stage starts. For the rest of us, we will take to the bikes ourselves. We have two ride options available today. Our easier option will stick to the valley roads and return to Aix-les-Bains. But if you’d like to test your legs more, we have one of the nicest climbs in the area marked out for us, Semnoz.

Semnoz is a popular climb with the locals and was only included in the Tour de France as recently as 2013 for the penultimate stage. A stage Nairo Quintana won. The climb from Annecy is 17km long with an average gradient of 7%, so it is comparable to the biggest climbs you’ll conquer during our trip.

We will return to Aix-les-Bains in time for you to explore the Centre-Ville, even take a dip in the cooling waters of Lac du Bourget. It will be an exciting finish to today’s first mountain stage of the tour, only the riders with form will make the final selection to Le Grand Bornand. You are free to dine in one of the many restaurants in Aix-les-Bains this evening.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Savoie, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Wednesday 18 July: 21 switchbacks of Alpe d’Huez and Dutch corner

There is no better day to climbs Alpe d’Huez than the day before the race comes through. There will be a partial road closure to traffic, and spectators will already line the roads, from bottom to top! Climbing seems easier with the cheering spectators. It will probably be the closest you’ll ever feel to being in the Tour de France (for most of us we can only dream).

We’ll make the short transfer in our coach to the Romanche valley, giving you a chance to warm up your legs. Soon out of Bourg d’Oisans, the switchbacks begin. Besides the mystique of the 21 switchbacks, most people remember the challenge of the first 3 corners where the gradients are steepest. After making it through those corners, the views and crowds will spur you on. Today, be sure to absorb the atmosphere of Dutchie corner (corner 7) before pushing along for the final 6 corners. Our longer ride will have an opportunity to make a double ascent.

Each corner is marked with the winner of each stage that has finished at the summit. In 2018, the stage winner to Alpe d’Huez will be etched onto the sign marking turn 13, joining Dutchman Peter Winnem. The Dutch have taken more victories on Alpe d’Huez than any other nation. Maybe there is something in the beer on Dutch corner.

Today will be a memorable ride. When you reach the summit we will check into our hotel, and give you time to explore this beautiful village on the eve of the Tour de France arrival. Our hotel for the next 3 nights is beautiful family run 3-star hotel on race route. The timber styled rooms are what you’d expect in the French Alps, and opening your window to the surrounding mountains is worthy of sharing with your friends back home. Each evening we’ll dine in the hotel’s dining room with a lovely homestyle meal.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Isère, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Thursday 19 July:  Le Tour on Alpe d’Huez

It’s a very special day today. It has been three years since this mythical mountain featured in Le Tour, in 2015 it was a French rider who claimed victory. In fact, it was the third successive French stage victory on the Alpe. Could it be another Frenchman today? Maybe it’s time for Romain Bardet? Today’s long stage and cumulation of the previous two days in the mountains will make an entertaining final climb. One to be there for.

Our plan will be to ride early to avoid road closures on Alpe d’Huez and tackle Col de Sarenne – After reaching the summit we can return back to the village and head up to one of the lakes above the village. We’ll then return to the chalet and relax while we wait for the race on Alpe d’Huez.  Of course it’s not compulsory to take a ride today, so this may be the perfect day to rest the legs from cycling, maybe take a short walk in the mountains and just soak up the atmosphere of the biggest day at the Tour. Another option this morning without the bike to take the gondola up to Pic Blanc. The highest lift station is are 3,330m and there is a wonderful viewing deck. Often you can see across the entire Alps to Mont-Blanc.

On Alpe d’Huez today the crowds will be enormous and the atmosphere electrifying. Thankfully at the end of the day, we will have a short walk back to our hotel rather than hours of sitting in post-race traffic jams that are an unavoidable part of an Alpe d’Huez race finish for most people today.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Isère, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Friday 20 July: Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer

We have a great ride for our long ride option on the bike, this is definitely one of our favourites. Possibly because of the scenic Lac de Grand Maison you pass, or it may be that we achieve two cols for the day? Sounds tempting, if you’d prefer a shorter ride, you’ll be able to turn left at Barrage du Verney and head into Bourg d’Oisans for today’s stage start.

From our hotel we will head down to Huez village and take the beautiful balcony road along Villard Reculas towards Allemond where we will take a right turn and head up the Col de Croix de Fer to see the race pass with around 50 kilometres to go. 

There is a little bonus though. On our way up we can take a small detour and up to the Col du Glandon and then back to the intersection and continue up to the Col de Croix de Fer, giving us two Cols for the day. It’s just short of 60 kilometres, 30 up and 30 down!

The Croix de Fer is a very long and irregular climb. From Barrage du Verney, the Col de la Croix de Fer is 27 km long at an average of 4.7 %. Over this distance, you climb 1,300 m. Not the hardest climb you ever did but certainly tough after the accumulation of the past few days. If you wish, you can continue down the valley and watch the start of today’s stage, before returning to our hotel.

We will return to our hotel for a relaxing afternoon and watch the fast men battle it out on one of the few remaining stages for sprinters. We will have another delicious meal prepared by our lovely host for our final night on Alpe d’Huez..

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Isère, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Saturday 21 July: Balcony roads and Provence

We depart the Alps today, and the Tour will start making its journey across France. We have a few days away from the Tour now. Instead, we will achieve some of our own cycling goals and enjoy some beautiful parts of the country. We will ride each morning over the next couple of days, beating the heat and return to our hotel in time to see the end of the stage on television. Today is a stage in the Central Massif, with a finish to Mende aeroport.

We will drive down the mountain and beyond Grenoble this morning before getting on our bikes. You can miss some of the nicest parts of a country if you only you stick on highways, high-speed rail links or travel by plane. We will not allow such a chance go by. So, today we will make a small diversion to the spectacular Vercors mountains on our way to Provence.

The Vercors massif is a rugged sequence of mountains, valleys and plateaus. Therefore, any road through this region will either follow the valley or hug the edge of the maintain along a spectacular balcony road. We will ride along some of the most beautiful roads, that you possibly haven’t heard of. We do promise a photogenic route and you will take with you incredible memories.

Vercors

After our spectacular ride, we’ll continue on our journey south to Provence and our hotel in the small town of Nyons in an area known as Drome-Provencale. This is typical Provence with a landscape of vineyards, lavender fields, olive groves and picture book villages. We have the next 2 nights in our traditional hotel situated in the heart of the town. Each night we will enjoy a beautiful meal with local ingredients on our hotel’s terrace.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Drôme, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Sunday 22 July: Mont Ventoux, Géant de Provence

Today we’ll take our turn at riding Mont Ventoux and see how our efforts compare with the riders of the peloton. We may take a bit longer but we’ll enjoy it a bit more perhaps!

We’ll get away in the cool of the morning and travel to the village of Malaucene where we will begin our warm-up ride over to the base of Mont Ventoux, Bedoin. This is the most famous and traditional route of the Tour de France that winds its way up through the forest to Chalet Reynard where the well known “moonscape” of Mont Ventoux comes into view. With the hardest section now behind us, the last 6 kilometres of bare landscape provides magnificent views over the plains of the Luberon as you pass by the monument to Tom Simpson, who died tragically on the slopes of the mountain in the 1967 Tour de France. For those who want an easier ride today, we can propose something a little easier than the entire Ventoux loop.

After the compulsory photographs at the summit, we’ll head back down via the thrilling descent to Malaucene for lunch and a cool drink in the shade. Once we’ve recovered it’s back to the hotel in the bus, or if you still have the energy a 25km ride back to Nyons. We’ll be back in Nyons in time to watch the finish to today’s challenging stage across the Tarn region. The final climb in today’s stage is the French training climb for our Bikestyle staff, as our headquarters are at the base of Pic de Nore.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Drôme, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Harder Ride Option

Monday 23 July: Carcassonne, La Cité de Medieval

Today is the final rest day for riders in Carcassonne. It is the biggest city of Aude and it hosts the biggest medieval castle of Europe. The first stones of this fortress were posed in the 10th century. Political and religious changes left the castle in ruins until the end of the 19th century when it was classified as historical monument. In the 20th century, a big restoration started and in 1996 the fortress became a UNESCO world heritage site.

As a result Carcassonne is now among the major attractions in France. It consists of two towns: the Bastide St-Louis (also known as the Ville Basse or Lower City) and the medieval Cité. It is one of, if not, the best example of a medieval fortress. It stands proudly on the hill overlooking the plains of the Aude.

There are remarkable views over the surrounding countryside from the three kilometres of ramparts, with two fortified enclosures (4th and 13th century), four gateways, 52 towers, and barbicans. You are free to enter the fortress and inside you will find cobbled streets with shops and restaurants. It is a must-see on your trip.

After we have seen the castle and enjoyed a lunch in the square we will meet and ride back from Carcassonne to Mirepoix (60km).

After the lunch we will head to Mirepoix. This medieval village-bastide city was erected in the 13th century on the river Hers. The main square of the village is surrounded by half-timbered houses built on galleries that host traditional shops and cafés. It is a good spot and has many dining choices at one of the numerous terraces.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Ariège, Occitanie

Harder Ride Option

Tuesday 24 July: Cathars and Le Tour enters the Pyrenees

Mirepoix is a lovely village to explore for our non-riders. You may also like to visit a famous Cathar castle while we support our long ride option. For our cyclists we have two great ride options available, both will catch up with the race as it passes close to our hotel early this afternoon. Our easier option is a local village ride along some quiet country roads. Ariège is a lovely area for riding, as there a great flat options, while the Pyrenees are at our doorstep, spoilt for choice.

Towering above Montsegur at 1207 m is one of the most famous Cathar castles. This is the destination for our challenging ride option. Catharism is an old religion violently repressed by the Catholic Church of Rome between the 10th and the 12th century. At Montsegur, a tragic episode took place when the crusaders of the French Church burnt the 200 occupants of the castle which was besieged during 10 months.

After a short visit, we will return back to the hotel, with a stopover for watching the race come through. This afternoon, you’ll have time to relax, possibly have an afternoon nap if your dirty clothes are out numbering your clean ones, drop some clothes in a washer. The final climbs in today’s stage will be something to watch, and in 2015 it was a stage where Chris Froome took important time from his competitors on the final descent. Television will be the best spot today to see the finish.

Tonight you are free to dine at one of the many terraces in the main square of Mirepoix.

We will arrive in time to see riders sign on and gather for the start, giving you time to take a selfie with your favourite riders or for the bike-tech guru, see the latest gadgets on this year’s bikes in the bunch. Annecy is a beautiful village to explore, even without today’s race start. We’ll also have the spectacle of watching the Women set off on their battle for La Course.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Ariège, Occitanie

Harder Ride Option

Wednesday 25 July: Col du Tourmalet

Today is the shortest stage in Tour de France history. Dubbed more of a mountain sprint than a mountain stage, it will be exciting to watch from beginning to end. With riders not heading off until mid-afternoon, it gives us plenty of time for our ride this morning. This completes our triple set of bucket list climbs for this trip – Col du Tourmalet. Tour de France is the main event, Col du Tourmalet has featured more than any other mountain, it is a great climb.

Today we will tackle the highest road in the central Pyrenees. The summit of the hors categorie climb up to Col du Tourmalet has been crossed 75 times during the history of the Tour. It will be more special today, as fans will already be camped out on the mountain for Friday’s stage. Remember, a screaming fan makes climbing seem easier!

We’ll travel to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, which will give you a warm-up before the 23 km climb up the eastern side of Col du Tourmalet begins at Campan. It’s a gradual climb, with an average of 6.4%. But more of the ascending is done closer to the summit than at the bottom, so choose a low gear and enjoy the view. When we reach the top it will all seem worth it and the cafe at the top is a nice warm place to meet up and regroup, with a nice collection of cycling memorabilia.

Once we reach the summit of this mighty mountain, we will descend down the western side to Luz-Saint-Sauveur where we can have some lunch. After lunch, it is a downhill run to our hotel, where we will spend the next 3 nights. Our hotel is conveniently located at the junction of many famous climbs in the Pyrenees. So much drama has played out in the valley during the 105 editions of Le Tour. Tonight we will have a special cyclists dinner at our hotel, helping us refuel for our climbing ahead of us.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Hautes Pyrénées, Occitanie

Harder Ride Option

Thursday 26 July:  Col du Soulour, Col d’Aubisque and stage finish in Pau

Today we will tackle another famous climb of the Pyrenees and is always a highlight ride for our guests. We’ll give you chance to ride this before race day, so that you can experience the joy of riding along la Corniche du Cirque de Litor. Views reward those on the spectacular balcony road between Col de Soulor and Col d’Aubisque. Our rides will guide us to the finish of today’s stage in Pau, via the finish of village of tomorrow’s stage Laruns.

After fueling up at breakfast, we’ll head off into the village of Argeles-Gazost. An initial climb starts from Argeles-Gazost but it’s not too long before the road flattens taking us to the village of Arrens-Marsous. From here the real climbing begins, a manageable 7.5km averaging close to 8% takes us to the first col, Col du Soulor. For the faster riders, there is an option to follow the final climbs of tomorrow’s stage and include le col des Bordères also.

Our welcoming party of local cattle and horses grazing on these high pastures will greet us before we carry on. With the most difficult climbing behind us now, we have a short descent before the final 7km to the summit of Col d’Aubisque, where we can reward ourselves with lunch. We will descend to Pau to see the finish and meet the bus before our transfer back to our hotel.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Hautes Pyrénées, Occitanie

Harder Ride Option

Friday 27 July: Luz Ardiden, Hautacam and mountain stage live

Today is our last riding day in the mountains and we intend to make it a memorable one for you. From our hotel we will leave for the relatively short ride to the base of Luz Ardiden where we will climb to the top of this famous climb – think Lance Armstrong and plastic bags. We will ride to the base via the Gorges de Luz to Luz St-Sauveur. There we turn right for the ski station Luz Ardiden. The first 7 km of the 15 km is pretty steep. About halfway up the climb, it gets a bit more modest with a km of about 5%. But the lasts kms are again quite hard.

Part two of our day (or part one if you choose to skip Luz Ardiden) will see us heading back towards the hotel and then past the hotel and onwards up to another of the Tours famous climbs, the ski station of Hautacam. The top of the Hautacam is where the Tour has finished before, however the road continues to the Col de Tramassel.

The first few kilometres after Argeles are downhill but soon you get a hard section of 10%+ before a small descent. Now, you’re close to the hardest part of the climb near Saint-Andre there is 3 kilometers of 9-10% on average. After this, the climb continues to be inconsistent, never really going below 8% until the top. After photos at the top, we will return to the valley in time to watch the race come through before their final 2 climbs.

From our hotel, we will head down to Huez village and take the beautiful balcony road along Villard Reculas towards Allemond where we will take a right turn and head up the Col de Croix de Fer to see the race pass with around 50 kilometres to go.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Hautes Pyrénées, Occitanie

Harder Ride Option

Saturday 28 July:  From Sud-Ouest to Paris at 320km/h

We will have an early start today and head off to the nearby train station and catch the TGV directly to Paris. You haven’t travelled if you have not experienced this amazing high-speed train which will transport you to Paris in comfort, travelling at speeds of up to 320kmh! To make life easy for you we will transport your luggage and bikes separately to save you lugging them about.

On arrival in Paris we will transfer to our hotel, where you can relax and watch the final time trial on television before heading out to dinner this evening. Tonight we will have our farewell dinner to leave tomorrow night free for you to enjoy Paris.

Tonight we will have our farewell dinner at an iconic Paris restaurant, Le Train Bleu, which is a Paris institution. The restaurant has served drinks and meals to travellers and other guests since 1901 in an ornate and beautifully decorated setting inside the vast halls of the Gare de Lyon rail station. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and one of the highlights of their time in France for many of our guests.

Easier Ride Option

N/A

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Paris, Île-de-France

Harder Ride Option

N/A

Sunday 29 July: Paris Sights and the Champs Elysees

This morning we have a special treat in store as we take a ride through Paris, past all the famous monuments, and along the Champs Elysees. The last chance for a group photo underneath the symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, is our last stop before we head back to the hotel.

We’ll be up early to avoid the road closures and return to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast before we head down to the Champs Elysees later in the day to enjoy the racing and festivities of the final day of the 2017 Tour de France.

The last stage of the Tour De France is traditionally a procession until the entrance onto the Champs-Elysees where the racing really starts. Riders traditionally chat, celebrate the final stage, pose for photographs, drink Champagne… sometimes they even dress-up, swap bikes and generally horse around. Traditionally, once the race gets into Paris, the Yellow jersey and his team lead the peloton onto the Champs-Elysees for what is basically a big criterium in the centre of the French Capital.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Paris, Île-de-France

Harder Ride Option

Monday 30 July: Au Revoir (Farewell)

It is a farewell to your new friends as our Le Grand Tour trip comes to an end this morning. Over the past three weeks, you’ve experienced the excitement of the Tour de France up close, challenge yourself on the world’s most famous climbs and you’ve created new friendships and great memories. Hopefully, you’ve had an unforgettable holiday with Bikestyle Tours. We hope we see you again one day.

Meals: Breakfast

Inclusions

Tour cost is per person twin share and includes:

  • Transport throughout by custom mini vans or luxury coach
  • Services of our experienced tour guides, mechanics and drivers
  • 24 nights accommodation 3 & 4 Star hotels
  • Buffet breakfast daily
  • 3 course evening meals on 15 nights
  • Wine at welcome and farewell dinners
  • TGV tickets from the Pyrenees to Paris
  • Mechanical assistance with your bike
  • Scheduled arrival transfer on day one from Nantes TGV Station
  • Ride files and Bikestyle guide to the 2018 Tour de France
  • Full Bikestyle Tours kit including knicks, cycling jersey, cap and musette bag

Reserve your Place Now

NOTE: Please place number of persons attending in box below
Deposit 2018 Le Grand Tour 25 Days ($1000pp)
2018 Le Grand Tour Bicycle Hire ($1200.00)
2018 Le Grand Single Supplement ($2200.00)
Tick the box to accept the Bikestyle Waiver and Reservation Conditions. If renting a bicycle you also agree to our Bicycle rental Conditions
  • We charge for our trips in Australian Dollars (AUD) and prices shown in other currencies are only approximate. We advise that you check the exchange rate before booking.
  • A surcharge of 1.5% is applicable for payments made with visa or mastercard and 3% for payments made with American Express credit cards.
  • Deposits can also be paid by direct deposit or cheque.
  • It is a requirement of Bikestyle Tours that you have Travel Insurance for your trip.
If you have any further enquiries please email us at tours@bikestyletours.com

Register Your Interest

  Tick the box to ask your own question about the trip.
Navigation