Cycling Tours and Holidays | Tour de France

Tour de France Cycle Tour

16-29 July 2018 | SOLD OUT - until further notice

14 Day Tour, Pyrenees, Provence, French Alps and Burgundy

Join RIDE Holidays for the greatest sporting event on the planet – the 2018 Tour de France.

First held in 1903, the Tour de France has become one of the most popular sporting events in the world. For over a hundred years spectators have been entranced by not only the drama and intrigue of the epic cycle race itself, but of the stunning mountain ranges, vineyards and sunflower fields that serve as its backdrop. For the competitors the Tour de France is a gruelling, relentless affair, but that’s far from the case for those who choose to embark on a Tour de France experience of their own. RIDE Holidays cycle tours are achievable for anyone who rides a road bike, not just the serious cyclist, and offers an unparalleled experience of both the race and the country. There are three rides to choose from daily – the less demanding ‘cappuccino’ level, then ‘latte’ and, for those keen on pedalling 100km or more per day, ‘espresso’. All include the famous French mountains. There is even a non-riding ‘macchiato’ option, focusing more on scenery, markets and wineries.

Typically a two-week RIDE Holidays tour will encounter the Tour de France race about five times, prioritising the must-see sections as the race nears the finish. Group members will enjoy an insightful sampling of the different types of course sections, from mountain top triumphs to decorated villages. Our daily ride through France’s incomparable countryside is only broken up for the compulsory morning coffee and croissants and then continental fare offered in the villages and towns. .

This itinerary is a small sample of what will be offered. The official race route isn’t released until the end of May 2018. We’ll then plan the daily rides and sightseeing options and include them in a 50 page tour dossier. Vive le Tour.

Our 2018 Tour de France Itinerary (SOLD OUT)

Day 1, Monday 16 July

Welcome to Paris, Welcome to France.

You’ll feel the Tour de France excitement as soon as you hop off the plane. Cyclists will be arriving from all over the world and all for the same reason - watching the world’s greatest bike race. Not to mention - cycling the best roads on the planet.

Our timing is perfect – you’ll get to see to see the great race the day after tomorrow. We’re expecting a record number of Kiwi riders next year. And there always seems to be a heap of Aussies – in fact last year the Australasian’s made up almost 10% of the field.

Feel free to arrive at any time throughout the day, our hotel is located at Charles de Gaulle airport. If you arrive early, then you may want to pop in to the city for the day. Or there is a fantastic shopping centre only a couple of minutes bus ride away.

Tonight, the chef has promised a regional meal. That’s French speak for using local produce to create a stunning welcoming dinner for us. Oh, there will also be champagne. Welcome to France.

Accommodation: Marriott Charles de Gaulle Airport
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2, Tuesday 17 July

On the road, Jack

Now it feels real, as we head towards the 2018 Tour de France action. After breakfast our famous Belgian bus driver Koen will pack all our bikes and bags in to his brand-new bus. Even those of us who have seen this great event many times it will be exciting.

Let’s call today our hard yards day. Our drive is reasonably long however it then sets up the next two weeks perfectly. Dingo will make the trip seem shorter with his educational commentary, constant humour and occasional karaoke. There’s always the Russian Fly fishing DVD to fall back on.

Our plan is to stay just north of Lyon. Which means that tomorrow’s stage is only a short drive away. Waiting for us at our hotel will be French guides – Morgan and Patrick. As well as the hire bikes.

We will arrive late this afternoon. This part of France is hot, so we’d suggest the non-riders (Team Macchiato) head towards the pool while the cyclists head out on a short ride. Today is all about turning the legs over and making sure your bike is running smoothly. For some, it will be the first time you’ve cycled on the opposite side of the road.

Accommodation: Hotel Du Gouverneur
Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3, Wednesday 18 July

The mighty Alps, here we come

In my opinion the majestic French Alps are the Pyrenees on steroids. Our hotel has again been picked for location. Turn right out of the hotel you have Col du Galibier, Col du Télégraphe and Col du Lautaret. Turn left and the top of Col d’Izoard is only 15km away. (uphill)

We will catch three Tour de France stages here in the Alps. More importantly, you’ll get the chance to ride some of the world’s best climbs - including the most famous of them all – L’Alpe d’Huez. On race day – boom.

It’s hard to describe the feeling one has when you see the Tour de France live for the first time. You’ll quickly understand why this bike race is so important to the French - they live for it. Vive le Tour!

Today’s stage is exciting. One for the mountain goats and is really the first test for the GC contenders. The race starts in Albertville, host of the 1992 winter Olympics. We’ll confirm the plan closer to departure when we see the actual road closures. At this early stage we are budgeting on seeing the stage start, including the riders sign on and pre-race festivities, before carrying on to Lacets de Montvernier for our first ride. You probably watched this on the TV in 2015. It was the amazing switchback climb that was closed to the public on stage 18. Jaw dropping stuff and worthy of our first climb together.

We are conscious that tomorrow is a big day… one thing we don’t want to do today is have you arriving in at the hotel at 10pm. This trip is like a test match, not a game of 20/20.

Team Macchiato – two options… Join us at the start, or spend the day with Morgan at Lake Annecy. One of the world’s most beautiful lakes. He’ll show you around the town as well as take you up a local col which has unparalleled views. You’ll get the chance to see the TdF tomorrow, so I’d give it a miss today. We’ll catch up with you back at the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel Plein Sud, Serre Chevalier
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4, Thursday 19 July

The one and only - L'Alpe d'Huez

Get set for the ride of your life. Thousands and thousands of locals, tourists, fans and cyclists will be on the most famous hill in France today. Camper vans will have gathered on the mountain for days prior to secure their place to watch the great race pass on the hallowed tarmac.

There will be a lot of road closures today, so we’ll need to be as smart as a fox. Koen – our magnificent bus driver will leave the hotel just after 5am. He’ll find the perfect spot for the bus and wait for us to arrive. Cyclists will depart just after breakfast. We all have a very gentle climb of about 20km (Col du Lautaret) to conquer before a 44km descent to the base of Alpe d’Huez. (I promise – all downhill) From there you can choose to go up the great mountain as far as you like. Find a spot, sit down and soak in the atmosphere.

Seeing the race is amazing, however it’s often the pre-race caravan that has everyone buzzing. You’ll see grown men diving on the road trying to acquire one of the sponsor’s products. Sometimes you win and come away with a cycling top, sometimes you lose and find yourself with five bags of washing powder. Mind you — they come in handy in weeks to come.

The Alpe d’Huez was first climbed in the 1952 TdF, it climbs over 1100m vertically over 14km and has 21 legendary hairpin turns. The climb can be broken up into three stages. The first part is the steepest with gradients above 10% for the first 6 hairpins until the hamlet of La Garde. The gradient then eases a little to 8% after hairpin 6 and the turns become more spread out for the following 6kms. With only 5 hairpins left, the gradient ramps up again for 1km to 11% before easing off to 9% till you reach the L’Alpe d’Huez village. It’s only 2km to go to the top at around 5% gradient, you can now relax a little and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work. Well done, it’s a great accomplishment and another milestone of the Tour de France achieved!

Morgan, Team Mac and some of the cappuccino cyclists will join us a bit later today as they drive all the way to Le Bourg d-Oisans – the town at the bottom of LÁlpe d’Huez. It’s important that the non-riders get to experience the TdF festivities as well. We’ll do our best to get you as close as possible to the cyclists up on the hill. Our V.I.P sticker will get you right in to the thick of the action.

After the race – back to the bus. Just in time for the famous Koen Happy Hour. Home please driver… What a great day.

Accommodation: Hotel Plein Sud, Serre Chevalier
Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 5, Friday 20 July

Lots of options… Flexibility is the key.

The secret to a good cycling holiday is not to see the race too many times. You will have seen the last couple of days that a lot of patience is required when watching the tour from the side of the road. So, today, there are a few choices.

  1. Head back to Le Bourg d-Oisans and watch the race start. This may be a good option for those who didn’t get to make it all the way up L’Alpe d’Huez yesterday. For stronger riders you could carry on over the LÁlpe and ride Col de Sarenne all the way back to the hotel. It’s epic. 6 hours of epic.
  2. There are at least 20 classic rides to choose from all within shouting distance of our hotel. Some are harsh, some are friendlier. Col du Galibier is a must for those not scared of heights. Those who choose to carry on to Col du Telegraph will be drug tested. Dingo can guide this group. (he hates hills)
  3. Only 10km down the valley from our hotel is the beautiful town of Briancon. This is the destination for Team Mac. Cobblestone streets and boutique shops – it really is very pretty. There are also quite a few walks in the area which Morgan can arrange. Also – a must at some stage is to catch the cable car up the local mountain which leaves right opposite our hotel.

Plenty of options… and no doubt we’ll add a few more on the day.

Accommodation: Hotel Plein Sud, Serre Chevalier
Meals Included: Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)

Day 6, Saturday 21 July

Hot chocolate and Col d’Izoard

Another day in paradise. Our last in the French Alps. Tomorrow is reasonably soft so give those legs a work out.

As guides we are asked many times what our favourite rides are. Two stand out for me. The mighty Aubisque in the Pyrenees and then Col d’Izoard in the Alps. It is simply spectacular and very achievable. It’s reasonably long at 19km, however not as scary as some of the steeper hills with an average of just over 5%. There are a few reasons for loving Col d’Izoard. Other than the ride, there’s a café at the half way point of the climb that simply offers the best hot chocolate in the whole entire world. And that’s a fact. No Milo powder at this joint. It is pure Swiss melted chocolate and man it tastes good.

Team Macchiato - How about a genuine Italian espresso? The Italian border is only 20km from our hotel. Our target destination is Pinerolo. A sizable town centrally located in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy. The principal square in the town centre is stunning. Pinerolo sits on the edge of the Alps, a popular sports destination, it was one of the bases for the Winter Olympics in 2006, the end of a mountain stage in the Tour de France 2011, and is a frequent stage in the Giro d’Italia.

This evening we plan on visiting the excellent local thermal pools. Time to give some love back to your weary legs. Boys, NOTE, you will require Speedos, (it’s a French thing)

Accommodation: Hotel Plein Sud, Serre Chevalier
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7, Sunday 22 July

Alps to Provence. Mountains to wine.

Our hotel in Provence is about 4 hours away. The next few days are all about experiencing the best of France. In my opinion – Provence is the best of France. Markets, stunning towns, warm (hot) temperatures and lots to do for both Team Macchiato and the cyclists. It’s also home to your hardest ride on tour. Scary in fact. Mont Ventoux.

We’ll load the bus and head to the town of Embrun where hop on the bikes. Embrun is known for its fantastic climate - the driest and sunniest in the region, hence it’s nickname of “Nice of the Alps”. From the top of its rock, it dominates the artificial lake of Serre-Ponçon, one of the largest in Europe. Team Mac – Morgan and Patrick will swap places today. This is Patrick’s local area. Local secrets await. Cyclists – we ride from Embrun to Pra Loup where the bus will be waiting.

Our accommodation for the next four nights is set in the heart of the charming Luberon area, the Hostellerie Notre-Dame de Lumières, Relax and enjoy unforgettable experience in this ancient convent from the 17th century. Converted into hotel and entirely renovated (with an amazing swimming pool) and only about 30km away from the mythical - Mont Ventoux. The convent is excellent however it’s the outside courtyard restaurant that draws us back year after year. We’ll eat dinner at the hotel. Sleep well. The Giant of Provence awaits.

Accommodation: Hostellerie Notre-Dame, Goult
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 8, Monday 23 July

Mont Ventoux – enough said.

The Full Loop - The Ventoux Epic. Starting at your hotel you ride through country lanes to the large town of Bédoin at the foot of Mont Ventoux. A certain rider who once claimed to have won seven yellow jerseys - before admitting to the world that he was indeed as high as a kite used to vouch that Mont Ventoux is the most difficult of all the Tour de France climbs. Drugs or no drugs – Lance is right.

There are over 1200 species of plants on Ventoux however chances are that you won’t see any of them as you sweat you way up the 1,912m. Pause at Chalet Reynard (which is where the cappuccino riders will start from) for a refreshment stop, collect your thoughts prior to the final 6km assault to the summit. Enjoy a fast descent to Malaucène for lunch and ‘finisher’ jersey shopping! Return to Bédoin where you can either board the bus or ride back to the hotel for a well-deserved swim.

Team Mac – it just happens to be market day in Bedoin. Our suggestion is to check out the market (which is O for awesome) and then head up Mont Ventoux to watch the suffering. This afternoon Morgan will give you a private tour of the stunning villages that make this area famous - Gordes and Venasque being must-do’s, as well as a visit to Abbey de Sananque, built in 1148. We’ll see you back at home.

Tonight, we again take advantage of our gorgeous courtyard for dinner. Some of you may feel like wandering up the hill to Goult. There should be no Guilt in visiting Goult (sorry, couldn’t help myself) for a late afternoon wine.

Accommodation: Hostellerie Notre-Dame, Goult
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9, Tuesday 24 July

Le swimming pool, le castle, le wine tasting

Over the past 6 days you will have ridden 6 or 7 Hors category climbs. Today is what we would refer to as sightsee cycling. It’s the swimming pool that should be the most important aspect of your day.

We’ll head east towards Fontaine de Vaucluse - France’s biggest spring located at the bottom of a 230m cliff. From here the terrain gets hillier as we climb through the stunning Gorges Venasque. (this will be one of the top 5 bike rides – of your life time) We’ll pause at Gordes for an espresso before checking out the Abbey de Sananque, built in 1148. Koen will be waiting for us at our lunch spot as often in this part of the world it’s too hot to ride in the afternoon. Splash Splash - straight to the pool thanks.

Or, some of you may feel like joining Morgan and Team Mac as they head in to Avignon. Capital of the Vaucluse region and the Côtes du Rhône, seat of the popes and city of art and culture, theatre, cinema, museums, big stores and little shops, Avignon is a small city that has everything a big one has, and then some... From medieval streets and houses to private mansions from the Renaissance, passing through all its old and enticing squares, some no bigger than a tiny lane...

Visti the The Palais des Papes - one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Avignon became the home of the Popes in 1309, who were fleeing the violent chaos of Rome. The Palais was built between 1335 and 1364 on a natural rocky outcrop at the northern edge of Avignon, overlooking the river Rhône.

And now for the highlight of our visit to Provence, – undoubtedly the best restaurant we eat at in France. Located under a castle wall in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We return here year after year. We start with a wine tasting in their wine cave, followed by dinner. Prepared to be wowed.

Accommodation: Hostellerie Notre-Dame, Goult
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10, Wednesday 25 July

Carcassonne for lunch!!

Roughly half way to the Pyrenees we stop for a late lunch at a UNESCO world heritage fortified town. Carcassonne is simply stunning, and is also known for having some of the world’s best crepes. Nutella…

The earliest known occupation of the site where Carcassonne now stands dates from the 6th century BC. When a protohistoric hill-fort (oppidum) was built on this rocky spur overlooking the valley of the Aude and the ancient routes linking the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula with the rest of Europe. In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defences encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets and its fine Gothic cathedral. Carcassonne is also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation.

Welcome to the Pyrenees, our base camp hotel for the next three nights is a small family run hotel. We book it every year because of its location. Look up and you can see the likes of Hautacam, Tourmalet and Col du Solour.

With luck we’ll arrive late afternoon which will give Team Mac enough time to head in to town with Morgan while the rest of go for a short ride around the valley.

Accommodation: Hotel Les Cimes (we have massage on offer here for three days)
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11, Thursday 26 July

Pau for a Macchiato

Last year Team Mac spent a fortune in Pau. They shopped up a storm. Revenge for all those expensive bikes. Fair enough. It just so happens that today’s stage of the Tour de France finishes in Pau. Just imagine the spending opportunities. (for both cyclists and Team Mac - this will be your last chance for TdF souvenir shopping)

Cyclists will ride to the finish line. All the way from our hotel. In fact, we’ll try and target race route. Espresso riders will go over Solour and Aubisque. That’s a reasonably challenging ride. Latte and Cappuccino will have it slightly easier. Slightly.

The idea being that we’ll have you in Pau with plenty of time to dress from lycra in to shorts in plenty of time for the conclusion of today’s stage. (We are going to see if we can possibly get V.I.P grandstand tickets for today’s stage, at a cost)

Tonight, after dinner we head in to Lourdes to witness the evening candle lit procession. Even for those who aren’t religiously minded the procession is a must see as thousands and thousands of pilgrim’s flock to Lourdes to participate, making Lourdes second only to Paris for hotel rooms in France.

Accommodation: Hotel Les Cimes
Meals Included: Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements in Lourdes or Pau)

Day 12, Friday 27 July

TdF Queen Stage…

For anyone that follows cycling – if you say the three words - Tourmalet, Solour & Aubisque in the same sentence then you know it’s going to be a special day.

You choose… It’s the queen stage of this year’s event.

Our advice would be to target the 102km Col de Tourmalet loop. We’ll talk this through and will have lots of different options. Including an out and back (60km return) which also takes you up Tourmalet. And there’s no pressure to ride all the way. You can simply turn around when you’ve had enough.

If you didn’t ride the Aubisque yesterday, then this hill really is a must. The 10km ride between Solour and Aubisque will make your eyes water. Bar none, it is the most scenic 10km in the whole of France.

Non-riders or those wanting a day off - you simply will never forget the cable car to the top of Pic du Midi de Bigorre from La Mongie (altitude 2,877m). There’s a café at the summit, as well as an interesting observatory, visitor centre and museum. It’s then only a short drive to the top of Tourmalet where your loved one will be waiting.

Tonight’s team dinner is important as we say goodbye to two of our team who leave us tomorrow afternoon – Morgan and Patrick. Cheers boys.

Accommodation: Hotel Les Cimes
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13, Saturday 28 July

Toulouse – here we come. Via Hautacam

It’s been a great 13 days. Those mountain climbs have been officially tamed. Let’s look back at what we’ve achieved. Tourmalet, Aubisque, Solour, Ventoux, Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, Lautaret, Izoard and Les Lacets. What a trip.

But hang on – there’s one major missing from that list. The mighty Hautacam. And the start of the climb is only about a 10-minute ride from our hotel. Not the most challenging climb however it would be one of the most technical. Certainly, worthy of our last ride.

We encourage Team Mac to join us. The views from the top are breath-taking. It’s worth the ride just to see the smart cows and the very friendly Clydesdale horses who wander the road looking for people to pat them.

We plan to make it to Toulouse (2 hour drive) in time to watch the TDF time trial on TV. There will be a bit of housekeeping though – dismantling the bikes for one. Game over. Tonight, is our last night together. Bring out the champagne. A few stories will be told no doubt.

Accommodation: Marriott Toulouse Airport
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 14, Sunday 29 July

Safe travels home

Our tour finishes after breakfast. For some it’s time to head home, while others will take some time in Toulouse or head off to explore other parts of Europe. Thank you for joining us on the adventure of a life time and the greatest sporting event in the world.

Safe travels for the remainder of your journey.

Karl Woolcott and the team from RIDE Holidays

Optional extra – the last stage in Paris

It is relatively simply for us to organise a Paris package for you. Our recommendation would be a flight from Toulouse to Paris early this morning. Accommodation downtown at our preferred hotel as well as Grand Stand tickets on the Champs Élysées which is only 200m from the finishing line. It’s really your only option to experience the race today as millions of people queue for the free seats. The riders will complete eight laps of the 6km circuit (usually they arrive on the Champs at about 5.30pm) to decide who wins the final stage on the famous cobbles.

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Tour Inclusions

  • 1 night Paris, 1 night Lyon, 4 nights Pyrenees, 3 nights Provence, 3 nights Alps, 1 night Toulouse (airport)
  • Ride all the classics - Hautacam, Tourmalet, Aubisque, Solour, Mont Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier and many more classic climbs
  • Up to 5 stages of the Tour de France inc Alpe d’Huez and Tourmalet
  • Choice of 2-3 rides per day at your pace
  • 7 staff including mechanic
  • Luxury 48 seat coach plus 9 seat support vehicle
  • Quality hotels in excellent central locations
  • All breakfasts, all evening meals (except two)
  • Includes all tips (guides and pre-arranged meals)
  • Tour de France souvenir booklet and RIDE Holidays cycle jersey
  • Maps provided as well as GPS assistance
  • Non-riders are very welcome and well catered for

The Price Excludes

  • International Airfares – Karl can arrange
  • Bike Rental – NZD 650.00 (Carbon, Compact & fast)
  • Paris - final stage. Grand Stand tickets, accommodation and travel
  • Lunches, drinks & snack bars, your cycling food.
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory! Karl can arrange
  • Pre-& post tour accommodation or tours

The Tour Cost

$8700.00 NZD per person twin share

$8500.00 NZD for past, repeat clients.

$1300.00 NZD for single room (Subject to availability)

 Tour de France Bike Tour



 Tour de France Bike Tour



Tour de France Bike Tour

Tour de France Bike Tour

Tour de France Bike Tour

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