Tour #2: Provence, Annecy and Alps | SOLD OUT

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15 - 28 July 2019 (14 Days / 13 Nights)

Tour #2 has been specifically designed for those with a passion of the Tour de France, and have a love for seeing some great sights of south east France. It's the perfect combination to fit in some amazing cycling, keep abreast and see first-hand some of the Tour de France happenings, plus see and experience France at its best.

With its incredible villages, renowned tourist spots, plus amazing and authentic French wine and food, it's a tour that delivers on so many levels!

We've deliberately created this tour in the style of a more boutique trip. This includes having a smaller tour group (we use vans rather than buses), and we've deliberately chosen a higher standard of accommodation throughout the tour.

Tour de France Cycle Tour

Overview of the Tour

Focused on the South-East France Region

To help you get a feel of what we offer, it's all about 2 key regions...the Provence-Alps-Cote d'Azur region and the Rhone-Alps region. It's south-east France at its best, and it incorporates some key sections of the Tour de France race.

With us, a lot of the rides are planned and based on local knowledge, as we have two guides who live in the Alps; Silas Cullen and Patrick Cozza. This itinerary incorporates a lot of their local knowledge, in-depth understanding of some great locations and sights, and their shared passion for cycling.

What's more, by starting in Marseille and finishing in Lyon, it means that we don't have any long transfer days, giving us more time out and about on the bikes. It's a compact tour, with the longest time sitting in a van, of just 4 hours.

A Tour that blends the love of cycling with the TdF Race

This trip is geared around being a true cycling tour, so this time we haven't developed an itinerary for non-riding partners.

Our cycle tours are achievable for anyone who rides a road bike, not just the serious cyclist, and we offer an unparalleled experience to see the Tour de France race in two key regions.

We offer different levels of activity throughout this tour, with three rides to choose from daily. The less demanding 'cappuccino' level, then 'latte', and for those keen on pedalling 100km or more per day, the 'espresso' level. Be assured you don't have to be the super-fit, gusto cyclist.

Key Features of the Tour

Key features include:

  • 3 nights in Provence
  • 4 nights staying in amazing lake front accommodation on Lake Annecy.
  • 4 nights staying in the heart of the French Alps. A perfect place to enjoy such amazing scenery!
  • A Tour specifically designed for you to see and experience 3 key stages of the Tour de France.
  • Option of 3 different levels of rides throughout the 14 day tour.
  • Small, boutique tour with a maximum of 20 clients, and 9 seat support vehicles.
  • Get to ride all the classics - Mont Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez, Col du Galibier, Lautaret, Telegraph, Col de la Croix Fry as well as many new climb like Col de l'Arpettaz and Col du Plan Bois.
  • Over 3 days (25 - 27 July) view up to 3 stages of the Tour de France race.
  • Option to see the end of the TdF 'live' in Paris and the Champs Élysées. Great viewing with our V.I.P. grandstand tickets which are only 200m from the finishing line. (Optional extra to the main Tour package)

Tour de France | Tour #2 Details

Tour Inclusions


  • Excellent 4-5 star hotels in central locations
  • 1 night Marseille, 3 nights Provence, 4 nights Lake Annecy, 4 nights French Alps, 1 night in Lyon.

Amazing Cycling & Tour de France Race Viewing

  • Choice of 2-3 rides per day at your pace
  • Ride all the classics - Mont Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez, Col du Galibier, Lautaret, Telegraph, Col de la Croix Fry as well as many new climbs like Col de l'Arpettaz and Col du Plan Bois.
  • Over 3 days (25 - 27 July) view up to 3 stages of the Tour de France race.
  • TdF V.I.P. stage start in Saint Jean valued at NZD500.00
  • Supported with 4 - 5 staff, plus your tour leader Karl Woolcott

General Cycling Tour Details

  • Maximum of 20 clients; 9 seat support vehicles
  • All breakfasts, 9 evening meals.
  • 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

The Tour Price Excludes

  • International Airfares - Karl can arrange
  • Bike Rental - $650 NZD (Carbon, Compact & fast)
  • Paris - final stage. Grandstand tickets, accommodation and travel. (approx. $900 NZD)
  • Lunches, drinks & snack bars, your cycling food.
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory! Karl can arrange
  • Pre-& post tour accommodation or tours

The Tour Cost

  • $8,995 NZD per person twin share
  • $1400 NZD surcharge for single room (subject to availability)

Tour de France | Tour #2 Itinerary

Day 1, Monday 15 July

Marseille, France

Hello to France, and for some 'welcome back'. Let's get straight into enjoying the good things about France. The pace of life, croissants, wine, cheese, great roads, amazing scenery etc. We could go on and on. What a fantastic country, and ours to enjoy for the next 14 days.

Ideally, we'd like you to arrive early afternoon. Our hotel is located at the airport. Late this afternoon we put all the bikes together and make sure the rentals fit correctly. We'll go for a quick spin around the car park. It's a big car park.

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 and red wine.

Time to meet your travel buddies and settle into a great night of socialising.

/ Accommodation: Marseille Airport
/ Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2, Tuesday 16 July

Coast to Provence. Door to door.

We leave the coast and head north to the most visited region in France - Provence. It's popular because it's perfect in every way. Great climate, beautiful villages, amazing markets and of course - awesome cycling including the rather large Mont Ventoux. There are also gorges which we've been exploring over the past couple of years which we can't wait to show you.

As we've said, this particular trip promises more time on the bikes and less time in vans. And there will be ride options for all abilities. We'll have support vehicles handy for those not wanting to ride the whole way. Today, hotel to hotel is exactly 90km. We'll target quiet tourist roads and cycle paths. Lunch will be in Lourmarin - it's listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Easy to see why, as it's surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and almond trees.

Our accommodation for the next three nights is set in the heart of the charming Luberon area, the Hostellerie Notre-Dame de Lumières. Relax and enjoy an unforgettable experience in this ancient convent from the 17th century. It's been converted into a hotel and it has been entirely renovated; plus it comes with an amazing swimming pool. The hotel itself is excellent; however it's the outside courtyard restaurant that draws us back year after year. What's more it's only about 30km away from the mythical - Mont Ventoux. Tonight we'll eat dinner at the hotel, and sleep well. The Giant of Provence awaits.

/ Accommodation: Notre-Dame de Lumières
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3, Wednesday 17 July

Mont Ventoux - enough said

We appreciate that some of you may have ridden the Giant in the past. So, today we'll offer three different routes. Totally up to you - choose to ride the traditional way as described below, reverse it or we'll take you to Sault and we can start there.

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.

The terrain in the Cote du Rhone region is brilliant; we'll cycle in some of the famous vineyard regions and see the premier varieties of Grenache, Syrah (Shiraz) and Viognier being grown. The landscape around Ventoux is interesting yet varied, you'll cycle up through mixed agricultural farmland, past fields of beautiful Lavender and through the forests of Ventoux.

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 you thoughts prior to the final 6km assault to the summit. Enjoy a fast descent to Malaucène and return back to Bédoin where you can either board the bus or ride back to your hotel for a well-deserved swim.

And now for the highlight of the day - undoubtedly the best restaurant I've eaten 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. The castle - named Castle of the Popes can first be accounted for as far back as 1094. Many a Pope lived here from 1316 through to 1387 at which stage it was already a well-established wine region.

/ Accommodation: Notre-Dame de Lumières
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4, Thursday 18 July

Le swimming pool, le castle, le Avignon Festival

Today is what we would refer to as sightseeing cycling. The word 'stunning' is possibly used far too many times, especially for this tour. However, there is no other word to describe the Gorges Venasque. Believe me - you will remember today's ride. It is stunning, stunning, stunning!!! At times we are guilty of trying to do too much and no doubt we will fall in to that trap again. However, we plan to make today simple. Ride Venasque, visit Gordes for a coffee and check out the Abbey de Sananque, built in 1148. It's the swimming pool that should be the most important part of your day.

This evening we head in to Avignon. The capital of the Vaucluse region and the Côtes du Rhône, seat of the popes and city of art and culture & theatre. It's festival time. Founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, the Avignon Festival is one of the biggest international festivals for contemporary live performance there is. Year after year, for the duration of July, Avignon turns into a city of theatre, transforming its rich architectural heritage into majestic and surprising performance venues, with around forty works of theatre and dance, as well as fine art and music.

You will have plenty of time to visit 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.

There are hundreds of outdoor restaurants to choose from. Pull up a seat and watch the world pass by.

/ Accommodation: Notre-Dame de Lumières
/ Meals Included: Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements at the festival)

The Splendour of Lake Annecy

Yours to enjoy for the next 4 nights

Day 5, Friday 19 July

Lake Annecy - the most beautiful place on earth

Lake Annecy is simply one of the most beautiful spots on earth. That's a fact. It's been 3 years since we've been here and we just needed to get back. You'll love it which is why we have 4 nights here.

The plan is to leave Goult reasonably early. Our drive is the longest that we have on tour at a shade under 4 hours. We'll jump on the bikes at Aix-les-Bains. Some will choose to simply ride around Lac du Bourget and then ride straight to our hotel on the shore of Lake Annecy. In total that would be about 60km.

Latte and espresso riders get to add on Mont Revard. A TdF classic which offers staggering views of the Lac below. At 1562m it isn't a puppy dog. The actual climb is almost 10km. We'll then turn around at the top and leave for Annecy - exactly the same route as the cappuccino cyclists. All up, you're on for a 100km day and almost 2000m of climbing.

Our home for the next four nights is ideally located on the eastern side of the Lake. Perfect positioning between the mountain range we plan to explore, and the city, which is only 30 minutes away by bike path. The hotel has the most magnificent view and its very own private beach. If you feel like a day off the bike - this is the place to do it. There's also an outside restaurant so if it's a nice night we will dine outside. What a great day. G&T anyone?

/ Accommodation: Beau Site Talloires
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6, Saturday 20 July

Off the beaten track… With a touch of gravel

Part of the reason for introducing this new trip to the RH calendar is that one of our team, Silas Cullen lives here. He's the man with all the secret rides. His personal favourite is Col de l'Arpettaz. So, that's where we shall go today.

The start of the climb is an easy jaunt from our hotel. It's then - up, up and away… The length isn't overly scary at 16km. There's an altitude gain of 1160m with an average of 7%. Don't worry, we've got all day. And, we'll have a support van handy for those who want a lift half way.

The climb itself is generally traffic free on a small narrow road that starts in a beech forest before popping out in stunning French high country - complete with bells and brown cows. Despite being in the middle of nowhere there's a fantastic refuge (alpine café) on top that's know for it's hot chocolate and apple tart. This Col also offers amazing views of Mont Blanc. And wait, there's more. There's a touch of gravel for those hipsters amongst us.

Tonight, you are free to explore the canal restaurants in the city of Avignon for dinner. We will run shuttles to and from our hotel. Enjoy.

/ Accommodation: Beau Site Talloires
/ Meals Included: Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)

Day 7, Sunday 21 July

Rest day - it's time to take in the local sights

Generally speaking - we can all last until about day 6 before we simply need to do some laundry. We'll look at today as a relaxed day. You let us know what you want and we'll take care of it. Some of you may simply decide that you need to do some shopping in Annecy. It's a maze of pedestrian only streets and waterways. It's easy to get lost and not a bad place to allow that to happen.

We will ride though…You may decide to simply roll around the edge of the lake in to Annecy and back. It's almost flat and most of it is on a bike path. In fact, the bike path continues all the way to Albertville if you want to keep on going.

The other option is Col de la Forclaz which pretty much backs on to our hotel. The ride itself isn't hard but it can be hot as you're in the trees most of the time. The view from the top is incredible as you look down on the lake and the city of Annecy. This climb is a favourite on the Tour de France agenda. There's a great café at the top and below that is a paraglide ramp. It's easy to sip on a couple of espressos while watching people jump off a mountain.

You then roll down the hill to our hotel. Pull up a chair & book, or, we'll run you in to the city. No pressure today - just relax.

/ Accommodation: Beau Site Talloires
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8, Monday 22 July

Annecy at its best - How many cols?

I can't stress this enough - we will have support vans and cycling options for all abilities.

Our last day in this gorgeous region. In keeping with our exploratory mode we take on a Silas Cullen special. A word of warning - here's how Silas describes gradients. 0-5% Flat. 5-8% false flat. 8-12% undulating. Above 12% some hilly sections. You have been warned.

Col du Plan Bois awaits. Another local gem. Not as challenging as other climbs but still a big lumpy piece of dirt and again off the beaten track. It's on the other side of the valley from the famous Col de la Croix Fry. There's again a nice café at the top which is where we'll have lunch.

And here's where things get interesting - we're looking at this as double summit day. The 2nd climb being Col de la Croix Fry. It's an important piece of dirt in TdF history and even featured in the 100thedition of the great race. It is only 1467m though so quite achievable.

And, for those still not tired…. There's an optional 3rd climb on the way home. The choice is yours - go straight back to the hotel or follow Silas over another 1000m false flat. All three cols will mean a total over 3000m for the day. You will sleep well.

/ Accommodation: Beau Site Talloires
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Hello to the French Alps

Settle in - it's our home for the next 4 nights

Day 9, Tuesday 23 July

The Tour de France , L'Alpe d'Huez and Col de Sarenne

Au Revoir Lake Annecy. Bonjour the majestic French Alps. The pinnacle of the 2019 Tour de France. In my opinion they are the Pyrenees on steroids. Our hotel has again been picked for location. Turn left out of the hotel you have Col du Galibier, Col du Télégraphe and Col du Lautaret. Turn right and the top of Col d'Izoard is only 15km away.

In this region, while we are here (25 - 27 July), we'll catch up to three Tour de France stages. 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.

Speaking of this magnificent hill… our vans literally pass right through the town at the bottom of worlds most talked about bike ride. Yes - you guessed it. While we're passing, we may as well ride it. Whatever your cycling ability - today it will be tested on one of the world's most iconic mountains - L'Alpe d'Huez. The name sends shudders down the spine. Each switchback features a past champion.

But wait - there's more…. For those who've already ridden d'Huez in a previous life we suggest that once you get to the top, you have a quick lunch and then you keep on going. You will have seen in the 2013 TdF when they rode d'Huez twice that there's another road out the back of the village that carries on to Col de Sarenne. It's not overly hilly but it certainly is beautiful - Sarene even. (sorry)

Cappuccino's - our vans will meet you on the other side - saving you the 40km (incl 20km) to our hotel. Latte and espresso - the call is yours. I rode the whole way 2 years ago and it took me just over 5hrs. It was awesome, it was exhausting.

/ Accommodation: Grand Hotel - Serre Chevalier
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10, Wednesday 24 July

Col du Granon or Col d'Izoard

Our traditional guides ride generally heads up to Col du Granon. We've never taken clients here before. It literally is the road that backs on to our hotel. It's something very very different. And challenging. 10km at 10%. A few years back we came across a farm dogs that were protecting the sheep from the local wolf population. You really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Surprisingly at the top there's a mountain café which offers the most unbelievable views.

The other option is Col d'Izoard. It's very achievable as the start is only 15km from our hotel. It is however quote a long climb 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 start 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.

500m from the top of d'Izoard is a fascinating building called Napoleon's Refuge. It transpires that the man himself left a large amount of money in his will to this particular French Provence - mainly to thank the local people for their support. It was decided that the best way of using this money was to build shelters on isolated high mountain passes. The shelter has now been turned in to a café. I wonder what he would say now if he knew that a few skinny cyclists wandered in every day and asked "latte please"?

This evening we plan on visiting the excellent local thermal pools. Time to give some love back to your weary legs.

/ Accommodation: Grand Hotel - Serre Chevalier
/ Meals Included: Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)

Day 11, Thursday 25 July

When the TdF comes to us…

2019 will be our 14th consecutive Tour de France trip. And today's stage will be one of the best. To get to the finish line the pros will need to account for three 2000m plus cols. Including D'Izoard and Col du Galibier. Hmmm. There will be a lot of road closures today so we'll need to be as smart as a fox.

Here are your choices….

  1. An early start. Ride up Galibier and descend down the other side to the finish line. There is the small matter of having to climb back up Galibier at the end of the day to get home.
  2. If you are feeling particularly leggy then carry on to Telegraph. That would make it a 140km day and about 3,500m of climbing. We will publicly drug test you if you choose this option.
  3. It's very gentle ride up to Col du Lautaret. 20km at 3-4%. That's flat. There's coffee and more importantly donuts at the top. You can chill out here or ride back down to our hotel when you feel like it.
  4. From Lautaret - ride up Galibier (very achievable as it's only 8km) and then head back down the hill to our hotel. Park your bike and let the action come to you. The atmosphere will be electric.

Totally your choice - a fantastic day for all.

/ Accommodation: Grand Hotel - Serre Chevalier
/ Meals Included: Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)

Day 12, Friday 26 July

Flexibility is the key…

From day 1 we will be asking you what you want to do. Flexibility is the key. It's your holiday. There are lots of options today - for all levels of cyclists. Espresso and latte cyclists ride from our hotel - up over Galibier and down the other side to Saint Jean de Maurienne which is where todays TdF stage starts from.

For the very first time (ever) we've arranged V.I.P. passes at today's stage start in Saint Jean de Maurienne which is only a few kilometres away from Les Lacets. Yes, you will be inside the barriers watching (and talking) to all the professionals as they warm up. It's without doubt your best opportunity for a signed jersey.

Cappuccino cyclists - we drive over Galibier towards Saint Jean. Our goal is Les Lacets de Montvernier. You probably watched this on the TV in the 2015 and 2018 TdF. It was the amazing switchback climb that was closed to the public on stage 18. Jaw dropping stuff. The start line at Saint Jean is only 5km away. This is where we'll catch up with the latte and espressos.

/ Accommodation: Grand Hotel - Serre Chevalier
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

The Last Two Days

Let's make the most of it before our tour ends

Day 13, Saturday 27 July

More TdF anyone? Or on to Lyon?

Generally speaking on the penultimate day of the TdF the race is already decided. It's also fairly common on our cycle tours to be looking at today as a soft day. An easy 20 or 30km before packing everything up and getting ready to go home. This tour is different. The 2nd to last stage is in the mountains & not far from our hotel. The last climb up to Val Thorens will decide the winner of the 2019 TdF.

Our hotel straight to the chequered flag is just under 80km. It does involve a couple of bumps along the way. That would be a false flat by the name of Galibier. We'll give the Cappuccino riders a lift half way and then we'll all climb up to Val Thorens together. After the race is finished we'll roll back down the hill and drive the 2 hours to our Lyon Airport hotel. That's plan 1.

Being flexible means we have a plan 2. For some - seeing the TdF the last couple of days will have been enough. So, your schedule for today is a lot more relaxed. We'll head out for a ride from the hotel and then leave for Lyon just after lunch. It means you'll arrive at the hotel at 3pm, rather than 8.30pm.

Tonight we dine together for the last time. A few stories will be told. Champagne will be consumed. It's been a fabulous 2 weeks. Thank you.

/ Accommodation: Lyon Airport

Day 14, Sunday 28 July

Safe travels home or view the finish 'live' in Paris

Our tour finishes after breakfast. For some it's time to head home, while others will take some time in Lyon or head off to explore other parts of Europe.

Others may want to see the end of the TdF 'live'. That's easy, just let us know and you can head for Paris and the Champs Élysées. Our V.I.P. grandstand tickets are 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.

It's time for the race to determine the winner - the riders will complete eight laps of the 6km circuit to decide who wins the final stage on the famous cobbles.

Au revoir and thank you for joining us on the adventure of a life time and the greatest sporting event in the world.

Whatever you decide. Safe travels home and thank you for joining Ride Holidays.


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