CYCLING TOURS AND HOLIDAYS | TOUR DE FRANCE

Tour #1: Pyrenees, Provence and Annecy | 1 room available


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05 - 18 July 2019 (14 Days / 13 Nights)


Join RIDE Holidays for the greatest sporting event on the planet - the 2020 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.


Overview of the Tour

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. .

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.

This itinerary is a small sample of what will be offered. The official race route isn't released until the end of May 2020. We'll then plan the daily rides and sightseeing options and include them in a 50 page tour dossier.

Vive le Tour.









Tour de France | Tour #1 Details


Tour Inclusions

Accommodation

  • Excellent hotels in central locations
  • 1 night Toulouse, 3 nights Pyrenees, 2 nights Provence, 3 nights Aix les Bains, 3 nights Lake Annecy and 1 night Lyon.

Amazing Cycling & Tour de France Race Viewing

  • Choice of min.3 rides per day at your pace
  • Ride all the classics - Tourmalet, Aubisque, Solour, Hautacam, Mont Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez and many more classic climbs
  • Up to 5 stages of the Tour de France

General Cycling Tour Details

  • 7 - 8 staff including mechanic
  • Luxury 48 seat coach plus 1 x 9 seat support vehicles
  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch and all evening meals
  • Includes all tips (guides and pre-arranged meals)
  • Electrolytes and cycling snacks (we advise taking your own energy bars, gels)
  • Tour de France souvenir booklet and RIDE Holidays cycle jersey
  • Maps provided as well as GPS assistance
  • Specific non-riding program. You are very welcome and well catered for

Entry included for the Ride Holidays Karapiro 100km Flyer on the 4th of April. We will have a TdF dinner that night where you can meet your fellow travellers and we can answer any questions you may have.


The Tour Price Excludes

  • International Airfares - Karl can arrange
  • Bike Rental - $650 NZD (Carbon, Compact & fast)
  • Road e-bike is also available - NZD1000.00 (Cannondale)
  • Meals not included in the itinerary. Alcohol
  • Paris - final stage. Grandstand tickets, accommodation and travel. (approx. $900 NZD)
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory! Karl can arrange
  • Pre-& post tour accommodation or tours

The Tour Cost

  • $9350.00 NZD per person twin share

  • $9150.00 NZD for past, repeat clients.

  • $1650.00 NZD for single room (Subject to availability)

  • $600.00 NZD Paris grandstand ticket (optional)

  • $220.00 (Single) or $120.00 (twin share) extra (per night) accommodation in Paris. (Marriott Airport)

    We can also arrange transport from Lyon to Paris if required.

    The deposit is $2500.00 (NZD) per person at time of booking. This is non-refundable. We advise that you have travel insurance in place. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.




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Tour de France | Tour #1 Itinerary

Day 1, Sunday 05 July

Welcome to Toulouse, Welcome to France

You'll feel the Tour de France excitement as soon as you hop off the plane. That's because today's actual race stage isn't far away. 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.

And for those joining us who don't ride bikes - our promise is that your holiday is as enjoyable as those cycling. France is the number one tourist country on the planet. There's plenty to do other than ride. You will be well looked after.

Feel free to arrive at any time throughout the day, our hotel is located right at the airport. 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.

Welcome to France.

/ Accommodation: Marriott Toulouse Airport
/ Meals Included: Dinner



Day 2, Monday 06 July

The Mighty Pyrenees

After breakfast our famous Belgian bus driver Koen will pack all our bikes and bags into his flash harry bus. We aim to arrive in Argeles by late morning. Waiting for you will be lunch - baguettes and donuts of course. We will then help put the bikes together. As well as making sure the hire bikes fit perfectly.

Our base camp hotel for the next three nights is a small family run hotel. It isn't 5 star however you will be treated like royalty and the food is amazing We book it every year because of its location. Look up and you can see the likes of Hautacam, Tourmalet and Col du Solour.

This afternoon 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. There will be rides of 40 - 70km in length. No real mountains today. Just a few false flats. (In our world - less than 7% is a false flat, 7-10% undulating, 10-14% some climbing, 14% and steeper - hills)

Team Macchiato hop in the van with Sakari (your guide) to head out to Gavarnie. Gavarnie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a fantastic introduction to this part of the world. Prepare to be wowed. Please make sure you have good walking shoes as you have two choices… 1, donkey or 2, by foot. Up to you!!

Tonight, we dine together as it's time to introduce you to our French team and talk about the plan for tomorrow.

/ Accommodation: Hotel Les Cimes
/ Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 3, Tuesday 07 July

The mighty Aubisque (and Hautacam for those who are crazy….)

As guides we are often asked about our favourite rides. There are many to choose from however for me, Col d'Aubisque is the most beautiful. It's our first undulating ride. We like to start with a highlight. And then continue that trend for the next two weeks.

After breakfast we ride the 20km up to Col du Solour. It's not a challenging climb as it's broken up with typically beautiful French villages. It's then another 10km over to Col d'Aubisque. That 10km makes my eyes water every time.

The great thing about today is that there are plenty of options for every ability. Cappuccinos may decide to get a lift up Solour and then roll over to Aubisque. Expresso riders may decide to roll down the other side of Aubisque and then climb back up.

Team Mac - as mentioned -the road between Solour and Aubisque is the most scenic 10km in the whole of France. (In our humble opinion) We strongly encourage that you walk it. We'll get you up there nice and early. (Bring a torch for the tunnels)

Waiting for us at the top of Aubisque is Alex, a good friend of RH and he owns the café. Would be a great place to have lunch. The views from the deck aren't too shabby.

And now for the great news. It's 30km downhill to our hotel. We'll have you firmly planted in our hotel bar, beer in hand by the time todays stage draws to a close. Or….

For anyone feeling frisky we can offer a 2nd col. Yes, the 2nd ride involves the Hors category - Hautacam. The start of the climb is literally only 3km from our hotel. The ride itself isn't particularly long, only 38km return. However, it's more challenging than this as it's hard to find a rhythm as the gradient changes often. Pace yourself on the way up and take extra care on the descent as there will be riders of all abilities, walkers, hikers, dogs, cows and horses sharing our road.

Sleep well……

/ Accommodation: Hotel Les Cimes
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4, Wednesday 08 July

Col du Tourmalet

For anyone that follows cycling - if you say the words - Col de Tourmalet then you know it's going to be a special day. It is one of the most famous climbs in France with its highest point being 2128m.We will have plenty of options so please don't be worried.

Cappuccino riders - the shortest ride to the top of Tourmalet from our hotel is only 30km, (30km uphill). We will show you our home base café on the way up. There's no pressure. You can simply turn around when you've had enough.

Latte and espresso riders - We will be encouraging you to do the 102km loop. Departing Argelès Gazost we ride towards Lourdes and on to St Marie de Campan where we'll regroup for coffee. From the café, the road heads into the sky for 17.5km. Some riders will take just over an hour, some will take up to three. Everyone have a good hard go today, tomorrow is a rest day off the bikes.

Team Mac - 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 you can watch the suffering.

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 as thousands and thousands of pilgrim's flock to Lourdes daily, making Lourdes 2nd only to Paris for hotel rooms in France.

/ Accommodation: Hotel Les Cimes
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


The Giant of Provence






Day 5, Thursday 09 July

Carcassonne for lunch!! Wine tasting in Chateauneuf-du-Pape!!

Today is purely a transfer day. We leave our Pyrenees paradise and head for the beautiful Provence. It's roughly 6 hours on the bus with stops. Rest your legs, pull up a seat and let's watch the Russian Fly Fishing movie. (Long story)

Lunch is at the UNESCO world heritage fortified town of Carcassonne. The earliest known occupation of the site where Carcassonne now stands dates from the 6th century BC. When a prehistoric 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.

Next stop - undoubtedly the best wine tasting in France. Located under a castle wall in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, we return here year after year. 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.

Our accommodation for the next two 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 17thcentury. 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 and 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: Hotellerie Notre Dame de Lumieres
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 6, Friday 10 July

Mont Ventoux - enough said.

We've got one day - let's make it happen.

Get set for the ride of your life. This is the big one. You'll be fit by now so no excuses! 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!

Standing 1,600m above the Cote du Rhone countryside, it's referred to as the Giant of Provence. It's also generally very hot and windy so we'll try and get on the road early this morning. 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.

Many of us will ride all the way from our hotel to the top and back down the other side. It's 40km until you start the climb so plenty of time to warm up. Latte and Team Macchiato (e-bikes) will be dropped at the base of the great Mountain. Cappuccino cyclists and any non-riders can get a lift to Chalet Reynard (top notch hot chocolate) which sits 6km from the summit.

Today is your best chance for some retail therapy. You've just biked Mont Ventoux - now you need to buy the kit.

Team Mac - a few options. For the past two years we've hired e-bikes for the ride on Ventoux. We will certainly have our safety hat on if you choose this. Sakari will ride with you. The other option involves visiting a couple of the beautiful towns that make this region famous. You haven't been to Provence unless you've seen the likes of Gordes, Goult and Vanasque.

/ Accommodation: Hotellerie Notre Dame de Lumieres
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Hello Lac du Bourget






Day 7, Saturday 11 July

Le Tour de France…

OK, you've been patient. Tomorrow you will see the great race. Au Revoir Provence. Bonjour the majestic Lakes region and the magnificent French Alps. The pinnacle of the 2020 Tour de France. You can see up to 5 stages over the next week.

There really is no rush to get on the road today so we propose an early morning coffee ride prior to jumping on the bus. Our route is what we describe as - sightsee cycling. This region is famous for having the most beautiful villages in France. The best of them is Gordes and there's a coffee there with our name on it. Maximum ride will only be 50km as we still have a 4 hour drive ahead of us.

Team Mac - we suggest that you leave us for the day. Let's catch up tonight over a glass of wine. You start with the Saturday morning market in Apt which is the biggest market of the Luberon, with over 300 stalls filling the centre of town. Amid the 300 stalls you'll find…everything! Feel free to shop until you drop. It's our advice that you then head for 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 and the place is buzzing. 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.

Our home for the next three nights is just outside of Aix les Bains on Lake Bourget. It is the largest and the deepest lake in France. (Just a puppy compared to Lake Taupo at less than 10% of its size) Anyway, it's big enough to get wet. Swim anyone?

We have stayed at this hotel in the past. It's clean and comfortable and again picked for location. Yes, it does have a swimming pool. Unfortunately it doesn't have a bike room so all bikes need to stay with you in the evenings.

Tomorrow le Tour comes to us.

/ Accommodation: Quality Hotel Le Cervolan
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8, Sunday 12 July

Le Tour de France - Mountain stage

It's hard to describe the feeling one has when you see the Tour de France live for the first time. Especially on such a stage. Today the pros cover over 175km of pure climbing. We won't make you do this - we promise.

You'll quickly understand why this bike race is so important to the French - they live for it. Viva le Tour! 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 may come in handy in weeks to come.

Get set for the ride of your life. We'll depart the hotel early and head deep in to the mountains. As per every day we will have a number of options in place. The climb up Grand Colombier is simply stunning. Check out Prudhomme's comment - the pros will ride the same hill three times. Ouch.

CHRISTIAN PRUDHOMME'S COMMENT

"At last" might say the relieved enthusiasts of what is also known as the "Bugey pyramid" who had been requiring a summit finish there for quite some time. And it'll almost be an entire climb of the Grand Colombier that will be organised for this 15th stage with indeed three of the four access roads covered. The final climb of the mountain, the one where it won't be possible to hide will start in Culoz. The battle promises to be intense on the eve of the second rest day!

Our official support van with Sakari at the wheel will be able to take Team Mac right up to the finish line. Quite a treat as the road will have been closed to normal traffic for the past 48 hours.

At the end of the race our magnificent coach driver Keon will have the bus parked strategically for a quick exit home. It's happy hour.

Brilliant day.

/ Accommodation: Quality Hotel Le Cervolan
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 9, Monday 13 July

L'Alpe d'Huez

It's a rest day today for the Tour de France. So, we take the opportunity to ride a reasonably famous piece of dirt. Actually - the most famous of them all - L'Alpe d'Huez.

It's about a 90min drive in each direction although there's a good chance you will be asleep on the way home. For those who are awake we'll put on the Russian Fly-Fishing movie. It's amazing what you pick up 2nd time around.

Whatever your cycling ability - today it will be tested on one of the world's most iconic mountains. The name sends shudders down the spine. Each switchback features a past champion.

Team Mac - we suggest that you also travel to Alpe d'Huez as it really is a must see. Even if you aren't on a bike. Your cycling buddies could do with your support. There's also a really nice walk that you can do from the top. In fact, you could also join the espressos on Col de Serenne. For those e-bikers amongst you - this would be a day that we could arrange ebikes for you. (this must be done in advance)

The Alpe d'Huez was first climbed in the 1952 TdF, it climbs over 1,100m 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 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 achieved!

Espresso cyclists are welcome to carry on to the top of Col de Serenne. It's about another hour. (there and back) The views are simply incredible as you look out over the massive Alps of France.

It's also a great day for souvenir shopping so we'll make sure you have plenty of time at the top. In fact, this is where we advise you have lunch. Roll back down to the bus when you are ready.

It's our last night on Lake Bourget. Tomorrow we leave for the most beautiful lake in the world. (In our humble opinion)

/ Accommodation: Quality Hotel Le Cervolan
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 10, Tuesday 14 July

Col de Porte

Today's TdF target is Col de Porte which is only 50km (Hmm, with 1400m of false flat) from our hotel and fairly early on in today's stage. The TdF should hit the top of Col de Porte early afternoon. This will be the 15th time this Col has been used in the TdF. Many famous riders have been the first to summit including the most famous of them all - the great Eddy Merckx.

We will then have a plan in place for you to roll down and meet up with the bus before heading to our next hotel in Lake Annecy. In an ideal world we will all be in a bar watching the final stages of the agony unfolding at the finish line in Villard-de-Lans.

Our home for the next 3 nights is Lake Annecy and it's only an hour's drive away. It is simply one of the most beautiful spots on earth. In an ideal world - we try and return here every year. You'll love it. It's where the rich, famous and beautiful hand out - we'll fit right in.

When planning this itinerary we decided to take the plunge. Literally. We decided that the last three nights needed to be a highlight. Including a hotel that you wouldn't forget for the rest of your lives. Welcome to Les Tresoms Lake Spa and Resort. Words can't describe it so I'll leave it up to google. Take a look…. You won't be disappointed.

Team Mac - we see no reason for you to watch the bike race today. (Unless you want to of course) We advise that you leave for Annecy early. In fact, there's a local guide waiting to show you around the canals and old part of town. This afternoon we've arranged a cruise out on the lake. Yup, it's a tough day for Team Mac but I guess someone has to do it. See you at dinner.

/ Accommodation: Les Tresoms Lake Spa and Resort
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


The Splendour of Lake Annecy






Day 11, Wednesday 15 July

Col de la Loz

To be frankly honest… TdF or no TdF you would all have been riding Col de la Loz today. The fact that ASO decided that the Tour de France will join us on the same day, is an absolute bonus.

Logistics will be challenging so we'll need to be smarter than the Fantastic Mr Fox.

In 2019 we were literally the first group (in the whole wide world) to ride the brand new paved road that links Méribel and Courchevel. It opened the day before we arrived. At 2,300m it has created the 11th highest paved Col in France. And, it was built purely with cycling in mind. You can ride side by side, knowing that there's zero chance of any vehicles. Although there will be a couple of hundred thousand cyclists…

It's that nice that in 10 years' time your cycling buddies will be asking you - have you ridden Col de la Loz? Alpe d'Huez will be a distant memory. The actual stage will be interesting as the climb and descent are very technical. Some areas are actually over 20%. (Undulating at the extreme end) There is no doubt that this will suit a certain French rider who has GC ambitions come Sunday. Today could be your chance to witness history.

Team Mac - we see this as being a must-see stage for you today. Tomorrow - you head to Switzerland for the day. By the way - part of my decision to stay in luxury was because of you. Our hotel entry includes - access to the spa. (sauna, hammam and hydrotherapy pool) So, if you don't feel like joining us then a day of pampering isn't such a bad idea.

/ Accommodation: Les Tresoms Lake Spa and Resort
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 12, Thursday 16 July

It's all about the coffee…

It's all about the bike path. Which stretches 40km in front of our hotel. What an awesome way to start our day. We literally ride the bike path until we get to the bottom of the climb. You can simply turn around when you've had enough.

In preparation for today we rode this climb last year. Again, it was fantastic. You are in for one great day. Our Col of choice is Col de Saisies. About 1000m of climbing.

Two things I remember - the cows with the bells and the strawberry tarts. Which at about 90 euro was the world's most expensive tart however, man it was good. And, there's only one café at the top so what choice do you have?

The Tour de France riders should head over Saisies early afternoon. They have over 4000vm of racing. We simply roll back to the hotel in time to watch the concluding stages.

Team Mac - please bring us back some Swiss milk chocolate. Rather than a Swiss army knife. Anyway, have fun. Spend as much money as you possibly can. Take revenge on all of those expensive bikes.

Tonight is our last dinner together as a full team. Our French team depart tomorrow afternoon so let's have a nice meal together. Thanks boys - what an amazing country you have.

/ Accommodation: Les Tresoms Lake Spa and Resort
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13, Friday 17 July

We say goodbye to Lake Annecy. Tonight we're staying in Lyon where our journey comes to an end.

The secret to a good cycling holiday is not to see the race too many times. You will have seen by last three days that a lot of patience is required when watching the tour from the side of the road. It's our advice that we simply cruise around the lake this morning, find somewhere nice for coffee before packing up and moving on.

If there's good interest in seeing the race start at Bourg-en-Bresse then we will of course make that happen. Keep in mind though that there is some housekeeping to take care of before leaving Annecy. That involves breaking down all the bikes and also saying good bye to the rentals. (Along with our French team)

It's been a great two weeks. Those mountain climbs have been officially tamed. Let's look back at what we've achieved. Tourmalet, Hautacam, Aubisque, Solour, Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez, Col de la Loz, Col de Porte and a few more thrown in for good measure… What a trip.

Tonight is our last night together. Bring out the champagne. A few stories will be told no doubt.

/ Accommodation: Lyon Airport
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 14, Saturday 18 July

Safe travels home

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

Speaking of Paris…. 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. The riders will complete eight laps of the 6km circuit to decide who wins the final stage on the famous cobbles.

Other than the grandstand tickets we are happy to arrange….Accommodation at our airport hotel in Paris (CDG) along with flights for those who need them. We will also provide a guide to make sure you get to the right seats. And, we will look after all the transport.

In 2019 we were only offered 20 grandstand tickets so you will need to be quick.



 

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