Tour #2: Provence, Alps and Annecy

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10 - 23 July 2023 (14 Days / 13 Nights)

Please note that the following itinerary is an example only. The official race route isn't announced until October 2022. After all the cancelled tours in 2020/21/22 we are very excited about sharing the 2023 TdF with you. We encourage you to book early. At this stage there are zero deposits to be paid and balances are due 60 days prior to departure. ** We may change this when the current Covid-19 situation improves.

Starting and finishing in Lyon means that we don't have the long transfer days which allows for more time on the bikes.

Featuring 3 nights in Provence, 4 nights in the high Alps and 4 night's lake front accommodation on Lake Annecy.

Please note that these dates are provisional and may be changed.

Overview of the Tour

A lot of the rides planned are based on local knowledge. We have three local guides who live in the Alps. Silas Cullen, Patrick Cozza and Adrien Truwant. This itinerary is based on our 2019 trip which was very similar.

RIDE Holidays cycle tours are achievable for anyone who rides a road bike however for TdF2 it would be advisable that you arrive in your very best shape. Following the Silas Cullen training program would be smart. In 2019 we trialled road e-bikes and they worked very well. We are happy to roll those out to those who are familiar with riding normal road bikes but need help on the long ascents.

Non-riding partners (Team Macchiato) are welcome on both trips however Trip 1 is certainly better for those not on two wheels. TdF2 Team Mac will need to be fit as the focus will be on walking. TdF1 - Team Mac will have a completely separate vehicle, guide.

We look forward to sharing with you the Magnificent French Alps.

Tour de France | Tour #2 Details

Tour Inclusions


  • Excellent hotels in central locations
  • 1 night Lyon, 3 nights Provence, 4 nights Lake Annecy, 4 nights Alps and 1 night in Lyon.

Amazing Cycling & Tour de France Race Viewing

  • Choice of 2 rides per day at your pace
  • Ride all the classics - Mont Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez, Col du Galibier, Lautaret, Telegraph, Col de l'Arpettaz as well as many more.
  • View up to 4 stages of the Tour de France
  • Supported with 4 - 5 staff, plus your tour leader Karl Woolcott

General Cycling Tour Details

  • 9 seat support vehicles
  • All breakfasts, 11 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
  • Electrolytes and cycling snacks provided (we advise taking your own energy bars, gels)
  • Non-riders are very welcome
Entry included for the Ride Holidays Karapiro 100km Flyer on the 3th 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 - NZD 700.00 (Carbon, Compact)
  • Road e-Bike - NZD1100.00 (Cannondale)
  • Paris - final stage. Grand Stand tickets, accommodation and travel.
  • Meals not included in the itinerary. Alcohol.
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory! Karl can arrange
  • Pre-& post tour accommodation or tours

The Tour Cost

  • $9200.00 NZD per person twin share

  • $1700.00 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)

  • Due to the current Covid-19 uncertainty - There is no deposit to be paid on this tour. Please ignore the invoice that is automatically generated. We will monitor the coronavirus situation and keep you posted if this changes. At this stage - balance is due 60 days prior to departure.

    We reserve the right to adjust the tour cost. COVID has meant that it's almost impossible to predict currency and the NZD, AUD against the EUR is literally having 10% swings. We will look at this when the tour is guaranteed to run.

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Tour de France | Tour #2 Itinerary

Day 1, Monday 10 July

Welcome to France

Ahhhh, now I remember - all things good about France. The pace of life, croissants, wine, cheese, great roads, amazing scenery…. We could go on and on. What a fantastic country.

Welcome to France. Let's have an amazing two weeks.

Feel free to arrive at any time. Those who want to can put their bikes together. Otherwise - we will do it tomorrow when we arrive in Provence. Which is when we see our French guides and all the hire bikes.

Our hotel is located at the airport. (Literally 100m 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 and red wine. A lot of you will know each other so it's a case of saying hello to old friends and welcoming those who are travelling with us for the first time.

Welcome to France.

/ Accommodation: Lyon Airport
/ Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2, Tuesday 11 July

Lyon to Provence

We leave Lyon and head south 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 a rather large piece of dirt that goes by the name of Mont Ventoux.

This afternoon we head out on our first ride. The planned route is 70km however it can be as long or as short as you want. That's because most of the ride involves a 40km cycle path which runs less than 1km from our hotel. Don't overcook it. The Giant of Provence awaits.

It's important to note that there will be two ride options daily. Generally speaking - we'll have a longer distance and then a spot where you can pull out if you've had enough. We'll have support vehicles with us at all times and will target quiet tourist roads and cycle paths. We learnt a lot in 2019 so 2020 promises to be even better.

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 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.

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

Day 3, Wednesday 12 July

Mont Ventoux - enough said

We understand that a few of you have ridden the Giant in the past. So, today we'll offer two different routes. Totally up to you - choose to ride the traditional way as described below or reverse it.

Starting at our hotel we 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 for a refreshment stop, collect your thoughts prior to the final 6km assault to the summit. Enjoy a fast descent to Malaucène where you can either hop in the vans or ride back to your hotel for a well-deserved swim.

By the way - bring your credit card as today gives you the best chance of souvenir shopping. (for cycling kit etc)

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

Day 4, Thursday 13 July

Le swimming pool, le castle,

Today is what we would refer to as sightsee cycling. The word stunning is possibly used far too many times. Especially in this booklet. 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. The initial plan - ride Venasque, visit Gordes for a coffee and check out the Abbey de Sananque which was built in 1148. Distances range from 70 to 100km. Let's see how you feel post Ventoux.

It's the swimming pool that should be the most important part of your day.

And now for the days highlight - 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

Hello to the French Alps

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

Day 5, Friday 14 July

Rest not, want not!!

Au Revoir Provence. Bonjour the majestic French Alps. Our plan is ambitious but let's give it a go. Today's ride is based on a gem we rode last year. We are also entering guide - Patrick's neck of the woods. You will soon see why he is so comfortable in the mountains.

We leave Goult as early as possible and drive the 190km to Embrun. That's the easy part.

Saddle up - we're off. Taking the reverse route up Col d'Izoard. We follow a river for the majority of the climb before we hit the slopes proper. The last 15km is fairly challenging. You would have seen the TdF go the same direction the last two years. Total ride distance to the top is only 51km however it's also 2000m of climbing.

500m over 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 and this is our coffee stop. I wonder what he would say now if he knew that a few skinny cyclists wandered in every day and asked "latte please"?

It's then a 20km descent (rivalled only by Ventoux) to the town of Briancon and then a further 10km up the valley to our hotel. Total ride distance is right on 90km. You can tap out whenever you've had enough as the vehicles will be close by.

Ambitious, but awesome.

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

Day 6, Saturday 15 July

Italy for coffee….

Sunday and Monday read - L'Alpe d'Huez, Col de Sarenne, Col du Lautaret and Galibier,

It's an important part of our job to manage fatigue. We need to get you safely to day 14. Accidents tend to happen when people are tired. So, today is a down day.

It's only 35km from our hotel to the Italian ski resort (and past Olympic venue) town of Melezet. It's just a chilled-out ride with a whole heap of photo opportunities. Lunch (Panini of course) and espresso will be in Italy before we head home.

The goal is to give you the afternoon for all that important stuff - washing, emails or simply finding a TV to watch the TdF over a beer.

This evening after dinner we visit the excellent local thermal pools. Time to give some love back to your weary legs.

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

Day 7, Sunday 16 July

L'Alpe d'Huez and Col de Sarenne

Yes, you should be excited. Today we hit 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.

We will have lots of options. Espressos can ride from the hotel if they wish. Generally speaking - latte riders are a lot smarter so we'll give you a lift to Le Bour-d'Osians (say that fast 10 times) which is the town at the bottom of the great hill.

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!

But wait - there's more…. For those who have energy 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) Our vans will meet you on the other side - saving you the 40km (inc 20km climb) to our hotel.

So, plenty of options. We are in no rush other than to be in our favourite sports bar by 4pm watching the final stages of the Grand Colombier mountain top finish.

Another amazing day in paradise.

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

Day 8, Monday 17 July

Col du Galibier or the Munta

It's a bit loose to describe today as a down day however that's actually what it is. Despite the fact that there are a number of mountains on offer.

Here are your choices.

  1. It's very gentle ride up to Col du Lautaret from our hotel. 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. There are quite a few villages on the way back and we'll point out our favourite café on the way through.
  2. Once you are all coffee'd up at Lautaret then it's only 8km up to Galibier. It's not that difficult until you reach the last 1km which is when shit starts to get real. Galibier is our highest point of the tour at 2642m and is the 8th highest paved road in the Alps.
  3. If you are feeling particularly leggy then carry on down the other side as far as you like. If you make it all the way to Telegraph then we're talking 140km day and about 3,500m of climbing. We will publicly drug test you if you choose this option.
  4. For those who have already climbed the above then we will roll out Col du Granon which actually backs on to our hotel. It can only be described as a Munta. 10km and 10%. The view from the top is awesome and there's the added bonus of a really remote café at the top. Google Granon TdF 1986 stage 17 and you'll see what I mean. Bring it on.

Totally your choice - a fantastic day for all concerned.

Late this afternoon I suggest that we all hop on the Serre Chevalier ski-field gondola which pretty much leaves from our hotel foyer. Let's enjoy a wine up the top and take in the magnificent views.

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

The Splendour of Lake Annecy

Yours to enjoy for the next 4 nights

Day 9, Tuesday 18 July

The most beautiful place on earth…

Lake Annecy is simply one of the most beautiful spots on earth. That's a fact. You'll love it which is why we have 4 nights here. Our home 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. G&T anyone?

The plan at this stage of the trip is to talk to you. This is your holiday. We will listen.

Here are our recommendations.

1, we leave the hotel early and see le Tour de France for the first time. We would drive you as close as we can to Col de Porte which is when we hop on the bikes. It's hard to describe the feeling one has when you see the Tour de France live for the first time. Especially on a mountain stage. 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 week to come. (This plan extends our driving time to 4-5 hours) One bonus for today is that the TdF1 group will also be on Porte so we could have a very large group of RH people altogether.

2, you leave the TdF stage until tomorrow which would cut our travel time down to about 3 hours. We would stop half way to ride 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. There are quite a few rides to choose from so we could look at 2-3 hours in the saddle before heading off to our private beach paradise on the lake. 100m away from our hotel is a great little sports bar that seems to attract cyclists. It's a good place to be, come the closing stages of today's mountain top finish.

OK, the plan is flexible. We'll talk about this the night before. We do have a number of vans so it may be that some head to the stage while others choose the more direct route.

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

Day 10, Wednesday 19 July

Col de la Loz - Mountain stage

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 sooo yesterday!

The actual stage will be very interesting as the climb and descent are 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.

It's about a 90min drive in each direction. Some patience will be required today but it will all be worth it. This is our queen stage of the 2020 Tour de France.

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

Day 11, Thursday 20 July

Tour de France - Col de Saisies….

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.

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

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

Day 12, Friday 21 July

Flexibility is the key…

Again, it's all about choice. The race start is Bourg-en-Bresse which is about a 90min drive away about a 9hour ride home. (Actually, it's not that bad but we will certainly ride a chunk of the return journey)

Or, if you've seen le tour the past 3 days then you may decide that enough is enough.

Plan B involves Silas Cullen. Hmm. Part of the reason for introducing this new trip to the RH calendar in 2019 is Silas actually lives in Annecy. He's the man with all the secret rides. 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.

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 so that's where lunch is. 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 we dine together as tomorrow we say goodbye to all our French guides. Thanks boys.

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

The Last Two Days

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

Day 13, Saturday 22 July

Our last day on the beautiful Lake Annecy

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.

Generally speaking on the penultimate day of the TdF the race is already decided. Today is different. It's a time trial like no other which finishes with a 6km climb. We won't know the GC winner of the 2020 TdF until the last 100m of today's stage. So, it's important that we are in Lyon by mid-afternoon to watch the proceedings.

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
/ Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14, Sunday 23 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. Thank you for joining us on the adventure of a life time and the greatest sporting event in the world.

The other option is Paris and in particular 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. 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.

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


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