Galibier, Lautaret, Izoard, Casse Déserte... familiar names to cyclists
The Hautes-Alpes region is very proud of its 25 legendary ‘cols’ (mountain passes), many of which owe their fame and popularity with cyclists to the Tour de France. The most illustrious of them are on the famous Route des Grandes Alpes, the tourist route which runs the length of the Alps from north to south.
In Hautes-Alpes, the emblematic route begins in the north with Col du Galibier followed by Col du Lautaret then continues along the River Guisane to the fortified town of Briançon. Next it goes to Col Izoard via the impressive Casse Déserte before dropping steeply to the Massif du Queyras via the village of Arvieux, then winding through the Gorges du Guil to Guillestre. The last stage of the journey runs alongside Val d’Escreins nature reserve to Col de Vars. The route continues into the Alpes de Haute-Provence region with the promise of more magnificent discoveries.
In summer, you can discover the great mountain passes by car, motorbike and by bike of course along routes often taken by the Tour de France and Giro cycle races. Each summit or stopover also gives an opportunity to explore the mountain environment more fully along the many footpaths.
Hautes-Alpes today is considered an « Eldorado for cyclists ». There are mountain bike circuits with varying degrees of difficulty in every village; 12 circuits and 21 hill climbs have been specially developed on roads with little traffic so that road cycling enthusiasts can follow the well-known routes taken by great champions.
Don’t miss Operation Cols Réservés in July and August when some of the legendary cols are reserved for cyclists only, with many events and activities along the route. Mountain bike enthusiasts are not forgotten, in fact they are spoilt for choice with sites approved by the FFC, the ‘Grande Traversée des Hautes-Alpes’ (350 kilometres of tracks from La Grave to Laragne), numerous bike parks reached via ski lifts in summer and a multitude of major events.