The official (and original) Raid Alpine (Nice to Geneva) is a classic road cycling challenge from the Cote d'Azur to the shores of Lake Geneva over some of the most legendary Alpine climbs, including the two highest: the Col de lIseran and the Cime de la Bonette.
Originally devised by the Paris Audax club to run in this direction, the Nice-Geneva served as a pre-amble to the Raid Dolomites. Amble does no justice at all to this route which is anything but! As with the Raid from Geneva to Nice, the joy of this 6 day route is getting to know the hidden corners of the Alps and to appreciate their variety. Typical views of Alpine meadows are included but there are a host of other dramatic, beautiful and interesting things to see before you reach the Savoie-Alps just south of Lake Geneva.
The jury is still out as to whether this is the tougher direction to take on the Raid Alpine, though it probably is a little harder at the start of the week. Of course, we have had a few people go one way and then the other, just for fun!
For over 15 years now we have been supporting cyclists in achieving their Raid goals. We are passionate about our product being the best it can be and we enable around 100 cyclists every year to do the official Raid Alpine route. We provide two highly customised support vans per group, our guides are attentive and energetic and we know that this is not just a cycling challenge it is also a holiday, so we keep it fun.
If you want to visit the Alps but do not want to do a Raid challenge, then the Classic Cols of the Alps or the Classic Cols of the Southern Alps with their flexible itineraries may be the perfect cycling holiday for you.
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included transfers from Nice Airport to the hotel in Nice at specified times. Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes. Meet your guides, assemble bikes, have a welcome briefing and great dinner.
Day 1: Nice to Valberg (147km with 3450m ascent)
You leave the urban sprawl of the coastal plain and go past luxury apartments to the perfume capital of Grasse. After 45km you reach St-Vallier-de-Thiey to take some quieter roads towards the glorious Alpine foothills. This is shrubby, Mediterranean landscape and undulates pleasingly with a few small peaks to climb, the Col de Bleine (1439m) being the most noticeable. The fortified town of Entrevaux is worth a quick coffee stop before you take on the stunning, cliff hugging road through the Gorges de Daluis. Your first taste of the big climbs comes with the Col de Valberg (1672m) up to your hotel. [Route profile]
Day 2: Valberg to Vars (134km and 3440m ascent)
There are quintessential Alpine climbs in the route today, starting with the lush meadow feel to the Col de la Couillole (1678m), followed by a truly epic climb from St Sauveur sur Tine: 54km(!) to the highest road pass in Europe, the Cime de la Bonette (2802m). This ascent in itself is an incredible achievement and you will be rewarded suitably with some fantastic views! A lovely descent and gentle climb through a limestone gorge take you to the last climb of the day: the Col de Vars (2109m). [Route profile]
Day 3: Vars to Cesana Torinese (110km and 2700m ascent)
Another beautiful gorge ride into the Queyras National Park, home to the infamous Col dIzoard (2361m) with its monuments to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet. From the top, descend to Brianon and head for the Italian border on the other side of the Col de Montgenvre (1854m). Its downhill all the way to Cesana, where you must resist the urge to pause at our hotel, instead cycling on and up the Colle de Sestriere (2035m) for a carnet stamp. Roll gratefully back down to our 3* hotel and await your feast we love this place! [Route profile]
Day 4: Cesana Torinese to Bourg-St-Maurice (153km with 3100m ascent)
Plenty of breakfast digestion time on the long descent into Susa this morning. The Col du Mont-Cenis (2081m) will take you back into France and its a tough climb from this side! Refuel in the caf at the top before facing another classic the 2nd highest col in Europe: the Col de lIseran (2764m). This is the most picturesque side to climb and the views are stunning. All there is then left to do is roll down the hill (for almost 50km!) through Val-dIsre and on to our secluded 3* hotel on the outskirts of Bourg-St-Maurice. [Route profile]
Day 5: Bourg-St-Maurice to La Clusaz (98km with 3090m ascent)
You start off the day with the Cormet de Roselend (1968m). This is the heart of the Alps and very beautiful. You will hardly notice the Col du Pr (1740m) and will enjoy the technical descent to Beaufort. More climbing still to come, namely the Col de Saisies (1633m) and Col des Aravis (1487m). The Aravis is followed by a nice descent down to the thriving ski town of La Clusaz, where we stay the night. [Route profile]
Day 6: La Clusaz to Thonon-les-Bains (140km with 3000m ascent)
You start descending out of La Clusaz and down to the base of the mighty Col de la Colombire (1618m), the main event of the day. Drop down the other side and undulate with an uphill bias along to Taninges. Next up, the Col de Ramaz (1557m) is not particularly high, but extremely steep from the southeast, making it the most challenging climb of our trip. To get here we must first ascend the gorge and pass through Les Gets, and finally over the Col de lEncrenaz (1437m) to avoid a road closure at the base of the Ramaz. Enjoy the Alpine meadow scenery around the Col de Jambaz (1027m) and Col de Terramont (1080m) before the last col of the day (and holiday!): the Col de Moises (1118m). The shores of Lake Geneva are in sight and its downhill all the way! [Route profile]
Day 7: Travel Back
We offer included transfers to Geneva airport. Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.
- 6 day cycling challenge from Nice to Lake Geneva
- 782km route from south to north encompassing about 18,800m of ascent
- Infamous climbs such as the Col de lIseran and Cime de la Bonette
- Official route including registration, certificate & medal for successful finishers
- Comfortable 2 and 3* hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
- All evening meals, water & wine included
- 2 customised support vans with attentive, proactive and fun guides
- Experienced and passionate service from Marmot Tours to enable you to achieve your goals