Base for climbing TdF mountains

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
jamesofyorkshire
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Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby jamesofyorkshire » 15 Mar 2015, 4:24pm

I'm hoping to head down to the French Alps in May and try climbing some of the famous mountain stages of the Tour de France....like Ald d'Huez, Galbier etc.
I understand a small town called Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is kind of at the center of many climbs. Anyone been there/got experience of the town or the area? I'm thinking of staying there for a couple of weeks and try give myself a heart attack on the hills.

maviczap
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby maviczap » 16 Mar 2015, 9:18am

Yep, I've been there, its not a bad base, although I'd say Bourg d'Osains is better. Its at the base of Alpe D'Huez, a few KM to the start of the Croix der Fer and not that far for Galibier.

I've stayed here, which is just outside Bourg, the hosts are keen cyclists & will help you out with your daily ride

http://www.bourgdoisansbandb.com/fr/index

There's other places to stay in Bourg as well, and its well catered for with bike shops.

If you want to stay in St Jean, then I stayed at this hotel. Nice rooms, good food & understand cyclists. Not far to the Glandon, Galibier etc

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserRe ... ml#REVIEWS

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Godlykepower
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby Godlykepower » 16 Mar 2015, 3:14pm

I'm hoping to do the same later this year....^ that is very useful info!
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whoof
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby whoof » 16 Mar 2015, 4:11pm

Can also recommend Bourg d'Osains as a good base for a number of Alpine climbs.

This details 30 rides from the town

http://bike-oisans.com/en/cycling-oisan ... tes-oisans

Have stayed here a couple of times once in a tent second time in a cabin. Walking distance from the town centre and a couple of minutes ride from the supermarket.

http://www.camping-colporteur.com/camps ... isere.html

maviczap
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby maviczap » 16 Mar 2015, 4:54pm

I'm not sure how easy it is the get to St Jean by public transport?

It depends on how you're getting there. If you're driving, then its no problem, but if you're flying or travelling by train, then Bourg is easier I think.

Just be aware, that the tops of the mountains can still be snow bound in early May & the weather can cause problems even in June.

I've been lucky, and every time I've been the weather has been stunning, in September! Although a group rode over the top of the Madeleine in a snowstorm, on a day when we turned back from doing the Croix der Fer because the weather was too bad. We drove up later in the day & saw NO ONE on the climb.

I'm hoping to go in September too

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andrew_s
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby andrew_s » 16 Mar 2015, 9:15pm

Based at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, you are at the base of the north side of the Glandon & the Croix-de-Fer. 5 miles or so down the valley, there's the Madeleine, and 8 miles up the valley there's the Telegraphe/Galibier. If you keep climbing up the valley, after 30 miles there's the Col de Mont Cenis, and after 40 miles there's the base of the Iseran (1200m higher than St Jean). As far up as Modane (20 miles) the valley floor is occupied by a motorway, a largish main road and a railway line, and isn't terribly pleasant. There are minor roads, but they don't join up.
You can do the Glandon & the Croix-de-Fer as a moderate distance loop, either way round, & the Galibier is better from the north via the Telegraphe.

Based at Bourg d'Osains, you've the south side of the Glandon & Croix-de-Fer, which are really the same from this side, the Alpe (including the back way in or out via the Col de Sarennes), the Col d'Ornon, and the long drag up the Lauteret to the south side of the Galibier. There's also the dead end road up to Les 2-Alpes that the Tour occasionally uses, a nice dead end road up to La Berarde, and some good "balcony" roads high up the sides of the valley above Bourg.
IMO, Bourg is a nicer place to stay.

If you are there for 2 weeks, you could spend a week in each place.

It is possible that the Galibier is signed as "open", but only open via the tunnel, which is banned to bikes.

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TrevA
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby TrevA » 16 Mar 2015, 10:00pm

We stayed at a campsite at Allemond at the foot of the Croix de Fer and about 5 miles down the valley from Bourg dOisans. We did Lauteret/Galibier, Croix de Fer, Alpe dHuez, Les Deux Alpes, La Berarde, and Col d Ornon.

We drove down taking a day and a half each way. It's 800 miles from the Midlands, about 600 from Calais. Bourg isn't far from Grenoble if you are flying or going by TGV. Bourg is very much a cycling town in summer with hundreds riding up the Alpe each day.

When we did the Galibier, there was still 4 ft of snow piled up at the side of the road on the top of the climb, though the road was open. This was in early June. The pass opened on 11 May the year the we visited - 2012.
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jamesofyorkshire
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby jamesofyorkshire » 17 Mar 2015, 5:57am

Thanks for all the replies.

I am thinking more about hiring a gite than B&B or hotel. I'd rather cook for myself....especially in France, where the cuisine is more over-rated than Shakespeare (that should stir things up a bit!), and I'll be with the GF so a bit of privacy won't go amiss. A typical French breakfast wouldn't get me 2kms down the street.......

Bourg sounds like a good option.....and I get the point about the motorway nearby to St. Jean. Probably not the quietest of valleys. St. Jean doesn't look so attractive on Google Street Maps. A week in each place sounds like a plan.

I realise May will be somewhat early and it'll be a gamble as to whether the weather will allow the high roads to be open then, but there will be less people and should be cheaper (I'm a Yorkshireman).
We're hoping to spend a couple of weeks in the mountains (for me) then 2 weeks in Provence (for her). Why not 'do' Provence first?....because I think 2 weeks on the plonk might affect my ability to climb rather large hills.
I intend cutting back on the beer, shedding a stone, and getting some mileage in my legs in the next few weeks...fit some lower gearing. ....then hit the hills, tick them off, then chill out for 2 weeks.

Anyway, keep the suggestions/info coming. It's interesting stuff, and I'm sure many others will benefit from it.

pete75
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby pete75 » 17 Mar 2015, 8:10am

Briancon. Not only is it at the bottom of the Izoard it's also the highest city in France and a Unesco world heritage site. Full of Vauban fortifications and still has the old, walled medieval city at the top of the hill. It's a really interesting place to stay. Steeped in cycling history and a regular tour start and finish location for stages covering many of the big climbs like the Izoard, Telegraph and Galibier so it's quite close to a lot of them. Briancon has alot of skiing apartments which are cheap to rent outside the skiing season.

Even the graffiti is cycling related


Image

RogerThat
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby RogerThat » 17 Mar 2015, 8:25am

I stayed in Bourge L'Osains in 2008, for a week. Slap bang in the middle of the mountains and plenty facilities, shops (even a very good bike shop) and not too expensive.

maviczap
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby maviczap » 17 Mar 2015, 9:13am

jamesofyorkshire wrote:Thanks for all the replies.

I am thinking more about hiring a gite than B&B or hotel. I'd rather cook for myself....especially in France, where the cuisine is more over-rated than Shakespeare (that should stir things up a bit!), and I'll be with the GF so a bit of privacy won't go amiss. A typical French breakfast wouldn't get me 2kms down the street.......

Bourg sounds like a good option.....and I get the point about the motorway nearby to St. Jean. Probably not the quietest of valleys. St. Jean doesn't look so attractive on Google Street Maps. A week in each place sounds like a plan.

I realise May will be somewhat early and it'll be a gamble as to whether the weather will allow the high roads to be open then, but there will be less people and should be cheaper (I'm a Yorkshireman).
We're hoping to spend a couple of weeks in the mountains (for me) then 2 weeks in Provence (for her). Why not 'do' Provence first?....because I think 2 weeks on the plonk might affect my ability to climb rather large hills.
I intend cutting back on the beer, shedding a stone, and getting some mileage in my legs in the next few weeks...fit some lower gearing. ....then hit the hills, tick them off, then chill out for 2 weeks.

Anyway, keep the suggestions/info coming. It's interesting stuff, and I'm sure many others will benefit from it.


To swap over from Bourg to St Jean is a bit of a waste of time, as its only on the other side of the Glandon, we rode from St Jean to Bourg in less than a day over the Glandon.

St Jean isn't the prettiest of places as you say. Bourg is better catered for with places to eat out, and not just French cuisine.

Only an hour and a half away is this place, I've stayed there twice & Teresa & Roger are great hosts

http://www.velovercors.com/

Check out the write up in this months Cyclist magazine. Whilst Bourg is busy with cyclists, the Vercors is quiet.

There's gites at Velo Vercors and the town is a 2 minute walk, and its got a good supermarket if you want to cook for yourself.

Mount Ventoux is only another 1 1/2 drive south & easy to get to.

pwa
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby pwa » 17 Mar 2015, 9:18am

There are plenty of little tourist places to stay around Bourg d'Oisans. If you want a bit of peace and quiet at the end of the day I would recommend looking at Vaujany, a small ski resort up a steepish climb branching off the Croix de Fer / Glandon road, and a short ride from Alp d'Huez. I've done the CdF / Galibier circuit from there, and the climb back up to Vaujany at the end of the day added to my exhaustion.

The Maurienne valley bottom is dominated by a motorway, so I would not choose to stay there.

I generally look for gittes to stay. There are lots in this area.

andy D
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby andy D » 20 Mar 2015, 9:17pm

+1 for Bourg d'Oisans as it is central to so many climbs. If you can, try some of the lesser known climbs which don't normally attract the attention of the well known cols in the area. Try the climb up to La Berarde which is basically a one way climb up into the middle of nowhere but with stunning views wherever you look. The last time we visited that area we also rode up the Col de Sarenne and then over to Alpe d'Huez. Apart from a small group of Germans in some very old BMW's we saw more bikes than cars on the whole climb. We were there in early September so it was still warm enough for shorts and jerseys but we did visit once in June and there was still snow on the Glandon and Galibier so be warned as it was very cold at altitude. Have a good trip.

mac111051
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby mac111051 » 21 Mar 2015, 7:54pm

Bourge is the start of the Marmotte route if you are feeling fit, if not give the final climbe Alp du Huez a miss and do it another day

http://www.bourgdoisansbandb.com/marmotte-route

maviczap
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Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Postby maviczap » 24 Mar 2015, 9:54am

pete75 wrote:Briancon. Not only is it at the bottom of the Izoard it's also the highest city in France and a Unesco world heritage site. Full of Vauban fortifications and still has the old, walled medieval city at the top of the hill. It's a really interesting place to stay. Steeped in cycling history and a regular tour start and finish location for stages covering many of the big climbs like the Izoard, Telegraph and Galibier so it's quite close to a lot of them. Briancon has alot of skiing apartments which are cheap to rent outside the skiing season.

Even the graffiti is cycling related


Image


So apart from renting a skiing apartment, are there any reasonably priced hotels or places to stay that anyone can recommend? Preferably cyclist friendly?

Anyone flown to Turin Airport, as this is another close option for Briancon? I've flown to Lyon and that was good, but Easyjet have moved this flight from Stansted to Luton :evil: :evil: