The Oisans region in the French Alps is a must for any cycling enthusiast. The village of Bourg-d’Oisans and cycling go hand in hand. The area is renowned for its many Tour de France climbs such as Alpe d’Huez, Col du Glandon and the Col de la Croix de Fer. The villages themselves also cater very well to the cycling market. In the warmer months, particularly in the summer, the region is amass with cyclists looking to take on the various alpine passes which the area has in abundance. Discover more about the region below.
The riding available to you from the Oisans region reads like a veritable cycling bucket list. Climbs such as the infamous Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer and Col du Glandon all make regular appearances in the Tour de France. All these climbs are easily accessible from the village. Of course the actual riding itself will be anything but easy! Here, deep in the French Alps you will be well served with compact gearing as you head out to ride up the numerous hors categorie climbs.
All the routes listed below start and finish in the village of Bourg d’Oisans itself. Each route includes the ability to download files to a range of devices and includes other helpful information. Some of the routes are a loop so can be ridden in either direction. One thing is certain – each route ends with a long downhill return to Bourg d’Oisans – a great reward for reaching those alpine summits. Click below to see the riding options in greater detail:
Grenoble is the largest city and the natural gateway travelling to the Oisans Region. It is well connected by regular bus and rail services with onwards connections to to the area. Rome2rio.com is an excellent site to help plan your trip to the French Alps. Simply enter your start and end points and it will tell you the different options available, cost range and timetable.
Lyon and Geneva are the closest international airports which service the French Alps. Depending on the airline you travel with, you may have to fly first to Paris and then make your way down by car, train or air. Whilst there is an airport at Grenoble, flights only operate during winter and so this is not really an option during the cycling season. See our airports page for further details on these airports.
Unfortunately there are no train services which operate directly to the villages in the Bourg-d’Oisans region. If you are making your way to the region by rail, you will need to disembark at Grenoble and then take a shuttle bus or taxi for the remainder of the journey (approximately 1 hour). Our page about the French rail network has more information the French train network and booking tickets.
If you are arriving from Lyon take the A48 autoroute to Grenoble. (1hr 17min). Once at Grenoble you will then take the A480 following signs to Sisteron Gap. Take the exit onto the N85 to Vizille before taking the D1091 the remainder of the way. Total journey time is 2hr 15min.
We recommend reviewing the route planning tool on the ViaMichelin website which will also indicate any tolls along the route as well as fuel stations.
A regular bus service runs from Grenoble to Bourg-d’Oisans offering an alternative to needing your own car This is also handy for any non-cyclists in your group who can choose to take a day trip to Grenoble and explore the broader region while others are out cycling. Further information regarding bus services to the region can be accessed here.
Owing to its popularity as acycling destination there are a number of accommodation providers in the Oisans Region who cater specifically for the cycling market. Typically these establishments provide secure bike lock up and maintenance areas, bike wash down area, special catering and of course plenty of local advice on conditions and where to ride. A number of these places also operate tour style businesses where you stay in the one place and ride set routes each day which are fully supported. To help plan you stay we have included a list of the cycling specific accommodation options below.
There are plenty of other options available to you if this style of accommodation is not what you are after. To help you plan we have provided links to a number of booking sites so you can see what is available. Have a look at our page on French accommodation types if you are not sure what is available.
There are no shortage of places to eat and drink in the area and we generally turn to tripadvisor.com to look at options for restaurants and cafés or just take a punt on a place that looks nice and busy and is open and serving food. We have yet to be disappointed.
There are a number of weekly farmers markets in the Oisans region that are worth checking out if you have the time. Here you will find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local cheeses, small goods, seafood and meats.
Times for the markets are:
Le Bourg-d’Oisans– Saturday morning year round, Wednesday mornings in the Summer months
Allemont– Monday morning
La Grave – Thursday morning
Alpe d’Huez Village– Friday mornings in Summer months
Every region in France has is culinary specialities and the Oisans region in the French Alpes is no different. Indeed, if you are a keen food lover you may find the Route des Savoire-Faire of interest. Here you will be able to visit local farmers and producers in the area and be shown around their local farms to get a real taste of the what the region has to offer.
Did someone say Cheese? With vast pasturelands all around it is no surprise that cheese dishes are a big feature in this region. Below are a list of dishes which you can seek out at many local eating establishments.
Tartiflette – a hearty meal of Reblechon cheese, potatoes, lardons and onions.
Raclette– a cheese traditionally made from cow’s milk. Traditionally Raclette is served at your table with a grill plate so you can choose how much you’d like your cheese warmed and melted. Scraping off the Raclette directly from the large cheese wheel onto potatos, pickles and onions is a must to try out!
Fondue – A dish which needs no introduction and is often normally associated with alpine skiing, Fondue is readily found in the region year round. Again a cheese lovers paradise!
Farcement – This traditional dish may be a bit trickier to find but seek if out if you can. It combines sweet and savoury ingredients which are formed in the shape of a large cake. The outside is lined with strips of cured meat such as bacon and inside is filled with raisins, prunes, potatoes and cream.
There are many options for cycle hire in the Oisans region of the French Alps. Largely this is owing to the popularity of cycle tourism. In the table below you will find an outline of cycling stores as well as places which offer rental bikes. The table lists all bike hire options available in the French Alps, so be sure to sort via location to find the one closest to where you will be staying.
If you are looking to hire a bike for your cycling holiday we would recommend getting in touch directly with the hire shop and arranging this in advance of your holiday. This will avoid the disappointment of missing out on a rental due to popular demand.
Another tip is to make sure the bike you hire is equipped with gearing which will allow you to climb the mountains with a greater level of comfort. Most road bikes for hire will now come with compact gearing to allow for this, but it is best to be certain!
Located at the base of the infamous Alpe d’Huez, the village of Le Bourg d’Oisans is a fantastic place to be based for cycling. There are many options for cycling specific accommodation as well as tour companies who also use the village as a base. In addition to this, Le Bourg d’Oisans also has a range of bike stores from which you will be able to rent a bike, as well as have your own bike serviced if needs be.
Gilles Guillamot, CC BY-SA 3.0
The Tour de France regularly goes through the village when racing in this region of the French Alps You will also be spoiled for choice with a lot of restaurants, cafés, bistros and brasseries to dine at. For more information about staying in Le Bourg d’Oisans click here.
The villlage of Allemond is located at the base of the climbs of the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Croix de Fer. It is also the starting point of the Cycling Greenway and provides you with easy access to Bourg-d’Oisans and Venosc. Allemond also has its own waterpark which is a great attraction to keep cool in the hot summer months. With numerous restaurants and accommodation providers, Allemond is a great option to stay at. For more information regarding Allemond click here.
Located a further 12km/7.5mi from Bourg d’Oisans is the village of Venosc. From here you can access rides such as the Col du Lauteret, Les Deux Alpes, Col du Galibier as well as Alpe d’Huez. The village has a number of cycling specific accommodation providers as well as boutique craft and artisan stores. You can also access the ski resort of Les Deux Alpes via the gondola cable car which runs year round.
The newly opened cycling rail trail extends all the way to Venosc so provides you with a great car free option to access the other villages located further down the valley. For further information about Venosc click here.
Whether you want to spend some time off the bikes or have family members that are not keen cyclists there are plenty of things to do around this area. Included below are some of our suggestions.
If it is a cultural experience you are after than the Route des Savoire-Faire is for you. This ‘trail’ has been developed to highlight the regions many artisan craftsman, artists and local producers. You can choose from brewery tours, jewellery making workshops and also visits to some of the local cheese farm producers. Something for everyone to discover. Learn more here.
If cooling off after a hot summer ride is what you are after then how about a visit to an Ice Cave? The region is home to two Ice Caves which operate in the Summer months. One at La Grave and the other at Les Deux Alpes. Here you can marvel at the sculptures cut into the ice. Learn more here.
As with most mountainous regions in France, this area boasts a range of hiking trails accessible from most of the villages. You can choose to join an organised guided hiking group or pick a self guided route. There are trails of varying difficulty to choose from all the way from beginner to advanced. The area boasts over 950kms of hiking trails and over 24 mountain huts. Whether you want to hike to the foot of mountainous peaks or take in the vista of beautiful alpine lakes there is something for everyone. More information can be found here.
For something a bit different there is also the possibility of some day trips away from the mountains. From Bourg-d’Oisans you can easily take a trip to the French city of Grenoble. Surrounded by mountains Grenoble is a city set by the banks of the Isere River. It claims to be the flattest city in France! If you do not have a car you are able to take a bus which operates several times a day. The journey will take just over an hour. For more information about activities in Grenoble click here.
If you are after a family friendly ride or just want to ride somewhere ‘flat’ than the recently opened Green Lane is a must. Opened in 2019 the trail is 23kms/14mi long and connects the villages to Allemond to Venosc. There are plans for the trail to eventually run all the way to Grenoble. It is completely paved and a great way to explore along the valley. More information and maps of the trail can be found here.
We have included some useful web sites to help you see what is on offer and plan your trip.
Viator.com – book a range of tours and attractions before you leave home
Oisans tourism – includes lots of information about the Oisans region and also links to the events calendar.
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