A guide to cycling Alpe d’Huez & the Col de Sarenne

This cycling route incorporates two famous climbs in the French Alps and will have cycling both the ascent of Alpe d’Huez as well as that of the Col de Sarenne. As the ride we have mapped out is a loop you can always choose to ride it in reverse. We have included details of the climb of the Col de Sarenne from both approaches.

Alpe d’Huez – 21 hairpin bends to the summit of this Tour de France legendary climb

Setting off from Bourg-d’Oisans you are almost immediately into the climbing as you head up the climb of Alpe d’Huez. 21 hairpins and 13kms/8mi of climbing are ahead of you before you reach the summit. The steepest part of the climb is to be found at the start so let yourself ease into the climbing as you make your way up the infamous Alpe. Once you reach the summit you can choose to replenish your food and water or keep heading onwards for another 8km/5mi until you reach the summit of the Col de Sarenne.

The Col de Sarenne

The Tour de France famously went to the Col de Sarenne in 2013 during a mountain stage which took in no less than 2 ascents up Alpe d’Huez. On the first ascent, the peloton continued on to the top of the Col de Sarenne before taking on the technical descent and looping back to Bourg d’Oisans and climbing Alpe d’Huez for a second time. From the summit of Alpe d’Huez, the road is winding and narrow. It is also a lot quieter and hence will feel much more remote. Once you reach the top of the Sarenne you will descend for 13km/8mi to Lac du Chambord. The descent is very technical and hence was controversial when it was first included in the Tour in 2013. As with all descents it pays to be cautious here.

Quick Stats

Le Alpe d’Huez

Gradient profile of Alpe d'Huez

Length: 13.2km / 8.2mi

Average gradient: 8.11%

Start point: Le Borg-d’Oisains

Elevation at top: 1,815m / 5,955ft

Col de Sarenne (from Alpe d’Huez)

Length: 8.3km / 5.16mi

Average gradient: 2.22%

Start point: Roundabout turn off

Elevation at top: 1,999m / 6,558ft

Gradient profile of Col de Sarenne from Alpe d'Huez

Col de Sarenne (from Mizoën)

Gradient profile of Col de Sarenne from Mizoen

Length: 12.8km / 7.95mi

Average gradient: 7.45%

Start point: D1091 turnoff (Mizoën)

Elevation at top: 1,999m / 6,558ft

Suggested route

Distance: 51.3km / 31.9mi

Start elevation: 721m / 2,364ft

Max elevation: 1999,m / 6,558ft

Metres climbed: 1,741m / 5,713ft

Metres descended: 1,741m / 5,713ft

Categorised climbs: 1


* Summiting the infamous Alpe d’Huez.

  • Taking the road less travelled and incorporating the Col de Sarenne.

Food and water

You are able to top up with food and water at the summit of Alpe d’Huez.

Discover our comprehensive guide to Cycling in the French Alps

Riding up Alpe d’Huez and the Col de Sarenne is just one of many great cycling routes in the French Alps which you can enjoy. This area of the French Alps is very popular with cyclists year-round owing to the great weather and variety of terrain on offer.

If you are not familiar with this region then, our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the French Alps with climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself whist on your cycling holiday
  • cycling hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to the French Alps
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Click here to see a list of cycling routes available in the French Alps.