If you love to ride a bike, chances are your pulse rises just thinking of the thrill of riding the big roads in France. Every year when the names of the climbs in the Tour de France are announced, there is an excited response, "Are you kidding me - L'Alpe d'Huez twice?" Or "What, no Tourmalet for the 100th year?" The beauty of the Tour de France is that every year they change up the inclusion or the order of the climbs on each stage.
This year you may see all the climbs (with profiles and ratings) in the 2013 Tour de France listed on this comprehensive page by Climb By Bike, but my post today is mostly about bucket list climbs.
A few years ago Pete Thomson of ThomsonBikeTours.com created a list of what he believed to be the best climbs in Europe. Pete would know - he gets to guide clients over these mountain every year (read: An Interview with Thomson Bike Tours By Pedal Dancer). If you would like to request a copy of this list, send an email request at this link: Yes I want to tick off the best cycling climbs in Europe (which has now grown to a list of 50!).
If you want to go to France to ride these climbs. I have attempted to organize the climbs by region for you so you will know which ones to tick off when you are in the area traveling. I have listed my favorites along with the ones on this list.
|You gotta go climbs these mountains!|
We know they are big, but where are they and which ones should we go climb?
#11 Col de Pailheres - featured in Stage #8
Climb Profile: (three approaches)
|Col de Pailheres climb profile from Usson Les Bains (the direction of Stage 8 in 2013)|
|Col de Pailheres climb profile from Ax les Thermes (the direction of the descent of Stage 8 in 2013)|
#26 Col de Peyresourde - featured in Stage #9
Pedal Dancer posts: Stage 17 on Peyregudes (TDF 2012), Images of France, Guess Where? #2, The Valleys of the Pyrenees.
|Col de Peyresourde climb profile from Bagneres-du-Luchon|
Pedal Dancer posts: I love Mont Ventoux, Traveling to Mont Ventoux, Three Sides of Mont Ventoux, Recommended Ride: 100km around Mont Ventoux, Guess Where? #4.
|Mont Ventoux climb profile from Bedoin|
Pedal Dancer posts: My Ride up the Alpe d' Huez, "21 levels of hell", or 21 steps to heaven, Guess Where #3,
|Alpe d'Huez climb profile (double this) from Bourg d'Oisans|
|Col de Serene from Alpe d'Huez (9km)|
|Col de la Madeleine climb profile from La Chambre (The Tour will go up this side in 2013)|
|Col de la Madeleine climb profile from the D90/D97/D66 (Albertville) side|
#10 Col du Glandon - featured in Stage #19
Pedal Dancer posts: Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer
|Col du Glandon climb profile from Allemont side (The tour will go up this side in 2013)|
Note: the Col de la Croix de Fer (near the Col du Glandon) and the Col de la Croix Fry (featured in Stage #19 of the 2013 TDF) are two different climbs in two different areas. I remember it took me a while to find the de Fry climb. Which happens to be an absolutely gorgeous climb on the road through the village of Manigod, one of the most beautiful scenery I have ever ridden on a bike.
Location of Col de la Croix de Fer versus the Col de la Croix Fry:
|Col de la Croix de Fer and Col de la Croix Fry: link to map|
Note: these last climbs are all climbed in the same day this year in the Tour on Stage 19. A day of 5 big climbs!
|7/19/2013: Stage 19: Bourg d'Oisans - Le Grand Bornand - 204,5 km|
Climbs grouped by region:
|Some of the main cycling regions in France. Map by Pedal Dancer®|
On the list and in the TDF: Col de Pailheres and Col de Peyresourde.
Other top climbs in the area on this list: Col d'Aubisque, Hautacam, Luz Ardiden, Col du Tourmalet, Col d' Aspin, Port de Bales, Superbagneres, Col du Portillon.
If you are in the neighborhood also climb in the Pyrenees (not on the list): Col de Marie Blanque, Col du Soulor, Horquette d'Ancizan (in the Tour this year), Col de Portet d'Aspet, and the gentle Col de Port.
For good information on climbs in the Pyrenees, please refer to: Velo Peloton in Saint Savin. Also my own posts: The Valleys of the Pyrenees and Valleys of Pyrenees in Pictures
|Pedal Dancer favorite climbs in the Pyrenees link to google map by Pedal Dancer®|
On the list and in the TDF: Mont Ventoux
For good information on climbs in Languedoc and Provence, please refer to: Cycling Languedoc in Nimes.
|Pedal Dancer favorite climb - Mont Ventoux link to google map by Pedal Dancer®|
On the list and in the TDF: L'Alpe d'Huez, Col de la Madeleine, Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer.
Other top climbs in the area on this list: Col d'Izoard, Col de l'Iseran, Col du Galibier, Col de Joux Plane, Cormet de Roselend.
If you are in the neighborhood also climb in the Alps (not on the list): Col du Telegraphe, Col de Tamie (in the Tour this year), Col des Aravis, Col de la Croix Fry (Manigod) and Col de Colombiere.
For good information on climbs in the Alps, please refer to: Cycling the Alps.
|Pedal Dancer favorite climbs in Alps. link to google map by Pedal Dancer®|
|The simple beauty of the Col de Peyresourde. |
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
|The dramatic landscape of Mont Ventoux. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®|
|The long west side of Col du Glandon. |
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
|Me, riding the fun no brakes needed descent of the gentle Col de Tamie (Featured in Stage 19 this year). ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®|
|This is the Col de la Croix Fry - only a category 2 climb in the Grand Bornand (Featured in Stage 19 this year). ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®|
|This was the friendly Col de la Croix Fry dog who had lunch with us at the cafe on the summit. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®|
|Looking down on the town of Bourg d'Oisans from Alpe d'Huez. |
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
|Pete Thomson of Thomson Bike Tours. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®|
|Thomson Bike Tour Client's comfortably waiting for a stage of the tour on the Col de Peyresourde last year (2012 TDF). ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®|
1. Mont Ventoux (Bédoin)
2. Alpe d'Huez
5. Col du Galibier
6. Col du Tourmalet
7. Passo dello Stelvio
8. Monte Zoncolan
9. Plateau de Beille
10. Côte de la Redoute
Related Pedal Dancer Guide Page:
FRANCE CYCLING (with lots of posts about climbs in France).
An Interview with Thomson Bike Tours
Recommended Reading: All About Col Signs