857 Km
Very difficult
Just as the Route des Grandes Alpes® links Thonon-les-Bains (in the département, or French county, of Haute-Savoie) to Nice (in the Alpes Maritimes), so too the Route des Grandes Alpes Gravel®, but the latter has been laid out for cyclists using gravel bikes rather than road bikes. Involving almost 28,000m in accumulated shifts in altitude along a total of 857km, with the surfacing varying widely along the way, the gravel bike route we focus on here is even more challenging than its famous older sibling! You may occasionally have to push your bike. The Route des Grandes Alpes Gravel®, making use of sideroads and shortcuts, enables you to discover further grand passes, villages and landscapes… You’re sure to leave with unforgettable memories, riding this way across the French Alps!

Which direction to choose?

On a gravel bike, the difficulty of the climbs and descents involved cycling northwards or southwards are not necessarily comparable, so we strongly advise you to tackle this route north to south. 

How many days to plan for?

We’ve divided up the entire route into 19 sections or stages, varying from 36km to 59km in length. Tackling the route north to south, the shift in altitude per stage ranges from a minimum of 750m to a maximum of 2,020m. For the entire route, plan on 10 days, or, even better, a fortnight, enabling you to complete it in relative comfort, making the most of the exceptional landscapes. 

What time of year to choose?

The Route des Grandes Alpes Gravel® is a high-altitude route that will lead you over many high-altitude passes (or cols) for which, up to time of writing, no alternatives are available. So, before setting off on each day’s cycling, check the latest information on the state of the section you’ll be taking and that the relevant passes are open.

Levels of difficulty

We’ve classified the entire Route des Grandes Alpes Gravel® as ‘‘very difficult’’, even if it is possible to make it much easier by opting for an electric gravel bike. We justify our classification (which is of course subjective) for the following main reasons:

  • the presence of technically to very technically challenging stretches (including on single tracks) which may require you to push your bike at times;
  • the crossing of high mountain areas.

It’s easier with an electric bike!

Gravel bikes now exist in electric versions, which can make your cycling experience much easier, and can enable you to set out on cycling adventures with friends of different levels of fitness. The way we have divided the Route des Grandes Alpes Gravel® into sections or stages has been devised so that you’ll always be able to find recharging points at useful intervals (see the maps for each section or stage).

Together, let’s make this cycle route the best it can be 

The Route des Grandes Alpes Gravel® is a cycle route that we want to improve through time. By letting us know about your experiences, you can help us improve it and provide alternatives. https://www.routedesgrandesalpes.com/racontez-votre-voyage

Developments in gravel biking in the Alps

Somewhere between road biking and mountain biking, gravel biking is a quite specific activity, both in terms of tracks you can take, of equipment and gear you should use, and of preparation and organization required… It also involves a different approach to the natural and cultural heritage of the Alps. To read more on the specific practical aspects of gravel biking: see our ‘‘Practical’’ section.

Plan your trip on this cycle route
51,68 Km
Very difficult

Tignes / Bessans

From Tignes Val Claret, our cycle route leads you across a part of the Tignes – Val d’Isère ski area. This way, [...]

38,08 Km

Bessans / Modane

On this stage, you’ll quickly notice it’s far more about descents than climbs for once! Now it’s time to explore [...]

36,16 Km

Modane / Valloire

Leaving Modane, the cycle route runs beside the Arc River and the motorway until you join the Route Forestière de la [...]

52,04 Km
Very difficult

Valloire / Briançon

Watch out, this high-altitude stage may take you through spectacular wild parts, but there’s a very technically [...]

50,84 Km
Very difficult

Briançon / Guillestre

This stage does follow the classic Route des Grandes Alpes®, via Cervières and the Col de l’Izoard. Its originality [...]

46,52 Km
Very difficult

Guillestre / Crévoux

On this stage leading you into the Massif du Parpaillon Range, you first pass the village of Risoul, followed by the [...]

46,92 Km

Coaraze / Nice

Don’t expect any let-up on this last mountainous, wild, very steep and challenging final stage, leading you on via [...]

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