Route des Grandes Alpes – Introduction

The Route des Grandes Alpes (Great Alpine Road) is a 700 km long route through the French Alps devised by the French Touring Club and constructed between 1909 and 1937. It runs from Lake Geneva to Menton on the Mediterranean and includes some of the highest and most beautiful mountain passes in Europe. I’ve cycled over lots of the passes before, but rarely more than one in a day, and never all of them in succession.

Route des Grandes Alpes

Route profile. This version is for a 7-day trip. We’re attempting to complete it in 5

My travelling companions are Marcus, Luke and Jered, three of my team-mates from Banbury. The trip was conceived to help Marcus celebrate his 40th birthday. Our plan is to fly to Geneva and ride south following the Route des Grandes Alpes to Menton, and then on to Nice where we catch a flight back to London. Easy peasey.

This is a credit card tour, so kit wise the emphasis is to keep everything as lightweight as possible. For me, this means using my Pinarello racing bike fitted with a compact crankset and a 12/27 cassette. We’re taking the minimum amount of stuff, so just one change of clothes for the evenings, plus toiletries, suncream, phone, and a few tools. Bags wise, everything will fit in my Carradice Nelson saddlebag with a lightweight clip-on rack as support.


The Grand Depart from Thonon. The plaque on the ground in front of us celebrates the start point of the route.

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