3 days cycling, approx 487km
Less obvious stages maybe, but seriously fun cycling and a whirlwind tour through some of France’s best countryside.
We’ve chosen these stages to be the Middle Mountains Loop because they’re an extremely interesting, enjoyable and varied combination with the added bonus of finishing on a high (literally) at the Grand Colombier. Over three magnificent days of cycling the Tour takes you from the old-fashioned farms and volcanoes of the Massif Central, through the Beaujolais vineyards and their sun-drenched villages and then on to the Jura for a proper mountain stage.
Think of the Grand Colombier as the most beautiful 17km of reward rather than something to worry about; it’s more manageable than you imagine when the pressure’s off and you have time to take it all in – and this stage is short enough that you have time. Varieté, beauté, fierté; you wouldn’t make it to these places on your own – and that’s why we love the Tour.
Arrival & Departure:
Tue 4th July: Arrive to Clermont Ferrand by 7pm for arrival briefing. A transfer from Lyon (arrive by 2pm) to Clermont Ferrand is included in this Loop.
Sat 8th July: Depart Annemasse hotel under own arrangements.
Tuesday 4th July. Arrival day
Arrive to Clermont Ferrand by 7pm for arrival briefing. A transfer from Lyon (arrive by 2pm) to Clermont Ferrand is included in this Loop.
Wednesday 5th July 2023. Stage 11 – Clermont Ferrand to Moulins – 180km
The Tour has promised “recurrent leg-breaking climbs” for stage 11 – good good!
So although the route doesn’t pass through any mountains as such, it’s still far from flat. That said, it’s an absolute gem of a stage with super quiet roads, sweeping descents, plenty of visual interest and a lovely finish town.
Expect steep ups and downs as we leave green and spiky volcanic terrain of the Auvergne, and expect a variation on the same theme as the landscape evolves and we find ourselves in a region of quiet farmland and ancient oak forests. We pass through Montluçon (birthplace of 1956 Tour winner Roger Walkowiak and also home to some splendid medieval architecture) to remind ourselves what cities look like… and then, the icing on the cake is a 25km super-fast run in to Moulins which has never before hosted the Tour; expect festivities and excellent street decorations as you reflect on another unexpectedly gorgeous stage.
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Clermont Ferrand hotel
Finish: Moulins hotel
Thursday 6th July 2023. Stage 12 – Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais – 169km
Today’s ride winds its way through Charolais countryside (as in Charolais cows and Charollais sheep; today’s photos will be animal-heavy) and ends up in beautiful Beaujolais where we’ll be treated to vineyards, wild flowers and views as far as the eye can see. Seeing out from historic Roanne, the climbing begins almost immediately – relatively gentle at first but soon the hills get steeper, the climbs get longer, and before you know it, we’re in wine country. Although few of today’s roads will be flat, the big showpiece climbs will be the afternoon triple; 3 climbs, all with gradients of around 6-7% (but sometimes 10-12%) and all on quiet roads with lovely tarmac. The last of the three is the col de la Croix Rosier which is a 7km joy-climb with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside at the top. Your reward for making it up all those climbs is the cruisy descent into the Saône valley, intercepting the “route des vins” a few times and spotting plenty of famous Beaujolais vineyard names as we pass by Julienas, Fleurie & Chiroubles to name but three. Surely this evening you’ve earned your glass of red?
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Roanne
Finish: Belleville en Beaujolais hotel
Friday 7th July 2023. Stage 13 – Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne to Grand Colombier – 138km
This is a Big Name Day but don’t let the excitement (trepidation?) of the Grand Colombier distract you from the beauty of the preceding 120km…
To start with Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne is a charming medieval town, also the Jura are genuinely breath taking mountains and top that off with some of the nicest descents of the Tour. If you cycle this stage, you’re in for a lot of lovely surprises.
Happily, on this stage we get to warm up gently, crossing the Saone valley as the Jura get ever closer. The green meadows and dramatic rocky outcrops lead us to the first (of two) big climb of the day -up onto the Hautville-Lompnes plateau (it’s high – you can ski here), famed since the 1920s for its health-giving fresh air (seriously). A long descent sweeps us down towards Culoz, the starting point for our second (massive) climb. Grand Colombier is always a treat when it appears in the Tour de France – it’s a steep, challenging road (17.4km at 7.1%, but touching 12% in places), with some of the most photogenic hairpins you’ll find anywhere and views out over the Rhône river and Lac Bourget (plus Lac d’Annecy, Lake Geneva, the Alps and even Mt Blanc if you’re lucky). Stunning!
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Belleville en Beaujolais hotel or transfer to Chatillon sur Chalaronne (TBC)
Finish: Transfer to Annemasse
Saturday 8th July: Departure day
Depart from Annemasse hotel under own arrangements.
Stage profiles: All available stage profiles are displayed on our Route page. The Tour de France publish maps and profiles for every stage in June. Until then we have profiles for the mountain stages and the most significant climbs only.
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end April
The price of this Loop is based on a nightly cost of £175 plus supplement of £30 for the transfer on arrival day from Lyon airport to the Clermont Ferrand hotel.
- Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy in January)
- All food (3 meals and the best feedstops you’ve ever seen)
- Fully signed route, the stuff of legend
- Mechanical, medical and moral support
- Luggage Transfers
- Coach transfers to the next stage start when the stages aren’t contiguous
- Travel to and from France (but we’ll give you advice on the best travel routes)
- Bike Transport (£30 each way if you want us to drive your bike there and back)
- Evening massage (£10 or €10 per massage if you’d like one – highly recommended)
- Beer/wine/drinks at dinner