Reviewed onTripAdvisor Note : 5, Excellent.
I want to make a bike ride in the Alps. What is the best time of the year ?
The main obstacle that may be encountered when a biker rides in the Alps is the snow. Not on the road, but the meters of accumulated snow at high altitude take time to melt, and the highest passes only open in late May or early June.
If you go in May, no problem if your route takes mid-mountain passes.
In June, most likely all the passes will be open. Check the passes status in advance, even though signs indicate the opening of passes at the beginning of the road. Lots of snow or a cold spring, and the opening of some passes can be later.
The most popular tourist passes can be busy, especially in July and August, but the rest of your journey will be much quieter.
The mountain is a less popular destination in summer than in winter!
The month of September is the ideal period: temperatures are just beginning to decrease, and you can be sure not to come across a pass that has not yet opened after winter. Also fewer tourists, which allows you to enjoy the tranquility of our beautiful roads.
In October the first winter closures occur to some passes, so it is preferred to take routes of less high altitude.
Out of the mountains, the French countryside is beautiful, and you can explore many areas in the spring and fall, such as Beaujolais, the Cevennes, Ardèche, Auvergne, Bourgogne, Pays de la Loire, Provence, etc ...
Remember : even in July and August, a winter episode is always possible, and may lead to the temporary closure of a pass, especially when it is more than 2000 m high.
But the unexpected is part of a trip?
Weather and mountain:
Be well prepared ! Wherever your trip is, you must start well equipped to deal with the rain. A sunny day may very well end in a thunderstorm and heavy rain.
The mountains and above the mountain can have two very different faces depending on the weather. Beautiful and hospitable in the sun, it becomes terribly hostile when weather conditions are very bad. Before climbing a high pass (over 2000 m), if the weather makes your path already difficult in the valley, it will be worse up there! In these cases, it is better to give up and not to take risks.
Equipment- I go a few days exploring the roads of the Alps. What equipment for the driver and passenger?
Of course, the equipment must be protective if the rider/passenger falls. You can find everything on the road, and when they are narrow and full of bends, a good fully protective equipment is essential.
The rain gear is essential, as stated above (we lend it for free if needed).
The question is asked in relation to the temperature that can be found on mountain roads.
Again there is no absolute rule, but generally speaking, it is not necessary to take your warmest equipment to conquer the highest passes in the Alps.
Our advice is to take a mid-season equipment and it can be adapted by removing or adding layers if necessary. Indeed, even if it is colder at the top of a pass (about 1 °C less every 100m above sea level), the ascent and descent are quick, and your body does not really have time to cool down.
Take the hottest equipment, which is designed to protect you for long hours riding at a winter temperature is a mistake.
There are now excellent mid-season jackets, with removable liner and vents that allow the garment to adapt to the temperature, which can be cool in the evening with altitude and scorching in the afternoon the city.
If it is very cold, add layers as the rain suit, fleece pullover and other. You will be more comfortable with a lighter equipment when it is very hot, because with your winter gear the heat stroke is insured.
Distance - I leave for 5 days bike ride: How far can I go in a day?
If there are a few straight lines and highways in the Alps, most roads are more or less sinuous and more or less narrow, especially when approaching peaks. This is why we use as the average speed 50 km/h to roughly estimate the travel time. A 300 km day represents 6 hours riding. You must add breaks to stretch your legs, take pictures, eat, etc ... Quite a long day !
This is why the routes we suggest are between 200 and 300 km per day. We prefer quiet and minor roads to the major and busy ones. Consequently, we do not recommend going beyond 300 km because fatigue sets in late afternoon and may cause driving errors whose consequences can be dramatic, especially on a motorcycle. Fatigue is especially great if you have not done long bike rides for a while and you had to ride a bike that is new to you.
The days we propose are only suggestions, and you can of course go at your own pace.
This is not a problem if you have not pre-booked your accommodation for the night (see below). You are then free to stop by your desire, if you are tired or if you place seems nice.
Accommodation - I go for a few days exploring Alpine roads : is it necessary to book hotels in advance?
In general, the accommodation capacity in the mountains is sized to accommodate tourists during the ski season. This makes this capacity is more than sufficient to accommodate summer tourism. It is extremely rare, except in very touristic places or on the French Riviera during the high season not find lodging for the night.
At most you need to do some extra miles to find a place, or join the next tourist office who will help you find a free room. B & Bs and other guest houses are often numerous on the roads popular to bike riders.
Remember that France is the world first tourism destination, it does not lack resources!
However, for those who wish to and that prefer their trip planned in advance, you can book a room in hotels that are suggested on the site or at the tourist offices of the visited cities.
Also, we work with travel agencies specialized in motorbike travel, and they will prepare an itinerary and customized day trips. Do not hesitate to contact us!