Ten Great Cycling Routes in the Beautiful Vercors

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I often call the Vercors the most under-rated cycling region in the Alps. The massif to the south-west of Grenoble doesn’t have the highest roads in the Alps, but it is full of stunning gorges and mind-blowing cliff stretches.

Here are ten route suggestions:

Note: Many of the routes on the map below overlap. If you zoom the map and hover your mouse on a route it should be highlighted. Plus every ride discussed below will include a link to a more detailed post and map.

#1 Combe Laval / Col de la Battaille Loop

Blue route on map

Combe Laval is a reculée (steephead valley), a deep, narrow, flat-bottomed valley with an abrupt ending. In the 1890’s a cliff road was built up to and along the top edge of this valley. The “fun” stretch is the last two or three kilometres of the climb to Col de la Machine. Amazing.

Detailed post here.

Combe Laval

nearing Col de la Bataille

Here is another Combe Laval loop that includes Col de Carri. Black route on map

#2 Five Cols, Two Gorges

Pale green route on map

This ride includes the beautiful Gorges du Nan and the Gorges de la Bourne. Crazy fun cliff roads everywhere.

Detailed post here.

Les Gorges du Nan

#3 Col de Rousset Plus 10 More Cols

Brown route on map

This is a spectacular loop on scenic, quiet roads. It crosses at least 11 cols (some you won’t even notice), and comes near several others but the highlight is climbing the amazing hairpins of Col de Rousset.

Detailed post here.

#4 Col Hunting on the Edge of the Vercors

Dark red route on map

Much of this ride is in the Vercors on its eastern edge. But it’s completely isolated from the rest of the Parc Regional National du Vercors by a huge, spectacular ridge.

Detailed post here.

#5 More Col Hunting – and a scary tunnel!

Orange route on map

After climbing through the Gorges des Écouges there is the tunnel d’Écouges. Basically a spider hole. Yikes! I am scared of tunnels, but this is a superb route with four Cols, two typically stunning Vercors gorges, and that terrifying tunnel.

This route descends through the stunning Gorges du Nan that was climbed in ride #2 above.

Detailed post here.

Yikes

Les Gorges du Nan

#6 More Vercors Col Hunting

Purple route on map

Three French friends that know their routes take me col hunting on the western edge of the Vercors. Includes a nice climb to a telecommunication tower: Relais du Musan.

Detailed post here.

View from Relais du Musan

An obscure Col with Philippe, Simon, and Bastien

Moo

#7 Col de Ménée, Col de la Lauzette

Grey route on the map

A super scenic loop on the south-east edge of the Vercors. It includes an optional gravel stretch.

Detailed post here.

#8 A 10 Col Loop

Pink route on the map

Shamelessly hunting cols in the heart of the Vercos.

Detailed post here

#9 Col d’Herbouilly

Yellow route on map

A very pleasant loop including Les Gorges de la Bourne and Col d’Herbouilly. My first ride in the Vercors with my wife over a decade ago.

Detailed post here

Doreen and Les Gorges de la Bourne

#10 Mont Noir via Gorges du Nan

Red route on map

Similar to some of the above routes. But beautiful.

Detailed post here.

#11 Unpaved

Dark Green route on map

A bonus unpaved route. There are lots of unpaved options in the Vercors and I am the wrong person to give advice on these rides. For the ambitious mountain biker, I would recommend Les Grande Traversées du Vercors options – see here.

My ride here was a little unpaved loop to several cols with my brave wife.

Detailed post here

Final Thoughts

I love the Vercors. I have a few more ideas that I hope to add to this article soon. And one day, perhaps, I’ll ride the Grand Traverse. Please use the comments if you have any favourite recommendations.

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Happiest while cycling uphill.

6 Comments

  1. Nice post Will. I too love the Vercors. A couple of other rides not mentioned are Le Tunnel Mortier and La Molière (inc radio mast!). Also I investigated the old road near the ‘scary tunnel’. See here for my Vercors rides: (The page is a bit shabby but I’m working on it. )

    https://www.questel.co.uk/vercor-rides/

    PS I find it fascinating how we both feature radio masts and cows on our blogs!

    Keep up the great work
    Vince

  2. John, thanks.

    Yes, the WW2 history of the Vercors Maquis (French Resistance) is well worth understanding. There are monuments, and grave sites all through the massif.

  3. I can also highly recommend a well-researched book, “The Cruel Victory” by Paddy Ashdown. It’s interesting when you can relate your cycling routes to past events.

    Don’t forget tomorrow’s stage of the tour ends in Villard-de-Lans!

    Vince

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