The one with your mates: Chez Ray
Ray Keighley’s informal and enthusiastic take on bike hosting is a breath of fresh air for anyone who likes a good deal of craic with their cycling. Located in northern Provence, Ray’s is an ideal base for testing yourself on some of the lesser known Tour de France cols such as the Allos and Champ as well as the spectacular Verdon Gorge. You can hire out the entire property – which is best described as charismatic rather than boutique – for the week with Ray providing a breakfast fit for champions, vehicle support, cycle guiding and five nights’ of top-notch dinners. Guests aren’t expected to work for their holiday but the atmosphere is definitely one of mucking in – so save some energy for helping to clear the table.
B&B at Chez Ray costs 20euros pppn. You can rent the entire property for a week from 700euros
The one for all round fitness: Velo Pyrenees
Have a partner who prefers running to cycling? Or just fancy mixing it up a bit while racing around the Pyrenees? Julie Moore and Lee Parish have combined years of experience as bike racers, triathletes and coaches with a rustic farm setting and hearty meals to create a sporty base from which to explore the region and your strength. There are trails for running straight from the door while cyclists have a wealth of thigh-busting climbs to choose from, even popping over into Spain should you feel like it – with maps, itineraries and advice close to hand.
Bed and breakfast from £25 pppn. Additional evening meals at 22euros pp including wine and coffee
The one in the ‘secret Alps:’ Velo Vercors
We all know the Alps are a mecca for road cycling but if you only focus on Alpe d’Huez and the rest of the Haute Alps you’re missing out. The Vercors national park which slides down the western flank of the Rhone Alps, is home to quiet roads, punishing cols and sweeping rides down into the Isere valley – great for the lesser-toned of thigh. At the helm of Velo Vercors is Roger Hart who after years of competitive road racing has turned his attention to encouraging others to the top of the Col du Rousset. Accommodation is in gites, complete with bike storage, BBQs, laundry rooms and WiFi. You can book self-catered but that would mean missing out on Theresa’s home-cooked three-course meals and robust breakfasts.
Seven nights fully catered from £440 pp based on two sharing
The one for aspiring Lance’s: Alpine Cadence
During a torrential downpour on the top of the Col de Forclaz in Switzerland, most people would retreat under a rock and whimper to be rescued. Not the Alpine Cadence crew. Based in Courchevel, the company run multi-day road tours – think stage racing – as well as day training rides from Chalet Nicola. These are not rides for the faint hearted and if you’re looking to test yourself on legendary Tour de France terrain, Alpine Cadence will happily throw down the gauntlet. Never fear – there is always a support car on hand with snacks, water, spare parts and comfy seats if you need a lift.
There is one space left on Alpine Cadence’s Tour de France week 17-24 July which is £825 for seven nights half board accommodation and fully supported guided riding.
The one for people who like a bit of luxury: BreatheBike
Launched this year and based in Chamonix, BreatheBike takes its riding seriously – but also provides those little touches which make a difference after 100km in the saddle. Two words: hot tub. Chalet Annabelle exudes modern luxury complete with a laundry service for your sweaty bike gear, satellite TV, iPods, bike storage, massages, support car, bike mechanic and stunning views of the Aiguille du Midi to keep you inspired. With Italy and Switzerland both a short ride away, enthusiastic racer Mike Booth and his team of guides have the pick of legendary routes which you can ride safe in the knowledge that there’s a posh place to put your feet up on your return.
A six night ‘classic cols’ holiday including half-board accommodation and guided riding is 799euros
Also available on Guardian website