Tour de France 2023: our selection of the most beautiful mountain stages

The most famous cycle race in the world, the Tour de France will be taking to the skies once again this year, as the 3,404km and 21 stages will take in all 5 of France's mountain ranges! The Pyrenees, the Auvergne volcanoes, the Jura mountains, the Alps and the Vosges massif... The peloton has plenty of pedalling to do and plenty of climbing to do. The grandiose landscapes, the high altitude finishes and the dizzying descents promise to be emotional highs. To experience the highs (and lows) of the Grand Loop, saddle up with our selection of the most beautiful mountain stages.

From Tarbes to Cauterets-Cambasque, the Pyrenees take centre stage

After 3 stages on the Spanish side, welcome to the French Pyrenees! First there's Bayonne and the Basque country, Dax and its thermal baths, Pau and its beautiful castle where King Henry IV was born. And then there's Tarbes, with its breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, its palm-lined streets (yes, yes!) and its gourmet markets. The riders of the 2023 Tour de France will need a lot of courage to tear themselves away from this gentle way of life and tackle the climbs of the Aspin and terrible Tourmalet cols. The reward for all this climbing is a finish on the Cambasque plateau, overlooking the charming resort of Cauterets, in the heart of the Pyrenees National Park, where the Pic du Midi is enthroned. Want to cool off? Try the hike to the peaceful Lac d'Ilhéou. In a green setting with magnificent views and waterfalls, picnics and swimming...

The Puy de Dôme, a feast for the eyes in Auvergne

The ascent of Puy de Dôme, the undisputed star of the Auvergne, will be one of the highlights of the 2023 Tour de France! The youngest and highest volcano in the Puys chain has not featured on the itinerary for 35 years. Taking on this fearsome and majestic peak and finishing with a 360° view over the gentle rolling hills of the Parc naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne is sure to motivate many a rider! But did you know that you can also climb this peaceful giant by mule track or on board the Panoramique des Dômes, a picturesque little cogwheel train? In just 15 minutes, you'll be transported to an altitude of 1,465 m, with the 80 volcanoes of the Puy range and the Limagne fault (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site at your feet. To complete a stage that's full of fireworks, the Vulcania Park is not far away! Who can beat that?

Breathtaking escapes in the Jura

Expect to fall under the spell of Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne! Just 1 hour from Lyon and the Monts du Beaujolais, this small town in the Ain département, from which the Tour de France 2023 peloton will set off on 14 July, is a delightful medieval town. With its pink stone houses, flower-bedecked bridges and old market hall housing one of France's most popular traditional markets, it is also the gateway to the Dombes region, a paradise for fish farmers and birdwatchers with its landscapes of water and ponds. Take advantage of this area on foot, by boat or, ideally, by bike (it's flat!), before taking to the heights of the Montagnes du Jura, just a stone's throw away. The Pyramide du Bugey, from the top of which you can see Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva, is a must-see. The Tour de France riders attack it via the Col du Grand Colombier. At top speed. Take your time, the panorama is well worth it!

In the Alps, between lakes and legendary passes

It's doubtful that the riders will enjoy the view of Lake Geneva as they take their first pedal to the metal in the Alps at Annemasse on stage 14 of the Tour de France 2023. We recommend this one, though, as well as the view of Lake Annecy and its turquoise waters. Then it's time for a series of twists and turns and climbs to the legendary passes of the Alps, including the famous Col du Feu, an unprecedented climb for the peloton. At an altitude of 1,000 metres, in the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area, the stage finish in Morzine won't dampen the spirits of those who love nature. In summer, the little village resort in the Alps is an ideal playground for lovers of outdoor activities: a stroll along the Dérêches river, swimming in Lake Montriond, canyoning or via ferrata... the hardest thing will be to choose.

From Gets to Saint-Gervais, Mont Blanc in your sights

For the first time since its creation, the Tour de France will start from Les Gets. Well-known to mountain bikers (the World Championships were held there in 2022), the pretty Alpine resort will kick off a 15th stage during which you'll need to have plenty of breath. The Col de la Forclaz-Montmin is on the programme. So allow yourself a break at its belvedere for a bird's-eye view of Lake Annecy before setting off again for Saint-Gervais, at the foot of Mont-Blanc. If you want to reach the highest peak in the Alps, this village resort, with its well-preserved heritage and traditions, is the ideal place to stop. And its thermal baths, renowned for the many benefits of their waters, set the well-being at the summit in a magnificent green setting.

Courchevel, star of the Alps

The regulars call it Courch' and they come and go summer and winter as connoisseurs, just like the Tour de France caravan which is visiting the Savoyard resort for the 4th time. Welcome to the pinnacle of top-of-the-range skiing in the Alps, at the heart of the Three Valleys ski area. Courchevel tops the list not only for the size of its ski area (Méribel and Val Thorens are its famous neighbours) but also for its range of hotels (no fewer than 5 mountain palaces, from the Apogée to the Cheval Blanc, not forgetting the K2 Palace, Airelles and the Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges) and restaurants. So, with its 6 hamlets and the surrounding area, the resort has a lot to offer. Take a selfie at the top of La Saulire, take a stroll down to Lac de la Rosière, cycle down the Bike Park, spend the night in the Lacs Merlet refuge or hike through the heart of the Vallée des Avals... You're going to love it!

Full steam ahead in the Vosges

Between the Lorraine plateau and the Alsace plain, the Vosges massif lives up to its reputation: a perfect blend of nature, wide open spaces, traditions and local produce, crafts and fine cheeses. Between the Grand Ballon d'Alsace and the Petit Ballon, via the famous Col de la Schlucht, the Tour de France 2023 will be taking a break from the normality of the mountains, with a new finish on the slopes of the Markstein, in the welcoming family resort of Marlstein Fellering. In the heart of the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park, you can enjoy bucolic hikes, tobogganing in the mountain pastures, paragliding with a view, and mountain biking (or mountain bikes) in a landscape of absolute serenity. And for those with a sweet tooth, July is the peak of blueberry season (and the season for tarts in the farm inns).

And (finally) Paris.... and the Olympics!

Will the riders be in Olympic form for the triumphant finish on the Champs-Elysées on 23 July 2023? Just one year ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the route will certainly provide a magnificent prologue to the sporting event. Starting in Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, all the future Olympic venues in the Yvelines département will be on the peloton's final route. A gigantic loop will join the Colline d'Elancourt (where the mountain bike events will take place), the Golf National in Guyancourt and the Château de Versailles, which will host the equestrian events and part of the modern pentathlon competitions. A prestigious line-up of finishers for a Tour de France 2023 that's sure to be at the top of its game!