Many of our clients have already spirited themselves to the South of France and returned from delightful à la française seashore jaunts, Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc is particularly busy with our Travel Tribe. Ranch at Rock Creek Dude Ranch again hosted one of our favorite extended families over the Fourth of July – if you haven’t trotted your kiddos here, it is our beloved western Ranch.
I once told a magazine writer I’m certain I was born with the DNA of a gypsy. For my 8th grade graduation, I coveted a small leather suitcase – at that age I never went further than my best friend’s house 4 blocks away or maybe to my grandparent’s home which was only 15 miles away. My parents surprised me with a hard-sided, stitched baby blue suitcase, lined in silky pale blue satin; a small lock and a gold key on a narrow blue ribbon guaranteed the safety of my valuables! I treasured it for my overnight getaways.
High school graduation yielded a trifecta prezzie: a full set of luggage, including a lady’s leather travel cosmetic case. I didn’t have an itinerary, in my heart, I knew adventure lay beyond the very small town of Ojai where I spent my childhood.
The Avant-Garde artist and potter Beatrice Wood lived in Ojai; as a young girl, I was mesmerized by her stacks of shimmering wrist bangles, enormous ethnic silver necklaces and riotously decorated costumes – a mysterious bohemian gypsy – she truly represented uncharted territory – a different realm, somewhere far from the little burb of Ojai. Had I known she had spent time with Duchamp and lived in Paris, I might have worked up a petite bit of pluck and uttered a few words to her; but sometimes mystery is better than reality; don’t you sometimes find that to be true about people you meet?
Travel creates a teaching environment, we learn, we are challenged; I find travel the absolute essential antidote to everyday routines. When I pack my suitcase, I am usually completely pre-occupied with all the tasks that must be accomplished before I can escape. The ever-growing list of must do prior to departure creates some stress; slowly each item is crossed off. Lock the gates and off to the airport. On arrival at the airport lounge, I let out a sigh of relief and let the pure sense of excitement wash over me.
My comfortable routines are banished and the anticipation of a new far off destination begins to sink in. Fresh vistas, foreign languages, interesting foods, curious customs, and people in indigenous dress – seeing places I’ve never seen before. A pleasing adventure of searching new locales for client travel, the pursuit never gets old.
There are times certainly that the luxury of my soft little pillow is missed, the paradox of travel – the comfy reminders of home – while enjoying the adventure at hand. Certainly, the brave seafaring explorers in tall masted ships, civilizations crossing boundless lands and seas to explore new countryside felt the tug of home. The spark of curiosity about uncharted territory overruled the dilemma experienced by all civilizations that left their comfort zones to search the world.
“To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.” ~Charles Horton Cooley
Travel means edging out of your habitat, traversing new pathways, being alive in an unknown place, a Journey.
Journey this summer to the heart of the French Alps to experience epic cycling roads favored each year by Tour de France racers and amateur cyclists alike. With an exclusive Chalet as your base, you and your friends will ride five stages of the Tour de France. This exclusive custom trip through the picturesque French Alps can be tailored to cyclists of all abilities, from those who may want to ramp up their summer training or explore the art of climbing to those wanting to focus on technique or fine-tune their motivation.
Broken into manageable sections and supported by multiple vehicles, guides and a mechanic, the trip will open the thrill of the Tour de France to travellers, while offering the complete comfort of a lux alpine vacation. You’ll spin up (and down), pedaling through picture-perfect towns, scenic countryside and stop for gourmet lunches in the most scenic villages along the route.
Other activities include the chance to hike glaciers across valleys and climb a Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron road”). Return to your luxury Chalet and enjoy a massage. Throughout the trip, you will enjoy seamless logistics (including transfers by helicopter), luxurious accommodations and exquisite service provided by our experts.
Day 1 – Arrival and Warm-Up Spin
Upon landing in Geneva, Lyon or Chambéry, you will be greeted by your local guides and transferred directly to the privately owned Chalet by luxury van or helicopter. There will be time to settle into your suite and enjoy a buffet lunch on the terrace prepared by the chalet’s gourmet chef. Then you’ll head out for a warm-up ride right from the chalet. Non-bikers will head out on a guided hike in the Tarentaise Valley. Return for high-alpine cocktails and dinner prepared by your private chef featuring locally sourced produce and perfectly paired French wine. Bike Distance: 20 miles
Day 2 – Le Cormet de Roseland
After breakfast, you’ll leave the chalet on your bikes and ride along Bourg-Saint-Maurice to the summit of Cormet de Roseland (featured in the Tour nine times). We’ll then descend towards Roseland Dam and Lac du Roseland, where everyone will stop for lunch at an authentic Alpine bistrot overlooking the lake. Following lunch, we’ll hop back on our bikes and continue to the town of Beaufort for a taste of the famed Savoyard cheese. From here, there will be an option to transfer by van or ride through the valley back to the chalet. In the afternoon, you can take an optional guided hike or just take time for a massage.Non-bikers will head out with their guide on the scenic Hellbronner Cable Car from Courmayer to Chamonix, where we’ll embark on a 2.5 – 3 hour hike along one of the greatest walks of the region. Savor the impressive views of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps, Chamonix Valley, Mont Blanc, nature reserves and the Aiguilles Rouges crystalline peaks. Hikers and their guide will finish beside the 7km long Mer de Glace (sea of ice) glacier where we will board the Montenver railway for the 20-minute ride back into Chamonix. There will be time to explore the charming streets of Chamonix, visit its galleries and dine and one of its top restaurants including Matafan, Le Cap Horn or La Maison Carrier before transferring back to the chalet.
This evening, dinner will be at the chalet. Biking Distance: 30-90 miles
Day 3 – Tarentaise Valley Spin & Via Ferrata
This morning, we’ll have the chance to head out for a quick out-and-back spin through the valley. We’ll return to the chalet and change before lunch at a local goat cheese farm.
Non-bikers will enjoy morning yoga on the terrace.
Later in the day, we’ll clip into secure cables and try out the European climbing sport of Via Ferrata. Dinner this evening will be a short walk to Chez Marie, a highly acclaimed local restaurant.
Day 4 – Petite St. Bernard, Le Col San Carlo and views of Italy
Hop back on your saddles after breakfast for a day of epic climbing, passing through Châtelard and climbing to the summit of Petit Saint Bernard before you descend through the Italian ski resort of La Thuile and make a coffee stop at Bar du Lac, which serves the ultimate chocolat chaud and espresso.
Following this refueling, we’ll ride the Colle San Carlo, one of the toughest climbs in area, with rewarding views over Mont Blanc and Italy’s Aosta Valley. We’ll then cruise back down to La Thuile before making a final climb to the top of Saint Bernard.
Lunch will be in the quaint town of La Rosière at La Grange Bistrot. Riders can either transfer or ride back to the chalet in time for massages or a glass of wine in the hot tub.Non-bikers can hike from France into Italy’s Aosta Valley along footpaths and mule-tracks dating from Roman times and used for everything from transporting wine from Italy to France in Medieval times, to war-time defense posts. Lunch will be served at one of our favorite Italian trattorias in the Italian village of La Thuile. If time permits, we may transfer to the Pré Saint Didier Spa, a thermal spa at the foothills of Mont Blanc dating back to the 1800’s.
Dinner will be at the chalet. Distance: 43-47 miles
Day 5 – Glacier Hikes Today we’ll give our legs a rest from riding and experience walking on Glacier du Géant, taking in impressive views of Mont Blanc from Courmayeur, Italy. Alternative active pursuits include rock climbing, rafting and hiking. After lunch, we’ll have the opportunity for further alpine explorations before returning to the chalet. Hike or mountain bike up to the chalet’s alpage — a mountain farmhouse — for a dinner under the stars.
Day 6 – Iseran Pass This morning, set out on our bikes towards the famous ski village of Val d’Isère where we’ll stop for a coffee before tackling the highest pass in Europe — Col de l’Isèran.
For non-bikers, we’ll hike in the Parc National de la Vanoise, one of the region’s most famous parks, which is best explored on foot. Our 4-5 hour-long hike will take us through forests and past glaciers and high-altitude lakes. The breathtaking views include the famous ski resorts Tignes and Val d’Isere.
Riders and hikers will meet in Val d’Isère for lunch at the Edelweiss restaurant or one of our other favorite bistrot’s. After lunch, there will be the option to transfer or ride back to the chalet, where we’ll have time to relax in the afternoon before dinner at the chalet.
Distance: 36-51 miles
Day 7 – Alpe d’Huez For our final day on two wheels, we’re going to go big and ride the most iconic alpine ascent — Alpe d’Huez. We’ll be picked up by helicopter at the chalet and flown to the base of Alpe d’Huez for a short warm-up before spinning up the famous switchbacks featured in the Tour 29 times.
At the top, we’ll celebrate with a gourmet picnic lunch and Champagne toast before taking the helicopter back to the chalet from the ski resort of Alpe d’Huez.
Non-bikers can either enjoy a leisurely morning at the chalet, head out on another guided hike, try white-water rafting or transfer into Annecy for a guided tour of Annecy to explore the history behind its cobbled streets and to visit galleries featuring both local and world-renowned artists. Lunch will follow at Clos des Sens. Chef Laurent Petit’s creations are deeply rooted in the region, yet still full of surprises.
Dinner this evening will be a BBQ on the terrace featuring open fire cooking and traditional dishes.
Distance: 9 miles
Day 8 – Departure After breakfast, you will be transferred by car to the airport in Geneva, Lyon or Chambery for departure flights.
LOCATION Our exclusive private Chalet is nestled in the tiny town of Le Miroir, France. Unplug. Reboot. Reflect. Chalet’s hang spaces are designed to slow the pace of the hectic every day. Take your morning cappuccino from the outdoor balcony with views of Mont Pourri. The living room channels classic Savoyarde charm, finished with local art and wood beams from the 1800s.
7 nights accommodation in one of the four suites at our Chalet, which is fully staffed, with a gourmet chef, housekeeping service, an indoor pool, Finnish sauna, steam room and outdoor hot tub
All meals and house beer and wine
Custom biking, walking and hiking routes
All non-biking activities listed in the itinerary
Ground transportation to/from Geneva, Lyon or Bourg-Saint-Maurice airports
Vehicle-supported rides, multiple guides and a professional mechanic
Refreshments while biking, hiking and walking
1 round-trip helicopter transfer to Alpe d’Huez
Other Optional Activities Offered at the Chalet during Summer:
White Water Rafting
As in all of our custom Journeys, we have cultivated and assembled the best of the best. Our professional firms we have engaged for these sensational exclusive outings are exclusive and only offer very custom itineraries. Our bike firm has been voted best in class for a number of years. Specializing in luxury custom journeys for active travellers to many corners of the globe. They only offer one experience: upscale road-biking trips that feature outstanding accommodations, flexible pace, seamless logistics, professional mechanics, high staff-to-rider ratios and more.
Our Chalet Team
Also only specializes in luxury experiences. Whether it is heli-skiing near the Arctic Circle in Iceland or casting for bonefish on a remote island in the Bahamas, their experiences are rarely offered in traditional destinations. They own and manage a handful of select lodges. Chalets and beach houses are miles from the main road – in a historic farming village high along the French-Italian border, on a rugged river in Patagonia, and in other unique locations away from the crowds.
In each and every destination, world-class food and lodging are combined with guided outdoor activities on mountains, in the backcountry, and on the water for guests of all ages and all skill levels. In urban locations our guides gracefully introduce guests to local culture, knowledge and places known only to native insiders. No matter where in the world they may be, every facility has five-star accommodations, award-winning chefs, extensive wine cellars, saunas, steam rooms, spas, and friendly, expert guides who will introduce you to new dimensions of life, friendship, family and adventure.