MTB in France



That we came to bike through the French Alps from the Riviera was not really planned in advance. We biked up from Nice and camped in Auron, Jausiers, Briancon, Modane, Val d´Isère, Fumet, Chamonix, and in St Maurice in Switzerland. Far more time was spent on road then off road. Nevertheless, it was a great journey, crossing one high pass after another. Traffic was light and camping was cheaper and nicer than in Italy. Not to mention the exellent food and the wine. 

As we were short of time we only had a few days to look for singletrack. We stayed a day in Val d´Isère, which felt awkward, as the place is literally a ghost town in summer, so desperate for tourists that the town invites 4WD vehicles for rallies. Most hotels and shops were closed. We spent a day climbing up between the mountains between Val d´Isèse and Tignes. There were steep fire roads, with  quite a few tourists riding their 4WD vehicles, and we rode some high single track in poor  weather. We did not see any other bikers. 

Would we go back to Val d´Isère? No, not for mountainbiking though the place would be great for skiing. 

Chamonix was a lot more fun. In summertime it is lively, full of people who hike or climb or just have fun. Resturants and cafés are crowded. And, there are some good mountainbike trails. There is an excellent site Mountain Biking in Chamonix with route descriptions. We had a splendid outing cycling a path known as Petit Balcon Nord. It traverses the western and nothern walls of the valley and consists of moderately technical singletrack. It also has some switchbacks that are great fun.  

Would we go back to Chamonix? Yes, absolutely. The town has a great ambience, is one the classic Alp resorts, and the singletrack we did was good. And, most important the local authorities have taken a friendly attitude towards mountainbiking. 

On the whole cycling in France was a positive experience. We would absolutely like to have more of it. One thing we learned that summer is that the best singletrack is not necessarily where the mountains are highest.  

We passed several major resorts that offered inviting MTB-trails in the surrounding hills and mountains: e.g., Auron and Briancon.

  
 Camping in Auron 
Approaching  
Col de la Bonette 
  
Col de la Moutière 2823 
  
 Café at the top 
Looking back at  
Col de la Bonette 2802 
Col de Vars 2111 
Approaching  
Col de du Lautaret 
Col du Lautaret 2059  Ascent on Col du Galiber 
Col Du Galiber 2645    Ascent Col d´Iseran 
  
 Col d´Iseran 2762 
  
 Val d´Isére 
Isére from a high tour 
Val d´Isére camping  Mont Blanc  Mont Blanc 
Camping in Chamonix  Singletrack on Petit Balcon Nord    
 Chamonix town 
  
 Mont Blanc towering  
above 
Breaking camp    
 Col de Montets 
Martigny from above  South shore of Lac le Man  Camping in Genève 
Genève      
Boxing up the bikes