French Alps trip advice wanted

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French Alps trip advice wanted

Postby Nitram » Tue Jul 26, 2016 10:27 pm

Hi Cycle Touring folk,
I have two weeks from the end of August to spend in France with my road bike, and I'm interested in any recommended climbing areas. I'll be travelling fairly light, and have in mind spending a few days in each place doing local rides from a base.
I'm arriving in Geneva, and my first thought is to head south to Annecy for a few days as a start. Just looking for any recommendations of villages which would be a good base for a riding local cols in their area. I have in mind, after spending a few days exploring backroads and climbs around one place, riding to the next along more major roads to my next base.
As I said I only have two weeks and need to be back in Geneva mid-Sept.
Any suggestion of villages that might fit the bill?


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Re: French Alps trip advice wanted

Postby dalai47 » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:42 pm

Bourg St Maurice and Bourg d'Oisans are two villages that easily offer a week + each worth of 3 star cols.

I spent 8 days in the first and 7 days in the later on the first couple of weeks of a 4 week trip back in 2011. I didn't ride between the two villages though, instead used public transport. It took a full day with 2 buses and one train but meant I didn't need to rent a car for those first two weeks of the trip.

It would be possible to ride between the two keeping to the smaller D roads

Cols I rode around Bourg St Maurice were:

Col de l’Iseran (both sides)
Col de la Madeleine (north)
Col du Petit St Bernard (west) + Colle San Carlo (west) + Col du Petit St Bernard (east)
Cormet de Roselend (south) + Col de la Forclaz (south) + Col de l'Arpettaz + Col des Saises (north) + Cormet de Roselend (north)
La Plagne
Col de Romme + Col de la Colombiere (east) + Col des Aravis (north) - I hired a car for the last two weeks so drove over to Flumet for this loop

Highlight among the many above was the relatively unknown Col de l'Arpettaz. It is a one car wide sliver of bitumen that iwinds its way through small clusters of farm houses then continuing into a mix of forest and alpine meadows via 34 hairpins over its 21.3 km

Cols I rode around Bourg d'Oisans were:

Alpe D'Huez
Col du Glandon (south) + Col de la Croix de Fer (south) + Col du Telegraphe + Col du Galibier (north)
Col de Sarenne + les Balcons d’Auris to Auris d’Oisans
La Berarde
Col du Sabot + Alpe D'Huez via Villard Reculas
Alpe D'Huez + Col d'Ornon

Highlight here was actually Col du Sabot. The 14.5km climb starts just above Allemont and the pretty Lac du Verney and gets to business immediately, sitting around 10 % as it makes its way through the trees to the lovely village of Vaujany. Not much further along the road becomes a single lane and escapes from the trees into the open slopes. As per many routes in the area it involves numerous hairpins and switchbacks as it climbs. And as it is a dead end and not as well-known as the more famous roads in the area you will have it much to yourself as I did. Just mind the cows sitting on the road to enjoy the warmth on the descent...

For great value accommodation in Bourg St Maurice, I was going to suggest the Mountain Loft Hostel. But it looks like it has closed. Paid something like 100 euro for the week, but as it was the shoulder had a room all but two nights to myself.

In Bourg d'Oisans, I rented a small one bedroom apartment for the week. Was expensive (Bourg d'Oisans is compared to other villages to to sitting below Alpe d'Huez) but was a great location.

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Re: French Alps trip advice wanted

Postby dalai47 » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:44 pm

Check the earliest posts in my blog listed in my signature for some pictures and details of the riding. Note I started in Bourg d'Oisans and then headed North to Bourg St Maurice.

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Re: French Alps trip advice wanted

Postby juzzle » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:12 pm

Hi Nitram,

I am here now. I also started from Geneva heading directly south. The route I took went through Aix-Les-Bains and finished being interesting/challenging in Montelin, but up until that point it was quite a surprise. There were two main passess - 1300 m and 1200 m, but plenty to see enroute.

See ya,

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