Col de l’Arpettaz


Bike route 1746282 – powered by Bikemap 

My old friend Emmanuel is vacationing in Annecy with his family. I hadn’t seen him in 2 years, and he knows the Cols of the region very well. My challenge was to find a climb from Annecy that he hadn’t cycled that would make him go “wow!” Success.

The challenge for Emmanuel was much tougher: Cycle up the steep Arpettaz and listen to me speak French for several hours —– yikes. 🙂

Col de l'Arpettaz Col de l'Arpettaz Col de l'Arpettaz Hairpins Col de l'Arpettaz

This is a great loop, with much of the riding on the Annecy Bike Path. It’s a perfect place to ride side-by-side and chat without worrying about cars.

Approaching Ugine, there are several turns off the bike path to join the “route des montagnes” up to Col de l’Arpettaz. I love this climb – look at the map above – hairpins galore on a quiet road that is partly pasture land and partly light forest.

Col de l'Arpettaz

For a truly superb mountain bike adventure, there is a gravel road that links Col de l’Arpettaz with Col des Aravis. Details here.

Nearing the Col the tree line disappears – great views of the Aravis Alps:

Col de l'Arpettaz

Plenty of cows watching Manu suffer:

Emmanuel and friends

There is a nice little restaurant at the Col and we stopped to rehydrate. The route we descended is fabulous. First beautiful views of Mont Blanc for several kilometres:

Mont Blanc

Then some unbelievable stretches of hairpins:


Finally just a fast, quiet descent on beautiful roads back to Ugine where we rejoined the Annecy bike path to head home. Even the tunnels are fun (car-free) here:

Annecy Cycling Path Tunnel

Merci mille fois to the family of Manu for entertaining and feeding me afterwards — and for the great swim. Wonderful day.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


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  2. Did this loop from Annecy yesterday after reading about it here. Probably my favourite climb around this area so far, and that includes Forclaz, Semnoz & Colombiere. Even though it is summer I was glad to have warm gear for the descent – and the fire was lit in the refuge thankfully. Descend the Eastern side for endless hairpins all the way to Ugine – climb the western side ( as described in the post) as the road surface is crappy in spots – fine going up, but would make for a slow less enjoyable descent. Road bike with 23mm tyres was fine going this way. About 100km from Annecy return. Great website – best resource out there for first time visitors like me.

  3. Thank you for creating this wonderful website. We spent a couple of weeks in Doussard last summer and used your guides for Semnoz, Forclaz, Leschaux and my personal favorite, this one. I completed the first three alone but enjoyed this one in a group of 6. Great coffee at the cafe at the top too!

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