Col de l’Arpettaz via Annecy Bike Path

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Trivia: Name a climb south of Annecy with virtually the same stats as Alpe d’Huez yet double the hairpins. Oh, and with almost zero traffic. If you didn’t guess Col de l’Arpettaz, don’t worry, not too many other people seem to know about this superb climb.

I’ve put the map next to encourage you to zoom and count the hairpins. What a great road.

Markus and I started near Annecy so we could enjoy the wonderful Annecy bike path. It’s a repurposed old railway line – fantastic. Near Annecy it can be popular (busy), but after a few kilometres it’s much quieter. Relaxing riding.

Annecy Bike Path and poppies

Annecy Bike Path and poppies

arpett250

It’s more than 30 kilometres along the bike path until – a couple of kms short of Ugine – we turned left, across the main department road, onto a tiny signed road soon to be called “route des montagnes.” The first couple of kilometres pass through some houses/chalets but soon it’s a quiet, steep, narrow, oft-shaded, route that has — something like 42 hairpins. Nice.

Much of the ride is through lovely forests:

Beautiful road

Beautiful road

Markus

Markus

Higher, the road opens up with great views of the Aravis Alps behind.

nice views

nice views

Just about every-time I bike with Markus we seem to enjoy a beer together. Exactly at the Col is a very nice auberge with a good menu ….. and Belgian Beer:

Beers at the summit with Markus

Beers at the summit with Markus

The route we descended is also very interesting. A fun descent (but I highly recommend our route direction).

Mont Blanc in distance

Mont Blanc in distance

Col de l’Arpettaz is a fantastic climb – and not well known. The Tourist board does a great job sign-posting all sort of climbs in Haute Savoie / Savoie ….. but not this one. Very, very light traffic. Fun hairpins, nice views, challenging, etc. Woohooo!

Having fun

Having fun

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10 Comments

  1. I notice you guys did that on your MTBs, so I’ll suggest a nice route you can do. From Annecy, head south east over the Col de Bluffy, down the other side, and through to Thones. Take the road up to Manigod, and the Col de la Croix Fry, then down towards La Clusaz, but turn right on the road up to the Col des Aravis. Just after the tourist shops at the summit, you’ll see a gravel road off to the right, which is where you’ll need the MTBs. This gravel road will take you all the way to the top of the Col d’Arpettaz. It’s a nice mix of road and off-road.

    • Ben, thanks. Ha, yes, we had mountain bikes because we had planned to ride that great unpaved stretch, but decided we were too tired weak. THat’s a great recommendation. I have done that unpaved road between Aravis and Arpettaz. Details here: http://www.cycling-challenge.com/col-des-aravis-and-above-to-col-de-larpettaz/. It, along with Arpettaz, will also be part of a new sportive: La Resistance, taking place in September. See here: http://www.laresistance.cc/

      • I’m going to this area in a few weeks 🙂 I’ll probably only be able to take one bike, so it’s likely to be my tourer as it makes most sense for family rides. Is the route mentioned out and out mountain bike stuff, or will I be ok on my tourer? I’m not fazed by a bit of bridleway-type riding…
        Thanks

      • Only the part we did NOT do. In other words, the road that starts at Col de l’Arpettaz and heads towards Col des Aravis. It is quite rough, although I’ve ridden it on a hybrid without too much trouble (descending slowly) – but generally I’d suhhest a mtb for it.. The route we did in this post is fine on any bike. Enjoy

  2. Will – have you ever tried the off road route from Col de l’Arpettaz to the Col des Aravis ? I’ve been hoping to try it this summer

  3. Wow. Looks great. Likely still to be snowed in during March, I guess, which is when my annual work trip to Geneva is?

    • Matt, I tried it in early May a decade ago on a very warm day and bumped into too much snow several kilometres from summit. I don’t think it gets cleared, they wait until it melts. Unfortunately, no way March would work

  4. Sophie Elise on

    I didn’t have much ideas about Col de l’Arpettaz climbing before…The location is just awesome.
    Thank you for the post.

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