My Cycling Challenge » Cycling the French Alps Cycling in the Alps Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:32:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Le Semnoz – by Mountain Bike Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:34:30 +0000 A few days ago, I snuck in a final big climb before the snow arrived in the Alps.

Le Semnoz is the huge Massif on the west side of Lake Annecy. The summit, Crêt de Chatillon, is the highest paved climb near Annecy. For a map, profile, and details of 5 road bike routes up Le Semnoz – see here. But this ride I would explore an alternate, often unpaved, route (see map below).

I started near Annecy beside the lake, taking the direct steep route climbed by the Tour de France in 2013. It’s a tough, 18 kilometre climb, mainly through the woods.


After 8 or 9 kilometres, I left the main road and turned off onto some forestry roads. There are tiny forest roads all over this mountain but I would take the main alternative route. It is blocked to cars, narrow, occasionally very bumpy, although higher up, often well paved.

Start of laternate route No Cars! Woods

Higher up, the surface is good and signed as a mountain bike route. Apparently lots of cyclists descend here as there are perhaps 10 speed bumps and these signs:

Is this route worth it versus all the paved options? It’s quiet, challenging, and was something new. But realise there is rarely a glimpse of Lake Annecy or the surrounding mountains. Personally, my favourite way up Le Semnoz is via St. Eustache to Col des Leschaux and then up the south side.

I rejoined the main road a couple of kilometres from the summit. The summit is a little alpine ski station. There is also some excellent Cross Country Skiing. Last winter I cycled up and rented XC skis for some fun cross training – details here.

There are great views from the summit, with a distant Mont Blanc in view:

Just beyond the summit at the second restaurant, there is an unpaved road that continues for a couple of open kilometres across the tree-less top. For Col hunters, this passes Le Golet Rond (1615 metres).

It’s a scenic little detour. Along what becomes groomed cross-country ski trails in winter.

I don’t believe there is an unpaved route down the back side that would be bike-able. So I doubled-back and descended the super quiet 24 kilometres down the south main road, all the way to Lake Annecy (via Col de Leschaux).

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2016 “Cycling the Alps” Calendars Thu, 19 Nov 2015 20:54:57 +0000 Busy doing your Christmas shopping? Looking for a 2015 alpine cycling calendar? Well look no further.

Here are three calendars with my favourite photos of 2015. The first: Cycling the Alps (with cyclist in photos), the second is Cycling the Alps (with no cyclist), and finally an “Alpine Cows” Calendar.

A few quick points:

  1. All photos were taken by me in 2015.
  2. I am making no money from this. The price is just what is charged by the printing company.
  3. I am not (even remotely) a professional photographer. All the photos are taken using a decent digital camera. But the quality of the photos has turned out well. This is just for fun.
  4. I have chosen a printing company that is inexpensive and has global delivery options – I have used them the last 3 years, selling a few hundred – and people seemed quite satisfied with print quality. Orders are placed directly with them.
  5. Lulu, the publisher, almost always has coupon codes available to lower the price. The code GETIT15 should currently give you 15% off. If it has expired, just use google for a new code.

Each calendar has 13 photos: a cover, and one for each month. You can preview all photos in the slide shows below. All calendars can be purchased from this link, or see the calendar specific links below. For the cow calendar, the slide show is smaller but shows you the photos in calendar format. The purchase links also lead you to a page where you can preview the photos in calendar format.


#1 Cycling the Alps (with cyclist)

  1. Small size: $9.99 (11″x17″) – To Order Click Here
  2. Large size:$18.99 (13.5″x19″)To Order Click Here

#2 Cycling the Alps (no cyclist)

  1. Small size: $9.99 (11″x17″) – To Order Click Here
  2. Large size: $18.99 (13.5″x19″) – To Order Click Here

#3 Alpine Cows Calendar

Moo! Yes this is my favourite of the three calendars. 😉

  1. Small size: 9.99 (11″x17″) – To Order Click Here
  2. Large size: $18.99 (13.5″x19″) – To Order Click Here

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Col de Crozet Sat, 14 Nov 2015 21:30:29 +0000 22344305914_1d3de2155a_b


Every year the Geneva basin spends much of late autumn under low inversion clouds. Below, the world feels dank, foggy, miserable. But some of us know that the sun is only a climb away.

Col de Crozet, in the French Jura mountains, is an excellent, very quiet, unpaved road up through a small ski station. This is a perfect climb to get “above the clouds”

The unpaved road starts just above 900 metres:

Much of the climb winds up through the mountain woods, but eventually gets above the trees. Always nice views of the distant Alps. Above the clouds:

View from Col de Crozet (1485 metres) down the ski slopes:

At the Col, a short walk across a field, is an artificial lake probably used for snow making. Beautiful:

The profile above extends perhaps a kilometre above the geographic col. The high point of the route is roughly 1510 metres. From here, the road becomes paved again. In fact, this far side is one of the highest paved roads in the Jura mountains. See here for the ten highest.

It’s a fun, gentle, quiet descent for several kilometres to Col de la Faucille (1323m). Col de la Faucille, while one of the best known Jura climbs, is far from my favourite. The road can have fast traffic, with trucks. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not terrible, and quite popular among local cyclists (who perhaps don’t know the other, far quieter, paved options nearby like La Barillete, La Vattay, or La Baudichonne). Anyway, I enjoyed the fast descent.

The last time I climbed Col de Crozet, I descended via Col de Combe Blanche (Col de la Vattay). A longer, but much quieter way down. Recommended if you have the time. See here.

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Col de Balme and Col des Posettes Wed, 11 Nov 2015 19:14:35 +0000 With the unseasonably warm November weather I was trying to think of a beautiful ride as close to high mountains as possible. The short, but very steep climb up to Col de Balme (near Chamonix) was perfect.


I’ve cycled this before and had planned to climb from the far side of Col des Posettes for a change, but realised as I arrived that this late in the season an east-facing climb would be dark/cold. So I kept things simple, going up and down the west side in glorious sunshine.

I started at the bottom of the ski-lift just above Argentière. The gravel service road is very steep until the top of the chair lift (see map below).


nice hairpins

The road then gets more ride-able as it approaches Col des Posettes (1997 metres). It’s a beautiful place with snowy peaks, and glaciers just above. That’s the top of the ski lift below me just to the right.

The road splits at Posettes but I kept heading higher to Col de Balme.

above Posettes

Col de Balme (2204 metres) is the French / Swiss border. While today the road linking Chamonix and the Swiss Valais is much lower, via Col des Montets, historically this was the route taken – to avoid the then impassable gorges below. There is a little board with some history. For example French refugees crossing the Col in deep snow as defeated Napoleonic forces fled the Austrians.

the Borderat 2204 metres

Before reaching Col de Balme, I explored a hiking trail that heads towards the Glacier du Tour.

This short stretch in the shade was a little scary/icy:

I left my GPS on the bike, so it doesn’t show on the map, but I decided a bike here made little sense, so I just hiked as far as Lac de Charamillon. A hiker told me he used to visit here as a child and it was full of water. Not these days:

empty lake

From Col de Balme, there is a trail higher up to the top of a ridge near the “Croix de Fer (2343 metres)”. Not completely rideable, but the views over the top are worth the effort. Especially the view of the dam and Lac d’Emosson – a favourite cycling destination of mine that will be in the 2016 Tour de France. I took this trail last year. Photo from 2014:

View of Lac / Barrage d'Emmoson

View of Lac / Barrage d’Emmoson

But this time, I instead took an easier trails along the French/Suisse border: Fun.

I was pushing the bike and chatting with an interesting old Savoyard and again briefly left the bike as we searched for and finally found Lac de Catogne.

Lac de Catogne - 2206 metres

Lac de Catogne – 2206 metres

At this point, the sun was getting low so I decided to just call it a day and descend the way I had climbed. But there is certainly a big loop to plan next year that includes exploring the Swiss side of this truly beautiful Col.

Swiss hiking and mountain biking signs at Col de Balme (2204 metres):

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Col de la Madeleine via Les Lacets de Montvernier and Col du Chaussy Sun, 08 Nov 2015 18:30:47 +0000 There is “heat wave” in the Alps at the moment so I decided to take advantage and visit one of my favourite routes in the Maurienne Valley.

This summer, Les Lacets (hairpins) de Montvernier made its Tour de France debut, revealing this great “secret” road to the unwashed masses. It’s a beautiful series of 17 hairpins, but – a warning – it’s perhaps only 20% of the way up the challenging Col du Chaussy.


Here is a more detailed post discussing just Les Lacets de Montvernier

It’s tough to photograph the hairpins from up close, but I did my best:


“Yates You Can” is graffitied on every hairpin. Left over Tour de France encouragement for the pro cyclist brothers Adam and Simon:

Yates You Can

There is only one way to “easily” photograph all the hairpins. Once past the top of the hairpins there is a small gravel farm track to the right through a field (see map below). Follow it and then enter some trees to find yourself on a cliff look-out. Careful! Me terrified:

cliff view

The rest of the climb to Col du Chaussy is very quiet, but not easy. From Montvernier, look up and you will see a great, unlikely cliff stretch a few kilometres from the summit. Woohoo! Note: I was very careful balancing my little tripod for this photo:


Nice hairpin:


The far side of the Col used to be a gravel road, but was nicely paved a few years back. It’s narrow, but smooth. Once can descend via the D99 down to approximately 850 metres, joining the famous, main road to Col de la Madeleine – this makes a fully paved route perfect for road bikes. But I had my hybrid, and instead turned up at Bonvillard to follow a truly superb alternate route to Madeleine via Lac du Loup (Wolf Lake).

Wolf Lake

The road is paved until perhaps 1600 metres, then becomes a good quality gravel road – lots of fun.

At La Traverse, the route effectively summits the crest into the next valley, the valley with Col de la Madeleine. The next couple of kilometres cross through the ski slopes, finally joining the paved road to Madeleine at the second last hairpin. Leaving 2+ tough but lovely kilometres to the summit.


Strangely, there is some anti gay marriage graffiti on the road. Boo.

Recently, the big col sign was replaced with this monument. Interesting enough, although, like its predecessor it still overstates the altitude of 1993 metres. :)

For details of all three road bike routes to Col de la Madeleine see here.

Finally, it was a crazy, 40 hairpin descent, down the south side of Madeleine to La Chambre. If you like descents, this is a good one.

This loop is tough, and most people will try it for the experience of climbing the amazing Les Lacets de Montvernier. But for me, the unpaved route to Madeleine via Lac du Loup is what makes this route special.

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Col de l’Ecuelle, Col de Bassachaux, Col de la Joux Verte Fri, 06 Nov 2015 23:24:23 +0000 This is a tough, very fun, five col loop that requires a mountain bike to cross over into, and then exit, the Vallée d’Abondance. Five cols? Yes, the three in the title, and two more that are visited while descending. See map at bottom of post.


I’ve done a similar loop previously using Col du Corbier. But I was staring at maps looking for a new Col and I’d never visited the higher (unpaved) Col de l’Ecuelle. Note, one could also use the paved and very nice Col du Grand Taillet further down the valley.

I started in Morzine, descending down the Vallée d’Aulps for a few kilometres before turning up a beautiful, tiny road beginning the 7 kilometre climb to Col de l’Ecuelle:


The paved road ends half way up and is extremely steep for a couple of kilometres. I pushed a little as my tires slipped on the gravel and my weak legs complained. But nearing the col it’s a pleasant ride:

From the col, the gravel road goes a little higher, and gets easier, turning into a fun farm road that passes Col de Drôline, then descends to the paved road at the summit of Col du Corbier.

I’ve climbed Drôline from the far side as part of a very fun Vallàe d’Aulps six Col Col-hunting loop – see here.

While I’d skipped it, Col du Corbier (west side) is a steep, fun paved climb – see above link. I descended the east side of Corbier – lots of hairpins- into the Abondance valley.


It’s then a gentle false flat ride to Chatel through the valley before turning off the main road up through a little ski station and ski slopes to Bassachaux. It’s a scenic, paved climb.

But I made a rooking mistake in late fall: climbing an east facing climb. So it was in the shade as the mountains blocked the low November sun.



At the Col is a parking lot and a chalet restaurant. And beyond: a great unpaved road that exits the Abondance valley and crosses into Avoriaz ski station:


Warning; it becomes a very steep descent on a rough gravel road for a couple of kilometres before joining a paved road just above the famous goat-filled little village of Les Lindarets.

This paved road is the climb to Col de la Joux Verte. An interesting 15 kilometre climb through the woods qnd past Lac de Montriond – see this post for details.

I was exhausted and running out of daylight, but I was only 4 kilometres from the summit of Col de la Joux Verte, so I headed up, reaching the Col at the exact minute of sunset. I decided I better get a move on and descend to Morzine.

Part way down:

This is a great loop, challenging but generally super-quiet (a little traffic in the 2 valley floors) and scenic. But leave yourself enough time to finish in daylight :).

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Cycling Paris with Vélib’ Bikeshare Mon, 02 Nov 2015 21:30:03 +0000 This past weekend we took the train to Paris to celebrate Doreen’s birthday. Our main goal was to visit the typical tourist sites using the Vélib’ bikeshare program. We had a blast, managing three outings/rides, each shown on the map below (blue,red, and green). Not quite 60 kilometres in total.

To use the system, one needs to join via the official Vélib’ web site or at one of the abundant bike stations. We had two 1 day subscriptions. It costs €1.70/day. This includes unlimited rides. Each ride is free if under 30 minutes. After 30 minutes small charges accrue. In other words, extra fees can be avoided by frequently changing bikes. Perfect for stopping to see the sites mid-ride.

We were staying near Place Vendôme and had a bike station beside our lodging – so we were surrounded by famous tourist sites. There is no need to have a map of stations (although an app exists) as they are everywhere. Unlike my experience in London, we never saw a bike station without plenty of bikes. And the bikes were consistently in good shape. Tires inflated, gears working, a bell, a kick-stand, etc. Excellent.

A few photos:

Place de la Concorde:

Place de la Concorde

On both sides of the River Seine are roads down by the water that don’t have cars. Very nice cycling, if lots of pedestrians on Sunday:

This is the 3rd giant city we’ve visited to use a bike share program. Rome’s program had collapsed and we had to hire bikes and a guide. It could be scary at times riding there: traffic/crazy drivers/few lanes/etc. London was better, and lots of fun, but Paris was easily the best in terms of city infrastructure, and quality/availability of bikes. We also hugely enjoyed using the bike-share program in the smaller Torino.

The Panthéon:

The city is generally flat. But the road up Montmartre to Sacré Cœur was very steep. Success:

Les Invalides:

Paris, of course, has a lot of traffic and loads of tourists, so one needs to be sensible and cautious on a bike. But bike lanes are marked everywhere. Many of the biggest roads have segregated bus/bike lanes. As shown above, there are quiet roads down by the river. And finally, on Sunday we found a few sections of the city with roads closed to cars. Around Luxembourg Gardens:

We rode both up and down the Champs-Elysée. It is definitely uphill to the Arc de Triomphe.

IMG_0737 - Version 2

We did go in the Louvre, but generally were having so much fun that we had little interest going inside museums/stores/churches. Riding was more fun.


La Conciergerie:

La Conciergerie

We’re sold. Visiting a city on bike can be much more fun than using the Metro, a taxi, or by foot. Next time we head to Paris, we’ll definitely be using the Vélib’ bikes again. Feel free to suggest other cities with well run bike-share programs.

Bridges Louvre Lions Foggy Eiffel Halloween Party Paris market Place Vendôme Jeanne d'Arc What's her name? Arc de Triomphe Pyramid Autumn La Seine

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Col du Galibier – Late October Mon, 26 Oct 2015 21:28:32 +0000 North side with Télégraphe

I often receive emails asking if Col xyz will be open in late September/October. Depending on the col’s altitude and the month, I try and give an intelligent response that usually can be summarised as either no, maybe, probably, or possibly.

Question: Will Col du Galibier by bike-able in late October?
Me: No, I seriously doubt it.

But it was in fact still open. A perfect day, I decided to visit Col du Galibier one last time before it closes until next June – it should snow there tomorrow. I started down in St-Michel-de-Maurienne at the base of Col du Télégraphe. I always enjoy Télégraphe, not too steep and nice views. It was a beautiful autumn day:

Below: Fort du Télégraphe at top left:

Behind the Col du Télégraphe col sign was a giant straw man:

The Fort du Télégraphe is strategically perched high above the Maurienne valley. Built in the late 1880’s. It’s never seen serious action, but there is a memorial there for several French soldiers killed by the Nazi’s. It is still used by the French military and can be visited by tourists in the summer.

I took a short detour at Télégraphe on the way back down to try and visit the Fort for the first time. It’s roughly one kilometre on a dead-end uphill road. Unfortunately the Fort was shut.

Fort entrance Peeking through the gate View from Fort entrance

Here’s a view of the Fort from across the valley from a ride last year:

My least favourite part of the north side of Galibier is the 8 kms above Valloire. Steep and fairly straight (and a head-wind today). I want hairpins! I struggled slowly up as usual. But once the route reaches Plan Lachat at 2000 metres altitude, the last 8 kilometres are a dream. Stunning.

Below is the 6 kilometre marker. Behind is the great unpaved road to Col des Rochilles linked to further down in this article.

Making progress:

Yes, I know. I have written a lot about Galibier. Sorry. But in case you’re interested, here are a few links to older posts:

  1. Details of all three sides by road bike
  2. A slightly crazy 4th way up – bypassing Télégraphe
  3. Cycling Galibier to see the Sun Rise
  4. La Marmotte Cyclosportive – Glandon/Alpe d’Huez/Galibier
  5. Watching the Tour de France up Galibier: North side and South Side
  6. A Brief History of Col du Galibier
  7. Col des Rochilles – Superb high Mountain Bike Trail off north side

Today, the road was closed above the tunnel to cars. But it was easy to bypass the barrier. It was clear why the road was closed as there was some ice on the last half kilometre. I took my time, dismounting a couple of times. But no worries.

It was 2°C at the summit and windy, brrrr. Completely deserted, very peaceful. I hiked above the Col for a photo of both sides. It’s easy to guess the north side:

This is a difficult climb, and I was tired and slow. But wandering around the summit of Galibier is always satisfying. It’s an amazing place. It’s also a long way down. But, I had plenty of extra clothes and full-finger gloves so the descent wasn’t too cold. :)

Galibier in late October? A true treat. Very fun to squeeze in one final high climb before winter closes them for months.

Nice views Le Grand Galbibier Road closed above the tunnel Autumn descent

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2016 Etape du Tour Course Preview Thu, 22 Oct 2015 09:52:57 +0000 The 2016 Tour du France route was announced this week. Every year, Tour organiser ASO runs a cyclo-sportive, open to all, that rides one of the Tour’s mountain stages a few days before the pros. To register see the official site here.

This year the Etape will replicate Stage 20, on the north edge of the French Alps. The 146 kilometre route has perhaps 3500 metres of vertical ascent, with four big climbs, each one a little harder than the previous. There is a detailed map of the route at the bottom of this post.

This is a tough but rarely crazy route on some of the more famous climbs in the northern edge of the French Alps. Nothing too high, but always scenic. Not bad.

Etape Route & Tour de France Stage  20

Etape Route & Tour de France Stage 20

The stage begins from the quaint Haute Savoie ski station of Megève. The first few kilometres are gently down, giving the opportunity to warm up the legs. At Flumet, the route turns north and heads up into the Aravis Alps. Col des Aravis is not the steepest climb, it’s good way to start a long day in the saddle.

There are big mountains on both sides and the huge ridge near the summit has almost a Dolomites feel to it. Don’t worry, there will be no snow next July. I just usually cycle Aravis in late winter as it’s the only one of the four cols in this route that always stays open during winter.

The descent of Aravis is also not too steep, initially nice sweeping curves: enjoy. Lower down, the route passes through a few ski villages: La Clusaz, St. Jean de Sixt, and finally Le Grand Bornand before heading up the second climb of the day.

If you are someone that likes to count the cols you have visited, note the route passes by Col de St. Jean de Sixt during the descent.

This is the easier side of Col de la Colombière. In recent decades, both sides have made frequent appearances in the Tour. Contador and the brothers Schleck in 2009:

(note, all photos by me and my little tripod except this superb one, taken by my friend Katy)

Don’t confuse Col de la Colombière with nearby Jura mountain climb Le Grand Colombier – which will also be in the 2016 Tour de France.

After climbing through the ski station, the last three kilometres are the most fun.

View from summit of south side hairpins:

It’s a long (16.5 kms) descent down the more famous north side of Colombière. First along a fun cliff road, then eventually through the woods. Careful, the top three kilometres of the descent are the steepest:

After descending Colombière the route must briefly traverse the busier, more industrial valley through Cluses.

Next, the route climbs Col de la Ramaz. I really like this climb. Fairly challenging, the road meanders higher before passing through a newish tunnel – the steepest part of the climb is inside the tunnel – then entering a scenic alpine plateau.

The Tour climbed Ramaz in 2010. The road chalk has pretty much disappeared now.

Approaching avalanche protector and then the tunnel (old cliff road visible):

Note, if you are not in a hurry, just as you enter the tunnel it is possible to step out, over the barrier, onto the old cliff road. It may be a little messy but it’s passable.

Note, the road doesn’t actually cross the geographical Col de la Ramaz – 1559 metres), instead brushing up against it and heading a little higher. The road Col sign is at 1619 metres.

It’s possible to cross country ski to Ramaz in winter:

The descent from Ramaz begins gently enough into the village of Savolière, but then there are 6 extremely steep kilometres with sharp hairpins. Careful.

After descending to Taninges, there is a flat traverse of perhaps 10 kilometres to Samoëns. If it’s hot, make sure to load up on water now. I once did a cyclosportive with the same Joux Plane to Morzine finish and nearly died of thirst only to find the next drink-stop uselessly at the top of the climb. :)

Col de Joux Plane is a tough way to finish the day. A very uneven climb, with some very steep short ramps in the teens %.

I think it’s an interesting climb. Similar to Ramaz, this is not some purpose built ski station road. It wanders up through alpine meadows always heading higher towards bigger mountains.

Joux Plane is another great place to cross-country ski in winter. A couple of times I have mountain-biked up and rented XC skis at the Col – see here.

Lac de Joux Plane (at the Col itself):

During the 2012 Dauphine, Nairo Quintana was first to summit Joux Plane. Perhaps we’ll see him in first again in 2015?

Again, the road here does not pass over the geographical Col, but brushes up against it. From the summit is a quick up down to Col du Ranfolly, before a hair-raising descent mainly through Morzine ski slopes down to the finish. Careful. Very fast, but occasionally technical.

The route was closed for most of 2015 due to a landslide just below Col du Ranfolly – see here. Although it has always remained passable by bike. No doubt, the route will be repaired very soon in preparation for the Tour.

Final Thoughts

Again, this is a tough but rarely crazy route on some of the more famous climbs in the northern edge of the French Alps. If you don’t know the region, you should enjoy this.

If you’re riding L’Etape then I wish you the best of luck. If you’re watching the Tour stage, come say hi to me near the summit of Joux Plane. I’ll be the fool likely holding a beer:

The map below should be 99% accurate. Thanks to Ben who runs the great Veloviewer site for figuring out the route from the Tour presentation video before ASO bothered to post a map. :) See his preview of the Etape climbs here.

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Les Grandes Platières (2480m) – 5 Col Loop above Flaine Sun, 04 Oct 2015 20:04:46 +0000 The weather was so nice this morning that I “upgraded” my plans. Winter is coming, some of the highest cols were closed this weekend, but I decided to target the highest climb I could think of near home.

Flaine is a nearby ski station – our favourite local station. It’s also a great 21 kilometre road bike climb to Col de Pierre Carrée – the highest road near me open year-round – details here. But it’s also “possible” to go much higher on a mountain bike: to the top of the ski slopes. Today’s goal was the top of the main cable car at 2480 metres.

This is a very, very difficult mountain bike climb – I pushed a lot – but quiet and very beautiful. And the views at the very top are worth every drop of sweat.

I started at about 1100 metres in Les Carroz, avoiding the road and taking a trail through some cliff/hilly/woods that passed two Cols (Col de la Frête -1317m, and Col du Cou – 1501m) – see map for all Cols.

Note, once within a kilometre of Col de la Frête, it is an extremely steep and rough trail until Col du Cou. Even the strongest cyclist will be doing some pushing.

The route starts with a nice “secret” cliff road just above Les Carroz:

From Col du Cou, I descended to Lac de Flaine.

The trails eventually leads to the village of Flaine at 1600m or so. From here I headed up a very steep, gravel, ski-lift service road (ski piste). You can see it behind me and Flaine village far below:

View back down from 2300 metres:

I’ve done this loop once before and cycled most of the way. But today I did less well. But even pushing a bike this is an enjoyable place to be.

For another slightly crazy mountain bike ride to some high Flaine Cols in another section of the resort see here.

The “road” passes two more cols – Col Pelouse (2270m), and Col de Paté (2356m) – which as a col hunter made me very happy.

Col Pelouse:

The road actually gets easier up high as it basically rides along the top ridge of the mountain. Looking back:

The road ends at Les Grandes Platières (2480 metres). It’s the top of the largest cable car here. The reward for persevering to the summit? Superb views of Mont Blanc over the top:


All the Cols. Clockwise from top left: Col Pelouse (2270m), Col du Cou (1501m), Col de Platé (2356m), Col de Pierre Carrée (1844m), Col de la Frête (1317m), and Les Grandes Platières (2480m).


Again, this loop is hard work. But ultra quiet, very scenic, and truly spectacular at the summit.

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