Col de l’Arpettaz


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

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.

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:

Plenty of cows watching Manu suffer:

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:

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:

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


Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Pingback: The Best Cycling Climbs from Lake Annecy

  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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  5. i did this climb in July ’16 and found it a real tough one. plenty of lonely climbing through the trees (the road had cracked at one point leaving a gap right across the road) and a real biting wind at the top. savage view 2km from the top of the valley below and a quiet descent made it worthwhile, especially as i wouldn’t have heard of the climb only for Will. Passed 2 elderly gentlemen coming up the opposite way so any complaints are nul in void;)

  6. Heading to Annecy for a week or so this summer off the back of a great stopover last year on our way back from Provence. Just been perusing segments on Strava and this stood out; hairpin central!!! Looking forward to doing this, looks like it could be a nice quick out-and-back before the kids wake up and the missus gives me a talking to 🙂

    Your site is a goldmine of info 🙂

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