Col du Fornet (Avoriaz and Above)


This is a ride of two parts. First, the fully paved road up to Avoriaz ski station, and then higher on a rough gravel road to a couple of cols perched on the French/Swiss border atop the ski slopes above Avoriaz.

This 3D video of the route is fun:

The two profiles above are only for the paved part of this ride. One is the route I climbed, basically the back route up to Col de la Joux Verte (1760m) then Avoriaz (1820m). The other is the route I descended, the direct road to Avoriaz from Morzine. See map below.

The route has a great start, passing the lovely Lac de Montriond.


The road then heads up through a wooded, undeveloped valley. It’s a very nice climb to Col de la Joux Verte, steep in the middle with plenty of hairpins, then Les Lindarets or “Goat Town.” And finally a few more winding, wooded kilometres to the Col.

Approaching Goat Town/Les Lindarets

Approaching Goat Town/Les Lindarets

Goat village

Goat village

From Col de la Joux Verte it’s just a kilometre or so to Avoriaz. Road bikers: here it’s time to descend. But I had wider tires and continued through town and a short descent to Lac d’Avoriaz. From here the balance of the ride is a rough road. Lots of gravel and stones of all sizes. It’s tough going, but fun.

Much of the ride is not “too” steep, it’s generally ride-able, if slippery and bumpy.

Heading higher

Heading higher

First, I would visit Pas de Chavanette (2146m). This pass is on the French/Swiss border. The Portes du Soleil ski domain incorporates several resorts in both countries. Below me was Champéry/Les Crosets (Swiss). I looked over the top to see how steep the far side was. 90%!! There is a great sign here for the “Swiss Wall” ski slope:

90%  :)

90% 🙂

Next I would head to the top of one of the highest Avoriaz ski-lifts. I could see the road in the distance. It looked tough. And it was.

The goal:  top middle -  Col du Fornet

The goal: top middle – Col du Fornet


It gets very steep for the last kilometre or two. And slippery. Frankly, I hiked a lot here.

Nearing Col du Fornet.  Looking down.

Nearing Col du Fornet. Looking down.

The col itself is to the right of the top of the chair-lift – again it’s the French/Swiss border. A short hike on a hiking trail leads to the col sign. I am certain the views here are fabulous, but unfortunately, a huge cloud had settled over the top peak here. Oh well.

I am not going to claim this is the best gravel ride ever. But it was a lot of fun to explore above Avoriaz for the first time. And for road bikers, either route to Avoriaz is quite good.

More ideas:

  • One can approach Avoriaz from the Abondance valley via Col de Bassachaux. This requires an unpaved traverse. Two loops here, or here.
  • For road bikers, here is a giant loop including Col de Joux Plane, Col de la Ramaz, Col d’Encrenaz, and Col de la Joux Verte/Avoriaz.
  • Or slightly shorter: Cols Ramaz, Encrenaz, and Joux Verts – here.
  • Or a tough cyclo-sportive I rode way back in 2008. The route has Joux Verte, Col des Arces, and the classic side of Joux Plane. Here.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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