Four Col Loop in the “Aravis” Alps


Snow has arrived in the French Alps.

Happy Bike

Happy Bike


Col de la Croix Fry is one of my favourite winter climbs. Usually I head up, then visit Col des Aravis, and return. Today, I decided instead to make a bigger loop, including Gorges de l’Arly, and Col du Marais.

Croix Fry stays open all winter as there is a little ski station at the top, as well as some great Cross-Country Ski-ing from the Col.

As usual, I stopped at my favourite hairpin for some photos.

My standard shot

My standard shot

I have been taking photos here for years: 🙂
Favourite Hairpin

For a great longer version of Croix Fry, you can climb Col de Plan Bois first, rejoining Croix Fry for the best upper half. See here.

From Col de la Croix Fry, I descended gingerly on the shaded, not-quite-icy road, for a few kilometres joining the main road up to Col des Aravis. I always enjoy this scenic little climb.

Near Aravis

Near Aravis

Next, I descended the south side of Aravis. Slowly leaving the snow behind and finding autumn again as I arrived in Flumet. From Flumet, it is an interesting descent through the Gorges de l’Arly all the way to Ugine. However, this road always has a few trucks taking a short-cut from the Mont-Blanc tunnel.

So after a few kilometres I turned off the main D1212 onto the D109. This is a fantastic road! First, it winds up for a few kilometres then becomes a fun, quiet cliff road, eventually descending into Ugine. It is far, far quieter than the main road below. Sorry, no photos.

From Ugine, I joined the terrific cycling path that links Albertville and Annecy:

Annecy Bike Path

Annecy Bike Path


At Saint-Ferréol, I left the bike path to climb Col du Marias. Signs said it was closed 4 kms up the road, I gambled that I could get through.

And despite a few dirty looks from the construction workers, I weaved through the construction site. I was feeling quite relieved to make it through and avoid a massive detour as the sun began to .

Then, a minor disaster. 4 kilometres below Col du Marais, my derailleur snapped off into my spokes, while I was gliding along. Bizarre, what an awful sound!

Derailleur Fell Off

I considered hitch-hiking, in the end, just walked (and scootered) the last not-steep 4 kms to the col, then free-wheeled all the way back to the start at Thônes. It could have been far worse. 😉


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Pingback: Col de la Croix Fry and Col de Plan Bois

  2. I found your website when planning my cycling trips I was planning to do during my holiday in the region this summer. It was my first time in the alps (I am only riding for a year now). Many of your tours inspired trips:
    – Col De Marais
    – Col de L’Arpettaz
    – Semnoz from Leseaux

    Also the combination of col de Marais, Col de Croix Fry and Aravis (and as a bonus the cote D’Hery) was absolutely the most beautiful of all. I share your passion for hairpins and have actually taken the same pictures you show in this item. Less snow due to 32 degrees and a burning sun but the same beauty.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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