La Plagne is a large high altitude ski resort in the French Alps. Part of the Paradiski Domaine with Les Arcs. Courchevel is just south. It’s a big modern ski station road (wide, steady grade) with 21 signed hairpins à la Alpe d’Huez.
La Plagne has hosted the Tour de France four times as an HC mountain top finish (’84, ’87, ’95, ’02). The most recent being won by Armstrong and subsequently vacated.
My plan was to ride the main road, but I was surprised to be passed by 30 vehicles including a few trucks in the first kilometre. So I quickly changed plans and turned onto a tiny road that I had scouted as an alternative. This was a great choice. It is shorter, thus steeper than the main road, and as I climbed more than 30 hairpins I saw nothing but a single tractor. Loved it.
The road is paved until 1450 metres, then unpaved for most of the way until Plagne-Bellecôte – one of several ski villages at the summit. Warning: this road is completely ride-able but has some very steep stretches, including perhaps a half kilometre at 14%-15%.
Here are two profiles: The first is the paved main road up to the highest of the summit villages (basically they all share the same road until perhaps 2 kms to go) – I would descend this road (see map at bottom). The second is today’s ride up until Col de la Grande Forcle (2266 metres).
Reaching the top of the paved climb was fun, but hard work. And I was only at the start of my main goal: to ride unpaved roads above La Plagne ski station. I found a place to refill my water bottles and next joined a ski-station service road heading up to Col de la Grande Forcle at 2266 metres.
From here there are several options. I had planned to climb to Roche de Mio at 2739 metres, but the road was very rocky, slippery, tough going even when flat. It was hot and I was tired, so when I saw a great smoother road behind me, I changed plans:
This part of the ride was beautiful. Easy at first, the views are fantastic. then the next stretch of road came into view. Not bad:
I continued until the little perched Chapelle du Bozelet. I certainly could have gone higher, or tried to link up with the fabulous Col du Jovet far in the distance. But it was getting late, I was thirsty and tired …. and pleased with the ride.
So I kept things simple, heading back to La Plagne via Col de la Grande Forcle. Note, on the map, I then descended the main, paved road, and its 21 signed hairpins, back to the start.
This was a big, challenging ride. I loved the quiet alternated route up to La Plagne, but I think next time I’ll bring a mountain bike (vs hybrid) and start in La Plagne. Thus, saving some energy to explore more of the beautiful trails up high.