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  • Where to go in the French Alps
  • asbrooks
    Full Member

    Some of you will have plenty of experience in this.

    Mrs asbrooks has kindly given me the permission to go to the Alps for a biking week along with a mate in September.

    Never having been to the Alps in the summer months before other than to a snowboarding camp at Alpe d’Huez some 20+ years ago, I have no idea as to what’s good or not so good for some trail riding and need some recommendations.

    In my younger days I’d head over to France with my snowboard kit, just book a flight and get accommodation upon arrival. I suffer much more from stress these days, so don’t plan on doing it that way.

    So to my question. What the best way of doing this?

    The kind of riding that we do mostly is trail riding, like in the Peaks, the Lakes, Wharncliffe and much recently at the Golfie. Not into bike parks with massive jumps.

    So in terms of options.
    Do we use an organised company? Or can we DIY it? Fly or drive.

    Some advice/anecdotes are greatly received.

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    In my younger days I’d head over to France with my snowboard kit, just book a flight and get accommodation upon arrival.

    Yeah, don’t do that now. Accommodation tends to be pretty much booked out these days.

    jameso
    Full Member

    There’s so many good places to ride in the Alps, I think the important thing is a good guide who’ll soon get a feel for your ability and show you round the best and most suitable trails. I’ve been for a weeks accommodation and guiding at Flow MTB in Morzine and a company who’s name I forget in Chamonix, did some great riding. I’ve read a lot of good things on here about White Room in Les Arcs.

    I reckon DIY would be good if you did loads of research on trails beforehand, so much of it is online now. Then you just need a place to stay that has space for bike maintenance/cleaning.

    Driving is good as it means you can take more spares and your bikes are less likely to be damaged. Plus a road trip’s fun and you can stop somewhere on the way, bring more beers back, etc.

    stevedoc
    Free Member

    Mtb beds offer packages as do others, we used More Mountain for the accomadation and sorted the travel ourselves (drive) . Flying to Genva + a transfer is quickest via Speedy gonzaly around 40europes each way and around 126 europes of 7 days lift pass. After that do a little reserch aswell as all the runs from the lifts there are loads of other trails for miles and miles. Great place Morzine

    fathomer
    Full Member

    Your issue might be lifts in September, i.e. they may not be running?

    If you want my opinion, book with White Room and fly to Geneva. No messing around and you can’t get lost on the side of a mountain, I know you 🙂

    rascal
    Free Member

    As Sam says, pretty sure the lifts don’t run in September – at least in the Portes du Soleil…though I could be wrong.
    I’ve been to Morzine (PDS) 5 times and have to say I love it there. Plenty of variety if you stay relatively local and big days out if you head over towards Champery in Switzerland. Huge network of lifts so minimal climbing to maximize your descending time – I think you’d like it there. Morzine itself is a nice town with plenty going on.
    I stayed with MTB Beds last time I went in 2019 sans-bike as I’d recently broken my collarbone! Great accommodation and superb food and lift pass included, but there are cheaper self catering options available too. We flew from Luton to Geneva and got transfers with Skiidy Gonzalez. https://www.mtbbeds.com/accommodation/morzine/mtb-holiday-riders-week-chalet-chapelle
    Driving has its benefits as mentioned but you’ll need more time away to get enough actual biking time in.

    I’d love another Alps trip but feel – having said all of the above – like I should try somewhere else next time!

    I assume your ‘mate’ is Pete 😉

    snaps
    Free Member

    What’s your budget ?

    We’ve ranged from under £450 each for six of us driving over in a van to the Zermatt Valley, renting a chalet self catering & self guided to over £1200 for me flying solo to Geneva for a week with Whiteroom.

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    I usually stay with Riders Refuge in chalet Carclion. Free transfers and no shopping or cooking to worry about.

    If you like steep natural trails there’s off piste stuff everywhere and Samoens is nearby and worth a visit. All the marked trails are very bike parky and can get very repetitive.

    There’s also something about funny about French jumps but they’re getting better.

    September is late though.

    zerocool
    Full Member

    Morzine and the PDS is pretty reliable, easy to drive to and covers a pretty big area.
    Tignes, and some of the others are fun, but smaller and further away.

    If in doubt head to Morzine/Les Gets. There’s lots to do there and you can link up quite a bit for long days or just hit the DH tracks.

    nickdavies
    Free Member

    I’m planning to give my usual 2 weeks in summer up this year to check out the September mtb festival that is currently being planned to coincide with wc etc in the portes du soleil region.

    I’m not big on more than a few days in one place but pds has plenty of riding and hopefully better weather than July august.

    Otherwise I’m September I’d be looking at switzerland, verbier runs late and there’s so much natural stuff to explore.

    Tracey
    Full Member

    As said earlier. Most of the lifts close at some point in September.
    Might be worthwhile looking further South at Finale.
    Plenty of accommodation at that time of year. You can fly in to Nice and catch the train or hire a car.
    Loads of uplifts and guiding.

    asbrooks
    Full Member

    I assume your ‘mate’ is Pete 😉

    Well yes obviously since you’ve blown us off.

    Thanks for the responses guys. Looks like there are many options to investigate. Good shout about the lifts closing in September. I hadn’t considered that.

    Matt_SS_xc
    Full Member

    Drive.
    Go to Davos (yes its Switzerland not France)
    Download some gpx
    Easy.

    tourismo
    Full Member

    Highly recommended Bike Village, great riding and accommodation.

    UK-FLATLANDER
    Full Member

    I do find it amusing that every time folk mention going to the alps out of season, nearly everyone responds with the lifts are closed. Last time I checked this is a MTB forum and most bikes will happily climb really well these days. I almost exclusively travel in early September, the whole of the alps are much quieter, and if you head further south like the Ecrins the weather is usually pretty good. Still warm but not stifling. Each to their own I guess.

    lardman
    Free Member

    I’ve been quite a few times in September, guided and looked after by The White Room.

    It’s a great week riding and uplift via the van and trailer. It’s one of their ‘backcountry’ weeks so there’s a bit of riding up hill too, but the spectacular long Singletrack descents are very worth it.

    Can’t go wrong with them tbh.

    Grump
    Free Member

    “I do find it amusing that every time folk mention going to the alps out of season, nearly everyone responds with the lifts are closed.” Me too, but that’s because as an alps resident I can bike from lifts year round (weather permitting, frankly, who’d want to ride a bike right now when the snow is so good)

    Obviously outside of the peak July and August months there’s not as much choice and some more creativity is needed, but the first week of September is probably the best week of the year for lift accessed biking in the western alps as most of the useful lifts are still open and the trails empty of walkers after the last weekend in August. September is also one of the driest months of the year and, along with October, the temperatures are prime for riding if you suffer from celtic genes and an aversion to hot weather. With each week from then there is less choice, but there’s still plenty to be done. Switzerland is better than France for lift openings (there’s more telecabines that count as public transport there, so open 365days a year), but France is still good if you look about a bit more.

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    Last time I checked this is a MTB forum and most bikes will happily climb really well these days.

    andylaightscat
    Free Member

    Last time I checked this is a MTB forum and most bikes will happily climb really well these days.

    unlike the riders, I’ve been going to Alps since 2001,the amount of climbing people willing to do has just gone down and down.
    If the OP likes cross country maybe have a look at BikeVillage Alp Packer rides?

    sofaboy73
    Free Member

    second comments re white room – its a great set up and looking forward to my stay with them this august after a few years off.

    if i’m lucky i’ll get a week in the alps every couple of years, so i want to spend as much time riding and having fun as possible. as a minimum i’d want a local guide to show me the best trails for the type of riding i want to do and a few hidden gems, rather than losing time experimenting. from there the next logical step is for someone to sort all your food and accommodation as well.

    deff recommend white room – nice group of people running it, foods is great, free beer, new chalet looks awesome and in the 3 times i’ve been out with them all the others guests have been lovely – decidedly less ‘alpha’ than some other all in trips i’ve done

    Marin
    Free Member

    I’d go with a company you’ll get a lot more riding done I’d say. White Room are great though not been with them for a while, switched my trips to Southern Spain in winter to get some blue sky fun and dry trails.

    lardman
    Free Member

    switched my trips to Southern Spain in winter to get some blue sky fun and dry trails.

    Out of interest @Marin, where do you go? who with etc:

    Northwind
    Full Member

    I always think of guides as a holiday multiplier- sure you can have a good time just exploring bike parks etc but you’re probably going to waste some time on crap trails, and you’re probably going to miss some great trails, and if you have a mechanical or an accident you’ll lose more time there. With so much of the cost being travel and accomodation, adding guiding basically maximises all of that. And frankly some locations just aren’t practical without guides- where do you get the mysterious bike bus at Sainte Foy that seems to start in different places every time? And so on. While the ones that are easy to explore like say Alpe d’Huez or Les 2 are generally just simpler allround which takes away some of the range

    it’s not all one way of course, there’s been definite advantages when we’ve gone it alone too- little things like starting late, riding later if you want, redoing favourite trails, which might not be possible with a group since it’ll generally not be just you. Or even having quick bites rather than real breaks. And there’s definitely an element where day 1 of a group holiday can be a little bit chaotic as people discover their favourite UK setup doesn’t work at all with a big mountain, or someone turns out not to be able to ride, or someone’s a mechanical liability, or someone’s too brave.

    But over the years without a doubt the guided, organised holidays have been best for me. White Room and Bikevillage to the front, definitely. White Room slightly better riding for me, Bikevillage better over holiday, but both fantastic. The Tarantaise is a brilliant area, you’ve got so many riding locations so you can do simple Les Arcs/Thuile bike park if you want, or Sainte Foye obscurities, or nip over to the magnificent La Thuile (best place I’ve ever ridden, it’s like mega-innerleithen) But definitely not as accessible as other places.

    cord
    Free Member

    If you are happy to explore and follow maps / GPX then Les Arc is hard to beat. Theres some nice non-bikeparky way marked trails, and then miles and miles of singletrack and footpaths. Or get a guide. again, check on lifts as they close sometime in septamber.

    Morzine / PDS is more DH oreintated if jumps and berms are your thing.

    There’s loads more places i could list, but not many that will accomodate a full week of riding without recovering ground, or you doing a lot of homework to explore.

    If too late in the year for lifts, then head further south. I’ve not done Fianle, but apparently it has everything you need. Or hunt out RadRidesmtb.com uplifted and guided in the italian riviera, and just mind blowingly good.

    TroutWrestler
    Free Member

    I am increasingly of the opinion that while lift served riding can be great, and is certainly good for certain types of riding (berm, berm, tabletop, berm) l, if you want to ride real vegetation-brushing-your-forearm singletrack, an ebike in the Alps is hard to beat. Incredible trails, no-one else there, not reliant on lifts. YMMV.

    TroutWrestler
    Free Member

    I would add, we flew to Malaga and went for a week with Switchbacks in October. Absolutely fantastic.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    We’ve just booked Verbier in a catered chalet with guiding and uplift, think it’s with MTB Verbier. It’s not cheap but our friends went last year and had a great week.

    an ebike in the Alps is hard to beat.

    We’re going again in August and will be taking e-bikes for the first time so definitely looking forward to exploring further afield. Will keep an eye on this thread for inspiration.

    snaps
    Free Member

    Lifts were open well into October in Zermatt.

    Another thing to be aware of is the hunting season in France – there fatalities most years as they shoot at anything that moves!

    hpman83
    Free Member

    Hi,
    As a French I would say the Queras region.
    It’s the southern Alps so you minimize the risk of bad weather.
    The area is bike friendly in a sense of the climbs are not super steep like in some others parts of the Alps.
    And it’s very beautiful. It’s where the stone king rallye route starts.
    Ash smiths did a very nice edit to present the SKR last week I think. Take a look at it.

    TroutWrestler
    Free Member

    Furfande!

    Marin
    Free Member

    Lardman I’ve just been on Costa’s Benalmadena peddling up to ride local trails it is all 8/900m climbs to trail head so one a day for me! Countless trails really. But on third trip with Ride Southern Spain based in Lanjaron in Sierra Nevada. Uplifted, trails are mostly natural Enduro but do some EWS tracks, DH tracks, very dry, quiet, great trails, Andy the owner can cater for whatever you want. Good escape from UK winter slop check them out.

    asbrooks
    Full Member

    I have managed to book trip and I’m beside myself with excitement!!

    Not gone quite to plan as mentioned above there is little to no availability in September. Now heading out in July and staying at the Riders Refuge. It has been the most stressful day for organising flights and accommodation for now three of us while supposed to be working..

    Next on the list is bike packaging.

    A big thanks for everyone’s suggestions

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    Riders Refuge is mint you’ll love it. They make it so easy. There’s always good craic around the dinner table on an evening and the staff will have loads of local knowledge to tap into.

    I’m jealous as we have no plans at all yet.

    lardman
    Free Member

    @Marin
    Thanks for the suggestions about Spain.
    I’ve ridden around Alicante, but not further south at all.

    I’ll check those places out.

    agentdagnamit
    Free Member

    The Italian parks tend to keep their lifts running into Sep and Oct, as do the Swiss (as mentioned above). Other than Chamonix, most French resorts I’ve been to close up at the end of August. The first week in September is great in Chamonix, no bike ban and quiet trails – but logistically it isnt the easiest place to ride.

    Interesting point about ebikes, though you’d probably still want to use lifts if you’re planning on 4000m-5000m descending days. I go for a couple of months every year and there’s certainly amazing looking places I’ve seen on maps that would be accessible with an ebike, that are just out of reach without one. But, I like the simplicity of an analogue bike and happily rely on lifts, buses and the occasional paid uplift.

    We usually aim for France for the last 2 weeks in August to catch the lifts, then move east across the Alps. We ended up in Nauders in late September last year – the snow was just starting (ironically, given this year’s conditions). Lifts still running and some amazing trails. Latsch and Paganella were great too.

    asbrooks
    Full Member

    Ok so holiday booked.
    Looking for advice about travel insurance, who do folks use?

    mrhoppy
    Full Member

    Whiteroom are ace and the riding around Bourg is great.

    The lifts are shut then and (despite the comments above) it does make a holiday less worthwhile. You can go anywhere and ride uphill, if you’re going to the Alps then you want to make use of the uplift available to you otherwise save yourself the driving/flying time and cost

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