About a 15 minute drive from Samoëns or a breezy 35 minutes by E-bike, as we discovered, is the Cirque du Fer a Cheval. This must-see destination for any visitor to the Grand Massif is a place of extraordinary, natural beauty. And as our team found out last week the Cirque is a perfect location for a great afternoon out. And what better way to get there than by E-bike!
Samoëns is of course very well known for its road and mountain biking, but not all of us are up for conquering the Cols. E-bikes are fast changing that though, and with both touring and full-suspension bikes available, there’s really no terrain that can’t be ridden. We opted for the touring cross-country version, hoping to find some adventure. We did by the way, but first up was a “pleasant pootle”, as Ali so perfectly described it, along an 18km stretch of country road to Sixt and then beyond to the Cirque. The scenery was fantastic. We cruised past the wide, grassy fields of Vallon, then wound our way along the forest road by the Gorges de Tines before arriving into the quaint village of Sixt. Half the trip was done and we’d not even broken a sweat. There was certainly no shortness of breath amongst our group either, except perhaps for the odd excited gasp as we turbo pedaled our way to top speeds in excess of 45km/h – and that with barely a downhill run!
From Sixt the road started to climb steadily. By no means was it steep, but there was certainly an element of constant “up”. But with our E-bikes it was a breeze. By flicking between the Eco, Tour and Turbo settings we hardly noticed the climb, which meant we could concentrate on the evermore stunning scenery. From Sixt to the Cirque we hugged the Giffre River, the road taking us past some lovely old farmhouses. And the nearer we got to our destination the more impressive the surrounding mountains became. Then we arrived and … “Wow!”
That’s really the only way to describe the Cirque du Fer à Cheval. The sealed road comes to an end and you are greeted by a wide and lush, green plain that’s completely encircled by mountains. The spectacular peaks reach high into the sky above you and it seems wherever you look, waterfalls cascade down over rocky cliff-faces. You could easily sit and enjoy the view all afternoon from a cosy picnic blanket laid out in the grass. Or if you prefer, like we did, order a fresh salad or burger from the Restaurant du Fer a Cheval. The shaded terrace afforded us great views of the Cirque and was the ideal place for a refreshment after our long (ok, so maybe it was mostly effortless) electric bike ride.
As much as it is a great place to just relax and be in awe of the mountains around you, the Cirque offers so much more. There’s a small visitor centre, pony rides, and ample trails to hike or bike, although biking in certain areas past the restaurant is restricted so be sure to check with the tourist office first. The trails in the Cirque itself are perfect for people of all ages, and for the more adventurous and experienced mountain folk, the higher mountain terrain accessible from the Cirque should not be missed. For us though, it was all about a fun, leisurely afternoon together, with of course a bit of that adventure I mentioned earlier.
After a great lunch we decided our trip back to Samoëns should be spent exploring some of the off-road routes. It was time to put our cross-country E-bikes to the test. They performed spectacularly! Gravelly paths, mud, tree roots, puddles, steep climbs and descents – no obstacle bested our bikes. We wore nothing but a smile on our faces the whole journey back. I’m very pleased to say too, that everyone arrived back in one piece and raring to do it all over again. In fact, I think everyone proclaimed how much they wanted their own E-bike.
It truly was a great afternoon out! If you’re coming to Samoëns, Morillon or Sixt any time soon be sure to have a go on an E-bike and be sure to visit the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval – we love them both!