by Barbara Allan
Tour de France! JPP Race! Enduro World Series! French Regional & National Downhill Mountain Biking (MTB) Champs!
Samoëns and the Grand Massif has played host to some fantastic biking events over the years and it’s no wonder! With spectacular scenery, infamous Cols, and hundreds of kilometres of marked MTB trails, Samoëns and the Haute Giffre offer some of the best cycling terrain in the French Alps. It is your gateway to countless pedal-powered adventures.
No matter your skill or fitness level, or your choice of two-wheeled chariot, Samoëns and the Grand Massif is an excellent year-round holiday destination for cyclists of all disciplines. And the team at Alps Accommodation should know… they LOVE bikes!
Even non-bikers know France is a first-class road cycling destination. Why else would it host what is possibly the world’s most famous cycling race?! The Tour de France winds its way through the French Alps every year; the 2018 race saw riders face the gruelling Col de la Colombiere on their journey from nearby lakeside Annecy to Le Grand Bornand, and visitors enjoyed a spectacular sunny day out cheering them on. In fact, the Tour passes through the region regularly. In 2016 it raced right through the centres of Morillon and Samoëns then up and over the renowned Col de Joux Plane into Morzine.
In France everyone loves the Tour. According to Alps Accommodation Company Director Tom Ward-Lee, ‘it’s part of the French makeup.’ It’s part of Tom’s now too! He recently completed L’Etape du Tour, a huge event attracting thousands upon thousands of amateur road cyclists eager to make their mark along one stage of the famed Tour de France route. Tom found the 4 Cols and 4000m of climbing between Annecy and Le Grand Bornand ‘absolutely brutal…’
‘…But I’d do it again without a doubt! The roads all close and everyone’s standing out in their driveways cheering for you – it’s amazing. It was just lovely being a part of something so big and so local!’
Visiting road cyclists can participate in any number of great events locally, including the annual JPP race! Ranked among the 50 most beautiful sporting events in the world by cycling magazine ‘Le Cycle’, this awesome event whizzes right through Morillon, Samoëns and beyond, and caters to all levels of ability. In fact, the diversity and accessibility to all of Samoëns’ and the Haute Giffre’s road cycling itineraries are probably what makes this region one of the best. Whether you’re looking for a cruisy 20km loop on the valley floor, a slightly more challenging 50-60km adventure, or an epic assault on one or many of the brutal Cols; Samoëns, Morillon and Sixt have it all. Not only do some great itineraries leave right from your doorstep, but you can be very quickly off the main drag and onto quiet mountain roads.
Road cyclists, you will simply love this region. So grab your bib-shorts and get on out here, and don’t worry if you can’t bring your own bike. Anthonioz Sport have some excellent road bikes for hire, as do X-Treme Glisse, and from Summer 2019 Mountain Spirit will also stock a small selection of quality road bikes. Alps Accommodation have arranged a small discount with all their partner suppliers too, so be sure to mention you’re a guest when hiring your bike.
For more information on road cycling in and around Samoëns click here.
The mountain biking scene in the Grand Massif gets bigger and better every year. Lifts have been open for the Summer Season 2018 since mid-June and will remain so until the first weekend in September, providing you with quick and easy access to an ever-expanding network of downhill and enduro trails. Enjoy anything from fun, family-friendly green trails, to hair raising black descents. Or why not take a lift-assisted tour of the Grand Massif? This intermediate to advanced tour does require quite a lot of pedalling, but the lifts sure make a difference!
The Summer lifts are great, but you can have an amazing time without them. In fact, Samoëns and the Giffre Valley is the perfect year-round mountain-biking destination. That’s right - Spring, Summer, Autumn and even Winter!
Spring and Autumn are ideal times to make the most of the vast array of fantastic cross county loops on offer. A mix of gentle and more technical trails hug the river between Taninges and Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval. The Bout du Monde (End of the World) loop in the Cirque du Fer-a-Cheval is a very popular choice, or with just a little more effort you can climb from Samoëns to the thrilling Bois des Suet or flowing Les Allamands trails. There are some truly amazing trails on this side of the valley – le coté Bourgeoise! And with Mountain Spirit running an affordable shuttle service nearly all-year round, access to them has never been easier.
Mountain Spirit’s chief mechanic, MTB guide and instructor, Bertrand, thinks that when it comes to mountain biking ‘there’s no better place to be’ than the Grand Massif…
‘The Grand Massif has everything – there’s so many options right on your doorstep; circuits perfect for a family outing, big mountain experiences, multi-day trip options to other fantastic locations nearby… We’ve really got it good here.’
His business partner Thomas, a fully qualified mountain leader, who also heads up the office, couldn’t agree more.
‘We’ve got everything - the most natural spot, where likeminded people who are passionate about mountain biking, be it gravity, enduro or xc, can come together and practice their sport.’
As well as a daily shuttle service interseason, equipment hire and a workshop, Mountain Spirit offer an array of guided MTB tours and tuition all year-long, for both adults and children alike. An exciting addition to their Winter 2018/19 catalogue is lift-assisted MTB descents on piste! Snowy MTB adventures are also available with local guide Jamie Carr from Ride The Alps.
When contacting any of Alps Accommodation’s partner MTB suppliers be sure to mention you’re a guest, as discounts and VIP treatment applies!
For information on MTB itineraries in and around Samoens click here.
With their wide rims, obese tires, and weirdly-dimensioned frames that somehow make everything fit together, fat-bikes have made riding on virtually any terrain a walk in the park. From improved traction on dirt to perfect float when riding through snow, these bikes can roll where no bike has rolled before, no matter the season! It’s thanks to fat-bikes that biking is becoming an increasingly popular winter sport in the Alps.
Fancy a snowy downhill ride on the pistes of Les Carroz this winter? How about a ride up to the Refuge de Bostan, where you can share a warming fondue with your guide? Or what about wrapping up really warm to ride moonlit snowy trails under glistening stars on a nocturnal winter tour? It’s all possible and can be organised right here in Samoëns. For more information, be sure to ask the team at Alps Accommodation.
If road biking, mountain biking and fat-biking sound like they require just a little too much effort for your taste, don’t fear… Electric bikes are here! And they are revolutionising the biking world.
Roadies and mountain-bikers alike will love the experience of E-biking. Effort-free pedalling, the extra ‘oomph’ needed to conquer any terrain or obstacle, and access to peaks perhaps otherwise unobtainable; these are just some of the benefits on offer. That and a whole lot of fun. E-bikes are now available for rent from most sports shops around town and they come highly recommended by the Alps Accommodation team.
Samoëns and the Grand Massif truly is your number one biking destination of choice, and Alps Accommodation can help you choose the ideal base for your cycling adventure...
Chalets with direct access to a vast network of trails, apartments with bike storage, chalets and apartments close to lifts, or within minutes - and even on - the famous Col de Joux Plane road. They have it all! You can even get advice on where exactly to ride. So get in touch today. The Alps Accommodation team are always wheelie excited to hear from you.