Mountain biking

The chalet is perfectly placed for mountain biking in Chamonix, in the heart of the trails. We ride both cross-country and downhill ourselves, so feel free to contact us with any specific questions. Our shed can hold ten bikes, and has a steel door and security light. There’s an outside tap and hosepipe for washing bikes down.

Easy cycling in Chamonix

There are plenty of pleasant, level trails that run along the flat valley bottom, which are ideal for families. The circuits marked in green are virtually flat, and ideal for family days out. Les Houches is also a great place for easy cycling.

Easy cycling in the meadows of Les Houches
Easy cycling in the meadows of Les Houches

Cross-country mountain biking in Chamonix

Moving it up a bit, from the chalet door, you can ride a multitude of beautiful and challenging cross-country routes. The red routes are step up from these, and suitable for more experienced cross country riders – though you can easily cut the loops short at any point if you decide you’ve had enough.

Top of the Col De Balme
Col De Balme

These take you along undulating trails through the pines, with rocky and rooty sections, up to some great climbs, stunning cols and long descents. For those who really want to climb, the Col Des Posettes at le Tour is a tough and committing ascent, rewarded by a marvellous downhill.

Névé can linger on the high routes into July in some years.
Névé can linger on the high routes into July in some years.

Downhilling in Chamonix

Vallorcine’s downhill track was the first mountain bike only track to be opened in Chamonix. There’s a handy bail out after the first section where you can switch to a fire road for the remaining descent if you don’t want to do the commiting and technical lower part though the woods.

The other lift accessed “official” descents are fast and furious fire roads with some technical sections, especially at Le Tour and Les Houches, and from Lognan at Argentiere.

Bike trail at the top of Le Tour
Starting the downhill bike trail at the top of Le Tour

Don’t miss the shuttled descents on Wednesday afternoons from the Vert Hotel down the from the Merlet – this is a good place to meet up, as it’s a very social occasion. Outside July and August,there’s more technical routes available throughout the valley.

Days out mountain biking near Chamonix

From Chamonix you can easily have days out in other mountain bike areas. We like to go to Pre-la-Joux, near the Swiss Border,for its eye-popping cliffs and twisty singletrack, Les Gets for fast downhill and big berms and jumps, or Pila in Italy with its long scenic descents, massive drops, and Italian charm. These are all brilliant days out and not more than an hour’s drive.

Downhilling Italian style in Pila
Double espresso please! Downhilling Italian style in Pila

Pila and Les Gets are particularly good if you have any non mountain bikers with you – Pila’s trails come down from a lovely restaurant with a swimming pool and gorgeous views, as well as separate walking circuits with a Marmot Trail for kids. Les Gets is a lovely Alpine town with plenty to offer apart from biking – see their site for full details.

Les Gets bike park
Les Gets bike park

Mountain bike shops in Chamonix

Zero G (+33 4 50 53 01 01 , zerogchamonix@hotmail.com) is probably the best place to head for if you want to rent bikes – they’ll also sort you out with protection and have a good servicing area.

Another good shop is Legend’chx with its mini-northshore ramps for testing (+33 (0)450 902225, legendchx@wanadoo.fr, map)

Mountain biking and walkers

The attitude to mountain biking in France is noticeably more accomodating than the UK – the French love cyclists of all kinds and and calls of ‘Bon Courage!” are more likely to follow you than anything else. We very much hope to see this continuing in Chamonix so it’s good to have consideration on the shared trails – a cheery “bonjour” goes a long way to ensuring the future of mountain biking in the valley.

Be kind when sharing the trails!
Be kind when sharing the trails!

When to go

It’s worth keeping in mind that in July and August, you are only allowed to ride bikes on the designated bike trails. These are extensive and very good…. However, outside these times, you can ride anywhere you want, opening up more terrain.

Balanced against this, the lifts open in mid-June and close mid-September (Grands Montets is slightly shorter, full details here). After this time, the lifts are generally open at weekends only, according to weather. This means that around the last few weeks of June, and the first few weeks of September, the lifts are open, and you can ride anywhere. The trails are less busy with walkers too, making this an ideal time to visit.

Le Lavancher is a peaceful spot for a rest
Le Lavancher is a peaceful spot for a rest on a lovely June morning

 

Cross-country riders who aren’t bothered about lift access will find Chamonix a paradise in June, September, and October, with some great cross-country available right into November if conditions are good. N.B. At busy times, the train allows only five bikes on at at time, so this isn’t reliable for large groups.

Further information

There’s an official map which is useful to have, and a much better mountain biking overview with advice and trail suggestions on Chamonet.  We keep a copy of Tom’s excellent Chamonix Bike Book of routes at the chalet and you are  welcome to use it.

Happy trails
Happy trails