The chalet is perfectly placed for mountain biking in Chamonix, in the heart of the trails.
Mountain bike shops in Chamonix
Zero G has a great range of bikes and clothing, with a good servicing department. They have both road and mountain bikes. They don’t do rentals though.
Legend’chx is a good shop who also rent a wide range of bikes: enduro and xc mountain bikes, general trail bikes, fun fatbikes and e-bikes for adults and kids. They also hire road bikes.
Slash is a small but perfectly formed independent bike boutique that also offers rentals of mountain bikes and e-bikes
Intersport are worth a look for bike rentals, conveniently positioned opposite the Nordic foyer.
Sanglard (on the roundabout with the silver birches) specialise in e-bike hire.
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.
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.
These take you along undulating trails through the pines, with rocky and rooty sections, up to some great climbs, stunning cols and long descents.
Loriaz is a big ascent but well worth it for spectacular views
Downhilling & enduro 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s an official map which is useful to have, and a good mountain biking overview with advice and trail suggestions on SeeChamonix. We keep a copy of Tom’s excellent Chamonix Bike Book of routes at the chalet and you are welcome to use it.
Classic road climbs that can be done from the chalet include Emosson, Col des Montets and Col de Forclaz, or at the other end of the valley, Passy to Plaine Joux. Good route guides here on SeeChamonix.
Further afield, a day at Annecy is great for road biking with a full loop of around 40km around the lake.