Top tips for Mountain biking in the French Alps
The Alps have some truly incredible road biking and mountain biking and it suits everyone from a family of bikers to downhill-mad nutters. If you visit this beautiful region in summer, then one thing’s for sure - whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate or a family looking for a (very) fun day out - you’re going to want to give it a go!
Let’s start with beginners.
So how do you get started? Riding the alps for the first time can be a daunting prospect, but it’s not all steep and gnarly if you know where to go; and that’s where a specialist Tour Operator (such as ourselves) can help you get started. There are plenty of trails to choose from and with a little guidance (following one of our Route Cards) you can find trails to suit your ability and even take your 4 year old up the chairlifts so they can experience the ‘real’ mountain and some high altitude trails.
In Morzine, then as a beginner or family biker you don't need to be restricted to the valley floor trails. You can use the lifts to reach high vantage points easily, cover many miles of terrain, get far away from the crowds and see lots of wildlife. You can even find a far flung mountain restaurant to get a really homegrown flavour of the alps. The real McCoy!
Of course, the valley floor trails in Morzine are also fun for really tentative beginners and will take you along the river or to the beautiful lake Montriond or Lac Mines D’Or for a lovely day out where you can try paddleboarding or kayaking to mix the day up a bit. Spending your first two days pottering the valley is a great prequel to using the lifts.
Either bring your own bike (easy when self driving) or make use of our complimentary Specialized hardtail bikes which are maintained by a team of Alpine Elements mechanics and available for all our guests.
Confident and improving riders
There’s quite a bit more variety up the mountain (using the lifts) for aspiring riders or those of whom are a little more ‘comfortable’ at riding off road trails in the UK. The trails in France are graded green to black, but the greens can have technical sections, so we’d always recommend a full suspension bike to help you tackle the difficult bits and make the most of it. Bikes can be rented in Morzine from €60 per half day (€90 for a full day) and have improved stopping power whilst smoothing out the ride so you won’t skitter about on the rough stuff.
Guided rides - get the knowledge
We often organise guided rides (using professional mountain guides) for our guests and we often will get a group of likeminded guests together to share the cost (approx €280 a day). A guide will show you trails for your ability that will have you grinning from ear to ear as you hurtle down with a pace-setter up front to warn you of the difficult sections.
Your guide will also give you some riding tips on how to ride the banks and ‘berms’ (humps and bumps to you and me) as you descend the beautiful and heart pumping alpine trails. When you get to the bottom, we can guarantee that you’ll only want to go and do the whole lot again. Guides suit all levels from beginner to advanced and we will try to place you into a group of likeminded riders that suit your ability.
More experienced bikers will have almost all of the mountain terrain to choose from with no restrictions and hundreds of Km of trails. In Morzine there is a reputed 800Km+ to choose from, which spans into Switzerland and is all covered on the same full area lift pass.
The cross country folk will enjoy the 76Km Portes du Soleil circuit (among many other great rides) and the downhill crowd will push their limits on the World cup downhill courses. There’s easy downhill with small jumps for aspiring riders to get stuck into; and super-tough courses with enormous table top jumps for those with a penchant for the medical centre… Happily, there’s always a ‘chicken run’ around such jumps (just as there is with a ski resort board park) so you can avoid the consequences if you are sensible and know your limits.
Again, bikes can be rented in resort but you’ll need to get organised early to ensure good availability. If you have your own bike then why not drive out and bring all your favourite gear with you. It’s only 8 hours on the French side (from Calais) and driving will enable you to come and go at your own agenda, and maybe even get an extra day or half day in the resort before you drive back. We have mechanics and workshop facilities onsite at our main hotels so if you need a first aid post for your bike, then we can always help you get rolling again, (local charges may apply).
A decent travel/medical insurance policy is always a must (just as it is with skiing) and lift passes range from €4 per uplift to €90 for a week-long lift pass covering the whole area (which includes 25 lifts) without restrictions.
|7Nts Half board from £495
|Stay at our 3* Hotel Hermine Blanche Our Hotel Philibert
|Self drive to Morzine (8 hours)
|Rent bikes from Startline MTB or StarSki Sports
|Alpine Elements mechanic (for your own bike) €15 per hr
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