www AlpineRoads com Biking In The Alps
Around Martigny & Chamonix - France, Switzerland and Italy
R5 Champagnole - Morez - Col de la Faucille - Gex - Geneva
A superb introduction to the Alps for anyone coming in from the north or west (e.g. UK, Belgium, Holland). Champagnole is a nice place to stop off overnight after the down.
The road starts off with lovely sweeping bends on an excellent surface. There are a number of villages which provide fill-up stops, but not too many that the going is slow. The road ascends gradually, then becomes steeper with excellent corners all the way. Your bike is hardly ever upright. As you reach the top of the climb, the road gets steeper and the turns tighter,but is suitably wide all the way up. It never gets as tight as the Col de l'Iseran for example. Lovely views on the way up, and as you crest the climb you get to see all the way across Lake Geneva to the mountains on the other side. A feast of corners on the way back down and you emerge smack into Geneva, with the motorway easily accessible to nip down to Val d'Isere.
Time to complete the run is approx 1.5 hours.
(Many thanks to Andrew Tobin)
B11 Aigle - Col des Mosses - Gstaad
These two alternatives for the same stretch, depending on your preferences.
The first, via the Col des Mosses is easier, better road generally, but with more traffic and villages than the southern route via les Diablarettes. From Aigle, the climb up to the col is really fun and down the other side. Once back into the foothills it runs through some picture postcard scenery through tons of little villages, forcing your speed down. There is a fabulous little stretch through a gorge alongside a wild mountain river just east of Chateaux d'Oex.
N506 Martigny - Col de la Forclaz - Chamonix (F)
N902 Monthey - Cluses
From the Swiss side, you really have to do a little dull riding, unless you've just come via Aigle. From Aigle, across the French border, the road climbs the Pas de Morgins, a great road , reminiscent of the Mendel pass near Bolzano. Through Châtel, a little village that'd look really cute in the winter, the road narrows, and you can chose the better road via Annavaux, which is really quite good, or the very narrow and tight routes down to Le Biot. Only take the southern routes if you're not in much of a hurry. I wouldn't recommend this for large tourers. From Le Biot down to Morzine is alongside a river through trees. A moderately bumpy when we were there, it didn't slow us down much. We had a memorable little race with a British holiday rep in a white escort (who seemed to know the road, to our defence). Between Morzine and Cluses, the road is a wider main-road, with little chance of being stuck behind traffic anywhere. Good surface and some nice wide hairpins.
N212 Meg?ve - Gorge de l'Arly - Ugine
Gorge de l'Arly. 13km of heaven. Avoid during peak times, as it's on the main route to Albertville. That also means the road is well surfaced. It runs along a twisty gorge of the Arly river, which would otherwise be quite picturesque. However, I rarely got time to look.
Why is this the most dangerous biking road in the Alps? On the face of it there's a perfect surface and some brilliant bends with good visibility. This road shouts 'Ride me to the limit', but the traffic is frequently going 60 mph slower than you. Long lines of cars and campervans crawling around one brilliant bend , followed by another half dozen curves to die for. And die you may. I've made more brainless beyond belief crazy overtaking manouvers on this one road compared to the rest of my 20 biking years put together.DON'T RIDE IT WHEN IT'S BUSY.
This is what I wrote in my diary ...
What my passenger thought...
D217 Flumet - Cormet de Roseland - Bourg St. Maurice
The east side if the pass starts (from the top) pretty nicely, but after a few kilometres where the road drops over the head of a glaciated valley and you can be greeted with a fantastic view of Mont Blanc if you're lucky. The bottom section used to be awful, but has been widened and flattened at the hairpins and almost totally resurfaced. It runs through thick woods and eventually levels out down to Bourg St. Maurice.
If you're doing this route it's probably worth a quick trip up the ....
D902 Beaufort - Col du Joly - Les Contamines
B21/SS27 Aosta - Great St. Bernard - Martigny
Note: Passport control at the top into and out of Switzerland.
The Italian side of the Great St Bernard (2469m)is a main, busy exit out of Aosta up to St.Rh?my-en-Bosses and is a fairly gentle one passing through light woodland, and pretty heavy traffic of cars, caravans lorries and busses all aiming for the tunnel (hopefuly) and at certain times of the year millions of butterflies most of which have a lemming-like death wish. A more memorable trip down this particular pass became notoriously titled The Great Butterfly Massacre. Still they look prettier spattered over your lid than the usual stuff.
The Swiss side is basically uninteresting except for two bits. The very top, which is almost traffic free and running down through open high-moor scenery. The section where the road joins the main tunnel-road is dull as hell, running through a 5 mile gallery/tunnel section. Further down the road turns into a very wide sweeper stretch often with 2 lanes each way. Surface great. Riding fun average.For a light diversion, at Le Ch?ble take the road up to Verbier. A serpentine of great hairpins takes you up to the Verbier plateau for a drink.
Check out the loony Norwegian\'s video at www.roadmc.com
S26d Aosta valley
The Aosta valley can be hot and congested. Do not visit Aosta (Industrial). Head east along the A-road that runs north of the town. Follow the signs to the Mont Blanc Tunnel (which you should avoid BIG time). The Aosta valley motorway passes through a number of short to long tunnels and is a toll section. If the weather or traffic is bad it might be worth considering; it's certainly faster than the main road. The A-road can be sheer purgatory, as it is full of trucks avoiding the toll on the motorway heading for France. A bit of a Hobb's Choice, I'm afraid.
However, do perservere, as when you get to Pré-St Didier, the traffic mostly turns north toward the tunnel.
The part of the Aosta valley just before the road divides is supposedly one of the most scenic valleys in the Alps (apparently, I can't say I find it anything other than ordinary). The valley is narrow, steep, heavily forested and has huge motorway viaducts snaking along it. ... and one particular fast, tightening bend over a bridge that could be lethal if you ignore the signs.
SS26.N90 Bourg St. Mauruce (Séez)- Piccolo St Bernardo - Aosta
Bourg St. Maurice is fairly uninteresting, but has a useful supermarket and petrol.
Morgex - Colle San Carlo - La Thuile
There is a small pass running to the south of the main Petit St. Bernard road - between Mogex and La Thuile, The Colle San Carlo. It's an easy climb on a wide, not too steep, forest road up to the open rock and grass landscape of the Testa d'Arpi mountain. The hairpins are not that demanding and the surface is excellent. This makes and excellent deviation on the way along the Aosta valley.
D213/N6 Around La Chambre
For a place to stay, La Chambre is central and has a couple of shops and a bank or two. It's spitting distance from three good passes plus others nearby. It is very small and quiet though so if you're looking for nightlife, you'll be forced to visit the only bar that was open whe we were there in July. The Pub Le 171 is a small freindly bar packed with old bike memorabilia and the walls are papered with '70s and '80s LP covers. Enquire here for board, as they work with the place next door (Les 3 Vo?tes) which is a partly converted centuries old house for bikers only. Breakfast is served in the Pub le 171.
D526 St. Jean de Mauriene -Col de la Croix de Fer - La Chambre
Fill up in St. Jean if you're getting low. The road climbs through trees high on the right side of a narrow (basalt?) gorge, through three (or so) unlit tunnels - two of which have bends in them, eventually opening out onto a high glaciated valley where there are a few ski resorts and fab scenery. The road surface used to be excellent all the way, probably because of the resorts in winter, but has deteriorated in recent years and can only be described as average now . From the ski resort of St.Sorlin d'Arves, there's a final steepish knee-down climb up through high moorland to the Col de la Croix de Fer [2062m]. A short drop to the 'saddle' where the road to the Col de Glandon turns off right. The surface is average, on the whole.
D94 La Chambre - Col de la Madelaine - Pussy
D902 Bourg St. Maurice - Col de l'Iseran - Lanslebourg
However, once through the town, the road changes into a high-alpine playground. After a straight-ish bit the road turns sharp right over a small bridge then it's up, up, up. A great surface and a steepish climb to the pass heights - watch out: no crash-barriers! There is snow at the top (and skiing) all year round and often on the roadside until early July.
While the northern ramp is steep and relatively short, the southern side is longer and less steep, generally much greener and faster. I'm really not sure which way I prefer doing this, but I think from the south, the longer gentler climb makes braking easier and you can get up some pretty good speeds. The scenery is much more dramatic as well, with some great views on the glaciers on the mountains to the south. More-or-less a ride through a valley floor until Bonneval-sur-Arc, the road then climbs up the mountain. This bit is less well surfaced and a bit bumpier than the northern side.
N6/S25 Lenslebourg - Col du Mont Cenis - Susa
It's quite short, so you could go over then back if your planned route doesn't take you over the border. I'd take the time to do it.
Moderately difficult. Recommended.
Check out the loony Norwegian's video at www.roadmc.com
N6 Modane - Lenslebourg
The fort at Bramans is particularly impressive.
D4 La Clusaz - Cluses
D909 Bonnevill St.Pierre - Flumet
D526/527 nr Bourg-d'Oisans-Col du Glandon - La Chambre