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French Alps

Maëlle’s Long Ride For Coffee

By Jon Street

156 km

2207 m


7 hrs


Passy Lake


Passy Lake


156 km

This big day out for a decent coffee takes in 2000m plus of climbing and some stunning views around lake Annecy. At 155km long you will earn more than a coffee (bragging rights firstly!) so plan your recovery meal well. The climbing comes in the first and final 40km of the ride with the 75km around the lake, being almost pan flat, enjoy the views!

Grind from the get go!

Leaving the lake at Passy you take the D199 and start climbing to Megeve. The road snakes up the hillside gaining 600m in 10km passing through the alpine villages of Combloux and Demi-Quartier on the D1212. Cresting just before Megeve keep your eyes to the left for views of the mighty Mont Blanc. Staying with the D1212 you have roughly 15km of downhill before turning right onto the D109.

Valley views

Taking the D109 you have a short 2.5km climb that gains 200m before starting your descent into the valley of lake Annecy. The descent is great fun and just under 12km in length. You trace the side of the mountain on a road cut into the rock, tree canopies cover you and keep you focused on the tarmac. The trees break and it’s into those alpine switchbacks that we all love, you’ve earned these turns so go have some fun!

Waterside ride

The descent from the D109 lands you in the village of Ugine and marks the start of the trip through the valley to Annecy along the segregated cycle path. There are a couple of small bars and shops here if you need to grab a refresher. The next 20km to the lake on the D1508 and D909 are the least inspiring section of the ride (well, as uninspiring as cycling surrounded by high peaks, farmlands and forests can be!) but the flat road breaks through the woodland to reveal the lake at circa 60km in. Turning onto the D909 at circa 58km you can rejoin the segregated cycle path that runs alongside the water. This route to Annecy has stunning views and quaint waterside villages, enjoy!

Find that coffee!

You will start to enter Annecy at around 75km into the ride and continue to skirt around the lake on the cycle path until you reach the canal. From here you turn right into town through the main shopping district to seek out Pause Coffee & Kürtös. Enjoy your break! Maybe go for Maelle’s favourite, the double espresso, for a rocket fuelled ride home!

Whilst in Annecy, it’s worthwhile checking out “Le Pont des Amours” (The Lovers’ Bridge) over the canal on the edge of the lake. A really romantic setting where you can tell your one and only (your bike!) how you truly feel.


Heading home

Leaving Annecy you complete the circumnavigation of the lake on the segregated cycle path. It runs the whole distance from Annecy to Ugine, provides the best views of the lake, and the safest route. Cycle infrastructure to dream of! 

At Ugine it’s time for some elevation gain! Here you start the 12km climb you descended earlier. Plenty of switchbacks as the views of the valley grow behind you, it’s just under 600m gain in that time so a good test for most cyclists. Only a short 2km descent and then it’s the final climb of the day through the valley to Megeve. At 16km long and circa 400m of elevation gain it’s not too challenging, just quite long!

From Megeve, it’s all downhill to Passy so enjoy those final turns and the views of Mont Blanc, head to the cafe on the lake for that crepe… And think about that evening meal you’ve earned!

Nearby Climb

Tour des Aravis

106 km

2489 m


5 hrs

The favourite road ride of pro cyclist Maelle Grossetête and for good reason. Two famous climbs, Col des Aravis and Col de la Colombière, incredible views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding alpine landscape, and descents you won’t forget. This 106km outing gains just under 2500m, go get those climbs!


French Alps Grand Traverse 🇫🇷

8 days | Guided | €1155

770 km

17,000 m


Cross the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Côte d’Azur on this fantastic 8 day French Alps cycling holiday. Pedal the Northern Alps and the Mont Blanc range to the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.