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French Alps

Tour des Aravis

By Jon Street

Distance
106 km

Gain
2489 m

Road
Loop

Time
5 hrs

Start

Passy Lake

Finish

Passy Lake

Distance

106 km

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!

Leaving the lake behind you

The loop starts at Passy Lake and heads towards the town of Sallanches. It doesn’t take long, 3km in fact, and we start to head upwards. We take the D113 to Cordon on a short but tough climb to warm up those legs and lungs. 5km of road with a gain of 380m means a steep average gradient that hits 10% in places. That little loosener over we join the D1212 that undulates through the valley, passing through the ski resort of Mageve. Reaching Flumet we turn right and head for the first of the big climbs.

Col calling

Flumet marks the start of the Col des Aravis on the D909. There’s a short little kick out of the village followed by 2km of flat to the base of the climb. It’s a stunning tree-line route through the valley on a road carved into the side of ancient mountains. Cross the river and you are into the village of La Giettaz, the start of Col des Aravis. The remainder of the climb is 6km at an average of 7%, it snakes and winds up the mountain in true alp style with the summit opening up to wide open plains. You have the choice of a couple of restaurants here so enjoy the vista and refuel. Ready to go? It’s a 12km downhill to the base of your next challenge.

Tracing the Tour

Imagine yourself as a world tour climber? Or just want to feel the vibe of climbs that have carried the wheels of the pro peloton? The 10km climb ahead is the place to live those dreams. The Col De La Colombiere gains 607m and has an average gradient of 7%, although it does ramp up in the final couple of kilometres hitting 10%. At the crest you have the restaurant Colombiere and the perfect stop to recharge for the final stint home.

It’s (almost) all downhill from here…

Cresting Colombiere you have a short downhill to the village of Le Reposoir. We could take the downhill via the valley straight to Cluses but we would miss out on the opportunity for one last climb. We turn right off the D4 onto the D119 and climb to the village of Romme on a road that snakes through the trees. The views across the valleys from the top are stunning, followed by a descent packed with action. Plenty of switchbacks on a road carved from the rockface, the final few kilometres can get a bit fast with gradients of up to 12% so cover those brakes and watch those turns!

Final fling

The descent from Romme lands you in Cluses and into the valley of the river Arve. The final 20km of the ride is pan flat tracing the river back to lake Passy. Take Maelle’s tip and make haste to the restaurant Les Criques at the lakes edge. The perfect place to wind down from all that climbing matched to a stunning view of Mont Blanc, what more could you ask for.

The roads here are my favourite roads in the world

Maëlle Grossetête

Pro Rider

Nearby Climb

Maëlle’s Long Ride For Coffee

Distance
156 km

Gain
2207 m

Road
Road

Time
7 hrs

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!

More

French Alps Grand Traverse 🇫🇷

8 days | Guided | €1155

Distance
770 km

Gain
17,000 m

Temp
19°C

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.

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