Chamonix is known as the mecca of hors-piste (big mountain) skiing but it’s also a great starting point for some fantastic road biking provided you have a car; a 1 hour drive in any direction will lead you to some of the greatest mountain passes ridden in the Tour de France, Giro and Tour de Suisse.
From Chamonix (F)
The Chamonix valley itself has a limited number of cycling itineraries but is the starting point for a truly epic ride – Le Tour du Mont-Blanc ! But more on that later… The best way to avoid jet lag when you arrive is to leave the shopping for a rainy day and head right out for a ride up to le Barrage d’Emosson ! Besides, Chamonix is becoming a popular destination for the rich and elite and can be avoided all together… But don’t tell you signficant other and make sure to take her to Cheverny which has all sorts of goodies for the home including the world-famous Braséro ! And if she’s extra special Amazone Lingerie has a wonderful selection of AUBADE.
Barrage d’Emosson (65 kms round-trip)
[Chamonix – Argentiere – Col des Montets – Chatelard(CH) – Finhaut (CH) – Col de la Gueulaz – Barrage d’Émosson]
A classic. It doesn’t matter where you’re staying in the valley get on the main road and head towards the village of Argentière. If you started in Chamonix take the alternate route through les Nants/Les Plans and enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Mont-Blanc and its neighboring summits. The road between Chamonix and Argentière can be a drag and is quite busy during the tourist season… but once you leave Argentière the fun begins with the 5 km climb up the Col des Montets. Again don’t miss out on the views of Les Drus, l’Aiguille Verte and surrounding glaciers ! Once you cross the border into Switzerland take note of the first tourist shop on the left – it has one of the finest chocolate selections in the valley ! Several kilometers later bare left and head towards the village of Finhaut where the real climbing begins ! Head all the way up to the dam and enjoy a mini-panettone and Rivella !
Chamonix – Col du Grand St-Bernard (180 kms round-trip)
[Chamonix – Argentiere – Col des Montets – Col de la Forclaz – Martigny – Col du Grand St-Bernard (alt. 2473 m) => Chamonix]
This is a nice one, roughly 4500m of vertical with many alternatives routes. You can shorten the ride and do a round trip to Martigny and back. Or if you’re feeling really good, descend the Grand St-Bernard all the way to Saint-Leonard and head back up.
Chamonix-Passy (75 kms)
[Chamonix – Les Houches – Servoz – Passy (Return via Les Vaudagnes)]
Tour du Mont-Blanc (330 kms)
[Chamonix – Megéve – Col des Saisies (alt. 1650 m) – Cormet de Roselend (alt. 1968 m) – Bourg-Saint-Maurice – Col du Petit St-Bernard (alt. 2188 m) – Aosta – Col du Grand St-Bernard (alt. 2473 m) – Champex – Martigny – Col de la Forclaz (alt. 1527 m) – Col des Montets (alt. 1461 m) – Chamonix]
A monster ! 6 mountain passes/7300 m of vertical/15+ hours in the saddle – it doesn’t get any better ! Most people will make a 2 day trip out of this epic ride but that means backpack, clothes, hair dryer… a drag when you’re riding a 15 lb race bike ! Do it in a single day and earn some bragging rights 🙂
Many cyclists do the loop clockwise heading first down to Martigny, but the Col du Grand St-Bernard is more enjoyable from the Italian side and the climb up the Petit St-Bernard is a blast from Bourg-Saint-Maurice. You’ll probably finish in the dark and there’s far less traffic on the way up to La Forclaz; don’t forget a headlight and tail-light !
From Passy (F)
Col de Romme (120 kms)
[Col de Romme – Col de la Colombière – Col de la Croix Fry – Col des Aravis]
The Col de Romme was first ridden in 2009 on stage 17 of the Tour de France when Franck Schleck took the lead and is a more enjoyable (and difficult) alternative to reach the Col de la Colombiere.
Cormet de Roselend (kms)
[Mégève – Col des Saisies – Cormet de Roselend => Megeve]
1) Joux-Plane – Col de la Joux Vert – Col de l’Encrenaz – Col de la Ramaz
From Aigle (CH)
[Aigle – Les Mosses – Gstaad – Col du Pillion – Diablerets – Col de la Croix – Villars – Aigle]
From Innertkirchen (CH)
[Sustenpass – Furkapass – Grimselpass]
From St-Jean de Maurienne (F)
[Col des Mollards – Croix-de-Fer – Bourg d’Oisans – Col du Lautaret – Col du Galibier – Col du Télégraphe]
From Nyon (CH)
[Nyon – St-Cergues – Le Marchairuz – Lac de Joux – Le Molondruz – Nyon]