Gravel riding is one of the ultimate ways to explore the Alps, and the Haute Savoie region is no exception, boasting some fantastic gravel tracks!
This route linking Geneva and Annecy bypasses the valleys in favour of gaining some height, and as such there is some serious climbing involved, but the breathtaking views make it all worthwhile! You will be riding on some epic roads and paths (some of which are sections of the Way of Saint James pilgrimage) which will take you past the Mont Salève, up onto the Plateau des Glières, and through the Aravis mountains where you will enjoy fantastic panoramas over the Mont Blanc massif, before dropping down into Annecy and its magnificent lake.
At the end of the first two days you will overnight in a mountain refuge - the ultimate Alpine experience!
The riding is strenuous with significant elevation on the first two days, but those who have prepared in advance for this will reap the rewards! As there are no “technical sections” those wishing to try out gravel riding for the first time will be able to do this tour, however given the remoteness of parts of the route we highly recommend that riders have some significant cycling/mountain experience. If you feel as though you don't have the necessary experience, then we also offer an easier gravel trip - "The Adventure Nextdoor".
Day 1: Gaillard - Plateau des Glières
After being outfitted with your gravel bikes (if you choose to rent with us), your trip begins from our office in Gaillard, easily accessible from central Geneva by tram. The route commences by following the Arve river through the countryside outside Geneva on a mixture of bike paths, and farm and gravel tracks, before linking up with the Way of Saint James. The itinerary leaves this ancient pilgrimage route to reach the village of Groisy, from where the major climb of the day begins, up onto the Plateau des Glières.
Spectacularly wild and beautiful, the plateau is well-known among lovers of the Tour de France, having featured here twice in the past few years. History-lovers may also be aware of the importance it played in the Second World War as a key location for French Resistance fighters. You will pass close by to the French Resistance Monument, commemorating the acts of the maquis des Glières.
You will stay overnight in a typical mountain refuge.
Day 2: Plateau des Glières to Col de l’Arpettaz
Today’s ride begins with a fun, winding descent off the plateau and into the Vallée du Borne below. You will follow the valley to the ski resort town of Le Grand Bornand. From here, a sharp climb along forest tracks (which may well require some hike-a-bike!) leads you around the Tête du Danay. Trust us, the views will make the effort worthwhile! Enjoy a partial descent into La Clusaz before continuing the climb to the Col des Aravis.
The views across to the Mont Blanc massif are incredible during the final section of the day’s ride – la Route de la Soif, a spectacular gravel track. Eventually you will reach your refuge for the night, situated at the end of the track at the Col de l’Arpettaz, perfect for reflecting on an epic day’s ride!
Day 3: Col de l’Arpettaz to Annecy
We have purposefully kept today’s ride relatively easy and short so that you can make the most of Annecy and its lake! As with yesterday’s ride the day will begin with a long descent, featuring some fantastic hairpin bends and views of the Bauges mountains. From Ugine, at the bottom of the descent, the route follows the voie verte as you head on towards Annecy, skirting the western shores of Lake Annecy. Enjoy exploring this beautiful town, affectionately known as “The Venice of the Alps” thanks to the canals which cross through the centre.
Day 4: Departure
After breakfast you are free to depart Annecy at your leisure and move on to your next adventure.
- This tour is available on a self-guided basis leaving every Thursday between June 3rd and September 23rd 2021 for a minimum of 2 riders
- Meeting with our staff before setting off
- GPS pre-loaded with the itinerary or phone app
- Marked maps and route notes
- Luggage transfers included
- Assistance if necessary (you will be provided with our emergency number)
- All tax and service charges included
- Gravel bike hire available
- 3 nights' accommodation (2 nights in a mountain refuge and 1 night in a 3* hotel) with daily breakfast and 2 dinners (without drinks) included