A paradise of cycling in the French Alps, Morzine is the perfect base for cycling trips, with 15 mapped routes from the town – ranging from 30km to 150km - 25 mountain passes within 50 km and an international reputation honed over the years by 22 stages of the Tour de France.
For mountain bikers Morzine is at the heart of the Portes du Soleil– one of the world’s biggest MTB areas – with 650km of trails to explore and 55 downhill tracks, serviced by 21 lifts.
Here are six of the best cycle routes Morzine has to offer...
An iconic route up to the ski resort of Avoriaz at 1800m, time-climbed officially for the first time during the 1975 Tour de France. The best time of just 33 minutes still belongs to French Tour de France legend Bernard Hinault.
Ride it any time, but every summer two Morzine-Avoriaz races are hosted by the Morzine-Avoriaz Vélo Club on the second Sunday in August. Descend via Lindarets, known as the ‘goat village’, and Lake Montriond to make it a loop.
Joux Plane Pass
Time: 2hr 15mins – 3hr 15mins
The Joux Plane, tackled many times by Tour de France competitors, is one of the most difficult Alpine climbs, in spite of its moderate distance. The start is very hard, then the climb is always difficult with a maximum average of 13%, at ‘la Combe Emeru hamlet.
However, your reward for all this effort is some magnificent panoramas of Mont Blanc!
Time: 2hrs 30mins – 3hrs 20mins
The La Ramaz col is one of the Haute-Savoie’s prettiest! You can see Mont Blanc from the start of the climb and at the top the view is even better.
The col was made famous by the famous breakaway sprint by French race star Richard Virenque in the 2003 Tour de France (which secured him the yellow jersey and won him the Morzine stage too!). It remains a classic that every enthusiast should add to their must-do list.
Vertical descent: 560m
The first permanent DH course in France, created in 1996, this is what made Morzine famous for mountain biking. MTBers flock here to make use of the lifts and get to ride on the training ground of many DH World Cup racers in between races.
Only for properly equipped downhillers and freeriders, the DH remains a benchmark for MTB riders today. With access from the Pleney cable car, the track has fun and technical aspects. If you’ve not done a lot of DH riding start with the blue graded run - created especially for beginner riders and children - before moving up gradually to the black!
Portes du Soleil Tour
Vertical descent: 4,500-7,000m
An epic explorer ride taking in the French and Swiss resorts of the Portes du Soleil – one that every rider should do at least once in their life! The route can be done in a single day or over several days, since you can sleep in the resorts you visit - or in a mountain refuge or holiday cottage. The distance is dependent on what your legs can take! Come for the Pass’Portes du Soleil event in order to ride in a fun event with lots of local food stops along the way.
Col de Cou (route 4)
Estimated riding time: 3hrs - 4hrs
A classic and favourite of the locals. Starting from Morzine or Avoriaz, the mountain pass Col de Cou on the border of France and Switzerland allows you to stay away from the lifts of the Portes du Soleil and cross wild high mountain pastures. An amazing long 12km descent takes you back down to Morzine Stop at the cascades de Nyon on the way down to see the impressive waterfall and check out the end of the canyoning route.
For more details of these and other routes go to morzinemountaincycling.com/en/itineraries