See the section for France of
the Trento Bike Pages
MOUNTAIN BIKE GUIDE TO CHAMONIX
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Mt Blanc, 4808m (15,760ft)
The first "tourist' to enter the Chamonix Valley where two English
men, Windham and Pococke. In 1941 they organised a "tourist
expedition" to climb up to the Mer-de-Glace.
On the 8th of August 1786, Jacques Balmat and Dr. Paccard were the
first to climb to the summit of Europe's highest mountain, Mount
Blanc, standing at 4807M. The ascent heralds the creation of the
renowned "Chamonix Guides Company". In 1924 Chamonix hosted the first
Winter Olympics. 1951 saw all the territory above 2000M classified as
an environmentally "Protected Zone". General De Gaulle opened the
Mount Blanc Tunnel in 1965, connecting France and Italy directly under
Rock Climbing, Chamonix - Mt Blanc.
Chamonix is situated in the French Alps on the Swiss and Italian
boarders. It is approximately fifty miles south east of Geneva. There
are numerous ways of getting to Chamonix.
Fly to either Geneva or Lyon. Local French rail and bus services
connect Geneva or Lyon to Chamonix. There is also a scenic Swiss rail
link. You should not have any problems in taking your bike on these
Regular rail links between London Victoria and Paris Gare De Nord.
From Paris Gare de Lyon an overnight connection can take you directly
to Saint - Gervais. Alternative routes to Lyon and Annecy can be made
by using the high speed TGV. With local services then connecting you
to Saint-Gervais. At Saint-Gervais the small French - Swiss Alpine
train takes you up the valley into Chamonix. The french rail service
does not allow you to travel on some journeys with your bike. You can
however box your bike up and send it three or four days in advance.
You then collect it at the station on your arrival.
Euroline coaches run directly to Chamonix. The coaches do not carry
bikes, even when boxed. The service is only of use if you intend to
hire a mountain bike when you arrive in Chamonix.
There are various routes to drive to Chamonix. It is best to travel
along the A40 from Macon, which brings you up into the valley.
There are numerous campsites throughout the length of the valley.
Prices are usually on a price per tent plus a price per person basis.
They start from 14F per tent and from 16F per person. Some campsites
also charge a surcharge for a car.
There are a few Hostels or bunkhouses (Gete's) in the valley, prices
start from 60F per person per night.
With forty three hotels in Chamonix itself and numerous others
throughout the valley, the choice is endless. Hotel prices range from
155F to 948F per room.
Mountain Biking, below le Brevent Telepherique, Chamonix - Mt Blanc.
Aiguille du Midi:
You can take your bike to the mid-station only. Plan de Aiguille one
way costs 47F Low season, 50F High season. The telepherique is open
throughout the year at 7h00 and closes at 17h00, except from the 4th
July to 23rd August when it opens at 6h00.
During the high season you can only take your bike to the mid-station,
but either side of the high season you can take it all the way to the
Brevent station. One way to Planpraz will cost you 40F, one way to the
Brevent 48F. The telepherique is open at 8h00 and closes at 18h00.
Always open to Mountain Bikers a one way trip costs 32F. The
telepherique is open throughout the year at 8h00 and closes at 17h00,
except between 14th July and 16th August when it is open at 7h30 and
closes at 17h30.
Lognan (part of Les Grand Montets network):
This system is always open to Mountain bikers. A one way ticket will
cost you 32F. The telepherique is open from 7h15 and closes at 17h15.
Le Tour - Col de Balme:
Always open to Mountain Bikers. Le Tour to the mid-station Charamillon
is 27F one way. Le Tour to Col de Balme is 42F one way. The gondolier
is open at 8h15 and closes at 17h00 throughout the year, but is open
until 18h00 between 13th July and 20th August.
MOUNTAIN BIKE SERVICES
Bikes can be hired from numerous Mountain Bike shops situated in
Chamonix and the surrounding area. Look out for the "LOCATION" signs.
Hire prices range from 30F for one hour to 100F per day, and 450F per
week. Suspension Bikes can also be hired for 60F per hour, 180F per
day, to 720F per week. The mountain bike shops in the valley stock
full ranges of spares for any repairs you may need to make.
Mountain Biking, La Joux, Chamonix - Mt Blanc.
MOUNTAIN BIKE ACCESS
VTT is the name the French use for Mountain Bikes. Meaning "Velos Tout
Terrain". The tourist authorities in Chamonix have recognised the
increase in mountain bike activity and are actually encouraging the
sport. They regularly repair any damage to the trails and protect
mountain bikers from hurting themselves by padding the trees on
difficult sections. During 1992 signposts were erected in the valley
making the way for designated "VTT routes". Mountain biking has joined
the impressive list of adventure sports participated throughout the
magnificent Mount Blanc Massif.
There are however some restrictions on mountain biking. During the
"high season" between 1st July and 31st August, mountain bikes are
restricted to the coloured signposted routes only. This is due to the
large influx of tourists using the trails for walking. Outside the
high season, all the trails are open to the intrepid mountain biker.
The mountain bike routes are graded in colours like ski runs and
marked with numbers.
Although some of the routes are only a couple of kilometres they can
be connected to create longer more interesting routes.
The green route indicates "Parcours tres facile", very easy trails
along four-wheel-drive tracks and "Foyer de ski de fond", tracks that
are used for cross country skiing in the winter. These routes start
from the centre of Chamonix and can be used as an off-road route to
reach the harder trails.
The blue route indicates "Parcour facile", easy trails along wide
tracks incorporating gentle uphills.
The red route indicates "Parcours difficile", difficult trails along
thin paths. Be warned some sections of the red routes are very
The black route indicates "Parcours tres difficile", very difficult
trails along continuous up hill struggles on four-wheel-drive tracks
giving access to the telepherique stations. For those who don't like
hard up hill routes, cable cars can be taken on many of them allowing
you to experience extreme, "full breaks all the time" descents.
Le Tour de France, "Going for the king of the mountains", Saint
Gervais - Mt Blanc.
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Copyright to the images & text on this page belongs to Doug Blane.