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Here in the Hautes Alpes Mountain Biking is now very developed. From early April until mid November you can access thousands of kilometers of specialist lift-assisted downhill courses, all day All Mountain trails, multi-day X-Country itineraries and gentle family routes that take as little as 30 minutes!
The variety of terrain is huge including high altitude trails, forest roads, and big gutsy descents, and other than July or August you won't see a soul! We mountain bike regularly as a family, and so we have explored most of the area's gems. We are always on hand to offer advice and trail topos, and from most of our chalets and apartments you can ride straight out onto a waymarked trail.
The Vallouise Valley, where AlpBase.com is located, remains a favourite with Ecrins Massif riders. Over 1000km of trails with 58 marked circuits, from routes that only take 45 minutes, up to 2 day itineraries. Alpine riding can often be hard work, but here in the Vallouise Valley it doesn't matter what your level is, there are rides and terrain to suit everyone. And most of the routes can be accessed right from your doorstep.
To whet your appetite here are a few that are very popular:
Boucle de la vallée de L'Onde
Height gain: 190m.
Start and Finish: Vallouise Centre
Description: A nice easy circular trail going up the right side of the River Onde and returning down the opposite side. Perfect for families
Entre Les Aygues
Height gain: 550m.
Start and Finish: Vallouise Centre
Description: A harder version of the Onde above. The descent is quite exciting and it makes a good first morning intro to the Vallouise Valley for fit families.
Champ Clement, Les Parchers
Height gain: 310m.
Start and Finish: Le Pont Gerondoine, outskirts of Vallouise
Description: Another good warm up at the start of your holiday. It takes you around the Valley and up to Puy-St-Vincent.
N.B. Don’t forget you can secure your bikes safely at any of our chalets or apartments. To book any of our chalets go to Accommodation.
There are so many good easy MTB itineraries for families in the Hautes Alpes. Here are a few of our favorites:
Les Fonds de Cervieres
Height gain: 530m.
Start and Finish: Cervieres Village, near Briançon
Description: A nice easy circular trail ideal for children and MTB debutantes in a glorious open mountain valley. There is even a restaurant waiting for you at the end of valley!
Height gain: 500m.
Start and Finish: Vallouise Centre or Les Vigneaux
Description: A more challenging ride with some bumpy, rocky sections, a steep uphill section and an exciting descent. For fit children from age 8 and upwards.
You can cut out the hard climb though up through La Casse if you wish and ride down to Grand Parcher and take the trail again from there.
A great circuit taking in both sides of the Vallouise Valley
Le Col De La Pousterle
Height gain: 320m.
Start and Finish: Col De La Pousterle above Vallouise
Description: Drive up to the Col from Vallouise - about 20 minutes. Park and enjoy the best views of the Vallouise Valley looking north towards the Ecrins Massif. Then ride East up to Chateau Lebrun and the very summit of the Tètes at 2064m., and return via Le Lac des Lauzes. Superb little itinerary on top of the World!
Height gain: 550m.
Start and Finish: Pelvoux Swimming Pool!
Description: From the pool ride south towards the hamlet of Le Sarret. Cross over the road and start climbing gently up on the GR 54 towards "Choulieres". Continue up to the tiny hamlet of Chambran at 1719m. Descend back down keeping to the right of the GR footpath and continue on down to Les Claux , then St Anthoine and finally back at the swimming pool and a well deserved dip!
X-Country, All Mountain and Downhill are really what make this region so popular amongst Euro mountain bikers.
Here is a small taster.
Le Col De Pousterle
Height gain: 1030m.
Start and Finish: Les Vigneaux
Description: Take the D4 in the direction of Puy-St-Vincent uphill for 1.2Km then branch off left to Eyssarvia, through the Grand Bois and up to the Col De Pousterle. Carry on down into the Fournel Valley passing a great viewpoint on your right and a newly constructed mountain gite for a sneaky brew! Once in the Fournel Valley floor ride down on the GR50 to L'Argentière but at La Bachiere keep high and traversing round to your left. Right round to Le Collet hamlet and eventually Les Vigneaux again. A classic local tour.
Villeneuve - Chantemerle
Height gain: 930m.
Start and Finish: Chantemerle - Serre Chevalier
Description: From the parking area at St Chaffrey ride west towards Villeneuve and then up to Frejus telecabine station at 1885m. Descend down right towards Goudissard, then Champcella and eventually Chantemerle again.
Nevache - Cervieres
Height gain: 990m.
Description: From Nevache at the top of the Valley ride down towards Val De Pres taking the GR5. Then cross over the road and continue up to La Rue des Granges, through the Bois de Sestrières to Montgenèvre and a well earned coffee break. Continue over and down towards Cervieres via the hamlets of des Fraches and de la Chau. Superb long itinerary in three distinct parts - the descent of the Claree Valley, the ascent to Montgenèvre and the descent down to Cervieres.
Tour of Montbrison
Height gain: 1880m.
Start and Finish: Vallouise
Description: A classic hard man's tour. From Vallouise take the trail from Pont Gerendoine down to Grand Parcher, then Les Vigneaux, uphill on the GR50
There are heaps of big and small MTB events every year in the Hautes Alpes from the beginning of June to mid September. Here are a few of the best:
Date: Early September each year
Location: Les Vigneaux
A two day event with 15km and 30km cross country races in the Vallouise Valley. A special course is also provided for children. It is a fun event, usually with around 150 spectators and riders in total, and includes trade stands, bike demos and lots of typical French cuisine on offer!
Contact: Marc Reynaud
T: +33 4.92.23.05.07
La Prapic Classic
Date: Usually the third week in August each year
Location: Orcières (a 30 minute drive south from AlpBase)
It’s an endurance fest for free ride MTB enthusiasts with a huge vertical interval (1000m. plus). In addition to adults (limited to only 20 competitors) there is also a competition for children between 11 and 14 yrs.
T: +33 492 55 89 89 or +33 892 68 33 13
The OffRoad PACA
The OffRoad PACA is THE MTB event series in France. This event which will celebrate its 15th edition in 2011, is supported by Region PACA (includes the region around AlpBase) as a major trading partner since 2005. It traditionally opens the season of the National French Federation of Cycling with 3000 riders enrolled. It also includes OffRoad Montgenèvre - another great annual MTB event at one of our nearest ski resorts
So when can you enjoy all this MTB action?
The answer is pretty much any time from April to November. Following a big winter the high trails like in the Massif De Cerces will still be under snow in early April, but low down near Les Vigneaux or Mont Dauphin you will still find dry trails and sun.
The best months are arguably May/June and September/October. In spring the trails are snow-free, the temps are perfect, around the early 20C's, and no-one around just endless alpine flowers.
At the end of September the leaves start changing and you get these amazing colour bands - gold/red forests, first winter snow-capped peaks and deep blue skies. The trails are dry and the temps are perfect.
The first snows can arrive anytime from mid to late November and then you want to start thinking about getting your board out!
The most up-to-date guide books are the VTopo series by Maryline Millau and Benjamin Farrudja.
There are three and only in French:
- Hautes Alpes Est - 48 circuits pour la famille et l'initation (familys and beginners)
- Hautes Alpes Est - 43 circuits sportifs pour inities (regular experienced riders)
- Hautes Alpes Est - 51 circuits extremes pour experts (hard downhill, enduro and free rides)
The routes are easy to follow and all VERY GOOD!
The best general guidebook for the area is “VTT Hautes-Alpes” (Author: Xavier Buffet; Pub. June 2005). It is a very good topo guidebook giving detail instructions and maps covering 59 rides in the Ecrins Massif. The book is available from local shops in the region or via Amazon.fr. Although only available in French the book is easy to use and pretty much self explanatory.
There is also a topo guide "58 Randos VTT au Pays des Ecrins" by Marc Reynaud, available locally in the Vallouise valley. This contains 58 of the best rides and trails in this part of the Ecrins. But don’t worry about choosing a route, if you stay with us we can recommend the best rides for you, tell you if any trails are not in condition and generally keep you updated with regular weather reports and lots of “local knowledge!”
The Hautes Alpes is split into a whole series of IGN maps. You can order them here:
With all of our accommodation rentals we offer free use of our maps and guidebooks
Our local bike hire shop is Jackie Sport in Vallouise who are very nice and always have advice, and a nice smile.
The most technical bike only hire shop is in Briancon - Cycles and ski:
Stephane is the OWNER and his Bike hire and cycle shop is close to the Casino near thecentre of town:
GUIDED BIKE RIDES AND HIRE
Check out Lionel at Vallouise Free Bike for road and MTB cycle hire, c