Gravel Biking /Tour du Mont-Blanc
Between France, Switzerland and Italy, a genuine gravel bike adventure.
The hike around the Mont Blanc is a dream destination for many outdoor lovers. The diversity of the landscapes, the nearby glaciers and the massive mountains will get you closer to the high mountains and give you this peculiar "Alpine feeling" while biking around the top of Europe. We've prepared for you a genuine altitude route, perfect for gravel biking, with a constant variation from secret cols far from any traffic, to gravel roads, trails, paths and adventurous terrain.
Who can join?
This trip will suit routined cyclists, biking 2 to 3 times a week and used to ride different types of terrain.
You need to love the great outdoors, contemplation, but also personal challenges and endurance.
Daily mileage: 60 to 80km, mixing paved roads, cols, and mountain trails.
Daily saddle time: 5 to 7 hours
Vertical meters: + 2000 m to + 2400 m a day.
How many riding days?
To adjust the trip to different levels of fitness, this trip can, and will, be done in 3 or 4 days on the bike.
See the dates and details at the bottom of the page
What's a gravel bike ?
If you landed here, chances are high that you are already familiar with this kind of bike.
Gravel biking, even if it only got recently trendy, has a long history. Long before pavement became the norm in the developped world, cyclist would ride with regular bikes, on whatever kind of road they would find. That was gravel riding before it even got a name.
Nowadays, thanks to the work of all the manufacturers of bikes and groupsets, some specificities are making gravel biking more comfortable, and more efficient. With tough single ring drivetrains, the mechanic is more reliable, and the geometry of the bikes are making them much easier to handle on tricky terrain. Last but not least, the wider tires are conticuting massively to the comfort on uneven terrain, and the hydraulic brakes makes riding much safer.
For this trip, we advise you to come with a gravel bike that is light, comfortable, and recently serviced, with these characteristics: hydraulic brakes 160/140mm, single ring 36 or 38,11-42 cassette, tubeless wheels with 40, 45 or even 47mm gravel specific tires.
If you have any question aboiut the gear, just get in touch!
Bikepacking and Autonomy
Even though will will stay and get our food from hotels and mountains huts, the spirit of this trip is autonomy, as we believe in the joy of human powered adventures!
We will not have any following car to carry our gear, clothing and so on.
This will have two consequences:
- smart packing: as light as possible, only the necessary! Check the packing list below
- carrying system: saddle, fram and handlebar bags. There is a wide choice of light and watertight bags. Backpack is a posibility, but it makes the riding less comfortable so we advise you to avoid it.
From secret roads to hike-a-bike
A gravel bike is a fantastic tool for all kind of riding, and it's versatility makes it as good to ride on paved roads than on some hiking trails.
During this trip, we will be sometimes on asphalt roads. Not the big ones with heavy traffic obviously, but the smaller, almost secret ones where there are no to very few cars.
The proper gravel parts will be a mix of wide gravel roads and single tracks. The TMB, Tour du Mont-Blanc, is a popular hiking trail, and has been extremely well maintained. The singletracks are clean and easy to ride, most of the time.
Getting closer to the high cols, on a few moments we will have to push or carry our bikes. It will never be long and painful, just a necessary effort to reach more good cycling! This is one more reason to travel light...
The originality of this trip is to team up mountain and bike professionals. Being two to guide you on this trip enables us to improve safety and fun, all at once, by making things more fluent and easy.
Jérome is both a mountain leader and a professional bike instructor.He's also a former racer, with two passions: the mountains, and cycling. He's been both organising cycling camps and trips, and was the director of cycling teams on amateur elite national races. Since 2003 he's living in the Maurienne valley, where he discovered gravel and starte dto practice intensively, a great combo between the raw beauty of the Alps, and the pleasure of cycling.
Fred is an IFMGA mountain guide in love with cycling.
Program 3 days / 3 nights
Day 0: Argentière (FR). Meeting at 3pm, gear&bike check, briefing.
Day 1: Argentière (FR) > La Fouly (CH). Col des Montets 1461m, Switzerland by a forrest trail, then Col de la Forclaz and the old road to La Fouly (1600m), genuine swiss village.
Day 2: La Fouly (CH) > La Gittaz (FR). Entering the alpine terrain via La Peule meadows and the Grand Col Ferret (2490m).Down to Courmayeur in Italy, and up again to the Col de La Seigne (2516m) on the french border. Down to Les Chapieux where we find some tarmac up to the famous Cormet de Roselend (1967m). Overnight at the Alpage de la Gittaz.
Day 3: La Gittaz (FR) > Argentière (FR). A long and fast ride down first, and then the Col du Joly (1989m) where we find a gravel road down to Les Contamines. The Col de Voza (1657) will be our last climb, but not the less steep one... A great day with the Mont-Blanc as a background!
Programme 4 jours / 4 nuits
Jour 0: Argentière. Accueil à 15h, contrôle du matériel et des vélos, briefing.
Jour 1: Argentière(FR) > Champex (CH). Col des Montets (1461m), on entre en Suisse puis un sentier forestier nous amène au pied du Col de la Forclaz. On rejoint Champex (1466m) par l'ancienne route.
Jour 2: Champex (CH) > Courmayeur (IT). La journée commence par rejoindre La Fouly (1600m), puis La Peule et le Grand Col Ferret (2490m). La vue sur les glaciers est incroyable, et c'est dans ce décor que nous descendons vers Courmayeur (IT).
Jour 3: Courmayeur (IT) > La Gittaz (FR). Sous le versant Italien du Mont-Blanc, nous montons au Col de la Seigne (2516m) puis descendons en France sur Les Chapieux où nous rejoignons la route du Cormet de Roselend (1967m). Nuit à l'Alpage de la Gittaz.
Jour 4: La Gittaz (FR) > Argentière (FR). D'abord une longue descente, puis le Col du Joly (1989m) où une route gravel nous amène aux Contamines. Le Col de Voza (1657m) sera notre dernière ascension, mais pas la moins raide... Une journée fantastique sous l'oeil du Mont-Blanc !
Other dates possible, just get in touch!
Lodging and Food
Double or triple rooms (possibility of upgrade to single, price on request)
We have chosen lodges that provide all necessary comfort for your recovery.
Food: Breakfasts and dinners are taken at our hotels/lodges. The lunches will be ordered every evening for the next day.
More than just eating and sleeping, the evenings are also the occasion to have a good time together around local and tasty food!