The ski resort of Chamonix, right in the heart of the French Alps, is not just a one-trick pony – come the summer holiday, chalets across town will be packed with mountain bikers gearing up to take on the multitude of trails in the area. With so many to choose from, save yourself some time with my pick of the best mountain bike trails around ‘Cham’. |
Petit Balcon Sud
Starting at the Grand Montets car park in the village of Argentiere, this is an ideal route to get some miles and experience under your belt at the start of your holiday. Keep the river to your left and pedal along this gentle path through beautiful forest and alongside the railway line. As you near Chamonix the trail splits in two: if you’re feeling energetic, push on uphill as far as your legs can take you. Be warned, this trail heads all the way up to Le Brévent (2525m), 1300m above where you are! If you want to take it easy to begin with though carry on along the river down to Chamonix.
Petit Balcon Nord
Step up a gear with this intermediate trail from Chamonix to the village of Le Tour, just over a mile and a half beyond Argentiere. Onwards and upwards is the name of the game here, as you ascend more than 400m over the course of the trail – the steep stretch between Le Bois and Le Lavancher is a great introduction to proper mountain biking!
It may take less than 2 hours to complete, but that doesn’t make Les Mottets a stroll by any means! Beginning at Les Planards car park, this 4x4 trail is a constant yet exhilarating uphill challenge that demands endurance and dedication right from the start. The reward for those able to reach the end of the trail is a stunning view of the Mer de Glace. After taking in the glacier and revelling in your and your friends’ achievement, freewheel it back down to Chamonix and the comfort of your summer holiday chalet.
At just a metre shy of 2,000m above Chamonix, the heady heights of Plan Praz offer several trails fit only for the truly determined. Catch a gondola from Chamonix up to Plan Praz, admiring the spectacular 360 degree views of mountains and forest on the way up, and then you can either take the short but sharp (and I mean sharp!) track up to Le Brévent – from where you can catch a magnificent view of Mount Blanc in the distance – or the more gradual but longer haul up to the pretty Lake Cornu (2276m). Whichever route you take, neither are for the faint-hearted!
Where to stay
There’s only one choice when it comes to accommodation for your summer holiday: chalets offer style and comfort and are never too far away from the action – both out in the wild and the pubs of ‘Cham’!
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter or summer holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for the best summer holiday chalet, Ski Amis is the go-to company for those searching for the holiday of a lifetime in the French Alps.
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