Cycling the Avoriaz Climb: A Spectacular Mountain Ascent in The Alps

James | August 18th, 2022
Photo by Sam Ingles – Tourist office Morzine-Avoriaz

Made famous by the 1975 Tour de France, the Avoriaz climb is one of the most beautiful cycling routes in Haute-Savoie. From Morzine to Avoriaz, this legendary ascent takes roughly an hour, has an elevation gain of 860 metres and is the perfect way to explore the Alps if a sporting challenge is your thing. 

So, if you are a cycling fanatic and fancy taking on this magnificent ascent, here at The Farmhouse, we have put together a helpful guide on the spectacular ride up and what awaits you along the way!

Put Your Pedalling to the Test: Two routes to the top

There are two routes that you can take in order to reach the top of the Avoriaz climb: 

The first one being the esteemed route followed by the Tour de France on multiple occasions since 1975. When taking this route you can descend the same way you came up, which is a return trip of 14.6km. On your journey to the top you will encounter much more than steep roads and hair-pin bends, you will also witness breathtaking views of the Morzine valley and the slopes of Pleney and Nyon. 

If you are looking for a slightly gentler cycle to the summit (not by much, mind), the second route you can take is the 15 km loop via the Col de la Joux Verte. By choosing this route you will be under far more shade than the official Avoriaz climb, as it passes through 13 km of forest before opening up as you head towards Avoriaz. Less intense than the legendary alternative, this ride brings the opportunity to admire the views of Lake Montriond and discover the picturesque goat village of Les Lindarets.

Whichever route you choose to take, the start and finish of the Avoriaz climb are located in Morzine town centre.

The Avoriaz Climb: Start to Finish

The starting point of the official Avoriaz climb can be found outside the front of Morzine Church. From there you will cycle alongside the chalets and past the fire station. Once you reach the roundabout you will turn left into the forest where you will meet the first 5 hairpin bends of the ride. The next 10 bends are then wide and open, offering a magnificent view of the Morzine valley, Le Pleney and Nyon.

After downloading the map of FatMap, click on the plane to view the route in 3D.

Once you reach the Maisons de Zore (about fifteen traditional mountain chalets, typical in the region), cycle on to the Col de la Joux Verte passing the Ferme de Seraussaix (an excellent spot to stop and try local produce on the way home). 

After the Hauts-Forts ridge, the summit of which will be on your left, the 18-hole golf course on your right will mark the last climb up to Avoriaz. There you can take a well-deserved rest in the heart of the Alpine ski village, known for its unique architecture.

The Return to Morzine: A Descent Full of Delights

As we have previously mentioned, there are two choices for your return journey and either way will be a lot easier on your legs! The first way is to return the way you came up, the second being the more shaded journey via the Col de la Joux Verte.

If you choose to head back to Morzine via the Col de la Joux Verte then you will turn right out of Avoriaz and ride past the village of Les Lindarets. Here you will come to a delightful sight of free roaming goats, the herd being the fun and charming attraction that gives the Les Lindarets its nickname of ‘Goat Village’. Here you can stop and enjoy the goats, or you can continue downhill towards Lake Montriond. 

The descent to the lake from Les Lindarets is 9 km and, if you have some time to spare, we recommend you take another break to stop and look at the enchanting Cascade d’Ardent – a stunning mountain waterfall.

Finally, before ending your ride in Morzine, you can make one last pit stop at Lac de Montriond, the third largest lake in the region. Lake Montriond is the ideal place to stretch your legs, refresh yourself with a coffee or even take a dip – if you really fancy it!

Safety Tips for Cycling in Haute-Savoie

Make no mistake, though stunning, the Avoriaz climb is not for the unfit or the faint of heart. The ascent is long and the elevation gain is large. Good physical and mental preparation is highly recommended and we encourage you to follow these safety tips when planning your ride. 

  1. Check the Weather: The day before you are planning to undertake the climb make sure you check the weather conditions. This will help you plan your attire and your equipment. Ensure you dress and prepare accordingly!
  1. Study the Circuit in Detail: Studying the route before you set off will save you from having to consult the map or the GPS at every intersection. This will also give you a better understanding of the amount of effort required during the ascent. It will also allow you to plan places to refill your water bottle, take a lunch break and even note down the best photo opportunities. 

Equipment Essentials:

Make sure not to forget a bike repair kit, in case of a puncture or if you need to re-inflate a tire.

Finally, a small fleece or a windbreaker is a very useful item to help counteract temperature changes throughout the ascent, descent and during the various stops.

Fun Facts about the Avoriaz Climb

The Avoriaz climb from Morzine, along the Route d’Avoriaz, is one of the shortest and best-known cycling routes in competitive cycling history. The climb has featured in many Tour de France races, the most recent being in 2010 when stage winner Andy Schleck fought against yellow jersey, Alberto Contador.

Every August, the town of Morzine organises a local event known as the Grimpée d’Avoriaz. On that day, competitors from all over the world come to Morzine to try to beat the record set by the French legend, Bernard Hinault. Hinault is revered for his incredible feat of cycling the 14 km climb in just 33 minutes in 1979!

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Are you a passionate cyclist looking for bike friendly accommodation during your visit to the Haute-Savoie?

As road cycling enthusiasts ourselves, our team is always happy to welcome cyclists to stay. Our boutique hotel The Farmhouse is fully equipped and perfect for cyclists looking for exceptional riding opportunities, good fun and ultimate comfort. We offer a unique hotel experience and strive to make your stay as special as the landscape that surrounds us, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We hope to see you on our mountain roads soon!

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