Famous Road Cycling Routes Around Morzine
Morzine and the surrounding area has a rich heritage with road cycling. Having hosted the prestigious Tour de France numerous times since 1975, there are not many roads around the area that are not steeped in cycling history. With miles and miles of winding mountain roads, grueling climbs and high speed descents, it is easy to see why Morzine is a mecca in the road cycling world.
The great news is that all of those iconic roads featured in the races are public, meaning you don’t have to be Bradley Wiggins or Lance Armstrong to ride them. Morzine is ideally located to take on these routes meaning there is no better place for a road cycling holiday in the Alps.
We have outlined three of the most famous routes, passing infamous climbs which all start and finish in Morzine. Although these routes are not full Tour de France stages, they take in some of the main climbs featured in the race.
1) Col de la Ramaz
- Distance 58 kms
- Max elevation 1619m
- Duration – 2.5 – 3.5 hours
This route is regarded as one of the toughest climbs in the area and has featured in numerous races. The Tour de France raced this col as part of a stage in 2003, 2010 and 2016. Climbing to a maximum elevation of 1619m above sea level the reward for reaching the summit is a wonderful view of Mont Blanc followed by a long fast descent through the mountains.
Leaving Morzine take the D902 which climbs gently for 7kms up to the lovely town of Les Gets. The road then descends consistently for 11 kms down to Taninges where you will bear right on the D907 past the Super U supermarket. The road is relatively flat until you reach the town of Mieussy where you will bear right onto the D308.Here is where the climb to the col begins as the road quietens, narrows and winds its way up through smaller hamlets and alpine meadows. 8 kms in, the climb really becomes challenging as the road steepens further and then passes an area of exposure before a tunnel. Just before the summit the road flattens allowing you to catch your breath before you take in the view from the top.
The descent is high speed and takes you down past the Praz de Lys ski area before bearing left onto the D328 and climbing the much easier road up to the hamlet of L’Encrenaz. From here the road descends down through La Cote D’Arbroz where you will take a right at a t-junction and follow the road back into Morzine.
Greatest race moment – 2003 Tour de france, French rider Richard Virenque’s break away sprint secures him the stage win.
2) Col de Joux Plane
- Distance 52 kms
- Max elevation 1691m
- Duration – 2.5 – 3.5 hours
The Col de Joux Plane is one of the most challenging climbs in the Alps. With an elevation gain of 1250m, over a 52 km ride, this one is not for the faint hearted. The climb has played host to the Tour de France 12 times and is particularly famous for causing Lance Armstrong trouble in 2000. The col is classed as a “ Hors Categorie” or beyond category as the climb is so challenging. The Col is traditionally raced as part of a much longer route but fortunately a fantastic 52 km circular route can be completed from Morzine.
Heading out of Morzine towards Les Gets along the D902 the road climbs gently for 7kms before descending the 11 kms to Taninges. Here the route turns left onto the D907 signposted Samoens. At Samoens bear left following the signs for Col de Joux Plane and this is where the fun begins. Although not the longest climb in the world it is certainly challenging with a maximum average gradient of 13% at la Combe Emeru. The road climbs for 13.5 kms from Samoens to the summit at 1691m and the second half is the more demanding with no let up until the summit.. At the Col there is a lovely little lake with beautiful views of Mont Blanc and the Samoens valley.
The descent back down to Morzine is short lived to start with as there is a second col to reach. The Col du Ranfolly is only a short climb but on tired legs it can prove a challenge. The descent from this col is very fast and has an average gradient of 9% over the 12 km road which winds its way back down to the valley floor. If you are not enjoying the hairpin bends and high speed turns too much to look up then you willl be greeted with fabulous views as you pass through beautiful alpine meadows with far reaching views over Morzine.
Greatest race moment – Lance armstrong bonking on the climb and nearly losing the win on the 2000 Tour de France.
3) Col de Joux Verte
- Distance 32 kms
- Max elevation 1760m
- Duration – 1 – 2.5 hours
The Col du Joux Verte circuit can be ridden in either direction depending on your preference. However, if you are after a challenging climb with Tour heritage then the 17 hairpin, 14kms Super Morzine road is the route for you. This climb first featured in the Tour in 1975 and has been attracting keen cyclists ever since. The quickest recorded time on the climb belongs to Bernard Hinault at 33 minutes dead, a time that was set in 1979.
The Col sits at an altitude of 1760m and whichever route you take offers a worthy challenge. There is a race called the “Grimpée Cycliste Morzine-Avoriaz” held every year with local riders attempting to take on Hinault’s record time.
Starting at the Marie in the village centre follow Route de la Manche south east before going straight over a mini roundabout and turning left round a banked hairpin turn onto Route des Putheys. This road climbs steadily through the village before reaching a roundabout where you turn left onto Route d’Avoriaz. This is where the climb begins in earnest as the road ascends towards Avoriazl. Passing under the Super Morzine ski lift several times and attacking the 17 hairpins, the initial part of the route climbs steadily through the forest before breaching the tree line towards the meadows of the Zore ski area. From here the road flattens briefly before the final push to the summit.
Turning left at the summit will start your descent down through beautiful alpine forests and intersecting meadows which are ski pistes during the winter months. Emerging from the forest you arrive at the village of Les Lindarets, otherwise known as the goat village. Caution is advised through Les Lindarets as the large goat population attracts a lot of tourists and the road can be busy with cars, goats and people.
From Les Lindarets follow the road as it descends steeply down the valley through hairpin turns at high speed. As the gradient mellows you will pass the stunning Lake Montriond on your left (which is well worth a stop if you are not against the clock) before arriving at the hamlet of Montriond. Here you bear left at the village centre and follow the road back along the valley to Morzine.
Doing the route in reverse is also very popular but the climb up from Lake Montriond to Les Linderets is very steep over the 5 km section.
Greatest race moment – Bernard Hinault’s record climb time of 33 minutes back in 1979.
Travelling to Morzine with a bike couldn’t be easier, most airlines will take a boxed or bagged bike in the hold for a small additional fee and most transfer operators will have trailers for bikes. Driving to Morzine is also an option being just an 8 hour drive from Calais (click here to our guide to driving to Morzine). If you’d prefer to hire a bike in town there are a number of great bike shops offering hire at very reasonable prices.
If you are looking for somewhere special to stay for your visit to Morzine, somewhere perfect to relax after a big day in the saddle then why not click here to see more on The Farmhouse. A boutique hotel in the heart of Morzine, steeped in alpine history. We also have secure bike storage and everything you will need for the perfect cycling holiday in the French Alps.