Adventure Local; Annecy

 

Welcome to Adventure Local, a series of Apidura guides designed to help you get the most out of riding in various destinations around the world. In this edition we’re exploring Annecy – the Venice of Savoie – in southeastern France, with local adventure rider and Mavic product developer Sébastien Jarrot.

 

EssentialsFinding a BikeCulture – Where to Ride – Where to Hang Out

02/07/2019

 

Annecy is the gateway to the northern Alps. Crossed by the river Thiou and its narrow canals that cut through the city streets, its old town is one of the most picturesque places in France, earning it the reputation of the ‘Venice of Savoie.’ Perched on the rim of its namesake lake, the centuries-old buildings and crystal clear waters serve as the perfect backdrop for recounted tales of adventure in the surrounding landscape.

Just an hour’s drive from nearby Chamonix or the Tarentaise Valley, it’s easy to see why this town is earning its other reputation – the French cycling Mecca. “Situated between lake and mountain, Annecy is a great location for cyclists of all disciplines, and the quick access to world-class riding both on and off-road is a good reason why,” explains Sébastien Jarrot.

Annecy Essentials

 

Country: France

Language: French

Currency: Euro (EUR) 

Neighbouring Countries: Italy, Switzerland, Germany  

Nearest Airport: Geneva Airport, Switzerland

Visas required: Find out here 

 

Finding a Bike

 

“Annecy is an alpine cycling destination” says Sébastien, “and because of this, there are plenty of places to choose for bike hire.” For a great selection of bikes including road, tandem, e-bikes, and gravel – and for an excellent cup of coffee – he recommends Basecamp in Talloires, a small village on the shore of the lake southeast of Annecy.

If you’ve just arrived and are simply looking for a two-wheeled alternative to getting around and exploring, try Roul’ ma Poule in the town centre.

Mapping Annecy

 

This map depicts all of the places of interest mentioned in this Adventure Local guide. From finding local bike shops and cycling cafes, to navigating rides in the surrounding area, use it to unlock the city’s cycling potential.

 

GPX Route Downloads

Tour of Les Aravis

‘Groad’ Tour

 

 

The Chaîne des Aravis to the East of Annecy provides dramatic views and famous passes.

The Chaîne des Aravis to the East of Annecy provides dramatic views and famous passes.

The medieval centre of Annecy, affectionately known as ‘La Venise des Alpes’ is a must-see if you’re visiting the area.

The medieval centre of Annecy, affectionately known as ‘La Venise des Alpes’ is a must-see if you’re visiting the area.

 

Cycling Culture

 

“The local cycling culture is certainly more road orientated, but the off-road gravel culture is growing,” says Sébastien, and it’s thanks in most part to local events such as La Résistance. A gruelling one-day gravel and road ride, La Résistance was designed to celebrate the men and women who fought on the nearby Glières Plateau in WWII, and takes in a 130km course through gruelling terrain. A three-day bikepacking event also takes place every year, known as the Tour de la Résistance, aimed at showcasing some of the finest off-road routes surrounding Lake Annecy.

Thanks to its unrivalled location at the foot of the Alps, Annecy has a year-round cycling community, with the most dynamic group known as Les Savoyards Qui Roulent. “They’re a collection of brave cyclists who meet weekly to ride every Sunday morning – whatever the season or the weather,” says Sébastien.

There’s also a group ride every Saturday in spring organised by local sustainable apparel brand Matchy Cycling. The ride is open to all, and details are usually posted to the company’s Facebook page ahead of time.

 

Where to Hang Out

 

If you’re using Annecy as a base for your riding adventures, the ‘après-vélo’ options – according to Sébastien – are great. “Part of the French ‘art de vivre,’ or ‘art of living,’ Annecy contains a good network of wine bars and local gastronomic restaurants to choose from, all conveniently located around the centre.”

At the heart of Annecy lies the old medieval area, affectionately known as ‘La Venise des Alpes’ thanks to its castle, canals, and traditional buildings. It’s a must-see if you’re visiting the area – and a worthy detour even if you’re not.

Essential Phrases

Hello: Bonjour

Goodbye: Au revoir

Thank you: Merci

Bicycle: Vélo

Yes / No: Oui / Non

 

Where to Ride

 

“Annecy has a wide range of riding options for all levels of cyclist,” explains Sébastien, “from casual flat rides around the lake’s 42km circumference, to steep climbs such as the Semnoz which heads straight up to 1,699m and starts right from the centre of Annecy’s old medieval town.”

A good place to start if you’re new to the region is the ride up to Le Col de la Forclaz. “This climb is an excellent introduction to the area, and is not to be missed for its perfect view of the lake,” says Sébastien. “It’s not a long climb, with an altitude of 1,147m, but the final kilometre from both sides is very steep, and is justly rewarded with the incredible view at the end.”

Also on the eastern side of the lake, Les Aravis range is a great playground for those looking to continue the vertical theme. “Some popular passes such as Col des Aravis are incredibly worthwhile, but can be a bit busy in the summer. An unknown pass close to Le Grand-Bornand ski resort is the Col des Annes, a dead-end that has a stunning view of the full Aravis mountain range – home to some famous Tour de France passes like the Col de la Colombière.”

If you’re looking to take in some ‘groad’, Sébastien thinks he’s found one of the best routes available in all of the Alps. Beginning in Bourg Saint Maurice and taking in Cormet de Roselend and Cormet d’Arêches, it encompasses more than 80km of mixed surfaces – including 10km of uninterrupted high-alpine gravel tracks connecting the Beaufortain and Tarentaise valleys.

For longer rides in more remote places, try the western side of the lake, where medium-altitude mountain ranges between Annecy and Chambery offer a multitude of options for road-less-travelled riding.

Sébastien recommends visiting the area, and in particular the mountains, around the end of spring, from May to June, then from the end of August to mid-October. His reasoning? “Less cars, warmer days, and no snow at the top – my favorite conditions to ride.”

 

With Thanks…

Thanks to our Adventure Local: Annecy ride guide, Sébastien Jarrot. Seb is a high altitude gravel seeker who has explored new routes in Girona, Salt Lake City, The Dolomites and from his home in the French Alps. When not scouting for forgotten roads Seb uses his experience to guide the development of Mavic’s line of clothing and rider equipment. Follow his adventures on Instagram.

 

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