Singletrack in Pays de Écrin, Briançon, France
Pays de Écrin is a large natural area in the French southern Alps, which attracts many skiers, climbers, hikers, cyclists and all-time mountain enthusiasts. It borders Provence in the south and in the north you can find places like Les Deaux Alps, La Grave and in the eastern Serre Chevalier. The climate is usually dry and the region is getting a lot of sunshine, about 300 days of sunshine a year. The main town of Briançon is an interesting old fortification city with an exciting history and well worth a visit
Singletrack in Pays de Écrin, Briançon, France Information
The terrain here is not so steep and stagnant compared to many other places in the Alps and we ride on old roads (that have now become hiking trails) that ring up and down the mountain sides. The trails are mostly through larch forests, and over alpine meadows. The trail surface is quite smooth and soft, and many times subdued by larch bark. At times it is quite steep with tight curves in the woods and it’s perfect terrain if you want to develop your ability to put nice switch backs. If you fail to fall, you are usually pretty soft and do not risk goin head first over mountain sides…
Our base for the week is the village of Puy Saint Vincent, which is approximately twenty minutes south of the city of Briancon. We stay in hotel Aigliere and initially we do some day trips in the surrounding valleys. Here we also have the opportunity for a “rest day” where there is room for activities such as ferrata, trailrunning, climbing, hiking.. but if you just want to relax and rest your legs, it’s okay. However, the guide is ready to cycle with anyone who wants to drive. There are many trails to choose from so we choose something that fits your day shape.
Our local guide, Guillaume Christian, then takes us on a two day trip with overnight stay at the cabin. It is because we will reach a little higher terrain above the tree line and see a little more of the area.
To get the best out of your trip you should have good fitness and be used to cycling. It is relatively easy-cycled and not so technical, as the ladders are fairly smooth and fast. However, it is the right steep partivis with tight turns .
The journey is led by Guillaume, who is a legitimate mountain and bike guide and can travel outside and outside. The aim of the trip is that we are going to have fun together and try to develop ourselves as cyclists.
Price: 1300 €
Trip length: 7 Days
Group size: 5-7 persons
Guides: Guillaume Christian
Tour Start / Finish Point: Turin, Italy
Smaller and private groups are possible- please ask about our group booking discounts.
Included in the trip
- All local transport according to the program
- Full board accommodation in double room hotel 5 nights, cabin one night
- English-speaking, professional bike / mountain guide (2 guides if the number exceeds 10)
- Transfers from Turin
Excluded from the trip
- Personal expenses
- Tips / gratuities
In Turin we meet with a driver and then wait about two hours transfer to Pays de Écrin. We cross a border crossing between Italy and France, passing a couple of ski resorts and then descending into the valley leading to the city of Briançon. From here we head south to the hotel in the village of Vallouise. Here is also a bike rental if someone wants to rent a bike on site. (3 min from the hotel). We install ourselves at the hotel, arrange the bicycles and have a good welcome dinner and talk through the exercises of the coming days.
After a nice breakfast, we will prepare for the first day of cycling adventure. We then have a transport of about 30 minutes to the neighbouring valley Fressinière. Just above the village (two houses) Les Hodoules takes us on a path leading up to the valley’s Via Ferrata (France’s first)
. We follow a fast trail that slopes along the valley side below the limestone bricks above. As we descend into the valley, we cross the meadows to the other side and then follow a nice forest path to the village of Pallon. We then turn down down along the gorge Le Gouffre de Gourfoura. Initially, it’s easy biking. At the end it burns and becomes more rocky with fairly tight switch backs. We then reach the great valley that stretches along the Durance River (about 920 m) and follows this south on easy-cycle driveways and trails. We then climb upwards on a path leading us to the village of Les Paques, (1050 m) where we pour water and eat our mediterranean picnic lunch.
Now a long rise on lane and gravel roads is waiting up to Les Preyts (1444) where we turn north from the GR 50 (level) road. We start sloping along the mountain side, after a short walk on foot up to about 1500 m, we await a quick and easy downhill journey to the village of Le Ponteil and on asphalt and lead to Le Passet (approx. 1350). Now it will rise again about 250 m. If you are strong you can ride a bike… otherwise you will have to push a bike for about 30 minutes. Then we slope back along the mountain side on a gravel road leading to the village of Les Seys. Then we have fun downhill across fields and through pine forests on the way all the way down to the Fressinière valley. We meet up with our transport and then return to the hotel in Vallouise. A sweaty and fun day is to the end. Shower, relax noon and then time to sleep.
About +700 / -900. 6 h cycling.
Today, we will mostly follow GR 50 members north and it will be more downhill than ever. We go almost the same way as the day before but all the way up to the pass Col de Lauzes (1873 m) and have 550 meters to look forward to. At first it’s quite flat and easy-cycled, but just before our Guillames chalet / cabin starts, it starts leaning a little steeper. We make a house view of the chalet and fill in water and charge for today’s first real downhill run. Now driving is driving on narrow paths through the larch forest. If you did not train the switch backs before, you have a golden opportunity. Exciting cycling but nothing fatal.
We come down to the bottom of a ravine and then we have to step back up on asphalt and gravel. 400 meters later we arrive at our lunch spot at a cabin just before Col Pousterle. That the cabin is beautifully situated is anything but an exaggeration. After lunch, we warm up with a slight uphill a kilometer before it is back down. We follow GR 50, alternatively Guillame’s special paths, and once again it’s switchback through forest all the way down to the valley leading up to Vallousie. Here we turn off on a different route and then it becomes flat and easy driving to the village of Argentiere-la-Besse. We round the day but an afterbike at any local bar before heading back to the hotel. There is also an option to cycle all the way to the hotel, the decision on the exact route is taken on site.
About +540 / -1300. 5 h cycling.
Today you can try Via Ferrata, run, climb cliff or rest. We have had a rather intensive start and have two big days ahead of us, so it may be good to drive a half-day activity and recover a little. However, for those who feel strong and want to ride a bike, the guide is available. There are many points to choose from and you choose something that fits your day-to-day style.
We have breakfast and then leave for a two-day adventure in France and Italy. The mini bus takes us a bit past Cerviers, which lies along the road leading up to Col d’Izoard, a pass that the Tour de France enthusiast is still familiar with. After about 45 minutes, we will be unveiled next to “Muraille des Aïtes”, a protection wall used during World War II. Then we have a soft start with easy cycling over the Bourget plateau to soon bite upwards towards Col Bousson, 2154 m. The landscape is open and completely different from the previous days. We then cross over to Col Chaubad 2213 m, and after crossing the border with Italy, it is going downhill
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. Here are many trails to choose from and we take what best suits the group’s shape. The final goal of the day is Capanna Mautino. A genuine, warm and cozy cabin where we will eat good, traditional food from Piemento and have a nice hangout with the cabin values Marco.
About + 1300 / -1000. 6 h cycling.
Now is the time for a little bigger challenge. After a delicious breakfast, we warm up with a round trip up to Lake Clot Forion. We come back to the cottage and load up with good Italian coffee. In front of us we have a stretch of steep and sting cycling up to the Chenailletsberg high-rise trails.
The mountain is very dark and hard and consists of the old seabed that was rolled around in connection with the Alps’ arrival hundreds of thousands of years ago. A different and fast basis. We now have a very nice downhill walk of about 1200m to look forward to leading us to Briançon. The city came under Louis XIV era under the direction of the famous military architect Vauban. It is definitely worth a visit. We end up cycling around a bit of the city’s many fort and maybe a afterbike at any of the city’s restaurant venues. We then return to our base in Vallousie, and celebrate the week with a good dinner. Have you rented bicycles, then we leave and leave these first.
About + 800 / -1600. 6 h cycling.
After breakfast transfer back to the airport in Turin or you can travel onwards on your own.
|Date:||14th September 2019|
|Places available:||To Confirm|
*We reserve the right for price changes that are outside of our control
GOOD TO KNOW...
Singletrack Nomad’s WebsitePathfinder arranged its first mountain bike ride in 2005. Since the end of 2016 we have collected all our mountain bike adventures on one and the same site, Singletrack Nomads. It is the same focus on natural singletracks with destinations off the freeways that you are used to.
It is Swedish Pathfinder Travels that you deal with and that is the organizer, the travel guarantees are made via us, etc. Jon Bawn who guides our cycling adventures in Turkey and Morocco is involved in our cycling efforts with us. Welcome to Singletrack Nomads – Local Experts, Global Adventurers.
On this trip it is good to have a braided bike with a slight long stroke on the front fork. The ladders we cycle on are certainly mostly smooth, but partivis will be quite rocky and technical. It’s also the right steep bike with tight switchbacks, so you do not want to get too tight on the fork. There are good bumped bikes to rent on site, unless you bring your own.
Technically, the cycling is mostly average and a good way to a little more advanced climbing. Have you cycled a lot on paths in woods and fields, that is enough. (So it’s a good ride from cross-country to trail and easier enduro.) There are also not so many “airy” parties, it would feel insecure, so you can always get off the bike and go a bit. Some days it’s the right steep climb upwards, so good fitness and strength in the legs and bonfires is a must.
We live with half board at the hotel most nights and have lunch packs every day. One night we stay in a mountain cabin, we have luggage service so you can switch to dry clothes when you arrive.
Most of the days we go by minibus in the morning or we will be picked up in the afternoon.
The trip will be led by Guillaume Christian, who is the MTB guide and also the UIAGM certified mountain guide. He lives in the area is a true local expert…