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MTB travel guide: Les Arcs, France

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Place: Les Arcs
Country: France
Number of trails: 20+
Number of lifts: 8
Predominant riding style: All-mountain/cross-country/downhill

Les Arcs is the name given to a collection of resorts in the French Savoie region including Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Arc 1600 and Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000. There is riding to suit every taste but it’s the epic singletracks that make the place so great.

Les Arcs riding is all about the singletrack treats. Photo © Andy Lloyd

Les Arcs riding is all about the singletrack treats.
Photo © Andy Lloyd

The Place

While the look of the four Arc ski stations is unappealing to say the least, the mountains in the area are huge and the more traditional villages are incredibly pretty.

Bourg-Saint-Maurice, the main town in the valley, is vibrant with plenty to see and do and abundant accommodation. Most mountain bike visitors choose to stay with any of the bike specific holiday firms, which are increasing in numbers (although there are still only a few) and none of which choose to base themselves in the Arc stations – there are many nicer places nearby! Trail Addiction is based in Paisey-Nancroix and Bike Village is in the village of Landry, both of which are traditional and pleasant.

The riding

Alpine hillsides are rarely as fruitful in the way of singletrack as that of Les Arcs. The area covered by the lift network is vast, with open expanses up high and tall trees on the lower slopes and rides offering up to 2,000metres of descending…

It’s a huge area so we recommend always riding with a guide or taking directional advice from your chalet hosts. There is a trail map, but the hunt for the best non-official trails is what makes this area the Alps’ underground riding hot spot for those in the know. Riders and guides here are fit, skilled and knowledgeable so they will always know where to point you for the flowiest goodness.

There is no better way to describe the riding of Les Arcs than sublime. For those coming from Britain, the loamy soil and the riddle of tree roots that make up the majority of the lower trails will appeal as being similar in nature to British riding, but of course on a much grander scale…with lifts to the top for run-after-run. You can also head out into the big, spectacular wider area of mountains with ease for all-day epic rides and stunning views. It’s quite a special place.

Talking of lifts, one of the better ways to access superb terrain is to ride the trails that run off the funicular railway. The train can be picked up from the valley floor on the outskirts of Bourg, it runs all day and will quickly cover 800metres of altitude, depositing riders at the head of many long singletrack rides back down. Particularly if you don’t want to ‘mess around’ with any uphill riding this is a good way to get a lot of time on the bike.

There is riding to cater for every level and for all tastes. The official downhill tracks consist of digger-formed berms, rollers and jumps with the most challenging track being that of the Avalanche Cup downhill race, which boasts towering corners, super high speeds and massive launches. Cross-country rides can offer anything from valley-floor trails to beastly climbs into the backcountry and more-or-less any terrain imaginable. For singletrack fiends there are endless delights in the shape of soft, loamy trails under the forest canopy with technical rooty, rocky challenges a-plenty and rarely a hint of man-made structures or, indeed, other trail users. Rides are generally long with descents ranging from 15 to 50minutes and above.

Trails for the large part traverse the mighty mountain but incorporate rocky, rooty sections making them best suited to all-mountain bikes with kneepads and backpack a must.

How to get there

Fly to Geneva or drive from Calais – it’s roughly a 9 hour trip but don’t forget to factor in the French road tolls when considering price.

Holiday companies in the area

www.TrailAddiction.com
www.BikeVillage.co.uk

  1. Travel

    Nice place !!!!

  2. LemonadeMoney

    Can’t believe you didn’t mention the La Varda epic trail! An absolute must if you go to Les Arcs, but I’d suggest you need a guide – we used and can recommend TrailAddiction.

  3. jeff stinson

    Really nice post with stunning pictures. I am planning to go to France next year. Surely your post will help. Thanks

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