Having recently visited Chamonix in the French Alps to run, I’ve been told countless times that I must go back, take my bike, and visit Morzine. So as preparation (you know me), I’ve done the research ready to make the trip and to help you plan your own adventure over to the French Alps too.
This post has been written in collaboration with The Farmhouse Hotel, Morzine and photos are by StoryCrafters.
So, Where Is Morzine?
Morzine is a pretty Alpine town that sits in the heart of The Portes du Soleil mountain range, and is an excellent access point for the cols and scenic roads that the Northern French Alps are famous for.
Follow in the wake of cycling champions by testing your stamina on Tour de France climbs, or take more leisurely routes around stunning Alpine lakes and valleys. You’ll find miles and miles of beautiful roads, charming villages for lunch stops, a vibrant cycling community and incredible natural beauty spots.
It’s not surprising that Morzine stays high on the list of top destinations for road cyclists: in summer the town is totally geared up towards bikes, with excellent bike shops for bike hire and repairs, airport transfers for bikes, and plenty of bike-friendly accommodation.
How To Get To Morzine From UK
Morzine is by far the most easily accessible cycling destination in the French Alps, with several options for travelling with or without your bike. If you are planning to hire a bike when you arrive, see the section below for recommended bike shops.
Travel To Morzine By Plane
Flights from the UK airports to Morzine’s nearest airport in Geneva, take just over an hour and the airport is well-served by transfer companies who are used to carrying bikes.
Airlines include Swiss Air, BA and Easy Jet, and many more airlines fly from other cities across the globe. Most airlines will take a boxed or bagged bike in the hold for an additional fee.
Getting To Morzine By Car
You can also drive to Morzine from the UK by taking a ferry or Le Shuttle (the channel tunnel) across the Channel. The drive from the arrival ports of Calais or Dieppe to Morzine is a straightforward route taking between 8 and 9 hours.
TravelLing To Morzine By Train
Taking your bike on the train is free provided it is in a box or legitimate bike bag, so you can sit back and relax the whole way with one major changeover in Paris.
The usual route is to board the Eurostar from London to Paris (2h20), then a high-speed TGV-Lyria from Paris to Geneva (3h05). You will need to book a transfer from Geneva train station to Morzine, unless of course you plan to cycle.
When To Go To Morzine
The best time of year for road cycling in the French Alps is from June to mid September. June and September are the calmest months – with superbly quiet roads. But due to the high altitude, even in these months it is important to wear sun cream and drink plenty of water.
July and August are the driest, and of course the warmest, with mid-July and August reaching temperatures in the high 20s. During these months early morning or evening rides will keep you out of the mid-day sun.
Where To Hire Bikes (Or Find A Bike Mechanic)
Morzine is home to a good number of bike shops, but because the town is also a Mecca for mountain bikers, it is good to know where to go for specialist road bike repairs, spare parts and to rent the best bikes. We recommend heading to one of these shops for all your road cycling needs:
Torico Performance Bicycles has a well stocked shop full of spare parts, tires, clothing and protection from top brands such as Maxxis, Evoc, Nukeproof and Royal Racing. They offer road bike hire in the form of a fleet of Scott Addict SE’s and Cervelo Caledonia’s with Shimano Di2 electronic gearing.
Alpine-Sports Morzine have a selection of road bikes including the popular Cannondale Synapse and Trek Dauphine, and two excellent bike mechanics on-hand.
Buzz Performance specialise in road bikes and have a fleet of Pearson HammerAndTongs and I’mNotNumbers, with all carbon and all Shimano gearing. They also have a qualified bike mechanic available for repairs and servicing.
Cycling In Morzine – Scenic Routes & Famous Cols
Check out this selection of scenic routes & famous cols to cycle from Morzine. You can also check out Fat Map for route inspiration,
Col de la Ramaz
- Distance 58 kms
- Max elevation 1619m
- Level: Steady with some steep climbs (a good warm up for the Joux Plane)
- Highlights: Pretty villages, green valleys and mountain views
This route is regarded as one of the toughest climbs in the area and has featured in the Tour de France several times. 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 neighbouring resort 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 open area 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 high speed descent takes you 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.
Col de Joux Plane
- Distance 52 kms
- Max elevation 1691m
- Level: Most Challenging (and most famous) climb in the area
- Highlights: Incredible Mont Blanc view from the top
With an elevation gain of 1250m, over a 52 km ride, this one is not for the faint hearted. The Col de Joux Plane is one of the most challenging climbs in the Alps, and can be achieved as part of a fantastic 52 km circular route from Morzine, which has you sailing into the centre of Morzine for a much deserved cold drink!
Head out of Morzine towards Les Gets along the D902 where 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 top you’ll find 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.
Col de Joux Verte
- Distance 32 kms
- Max elevation 1760m
- Level: Challenging
- Highlights: Alpine forests, meadows and ‘the goat village’
The Col du Joux Verte circuit can be ridden in either direction depending on your preference. For a more challenging climb then the 17 hairpin, 14kms Super Morzine road is the route for you. This climb first featured in the Tour de France in 1975 and has been attracting keen cyclists ever since.
Starting at the Marie in Morzine 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 Avoriaz.
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’, due to the goats that live in this pretty little hamlet throughout the summer months. Just watch out, as the tame goats wander freely across the road and can be very slow to move!
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.
Col de Joux Verte (reverse)
- Distance 32 kms
- Max elevation 1760m
- Level: Intermediate with one challenging section
- Highlights: Alpine forests, meadows and ‘the goat village’
The Col de Joux Verte (in reverse to the route above) is an easier route that incorporates one challenging climb, unbelievable scenery, a stunning alpine lake, a waterfall, The Goat Village and 19 hairpin turns to descend!
Setting off from the roundabout by the Marie in Morzine centre the route heads north along a relatively flat road towards the neighbouring village of Montriond. At the village centre turn right following signs for Lac Montriond and Ardent.
Bearing right at the first roundabout and straight over at the followig mini roundabout will set you on course for the start of the climb. A further two kilometres of steady climbing at a 6% gradient brings you to the jewel of this climb – the stunning Lac Montriond.
This beautiful Alpine lake is the third largest lake in the region and provides a haven for tourists in the summer. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy a quick coffee (or a swim) before the real hard work begins.
A two kilometre ascent brings you through an avalanche tunnel to the alpine hamlet of Ardent. If you’re not in a rush, just before you reach the hamlet you’ll see a sign for Cascade d’Ardent on the right of the road and the waterfall just below is well worth a quick pit stop.
At the hamlet bear left up the hill along the road to Les Lindarets. Here the road steepens with a three kilometre climb at 9%, through a series of tight, winding hairpins initially through woodland then into open pasture. As you gain altitude the views back down to the lake below and across to the Roc d’Enfer in the distance are simply breathtaking!
At 9 kilometres into the climb you will reach the small hamlet of Les Lindarets, or goat village as it is known locally. As you ascend out of the goat village the mountains open up around you at the Lindarets bowl where you’ll see a variety of ski lifts that service the wider Portes du Soleil area.
The Joux Verte continues into the alpine forest ahead, as you push on up to the summit there is a t-junction with a restaurant opposite. The restaurant offers the perfect place to take in the scenery and enjoy a well earned rest.
The road to the left at the t-junction leads up to Avoriaz, a 1.3km climb at a gentle 4%. It is well worth visiting Avoriaz and taking in its unique mountain top architecture if you have the time. Turning right at the t-junction at the top of the Col drops down the famous Route d’Avoriaz.
This fast, swooping 14km descent has as many as 19 hairpin turns to tackle at high speed. If you’re able to take your eyes off the road the views as you descend are simply stunning as you look across the Morzine valley to the Pleney slopes.
As you freewheel down to the bottom of the road you will eventually come to a mini roundabout where you will want to turn right and follow the road, slightly uphill at first then it will descend down to the roundabout by the pompiers (fire station).
Head straight over and you’ll come down to the Marie where you started the ride.
Route des Grande Alps, and Lake Geneva
- Altitude: 1123m
- Distance: from 49km – depending on which route you choose
- Level: easy-intermediate (depending on route)
- Highlights: Fascinating mountain gorges, stunning views of the Dranse river and its rapids, a swim in Lake Geneva
Although traditionally this famous itinerary – The Route des Grands Alps – is a cycle from Lake Geneva to Menton on the French Riviera, taking in a great selection of high mountain passes on the way; a pleasant, less gruelling, section of the route can be mapped out from Morzine. This would be the first or last section of the longer tour, depending on which way you did it.
From Morzine centre follow the D902 main exit road towards Lake Geneva. For the easier route, stick on this main route to Thonon-les-Bains, you’ll pass the Pont du Diable Gorges midway between Thonon-les-Bains and Morzine.
It’s worth stopping at this must-see attraction in the Chablais Geopark, these gorges provide an extraordinary demonstration of the power of erosion. There’s a guided walking track through them lasting around 40 mins.
Once back on your bike, following the twisty road along the river and you’ll soon end up in Thonon town centre. In this pretty lake side town, you can enjoy views of Lake Geneva, sample some delicious French food or enjoy a swim in the public swimming area. The route back to Morzine is a reverse of the way down.
For a beautiful, but more challenging ride, add a de-tour to this route, through the Vallee Vert and the Col du Feu. After the gorges and town of Jotty, take the second left onto the D22. Stay on this road through several rural villages before taking the D26 (Route de Layat) through Sous la Cote.
At Lullin follow the D36 to tackle the Col de Feu. At the top of this steep climb you’ll be rewarded with views of the peaks of the Chablais Massif including Mont Billiat (alt. 1894 m). In the village of Orcier take a left onto the D35 towards Thonon. You’ll ride through Armoy village into the town of Thonon.
Lake Geneva extension
To make this route into a longer (possibly multi-day) tour you have the option of cycling the full 200 km circuit around Lake Geneva before heading back up to Morzine.
Biking around Lake Geneva is a very easy route on route 46 that guides cyclists around the lake, from France to Switzerland and then back into France.
The route is relatively flat but offers fantastic views of not only the lake but also the Alps and Jura mountains. If you choose to bike tour there are some lovely campsites, alternatively treat yourself to a guest house on the shores of the lake.
The Vallee Verte Loop
- Altitude: 1100m
- Level: easy-intermediate
- Distance: 75 km
- Highlights: a pretty ride through the valleys and foothills of the Alps
Like the previous itinerary, this route starts in Morzine and descends down the valley through Saint Jean d’Aulps and to La Vernaz, but instead of continuing towards Lake Geneva, you take a left and head over the hills to Mieussy then across to Taninges.
After La Vernaz take the D26 through several rural villages, then take the quieter road from the back of Taninges village (which runs almost parallel to the main route on the map) up towards Les Gets and then along to Morzine.
This is a really accessible loop with no major climbs or descents. Just remember to bring a baguette as once in the Vallee Verte it is very rural, with not many places to stop for lunch until you reach Mieussy.
Where To Stay In Morzine
Morzine is in the heart of French Alpine cycling country and an excellent place to base yourself for accessing the many rides in the area. There’s a variety of accommodation options for all budgets, from hostels to self catered chalets and boutique hotels.
The Farmhouse Hotel is a bike friendly hotel with comfy beds, an excellent breakfast (served early when requested) and stunning gardens, plus bike storage, bike wash, tools and a workspace. Hotel Manager James, is an avid cyclist and is always happy to share his knowledge to help guests plan rides in the area.
So, when are you planning on hitting up Morzine for a cycling holiday?!