Mountain biking has been extremely popular in the Southern French Alps for a long time. Many routes for all levels have been created along the years. The area is just on the edge of the Ecrins National Park (rather than actually inside the park, where biking is forbidden) meaning that if it's bikeable, you can ride it - the only limit is yourself!
Cross-Country Mountain Biking
All mountain bike routes in the Alps are graded like ski runs: green, blue, red and black routes (green being the easiest and black the most difficult). There are literally thousands of waymarked mountain bike routes in the area just waiting to be discovered, in the Champsaur, Gap, Buëch and Serre-Ponçon area.
For families and novice bikers, there are gentle family routes which go along valley floors and are on larger paths or forest tracks. For experienced bikers, there are fast, windy single track descents with more technical climbs. And there are a whole range of other routes in between! You can either bring your own bike, or hire a hard-tail or full suspension bike here. We will give you route advice and maps when you are here.
One of the local bike shops we use also offer shuttles (7€ per person) on certain days of the week to get to the starts of cross-country mountain bike descent routes at the tops of mountain passes. This means you can get a great downhill mountain bike ride without the up effort!
If you are looking for pure downhill biking thrills, the resort of Orcières is home to a downhill mountain bike area where the ski lifts turn into bike lifts in the summer! With specially made and managed tracks with banked turns and bumps, it's a downhill bikers' dream! Downhill biking is now a sport in its own right so we have a dedicated page for it. Please look up our downhill biking page for more information.
Electric Mountain Bikes
The electric mountain bike is becoming more popular each year in our area. They are full suspension mountain bikes equipped with an electric motor for that extra bit oomph so you can get your downhill thrills with a little less effort! With these bikes, the mountains are truly yours to play on!
You turn the power on when it's a little bit too difficult and pedal when you want to exercise. Technology has advanced exponentially in this area and it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between an electric and classic mountain bike. For mixed ability groups, it is also a great way of sharing the same experience. So Grandpa can now keep up with his teenage mountain bike enthusiast grandson and no one will be any the wiser!
Mountain Biking Tours
We also arrange place to place mountain biking tours which cross valleys and even regions, and take in stunning scenery. The beautiful Alps to Provence MTB Tour is one of them. We give you all the maps you need as well as GPX tracks and arrange for your luggage to be taken to your accommodation each night so that you can travel light. It's a great way to travel and explore this wonderful region.
When to come
The best time of year to come mountain biking is between May and November, when it's nice and sunny and there is no snow around! For downhill mountain biking, the lifts are open all summer long from early July to late August.
So whether you are a hardcore mountain biker looking for an adrenaline rush down a fast, technical single-track route, or a family wanting a gentle ride in some beautiful countryside, you will be pleasantly rewarded!
You can read more on mountain biking technique on our blog!