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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are a Canadian couple planning a vacation approximately 10 days total combining riding and sight seeing. We ride all mountain and DH.

The Alps is our focus. (France, Switzerland, Austria?) What would you suggest as an itinerary? clean bike friendly places to stay? sights to see eg Paris, trains? Best time to travel? Any links?

Really appreciate any suggestions
 

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10 days in Paris would be a good start, this would be just enough time to see the most important monuments and museums ;) ...
So:
Either focus on bikeparks or on sightseeing big cities, otherwise you will end up driving around in car or train and are stuck in traffic jams..

Juli and August can be very hot and crowded. Mid of September normally it starts raining south of the alps and all holiday facilities (like the Portes du Soleil and the Livigno bikepark) close for winter until end of June.
So I would recommend end of June or the first two weeks of September anyway.
Most bikeparks are far off of any place of cultural interest.

If you dont mind riding uphill Lake Garda (Riva) is still the best place for allmountain riding and has that typical Italian touch. Very beautiful.

I also like Bozen, because you can use the cheap urban cable cars. And the scenery of the Dolomites is overwhelming!
 

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Might not quite be serious DH but Heidelberg offers a cool little hidden series of downhill rides with jumps, tables, berms and other man made trail 'improvements', lots of cool XC type riding, and some seroiusly cool culture/architecture.

You could probably check out HD on the bike and ride the trails in one outing. Heidelberg is nestled in a river valley running east-west with hills on north and south sides of the old town, the old town has all the cool architecture, churches, castle, etc, and you can ride both sides of the river valley.

Cheers,
Marty
 

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Remember that most ICE (express) trains don't allow bikes on board (unless in luggage), and during weekends the regional trains that do allow space for are packed solid with bikes, and a pain in the arse to negotiate(though it can be managed).

Tons of places, but I won't suggest an itenerary. With DH and all-mountain as a priority I would consider areas with good bike rental possibilities (easier to travel) or look for an Alps tour guide service.

G.
 

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The alps are great. Definately head to one of the bike park areas.

I just returned from Les Deux Alpes, great DH trails mostly "red" graded in my opinion but some really tech stuff too and some really long descents (3600m from the glacier down to 1500m at the bottom of the venosc).

There didn't seem to be much XC'ng to be done to get between the downs either.

Alpe du Huez is nearby and also superb. The Megavalanche is held there. So you would have a choice of two resorts.

Les Arcs is popular as is Verbier in Switzerland but by far the most popular (and the biggest area) is the portes du soleil. I did an event called the Passportes du Soleil it was 75k using 11 of the 25 available lifts (the area has 250 lifts but only 25 open in summer no more are needed) the downhills are amazing I have been to the region 5 times now and only stayed in the same resorts a couple of times. The region stretches from Les gets in France (where they hold world cups and world champs, Fabien Barrels resort) to Champery in switzerland, where the "coupe du monde" world cup course is extreme, it is so so so steep and off camber towards a huge drop and littered with roots and rocks all the way down, In the wet most of the world cup riders struggled!

There are loads of man made DH's all over the region as well as North shore. This year Chatel in the middle of the region has really upped its game with loads on new and improved runs in the bike park.

Due to the extremely large size of the resort (actaully it is 11 resorts linked together spanning the Swiss/french border) there is naturally some xc needed to get between areas, nothing that would tax you at sea level but at 8000ft plus!!! I needed new lungs!

Overall I would recommend Portes du Soleil most just for the shear variety. Oh and as a base you can get to Verbier in 2 hours, Chamonix (Mont Blanc highest mountain in Europe, the cable cars take you to around14000 feet but you can't take a bike that high, there is huge amount of amazing riding in the the surrounding mountains spanning three countries borders, honestly the views will imprint on your memory for ever) in 11/2 hours and there are loads of other places nearby too such as the Grand Massif for lift accessed natural trails.

I am fortune enough to have holidayed in the amazing Whistler and it is amazing but nothing like on the scale of Portes du Soleil.

I will be going back to Champery again before the end of the year, it is just too good to keep away.

As for Paris, I lived there for 2 years, worth a visit for the culture and sights (you could do all the sights on foot in a day, done it several times with visitors, if you want to visit the museums though then I guess it takes as long as you linger. You could spend days in the Louvre alone, but if you just want to see the Mona Lisa, venus de milo and statues of David and Adonis then about an hour plus queueing time.

it is about 8 hours drive from Paris to Geneva and about an hour from Geneva to Morzine, Les Gets, Chatel and the other resorts in the Portes Du Soleil.

Hope that helps, have a good trip

Kenton
 

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Like Nsynk. Do Paris for maybe two days, you should be able to see most of the sights. Get a train or plane to Geneva, rent a car and then drive up to Portes du Soleil. Morzine would be a good starting point to get in some good riding. Get over to Chamonix from Morzine for some trails there or maybe even do the tour around the Mont Blanc.

Personally I like September and even early October best for traveling in the Alps. Disadvantage would be that a lot of lift stations will be closed. Finding accommodation I never found a problem during that period.

Good trip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for your fantastic suggestions. Portes du Soleil, Chamonix, Morzine. Appreciate season options too. I think September will work... just have to make the flight plans and accomodations. We will post pics :)
 

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cyclelicious said:
Thanks everyone for your fantastic suggestions. Portes du Soleil, Chamonix, Morzine. Appreciate season options too. I think September will work... just have to make the flight plans and accomodations. We will post pics :)
just a little suggestion: try to get there at the end of august instead of september if you want to practice dh: all these resorts (portes du soleil, grand massif, chamonix, megève and so on...) will closed there lift around the 8 or 9 of september...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We appreciate all the valuable information!
Any recommendations for bike friendly places to stay?
 

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Scotland U.K.

Well I'm no Scot and I've never even riden inn Scotland, but I wanted to flag Fort William and the various '7 Staines' routes to you as an area that may not get the best of the weather, but gets great reviews and easy enough to see some of Scotland or go from place/bike park to place and pick off some castles and that.

Have fun wherever you go. Off to Croatia for me if you know of any decent bike rental places?
 

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FYI Fort Bill Gondola access stops 13th of September. Weather starts turning autumnal in September in Scotland. I rode the red "xc" route at Fort bill a few weeks ago in the wet. A little sketchy with all the natural rock slabs and a windy summit but still great fun.

Fort Bill red and Laggan red and double black are worth a trip. These are some of the toughest routes in the UK that I have ridden along with the Innerleithen black route.
 
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