When some good friends of mine put out an urgent request for a cat sitter, I jumped at the chance. The steep mountains flanking the Tarentaise valley give way to some truly stunning riding that was too good to turn down.
I arrived in Tessens eager to explore. While I knew it was going to be hilly, I don’t think I quite appreciated that every single way is up. Even if you were to cruise down the hill from Tessens to the valley, you’d still face a 20 minute climb back at the end of the ride. I found out the hard way as I startled tootling around the local hills that even a 50km ride involved around 1600m of climbing!
With that in mind, I decided to visit the Parc National de Vanoise to Nancroix. From Tessens, I cruised down the hill to Aime and along the bike path to Bellentre and followed the signs to Landry. From Landry, just follow the signs up to Peisey-Nancroix and the Rosuel Valley. I couldn’t find a profile of the climb (but if I do, I will be sure to update this post) but according to my strava file, it’s approximately 12km with an average 6% It’s a lovely climb, well signposted, and brings you out to a wide open meadow at the base of several peaks in the Vanoise National Park. Waterfalls cascade down cliffs, patches of snow still cling to the summit, and the meadow below opens out before you at the end of the climb. The picnic area has good bathrooms and water, while there’s a restaurant close to the top of the hill.
From here, I rolled down the hill about 5km before taking a right towards Vallandry, where you can cut across to one of the largest ski stations in France – Les Arcs. The quiet road winds across the side of the mountain and at the end, you’ll be rewarded with views of Mont Blanc. Of course, I didn’t stop and take a picture until the clouds moved across and covered the view!
[NB: Be careful about following my strava at this point if you’re heading out – you’ll see I took a wrong turn and ended up on a 20% ramp that ended at a golf course… ]
Once I hit Les Arcs, I was a little disappointed – it’s just a large ski resort after all – but getting there is well worth the trip and it’s a fast (if a little busy) descent back to Bourg St Maurice.
I decided to head back to Tessens via my favourite local balcony route – the Versant du Soleil. The Versant du Soleil runs from above Bourg St Maurice to Granier. It’s a rolling ride along quiet country roads, with gorgeous views down into the valley. It is also the only way back to Tessens that ends with a descent. You can access it from Aime (via Tessens or the Côte d’Aime), Bellentre, or Bourg St Maurice. Each of these start/end points are also great for making little loops on the western side of the valley.
When I headed up from Bourg St Maurice the road was blocked past Vulmix and I had to walk past the hole in the road but not to worry, it was still a great little way back and I appreciated the short climbs and lively descents.
Getting out and getting a bit lost is sometimes the best way to enjoy a day on the bike.