Uninspired by the Tour du Lac Annecy – which is beautiful but we all need a change – we headed over the Bauges to Aix Les Bains for the Tour du Lac Bourget. I’ve often wondered about riding around the lake Bourget, you get a spectacular view from the top of Mt Revard.
One unexpectedly warm March day, I had the chance to find out. Theoretically you could ride from Annecy but it would be a hell of a day so we started (and ended) at Albens, just the other side of the hill from the lake.
From Albens, it’s a gentle climb up to the Col de la Chambotte before a gorgeous descent to the lake itself. From here, you’re climbing again but often in the valleys with no lake views. Unlike the Tour du Lac d’Annecy, where you’re right on the water but left sharing the bike path with 1,000 of your closest cycling/running/roller blading mates, we saw few other cyclists but also often forget we were near the lake at all. The next section is largely rolling, and being a little lower and warmer than Annecy, it was already in the full throes of spring. As you circle around the base of the lake and begin to climb again, you’ll be rewarded with the lake views you came for.
The climb to the Col du Chat is a tease, undulating through the back of the hills and winding back up again. Officially, it’s about 8km at 5% but that feels more like three or four rollers. As an aside, the Col du Chat must not be confused with the Dent du Chat – a gruelling climb of 10%+ for 10km+.
The sign itself is unassumingly in the trees on the side of the road. Take a photo, post it to strava, and never think about it again. Instead, continue on and enjoy the views on the descent. We took it easy on the way down to take in the lake views and the cruised along the flat in search of a lakeside boulangerie for lunch.
From the eastern side of the lake – Aix les Bains – you have numerous options for the return trip. We decided to head back over the Chambotte becuase the descent was so fantastic on the way over. But what I didn’t realise the first time is that you can keep going up for some extra credit – an extra km at 13%+… I had no idea what I was in for and probably would have appreciated a heads up but it was worth it. The view is similar to that you get from Mont Revard behind you.
All in all, a highly recommended “Tour du Lac” with some good little climbs, fantastic views, and none of the crowds of Annecy.