21 million French people cycle during their holidays and the country offers a structured network of more than 15,000 kilometers of cycle routes and greenways, developed in part by the Departments.
Cycling is a travel philosophy that is accompanied by a desire to taste local products.
Combining bikes and cheese to represent all the diversity of heritage and know-how in France is done.
A heritage of tradition and local know-how, cheese is a symbol of French heritage. There are 1,200 varieties of cheese in France, all categories combined!
“Tourisme & Territoires” and “Vélo & Territoires” wanted to develop the “Vélo et Fromages, à la Découverte des Departments” project. Behind this concept are themed bicycle routes.
“Vélo Fromages” in Savoie Mont-Blanc
Three new routes were certified in 2020. The Green Valley Circuit, The Tour du Semnoz (medium difficulty) and the Tour des Glières.
They are in addition to the two routes that saw the light of day in the summer of 2019: The Traversée du Beaufortain and the Tour du Colombier d’Aillon.
The Semnoz is a circuit that begins with a shady forest climb to the Leschaux pass (897 m), followed by a dive towards the Chéran valley. The end of the route takes place on the western flank of the Semnoz (departure from Annecy – 55 km).
The Green Valley begins with the ascent of the neck of Cou (1,117 m), rewarded by an integral descent of the Green Valley. Starting from Thonon-les-Bains, it is with the ascent of the Terramont pass (1,090 m) and the Saxel pass (943 m) (departure from Annemasse or Thonon-les-Bains – 66 or 69 km).
Glières is a beautiful pre-Alpine circuit that passes through three remarkable cities, worth a break and a stroll around: Thônes, the capital of Aravis, the classified medieval city of La Roche-sur-Foron and Thorens-Glières, dominated by its medieval castle ( departure from Annecy – 90 km – Cumulative elevation gain: 1,280 m).
To know : with the rise of the Electrically Assisted Bike, climbing the most famous passes of Savoie Mont-Blanc is no longer reserved only for experienced riders. The urban phenomenon has spread to the mountains.
Most Savoie Mont-Blanc resorts offer VAE rentals. To try on a legendary route like the tour of Mont-Blanc from Chamonix through the French Italian and Swiss alpine valleys (duration 8 to 15 days).
Meet in the wilderness at the Vanoise Park
Nestled between the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys, the Vanoise National Park is one of the jewels of Savoie Mont-Blanc.
Created in 1963 to fight against the disappearance of ibex, it is the first French National Park created.
The twinning with its Italian neighbor of Gran Paradiso makes it the largest protected natural area in the western Alps, for an immersion hike in this sensitive and timeless territory.
The Rosuel gate refuge marks the starting point for many routes through the Vanoise range.
At the entrance, you can read a text by Samivel, multiple artist, confirmed mountaineer, ecologist of the first hour, humanist above all, written in 1963, at the creation of the Park.
In his own way, he welcomes what he calls “the great garden of the French”.
To know : One of the most popular trails is the Lac de la Plagne loop via the Mont Pourri refuge.
Baroque itineraries, a heritage to discover
In Savoy and Haute-Savoie, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the faith of the inhabitants and the talent of often local artists allowed the emergence of real gems.
Created in 1992 by FACIM, the Chemins du baroque have listed nearly 80 buildings in the Savoy region. A heritage to discover in summer, on foot, by bike or by car. Here are two more secret “baroque itineraries”, they come out of the great classic circuits:
From Seez, we reach Montvalezan, then La Gurraz and Tignes Les Boisses, discovering the architecture of the villages and the treasures of their churches. A little further on, on the Versant du Soleil, we leave Granier to join Côte d´Aime, then the hamlet of Picolart and finally Valezan. The panoramic route offers sumptuous views of the Tarentaise and Vanoise.
In the Beaufortain and the Val d´Arly, the churches of Queige, Hauteluce and Beaufort (where the monumental pulpit is really worth a visit) bear witness to a certain artistic unity, each valley having its own variation of the Baroque.
In Maurienne, the Baroque is expressed through the works of local painters and sculptors, unlike the Tarentaise where artists frequently came from Piedmont. From Avrieux, we join Sollières, then Termignon and Lanslebourg. Two nuggets also deserve the visitor’s attention: the chapels of Bessans and Lanslevillard.
To know: FACIM or the Foundation for International Cultural Action in the Mountains, was created in Courchevel in 1970.
Wool fabrics: Arpin spinning, an ancestral heritage
It was in 1817 that the brothers Alexis and Jean-Louis Arpin launched their first factory in Séez, in the Tarentaise valley.
Peddled across the region’s access roads, the qualities of the fabric and the “home-made” will spread across the valleys far beyond.
For over a century, Arpin spinning has been making woolen fabrics to protect themselves from the mountain cold. She made a name for herself using the famous Bonneval sheet.
On a level with the times, the house has produced the polar clothing for Paul-Emile Victor’s expeditions or the first ski spindles of the 1930s!
Today, the Arpin spinning mill dresses the monks of the Grande Chartreuse as the companies of the guides of Chamonix and the Vanoise.
The spinning team of around 20 people is still working on historic machines.
To do : the guided tour of the spinning mill.
PDO and IGP cheeses from Savoie
Dairy products are “the” great specialty of gastronomic products from the Savoie Mont-Blanc region.
Eight producers gathered in a network intended to make discover the cheese culture of Savoy to the local population and to the tourists.
It brings together 8 traditional cheeses, recognized by a Protected Designation of Origin or a Protected Geographical Indication: Abondance, Beaufort, Chevrotin, Emmental de Savoie, Reblochon, Tome des Bauges, Tomme de Savoie and Raclette de Savoie.
And the traditions remain well entrenched. At the beginning, around a cheese, there is a breed of cow, a family, a village, a valley.
The member producers are committed to a quality approach for welcoming the public to their site. They are keen to promote their trade, their know-how and their products through a direct meeting between visitors and their activity.
Abundance, whose manufacturing secrets were developed in the Middle Ages under the leadership of the monks of the valley.
The Beaufort, a cheese from the high mountains of Savoie: the Beaufortain, Maurienne, Tarentaise and Val d’Arly valleys. There are several types: Beaufort, Summer Beaufort (made with summer milk) and Beaufort Alpine chalet (made over 1,500 meters with milk from a single herd).
The Chevrotin is a mountain goat cheese made exclusively by hand by farmers since the 17th century.
Emmental from Savoie, the most fruity and the most typical of French Emmental, it is produced on both Savoie, in workshops of artisanal size. Its manufacturing attested from the Middle Ages became significant on both Savoys at the beginning of the 19th century.
Reblochon, a cheese with a sweet and fragrant taste, taking its name from a trick performed by farmers in the 16th century. Whether farmer or dairy, it is made from raw milk and is eaten all year round.
Tome des Bauges, strongly linked to its terroir, the Bauges massif with mountain agriculture dominated by animal husbandry.
Tome of Savoy, the only quality sign cheese to be broken down into several fat content.
The savoy raclette is an emblematic cheese of the Alpine massif. Stemming from a long tradition, its production calls upon all the know-how of its milk producers, its cheese makers and its refiners. Natural and natural, it is produced without flavor or additive.
All addresses on the site www.producteur-savoie-mont-blanc.com/
Unusual accommodation “Entre Terre et Ciel”
In Saint-Nicolas-la-Chapelle, perched in a natural and unspoiled setting, three upscale cabins welcome overnight, between sky and earth. Open all year.
The Nest hut (2 pers). Equipped with a private roof terrace of 30 m² at 9 meters in height with a breathtaking view of Mont-Blanc. Perched, insulated and heated by a wood pellet stove. Equipped with dry toilets and a shower.
The Mont-Blanc hut (2 pers). Equipped with a private terrace with private spa and sauna, this luxurious cabin is 5 meters high with breathtaking views of Mont-Blanc. You can benefit from high-end services. Nespresso and kettle available in the cabin.
The Ruisseau hut (2 to 5 people) with an area of 30m², with traditional mountain architecture is also perched on stilts 6 meters from the ground. Accessible by a 12 m long monkey bridge. Unique atmosphere in a warm and relaxed setting. It has a pellet stove, a 20 m² terrace, a tubular slide, a play area under the cabin, a horizontal net as a bed for children (or additional people) . High-end services. Sheets, towels and bathrobes provided. High-end services.
The Savoie Mont Blanc Rando app
The 800 available routes are represented by a file including GPS track, description, photos, technical information (duration, elevation, distance, altitude, etc.), opening times, points of interest (panoramas, heritage).
To find the right information as quickly as possible, a search engine and numerous filter options are available.
The geolocation function indicates the nearest routes, as well as all the useful services. You can navigate in list mode or in map mode.
Coming from APIDAE (database of tourism professionals), this information is very regularly updated by the Offices, tourist providers, the Savoie tourist agency and the Tourism, Sports and Mountain department of the Haute departmental council. -Savoie, guaranteeing the reliability of sources.
Download Rando Savoie Mont Blanc from Google Play or App Store.
To know : the Savoie and Haute-Savoie now form a single tourist destination: Savoie Mont-Blanc.
The two Alpine departments united in the Savoie Mont-Blanc Council have decided to promote themselves together on the French and international tourist markets with this new appellation created in 2001, a true destination brand.
Marketing, communication and promotion are entrusted to a common mission: Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme, 1901 association present in Paris, Chambéry and Annecy.
To read all the articles dedicated to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region: click here
Posted by Michèle Sani
Journalist – TourMaG.com
See all articles from Michèle Sani