Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and idyllic charm, Annecy is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly cyclists. The region boasts an array of opportunities that cater to both novices and seasoned riders, with one standout gem being the Lake Annecy route.
In this post, we explore some of the top cycling routes in and around Annecy, as well as essential tips, safety regulations and recommendations for where to hire a bike.
Read on to discover everything you should know about cycling in Annecy.
Exploring Annecy’s cycling routes
In Annecy, cycling enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to diverse routes that cater to all levels of experience.
Whether you are a novice or a seasoned rider, the options are boundless, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and varied landscapes. From leisurely rides along the water’s edge to more challenging climbs such as the Col de la Forclaz, there is a perfect route for everyone to savour the breathtaking mountain scenery.
Top cycling routes in Annecy
The Voie Verte Loop (around Lake Annecy)
The famous loop around Lake Annecy is a cycling must-try that promises an unforgettable experience amidst jaw-dropping views and relatively flat terrain. This scenic route covers approximately 42 kilometres and offers a pleasant and enjoyable ride of around 3 hours.
The cycle path circles the entire lake, meaning you can start from anywhere along the route. However, we’d usually recommend starting from Annecy town itself. There are plenty of options for bike hire here and it’s the busiest spot, meaning you won’t get caught up halfway through your ride.
Navigating your way around the path is easy, simply stay on the dedicated path and follow the signs. However, deciding which direction to take is down to you. Overall, the route is fairly flat and requires little exertion, but if you choose to cycle anti-clockwise, bear in mind you will have to tackle a pretty steep climb when you get to Talloires.
If you’re planning on cycling around the lake in summer, then you need to head out early. This is not only to avoid the hottest part of the day but also because bike hire shops can get very busy, so you’ll have to beat the crowds!
Where to stop en route
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to admire landmarks such as Le Pont des Amours in Annecy, Ruphy Castle in Duingt and plenty of natural beauty spots to photograph. If you want to pack a picnic, there are many beautiful beaches dotted around the lake where you can stop for a break. Doussard Beach provides a welcome halfway pitstop, where you can also take a dip to cool off.
Alternatively, you can refuel with some local cuisine at one of the many lakeside restaurants or cafés. Here are some top recommendations:
- La Petite Reine bike café, Veyrier-du-Lac – café and repair shop;
- Basecamp, Talloires – café and cycling hub;
- Le Bon Wagon, Duingt – café and repair shop;
- L’Abri Cyclette, Saint-Jorioz – café and repair shop;
- L’Oasis, Sévrier – lakeside restaurant and bar.
On a final note, just be aware that throughout some sections, the path becomes very narrow and you may be sharing with cars. Make sure to wear a helmet and ensure small children are supervised at all times.
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Col de la Forclaz
Having featured in the Tour de France, the Col de la Forclaz climb is no mean feat. The climb itself is only 8.5km long, but extremely steep, with an elevation of 840m. However, despite needing a high level of fitness and plenty of stamina to tackle the 49km route, the views over the lake from the top are difficult to beat. If you still have some energy, you can continue a little further where there are a few restaurants and bars. Here, you can sit and enjoy a well-earned drink, whilst watching the paragliders take off over the lake.
If you’re an experienced rider, we’d recommend incorporating the climb as part of the Lake Annecy loop. This way you can explore all of the lake in full, with a little added challenge on the side. Set off from the north side of the lake, near Annecy centre and take the cycle path along the west edge before peeling off at the end of the lake towards Col de la Forclaz.
Annecy – Col des Aravis
The Annecy to the Col des Aravis circuit via the Col de l’Arpettaz presents a true challenge for advanced cyclists. Covering 121km and boasting a total elevation gain of 2756m, this lengthy route puts endurance to the test. However, the reward is well worth it, as on clear days, cyclists are treated to stunning views of Mont Blanc, adding to the sense of accomplishment.
For those seeking to conquer the Col des Aravis without completing the entire circuit, an alternative option is to drive to Flumet and ascend the 11.7km climb from there. This allows cyclists to experience the breathtaking beauty of the region’s mountain passes without the need to tackle the full course. Whichever route you choose, the majestic landscapes and sense of achievement make every pedal stroke worthwhile.
Cycle-friendly chalets in the Aravis
Annecy to Ugine loop
Covering a total distance of 76km, the bike ride from Annecy to Ugine offers a wonderful exploration of the lake’s bike path with an additional leg to Ugine.
With 362m of elevation gain, this route caters to cyclists seeking a perfect blend of stunning lake views and a touch of challenge. It’s also an ideal option for those who want to enjoy part of the journey with family before venturing a little further towards Ugine.
Semnoz (Crêt de Chatillon) from Annecy
Located on the west side of the lake, the Annecy to Le Semnoz route is a popular challenge for enthusiasts, offering breathtaking, panoramic views from the summit.
The 17.4km route starts at 448m, reaching heights of 1660m at the finish. With an average gradient of 7.0% and a maximum gradient of 11.1%, this ascent provides a demanding but rewarding ride for those wanting to push themselves.
The climb starts when you exit the roundabout from the D1508, continuing for 5km, followed by 3km of rest before you tackle the final 9km. The majority of the way is shaded by the tall trees of the surrounding forest (home to plenty of local wildlife), so even in summer, you’re not too exposed.
Do note, however, the roads are windy with plenty of switchbacks, where cars and motorbikes do tend to drive at some speed, so be aware of oncoming traffic.
Plateau des Glières loop from Annecy
This scenic loop covers a distance of approximately 96km with a substantial elevation gain of 2385m.
As you ascend the Col de Bluffy, you’ll be treated to magnificent views of Lake Annecy and the surrounding mountains. The real highlight of the ride, however, lies in reaching the Plateau des Glières, a historic and rugged plateau famous for its resistance during World War II.
The scenic beauty and historical significance make this loop a must-try for cyclists seeking both adventure and culture in the Annecy region.
Essential tips for cycling in Annecy
Proper preparation is key to making the most of your cycling adventure in Annecy. Here are some essential tips for a smooth and enjoyable ride:
- Gear up for success: Ensure you have the right cycling gear for a comfortable and safe journey. Don’t forget to wear a properly fitting helmet and suitable cycling shoes for optimal performance and protection.
- Dress for the occasion: Dress in appropriate clothing, considering the weather and terrain. Lightweight and moisture-wicking fabrics work well in the warmer months, while layering up is essential during cooler seasons.
- Carry essential tools and spare parts: Prepare for any potential mishaps by carrying a basic toolkit, including tire levers, a pump, and a multitool. It’s also wise to pack spare inner tubes and chain links in case of punctures or mechanical issues.
- Safety first: Always have a first aid kit on hand to address minor injuries and discomfort during your ride. Additionally, don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Plan your route: Before setting off, check the weather conditions to dress accordingly and plan your route carefully. Be aware that the weather can change quickly in the mountains, so it’s crucial to stay updated throughout your ride.
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Safety and regulations
To ensure a secure and enjoyable ride, it’s crucial to adhere to traffic rules and regulations. In France, bicycles are considered vehicles, so cyclists must follow the same traffic laws as motorists. Always ride on the right side of the road, obey traffic signals, and yield to pedestrians when required.
In Annecy, there are some specific cycling regulations to be aware of. For instance, certain areas may have designated bike lanes or shared paths with pedestrians, where cyclists should maintain a controlled speed and give priority to walkers. Familiarise yourself with local signs and markings to avoid any confusion.
To enhance your visibility and safety, consider wearing reflective gear and using front and rear lights, especially during low-light conditions or in the evening. This helps ensure that other road users can spot you easily, reducing the risk of accidents.
Bike hire in Annecy
One thing to note is that particularly during summer months, rental shops become very busy. During these peak times, you may not be able to reserve a bike in advance. Therefore, you might be required to arrive at the shop first thing to guarantee a slot.
Alternatively, you can opt to get your bikes delivered directly to your accommodation. Bcyclet is a great option for this, offering a range of different high-quality bikes delivered straight to your doorstep!
Whether you’re looking for gentle rides around the lake or more challenging climbs, there’s something for everyone in Annecy, at any time of the year. But remember to check regulations before you go and scout out the closest bike rental shops if you’re not taking your own equipment.
If you’re heading to Annecy for your next cycling holiday, make sure to check out our range of accommodations in the area. Plus, don’t forget to share your experiences with us on Instagram – we’d love to hear from you!