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Between summits and big lakes — gravel riding in France’s Morvan park

Michael Goldschmidt

Between summits and big lakes — gravel riding in France’s Morvan park

Mountain Biking Collection by Guillaume Favez

6-11

days

3-5 h

/ day

250 mi

19,650 ft

19,875 ft

Morvan is a Regional Natural Park located in Burgundy-Franche-Comté. This low mountain massif is the middle ground between extensive plains and impressive mountains. A grand network of forest and mountain roads, the Morvan is the ideal territory for gravel riding.

I’ve split this 400-kilometre (249 mi) itinerary into seven stages with an average of 60 kilometres (37 mi) and 800 metres (2,625 ft) of elevation gain per day. Half of the total distance is on trails whilst the other half follows small roads with little traffic.

The Morvan is famous for its beautiful mountain lakes, which this Collection will reveal to you in great detail. But the natural park is also home to beautiful castles, abbeys, chapels and even a cathedral in Nevers. Discover countless picturesque hamlets and villages, but also pretty towns like Château-Chinon.

Avallon is the closest town to the park that’s served by direct trains from Paris. The itinerary starts in this town in the north of Morvan.

The last lap ends in Nevers, whose train station has direct connections to many big cities, such as Paris, Lyon and Nantes.

This gravel adventure is recommended for dry weather, otherwise some passages require a mountain bike. The recommended tyre width varies depending on the weather, but in dry weather any gravel tyres should suffice. Some accommodation options and tourist attractions close in winter, so I strongly recommend that you explore here in summer. Each stage ends near somewhere to stay, so you don’t need to bring a tent, but booking in advance is wise.

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Entre sommets et grands lacs — Morvan Gravel

253 mi

19,875 ft

20,100 ft

Last updated: December 2, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    04:53
    29.0 mi
    5.9 mph
    3,250 ft
    2,575 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This first stage covers only 47 kilometers, but it has 1000 meters of elevation gain. Some climbs are gradual, others are a little steeper but short, and the most important includes 170 meters of elevation gain. The departure is located in Avallon, near the train station.

    

    The exit of this small town is

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    by Guillaume Favez

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  • Difficult
    05:38
    35.5 mi
    6.3 mph
    3,075 ft
    2,800 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This almost 57-kilometer stage includes around 900 meters of elevation gain spread over half a dozen climbs. The 850 meters of negative elevation will allow you to rest while admiring the landscapes. The Tour is made up of paths and trails over more than three quarters of the total distance, a real treat

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    by Guillaume Favez

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  • Difficult
    04:27
    30.5 mi
    6.9 mph
    2,000 ft
    1,900 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This Tour is less demanding than the two previous stages. Indeed, the 50 kilometers have only 600 meters of elevation gain. The route consists of two-thirds of gravel-type paths, and one-third of road.

    

    From Saulieu, head south to quickly reach Chamboux lake. Enjoy the wild landscapes that surround this

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    by Guillaume Favez

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  • Difficult
    05:31
    37.5 mi
    6.8 mph
    3,775 ft
    4,075 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is neither the longest nor the steepest in the Collection, but it is one of the most demanding with 60 kilometers and more than 1,100 meters of elevation gain. If necessary, the last 17 kilometers can be replaced by two kilometers on the road, turning right at 43ᵉ kilometer.

    

    From Ouroux-en

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  • Difficult
    05:51
    35.3 mi
    6.0 mph
    4,500 ft
    3,675 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    With 1360 meters of elevation gain, this stage is the most difficult of the Collection, but shortcuts are possible if necessary.

    

    At the 7th kilometer awaits you a curiosity: a small undated rustic chapel, recently decorated by monks in a rather original way. This is typically the kind of building you

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  • Difficult
    04:37
    45.6 mi
    9.9 mph
    1,575 ft
    3,100 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This sixth stage is the longest in the Collection, with a total distance of over 75 kilometers. However, it only has 500 meters of elevation gain, for more than 1,000 meters of descent.

    

    From Glux-en-Glenne, a long descent takes you to the Dragne waterfall. Continuing west, the gradient decreases and a

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  • Difficult
    04:14
    37.0 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,525 ft
    1,750 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This last stage is a little less gravel than the previous ones, because it only includes ten kilometers of paths and trails. Nevertheless, the majority of the roads taken are very little used, except in Nevers, prefecture of Nièvre.

    

    Less than 10 kilometers from the start in Tintury is a pretty pond around

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    250 mi
  • Duration
    35:11 h
  • Elevation
    19,650 ft19,875 ft

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Between summits and big lakes — gravel riding in France’s Morvan park

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