Dive into the heart of the Alps in one of the most beautiful Alpine valleys, with the Tarentaise, a valley that leads you to the highest pass in Europe: the Iseran pass.
Here you'll find seven Alpine gravel Tours of different levels from the lower valley to the narrow and little unknown valleys between the balcony road and high altitude paths surrounded by eternal snow glaciers.
If I had to recommend a single Tour, I would recommend the one to the Col des Chavannes between France and Italy. It is the most challenging but by far the most beautiful gravel route to ride on a gorgeous summer day.
In general, I would advise you to equip yourself with wide and knobbly tyres. The Alpine gravel is highly demanding and requires good traction and comfort, and that's why I always use wide tires greater than 40mm width, the best is 45mm like the Raddler from WTB tires.
As for the rider's equipment, never forget that you are in the mountains, always take a lightweight rain jacket with you as the weather is unpredictable, and don't hesitate to fill up your bottles at water points as it happens to have long sections like on the Chavannes pass without fountains for several kilometers.
Personally, I am keen to be light on the bike with nothing in my jersey pockets to be as comfortable and agile as possible on the bike and during the few hike-a-bike sections. That's why I am a fan of saddlebags: compact and light that don't hinder the movements on the bike.
Finally, be careful and don't take any unconsidered risks, the practice of Alpine gravel must remain a pleasure.
Starting from the Restaurant du petit Hibou, this gravel road is easily accessible up to the foot of the Aiguille Rouge and then switches to an easy blue ski slope to the high valley of the Tarentaise.
You'll find a stunning view from le Col de la Chal, and to reach the summit you'll need to hike-a-bike for a kilometre.
By far one of the most beautiful traces of Alpine gravel, between France and Italy, this Tour crosses the Chavannes valley up to the col de la Seigne.
80% of the route is on a gravel path with a lot of climbing!
Be careful on the descent from the Col des Chavannes, the portage is a bit tricky.
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This Tour takes in the gravel road to and from Val d'Isère. The gravel path starts at a high altitude lake, it's quite rolling and is a nice ride to discover the Alpine gravel without difficulty. The view is simply stunning there.
This is a classic loop of the Alps with the passage of the Col de Roselend, and what is more interesting is the return via the Cormet d'Arêches with its gravel passage to link the Beaufortain and Tarentaise valleys.
This makes for an unmissable ride, and can also be ridden on a road bike with big tyres.
Explore the lower Tarentaise Valley on little-used roads with a stop at one of the best restaurants in the valley, Le Petit Hibou.
There is only a small section of gravel track that is rideable with a road bike.
Starting from the centre of the village of Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise, this Alpine gravel road will take you high up from the hamlet of Le Monal with its breathtaking views towards the Mont Pourri Glacier, then a balcony gravel road to Le Crot and finally a hidden valley leading to the Rutor hut. Absolutely phenomenal.
There's a quick return on the tarmac to Sainte-Foy and/or Bourg along the Rivière de l'Arc.