Racing, Riding and Relaxation – Is Brides-Les-Bains The Ultimate Cycling Destination?

STORY BY Megan Hughes 19th May 2019

While sunning yourself on sandy beaches or sipping cocktails in sun-drenched cities might be what some people think of as the ultimate summer getaway, those of us who like a little adrenaline with our adventure often yearn for something more. A way of experiencing new and beautiful places, exploring on your own terms, with a sense of freedom and relaxation far removed from everyday life.

For mountain-lovers, this feeling is available all year long. Throughout the winter, we can ski, snowboard or snow-shoe our way through magical snow-capped landscapes. In summer, we can trade two skis for two wheels and take advantage of the many cycling paths that wind across green pastures and blue Alpine lakes.

And the ultimate destination for cyclists looking to get the most out of their mountain holiday? Brides-les-Bains. A tried and tested favourite of ours, this gorgeous mountain town has everything to offer those who love their bikes, and it’s only getting better this summer.

Road Biking In Brides-les-Bains

For cyclists, Brides-les-Bains is the perfect base, with easy access to some of the post picturesque and entertaining winding routes of the Savoie region, as well as some of its most exciting events.

Nestled within the 3 Vallèes area, you have access to a huge amount of terrain, with routes of varying distances and difficulties, making this a great destination for mixed ability groups or those looking to change up their cycling routine.

From Brides-les-Bains you can easily explore some of the Alps’ most legendary mountain passes; la Madeleine, l’Iseran and le Cormet de Roselend.

La Madeleine is a route keen cyclists will well recognise from the Tour de France, having appeared on the route 25 times since 1969. Last year, it saw Geraint Thomas pass through en route to his second stage win after a gruelling day that included the challenging ‘hors catégorie,’ climb up to Col de la Madeleine. Take it on yourself with one of the many routes to the summit, which range from an 5.4% average gradient to an 8% average.

As you may expect from an area that also offers some of the world’s best skiing in winter, there is many a hill climb to be conquered here. With many cycling paths connecting the resorts in the area, you can easily pick and choose a route, stopping at one of the many mountain huts and restaurants for a well-earned cold drink. Trust us, hill climbs are much more enjoyable when you are surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and lush forests.

Indeed, the famous Cormet des Roselend is one many cyclists dream of taking on, in part due to the views it offers over the Roselend lake. Also known as “The Great Alp Route”, this track reaches 1968 metres, and will leave you in awe of your surroundings.

Alternatively, if you want to go uphill but don’t fancy working up too much of a sweat, you can easily hire an e-Bike for the day (or the week – we won’t tell…) to make those uphill journeys that little bit easier!

A Season of Spectacular Racing Events

This year, a new road is in store for the 3 Vallées, passing through the Col de la Loze and open only to bikes. It will be a must-visit destination for amateur and professional cyclists alike. On August 23rd, this road will even feature as a stage in the Tour de l’Avenir, which offers a fantastic opportunity for cycling fans to view the creme-de-la-creme of up-and-coming athletes.

This is an area that is certainly used to global attention, hosting many large scale cycling events each year.

The world’s eyes will once again be fixed on the 3 Vallees in July, when riders will take on the stage from Albertville to Val Thorens. They will ride through the Cormet de Roselend, down to Bourg-St-Maurice, to Moutiers through Notre-Dame-du-Pré and then up the final climb to Val Thorens. Follow in the footsteps of your favourite rider by taking on a section of the route yourself, or simply head out during the event on July 27th for an experience like no other.

This is the last ‘proper’ race stage before the final arrival stage on the Champs-Elysées, so it’s your last chance to see your favourite riders taking on this most epic of challenges.

Brides-les-Bains is the perfect base from which to experience these events, with easy access to the area but with enough distance to provide a relaxing break from the madness of race day.

Plus, they offer a range of bike-friendly hotels, with storage rooms and maintenance spaces and materials, to ensure that cyclists are exceptionally well catered for.

Mountain Biking

The 3 Vallèes area has 39 Mountain Biking circuits, ranging in length from 2 to 35 km long so there’s something for all abilities. These routes reach altitudes of 2,850 metres and are all easily accessible by shuttlebus from Brides-les-Bains. Some even finish in Brides-les-Bains, so you can bike right back to your door! The range of mountain biking here is truly staggering, so whether you prefer downhilll, freeride or enduro, you are in for a treat.

For true adrenaline seekers, the Méribel Bike Park is definitely a must-do, having played host to many French and World Championships. Throughout the summer months, its many trails prove a great playground for teenagers and adults alike and don’t worry about the journey back uphill; two ski lifts service the area so the only sweat you’ll break is on your way down!

For those who want the best of both worlds – access to the best routes as well as the traditional Alpine town atmosphere – Brides-les-Bains is the place to be. Not only do you have access to a daily bus service to take you up to the Bike Park each day and a stunning traditional Alpine location in the Vanoise National Park, but you are able to benefit from Brides’ unique position as a health and wellness resort.

“’The peak of health at the foot of the 3 Vallees”, this is a resort where physical health is paramount and whether that’s through adventurous mountain activity or relaxing hot springs visits, Brides is the perfect place to rejuvenate both body and mind.

Wellness

In fact, one of our favourite aspects of Brides-les-Bains as a holiday destination for active travellers is the importance they place on wellness and relaxation. Hot springs, nutrition and a ‘weight loss’ promise await you here – a fair sight different from your average mountain resort where cheese and meats take precedence on most menus!

Never fear, you can still indulge, but you can do so safe in the knowledge that this is one resort where the chefs know their stuff when it comes to healthy eating.

In fact, Brides-les-Bains is the only thermal spa resort with a healthy eating label, which encapsulates 11 hotel restaurants, 1 restaurant and a delicatessen, where chefs are trained in nutrition and can offer the highest quality healthy food. For rumbling stomachs after a day’s riding, this is the perfect way to recharge.

However, if you’re looking for one of the main reasons we love Brides-les-Bains for our summer cycling holidays, look no further than the Grand Spa Thermal. For anyone looking to soothe their muscles after a day on the pedals, we have yet to find anywhere better.

Opened in 2018 as the product of a €17 Million investment, this is the largest thermal spa in France and has only served to enhance Brides-les-Bains’ stellar reputation as a leading health and wellness resort. The spa’s aquatic area covers 600m2 and consists of three different zones; one swimming lane of 25 x 2.5 metres, an aquafitness pool of 5×5 metres and a ‘fun’ pool, which boasts two jacuzzis, two ‘bubble beds’, underwater jets and an underwater circuit.

There’s also a large terrace on which you can enjoy the sunshine, with the option of a dip in the pool whenever you feel like it! Sunbathing with a view of the mountains? What could be better.

If you feel like a more intense wellness experience, the spa also offers a huge range of activities and à la carte treatments, such as body wraps, massages and thermal spring water treatments. If you need a little extra TLC after your day on the roads, this could make all the difference and allow you feel rejuvenated and raring to go the next morning.

This expert treatment also extends to nutritionists and slimming experts, who are on hand for those who may want a little extra advice or treatment.

Or, if you fancy some activity off your wheels, there’s no shortage of ways to move your body in Brides-les-Bains, with activities ranging from hiking and rafting to wood sculpting and even line dancing!

To find out more, head to: www.brides-les-bains.com/en/

 

Image Copyrights:

©Tourist Office of Brides-les-Bains

©Sylvain Aymoz

©P.Lebeau

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