Populated by skiers and snowboarders in the winter months, when the snow thaws many French ski resorts are taken over by another breed of extreme sports fanatic: downhill mountain bikers. As with ski holidays it can be expensive so we have put together this list of great resorts for cheap downhill mountain biking holidays in France.
As the name implies downhill mountain biking is all about riding downhill, gravity rather than pedalling does most of the work, with lifts at the end to take you back to the top. That is not to say its easy, downhill mountain bikes are heavy, full suspension beasts, built to cope with whatever the mountain throws at them. The constant maneuvering through tight bends and over obstacles, mostly standing in the saddle to absorb impacts, and the occasional bit of peddling means you will work hard.
Although accommodation and lift passes in the French Alps are cheaper in the summer, hiring a downhill bike and all the safety equipment is more expensive than hiring ski gear. However you can make a saving by booking a package holiday that includes, lift pass and bike hire with companies such as Alpine Elements.
Here’s our selection of resorts for cheap downhill mountain biking holidays in France.
Morzine has been at the forefront of alpine MTB for many years and is one of the most visited ski resorts in Europe for mountain biking. Part of Portes du Soleil ski area, that also includes Avoriaz and Les Gets, there is access to thousands of kilometres of well maintained downhill and cross country trails suitable for all levels. The lift system is extensive, the mountain scenery beautiful, and to top it off they have built bike parks for those wanting to practice jumps and tricks.
With seven nights accommodation, flights, transfers, half board, lift passes and standard bike hire starting at £365 per person, its fair to say that Alpine Elements provide very cheap downhill mountain biking holidays in Morzine.
Les Deux Alpes
With mountain biking events throughout the summer, over 100km of well maintained downhill tracks and a great network of lifts, Les Deux Alpes is well geared up for downhill mountain biking. To show you are not in poor company they have held UCI World Cup events here attracting the best downhill riders from around the world.
It is also one of the few places in France where glacier skiing is available all summer, so you could downhill mountain bike in the morning and ski or snowboard in the afternoon. Unlike many ski areas Les Deux Alpes is just one town, this creates a vibrant feel and means that bars, restaurants and amenities are not split over a variety of villages.
Also located in the Portes du Soleil ski area, Les Gets was the first ski resort in Europe to offer mountain biking in the summer. Everyone from thrill seekers to families will find something to suit their needs here. The worlds most extensive network of mountain bike adapted lifts will take you to the top of some truly impressive downhill riding. There are over 650 km of marked trails, and over 1000kms in total in Portes du Soleil all accessible from Les Gets.
With prices for 7 nights half board starting from £562 including, flights, transfers, lift passes, standard bike hire and other activities, cheap downhill mountain biking holidays in Les Gets with Alpine Elements pack in a lot of value!
Les Arcs came onto the summer mountain biking scene later than the above resorts and as a result is not as well known or as busy. But any mountain biker with a passion for downhill, single track, or cross country will love it. There are hundreds of kilometres of tracks suitable for various skill levels.
As it is quieter, it is also cheaper. In particularly accommodation in the traditional Alpine villages of Peisey, Le Villaret, Moulin and Nancroix is not just cheaper but provides a very different experience to purpose built resorts.
Part of Espace Killy, and linked with Val d’Isere, there is around 150km of lift served downhill mountain biking accessible from Tignes. In addition to this there are 100s of kms of cross country and enduro riding to be enjoyed. Due to its large vertical there is a large variety of riding available in Tignes, this means you could ride a different style of terrain each day of your downhill mountain biking holiday.
Alpine Elements provide trips to Tignes starting at £503, including seven nights half board accommodation, standard bike hire, transfers, and flights. There are a range of other activities available for free such as kayaking, walking, tennis, sailing and tow surfing. There is even a free kids club during the school holidays, meaning these cheap downhill mountain biking holidays are great for all the family.
The standard mountain bikes included in all the Alpine Elements trips mentioned above are high quality, light weight, front suspension mountain bikes with disk brakes. They are suitable for all mountain riding, but if you will be taking the downhill riding seriously you should upgrade to a full suspension downhill bike. This will cost around £48 per day and will make your ride safer and more comfy.
For more information about Alpine Elements mountain biking holidays check out their website: www.alpineelements.co.uk