I’ve been practicing my wonky French on the lift attendant in Station Sainte Foy for a whole week before he makes a surprising revelation.
“Oh, I’m from Llandrindod Wells! Been ‘ere twenty years!”
Our Welsh connection established, we continue to exchange awkward bonjours every time I ride the tiny lift.
With a scant 200m height gain, it’s best to treat the Télésiège de Grand Plan as a starting point for a climb rather than a magical route to a snow-capped summit. A steep pedal from the top station to L’Arpettaz rewards you with “Yadu Bon Single”, a glorious single track over pine needle carpet with regular rocks to boost off.
The main bike park down the valley at Les Arcs is entertaining enough. Woodstock is a fun blue, and Elle Chablatte is a technical and natural-feeling black. The real gems are on the fringes of the park though: Axe Wound/Farmer Jack’s down from the Vallandry lift, Granny’s Garden under the funicular, and Sleepy Pirate towards Landry, which is a thrilling way to finish your day.
After riding, a dip in the lake at Plan Bois (and perhaps a gelato) is a fine idea. Even better, there’s a bus that will take you and your bike from there up the dizzying hairpins to La Plagne Bellecote. Turn around and head down the red enduro trail Dre dans l’Pentu, which will deposit you on the lake’s edge after a pleasing hour of darting through the trees. The tiny bike park at the Colorado lift is also a fun spot to practice your corners and flying. As an added bonus, it’s full of marmots.
Nearby, the magnificent lift-assisted single track of La Thuile is a highly recommended detour, less than an hour from Bourg Saint Maurice. La Rosière is en route too – the bike park is less exciting than its neighbours, but Dream Forest’s intense rocks and roots are certainly worth a run or two.
The other riding options are almost infinite! Grab an IGN map and follow the pink squiggly lines.
Trail snack: Almond croissants from Boulangerie Chalet Du Pain in Séez.
Bike shop: Revolver in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The owner seems a bit worn down by the procession of rosbifs with knackered bikes, but he’s helpful and honest when he doesn’t think something needs fixing. “Just ride it” was his mantra.
Trail nose: IGN maps are great – either on paper or with the Viewranger app. Trailforks has a handful of useful off-piste trails mapped near the Les Arcs park. Otherwise, sniff around on Strava, and export to GPX.