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What is the AlpPacker uplifted mountain bike traverse of the Alps?

Quite simply the ultimate mountain bike traverse of the Alps! Why? Because you’ll be crossing the Alps from North to South on amazing technical singletrack with full vehicle support and uplifts, nights in hotels/auberges with great food (and new local cheese) every single day. That’s the AlpPacker and it’ll change your life!

If you think it might sound like fun, why not see what Bike Radar thought of the trip? Pop the kettle on first though, there’s 20 minutes of adventure to catch up on!

The route is a North-South Trans-Alpine mountain bike traverse of the entire French Alps. This means we journey from the shores of lake Annecy in the north, down through the Haute-Alps into the Mercantour Alps, dodging marmots, National Parks and soap all the way until our front wheels literally hit the Mediterranean Sea.

Book your AlpPacker trip now!

Day 1 of the AlpPacker South Alpine traverse of the Alps

To give us the time to really make the most of all the amazing trails along the way, we have split the trip into 2 one-week segments, imaginatively named North and South.

Creative genius.

So the idea is to do the AlpPacker North one year and then to come back and ride the AlpPacker South the year after. As such, a two week mega-trip is theoretically possible but you’d be totally beasted during the second week so wouldn’t be wise unless you’ve got a serious desire for a mission to complete a mountain bike traverse of the Alps in one go.

AlpPacker North: Lake Annecy (Savoie Alps) down to Briancon (Hautes-Alpes)

Need to know:

When: September – see the booking page for details.

Where: Starting on the shores of the beautiful lake Annecy, all the way down through the northern Alps into the fortress city of Briancon, gateway to the southern Alps.

Distance: Around 265km – it varies slightly depending on route options.

Climbing: + 6500m over the week, with 1-2 roughly 1000m van uplifts per day.

Descending: +16000m over the week

Uplifting: Yes please!! So 1-2 uplifts a day to help us on our way, gaining roughly 1000m each time.

Putting credits in the bank!

Holiday Cost: €1995, which includes:

  • full guiding with a dedicated professional guide
  • uplifts, whether from your dedicated uplift driver or using cable cars etc.
  • accommodation in hotels/refuges/gites
  • all meals
  • vehicle support (carrying your kit and spares between overnight stops so you can ride light)

All you really need to add is money for evening drinks, post cards and any bike spares.

Flights: Just get yourself to Geneva by 2pm on the Saturday and book a flight home after 2pm on the following Saturday.

Booking: So just hop over to the regular booking form and fill it in, selecting the AlpPacker North dates – easy!

AlpPacker South: Briancon down to Nice

Briancon - Where is the best Alps mountain biking?Need to know:

When: September – see the booking page for details.

Where: Starting in the fortress city of Briancon, heading down through the Hautes Alpes and Maritime Alps all the way to the beach at Nice on the Mediterranean coast.

Distance: A smidge longer at around 295km – again it varies slightly depending on route options.

Climbing: + 6500m over the week, with 1-2 roughly 1000m van uplifts per day.

Descending: +16000m over the week

Uplifting: Yes please!! So 1-2 uplifts a day to help us on our way, gaining roughly 1000m each time.

Holiday Cost: €1995, which includes everything mentioned above.

Flights: Please contact us as we either fly into Geneva and out of Nice or both into and out of Nice, depending on the timing of the trip.

Booking: Just hop over to the regular booking form and fill it in, selecting the AlpPacker South dates.

back country singletrack mountain biking in the french alps with bikevillage holidays

AlpPacker Riding – North and South

Riding type: Everything the Alps has to offer! So this is technical alpine riding at its finest. As such you should have experience of riding natural technical singletrack in the Alps however – we will often be hike-a-biking up and riding tight switchbacks, steep rock gardens and every other delight mother nature has to offer on the way down. Unless you already have significant ‘natural’ alpine experience then we heartily recommend you come on a ‘normal’ BV trip first to prepare yourself for the AlpPacker.

Riding altitude range: from up to 3200m right down to sea level. Huuuge!

What bike to bring: a modern, 130-160mm travel trail/endur0 rig will do nicely. An ‘enduro’ hardtail would work fine too if you’ve been doing your pilates. Tough tyres over light ones will save you endless heartache.

What kit to wear: we advise knee and lightweight elbow pads. Beyond this it’s up to personal preference. Helmets with removable chin bars certainly aren’t overkill.

Anything else to know?

What will the weather be like? The most likely scenario is sunshine with cool mornings and afternoons into the mid-high 20s. Ideal for a mountain bike traverse of the Alps! However, whenever it rains in the mountains it is cold and in 16 years of Bikevillage we have ridden in snow every single month of the year. Be prepared for the cold and wet so that if it happens we can still have fun!

How technical is it? We have kept the route as flowing as possible but loads of the best trails in the Alps are quite techy! The majority of climbing is on double track or tougher singletrack, without that many hike-a-bikes over 45 minutes. But remember, there aren’t many hikes in the UK over 45 minutes either! The descents are simply mind blowing and, if you have the skills, totally rideable with the odd rear wheel hop in a tight corner and a certain ease in steep, exposed alpine terrain.hut trip with Bikevillage - mountain biking holidays in the French Alps

Will it be too tough/technical for me? If you’ve already watched the video above then why not also read the BikeRadar article about 5 things they learnt riding the AlpPacker? If you love the UK ‘big mountain’ classics like Snowden, Helvellyn, Kinlochleven, Nan Bield etc then the AlpPacker will be right up your street. What you really need is a big mountain mindset: stay humble and remember that walking some sections downhill just gives you more to come back for. The Alps are bigger and harder than us, that’s kind of the beauty of the whole thing.

In any doubt? The best thing is to come on a regular BV trip, throwing in a hut trip, and we can show you some pretty typical AlpPacker terrain and help you practice the skills to ride it with a smile on your face.

What else to bring – A swimming cossie for lake Annecy and the sea! Also, basic bike spares – brake pads, spare mech hanger and rear mech. We carry a selection of spares including tyres, cables, brakes etc but with the recent-ish explosion in standards we can’t cover every mech/axle/wheel diameter/tyre width option. Don’t worry though, we’ve mapped out every bike shop between here and the moon. The show will always go on!

How much kit do we ride with?

Great news: because mountain biking is more fun with less kit on your back, we keep it to a minimum! That’s why we have full vehicle support and why, even after the nights we spend in refuges, we’ll aim to meet you with the van to offload excess kit the following morning.

Even so, for the nights we spend in a mountain refuge, you will need to be able to carry:

  • A second day of clothes, or just fresh shorts or just go full grot-bag and wear it all again.
  • Toiletries, including sun tan lotion.
  • A super-light pack towel – they have showers.
  • Something warm for the evening – tights, hat (one that fits under a helmet is a good double-up item) and warm LS top/lightweight down top as a minimum.
  • Any extra snacks for day 2.
  • We will also give you sheet sleeping bags to carry, unless you bring your own.
  • A 20l+ riding pack is pretty much essential to carry all this comfortably. Think about options to stash some weight on your bike too.
  • So go OCD – go light! You want enough kit to cope with weather extremes but beyond that the less you have on your back the more fun your riding will be. As such when we say pack towel, we mean small pack towel not beach towel. And when we say sun-tan lotion, we mean a tiny bottle rather than a family pack. Chop the handle off your tooth brush, weigh your hat collection. Go nuts! 300g saved at home will have a real impact on your trip.
  • A head torch and LED rear light. Lightweight over power, they’re for emergencies and finding your way around the refuges in the dark.
    descending to a refuge whilst riding bikes in the french alps with bikevillage holidays
    Epic mountain biking in the french alps with bikevillage holidays

    group mountain biking through a stream in the Beaufortain, french alps with bikevillage holidays