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05-09-2022 | Herman Nekkers

Yet another cycling road in Les 3 Vallées: piste cyclable Val Thorens

Mid-July, I visited Les 3 Vallées to put the new cycling roads through their paces for inspection. Having previously discovered the spectacular climb to La Tougnète, I headed back up a day later to check out the new car-free road to Val Thorens. I was probably the first road cyclist to explore this brand new road.

Photo: the steepest turn.

Val Thorens

Val Thorens is located at the end of the Vallée de Belleville. A mega-climb of 36 kilometers with almost 1900 meters of climbing and the top at 2349 meters. In 2019 it was still in the route of the Tour.

In Les 3 Vallées a lot of work is being done to stimulate cycling tourism in the high mountains. In 2020, for example, the Col de la Loze (2304m) was completed as a car-free connection between the winter sports resorts of Méribel and Courchevel.

Part 2 of the project involves the realization of the car-free route through La Tougnète (2434m), the piste cyclable connecting Meribel and Les Menuires. The first phase was completed at the end of 2021: Les Menuires-Le Tougnète. About this we wrote an extensive article. We owe a big thank you to our local people Robert Karreman and Renée Stegeman. They kept us informed of all the details all this time. That's how we knew the road would be completely finished by spring 2022 and how I could go exploring.

Read also: La Tougnete, the future giant of the Tour

It is still unclear when the Méribel-La Tougnète route will be realized. When asked, the best answer you'll get is, "Maybe next year."

Les Menuires-Val Thorens

Maybe you know the area and think, "There's already a road between the two places, isn't there?" That is correct, but that is the main road. Last fall and this spring they worked on a car-free route using the same concept as Col de la Loze and La Tougnète.

In mid-July, the road works have only just been completed. I'm in the area and go exploring. Thanks to Robert who guides me to the right place. This is necessary, because in Les Menuires the location of the new cycling road has been kept secret.

The beginning of the climb is on an existing road between the buildings (Route de Reberty). Here it goes up steeply with spicy sections of 9%. After 2 kilometers begins the new car-free route. The tarmac has only just dried; so black that it hurts the eyes. The lines and fences are nowhere to be seen.

Photo: Beginning of the bike path.

It immediately goes up steeply for a kilometer with peaks up to 16%. Then it flattens out a bit and I can look around me. I have the idea I'm riding in the middle of nowhere. Really beautiful this. The road is irregular. Now and then it goes down, then it picks up speed again. I pass a small lake, the peace and quiet make it an extraordinary cycling experience. A few hikers are the only people I meet.

After 6,5 kilometers I reach the nameless summit. Val Thorens is already visible and it's only a few hundred meters downhill before I ride into the ski village. I use the main road for the descent, it's safer and easier.

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This climb is the third piste cyclable in Les 3 Vallées after the Col de la Loze and La Tougnète. Like the other climbs, the profile is irregular with sometimes steep peaks. Although the extreme outliers are absent. Actually it is only interesting to ride it from Les Menuires to Val Thorens. Conversely, it is almost only descending on the winding and steep road. Then you better take D117.

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