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Morzine springs into action as cyclists and walkers head to the French Alps

One of Morzine's tributes to its link with the Tour de France
One of Morzine's tributes to its link with the Tour de France

During the winter months Morzine, like many other towns in the French Alps, is a hive of activity for skiers and snowboarders who take to the slopes surrounding this bustling, but friendly place.

But when the snow thaws, the white backdrop is transformed into a green landscape and the town springs into life once more. The swish of ski and board on snow is replaced by the whirring and clicking of bicycle gears as cyclists head off to enjoy the breathtaking slopes and winding mountain roads.

For many years Morzine has been a haven for mountain bikers, who take the ski lifts to the top before careering back down again. Meanwhile, road cycling enthusiasts push themselves to the limit in a bid to follow in the tyre tracks of Tour de France legends who have taken part in some of the 22 stages hosted by the town.

To celebrate its links with road cycling, the Morzine-Avoriaz tourist office has launched a guide with 15 routes to 25 mountain passes within 50km of Morzine. They include the classic and mighty cols like Joux Plan and La Ramaz among many celebrated by fans of the world-famous race.

Riders can pick up books from the tourist office or print copies from the website as well as download GPS routes for the rides. Every itinerary shows gradients and distances between each part of a climb or descent as well as average times for the ride and even gives alternative routes if riders run out of time or want a less punishing route. All rides are colour coded depending on difficulty.

As a novice cyclist, I went on a blue route - No 4 in the book. At just 32km it is one of the easier on offer, which took me puffing and panting to the col de l’Encrenaz at 1433m for my first descent with my heart in my mouth to the starting point of Morzine and on to a yoga session with Nadia Stragliati in a mountainside pasture to stretch our tired muscles.

While Morzine is a cyclist’s paradise, there is much more available for those not so keen. The town is surrounded by nature trails for walkers of all abilities including young families, who can join guided tours and learn about the mountains and watch marmots sunbathe on rocks and eagles soar above stunning countryside.

Not to forget, being in Savoie means fantastic food and wine. If you have been to the region you will know the must-have dishes are raclette, fillets of lake perch and my favourite tartiflette among many.

Fortunately, you can eat as much as you like because you can guarantee, you will burn off every calorie as you push those pedals.

Jeff was a guest of Savoie Mont Blanc tourisme. For more on the region go to http://www.savoie-mont-blanc.com/ For the cycling guides go to www.morzinemountaincycling.com/ or for Morzine tourist information http://en.morzine-avoriaz.com/

He stayed at the four star Le Petit Dru. It has a pool, steam room and sauna as well as a hot tub. For prices and more www.lepetitdru.com. His bike, a Scott Solace 10, was hired from Torico at http://toricomorzine.com/

During his stay he ate at La Chamade www.lachamade.com; Le Bec Jaune brewery and restaurant www.becjaunebrewery.com with organic and locally-sourced meat; La Rotonde www.morzine-avoriaz.com/restaurant-la-rotonde.html; La Ferme de la Fruitière www.alpage-morzine.com; and Alpen Roc hotel/restaurant www.alpenroc.com

For other activities: Yoga with Nadia Stragliati - FB page @AlturaYoga - phone +33 (0)6 62 38 71 55

Walking with a mountain leader - Bureau des guides in Morzine www.guides-morzine.com

Each road leads to another climb
Each road leads to another climb

For more on Jeff's trips go to http://www.jeffrfuidge.com/small-talk

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