The Joux Plane is one heck of a special mountain in cycling terms. Nestled in the heart of the French Alps this mountain is one of the toughest there is, and will feature as the final climb on one of this years Tour stages. It’s been a decisive mountain on many occasions, and is well remembered as the mountain that cracked Lance, and is immortalised in his book, where he refers to it as the toughest day he ever had on a bike. It wasn’t lucky for Roberto Heras either, as he overshot the last bend coming into the finish, which cost him a potential stage victory.
Our route is a circular 100 kilometre killer, finishing with a climb of the mighty mountain it’s self.
Morzine is in the heart of the Portes du Soliel region of the Haute Savoie province of the northern French Alps. Getting to this region of the Alps is quite simple, be it by road or air. Geneva airport is just 75 kilometres away, and is well served by budget carriers, especially Easyjet.
Most major car hire operators have desks at the airport.
By road it’s about 8-10 hours drive from the channel ports, which makes for an ex London cost of around £300 return for a car and it’s passengers. It’s also possible to travel by train, with Eurostar and then TGV to Cluses, which is just half an hour’s drive away.
Food and drink
The food in the haute Savoie region is very typically French mountain based – which means lots of fine cheeses, meat and potatoes. The regional speciality dishes include cheese fondue, raclette (melted cheese and bacon with potatoes), taritiflette (sliced potatoes cooked in a sauce of cream, cheese and wine) and pierrade (a hot plate is served and you cook meat and vegetables on it). Seasonally wild boar is also a popular steak dish.
Needless to say there are several local cheeses and cured meets too, with Tomme de Savoie, Emmental de Savoie and Reblochon being particularly popular.
There are several local varieties of wine, though they the region is not reputed for it’s wine production.
Morzine has a whole host of restaurants and bars, with (as in most ski resorts) everything from Irish bars to creperies in abundance.
Out on the ride you will find loads of bars and cafes.
The other local riding
These are several way marked and suggested rides from town, including a 135-kilometre ride down to Lac leman and a two-day Tour des Dents du Midi.
If you fancy pitching yourself against the legendary Bernard Hinault then you can; the 14km climb from Morzine to Avoriaz has a check card station at it’s bottom and top, you simply get your card stamped at the machines (available from the Office du Tourisme. Hinault’s record is 33 mins). www.morzine-avoriaz.com.
During the summer months there is absolutely no shortage of accommodation in Morzine and les gets, unless there’s a major event on that is. For full details check out www.morzine-avoriaz.com.
The Joux Plane
Col du Joux Plane – hors category
11% max gradient
12.3 km long
The Tour de France 2006
Stage 17 of this years Tour de France takes place on the 20th July, and runs from St Jean de Maurienne to Morzine, finishing just after the descent of the Joux plane, some 200 kilometres in all.
Grade very tough
Duration 4-5 hours
Bottom gear 39 x 27, or a triple
Turn left here and follow the valley to Samoens, where you turn left and go back over the Joux Plane to Morzine.