Super Alpine

46.1586° N, 6.6700° E

Les Gets

The mountain bike capital of Europe

Haute-Savoie, France

Les Gets

Les Gets can thank its existence to the trees that surround it. Used for timber in the 11th century, today's Les Gets still makes use of the remaining trees to build pretty much anything. They celebrate the skills of the woodcutters once a year with a competition in the main street - the buzzing of chainsaws reverberates around the chalets and shops as chamois, owls and all manner of things appear from the tree stumps.

Today wood is no longer the main business of the village. Tourism has taken over the village, with skiing in the winter as popular as ever but it's the vast development of the mountain bike trails in the last 15 years that has had the most impact. At 1172m the village centre sees less snow as the years pass and often one side of the valley has little of the white gold to be seen. As the winter season becomes less predictable, Les Gets has used its fame in the mountain bike world to build a busy summer season that is pushing development up the valley sides.

Les Get Bike park
Bike Park laps

Back in the late 90’s Les Gets had mixed hiking/biking trails and a series of attractions like devil karts, grass scooters and the Mechanical Music Museum — a series of wind up music boxes and clocks that were often paraded in the streets. This changed with the arrival of the UCI Mountain Bike world cup in 1996 which over the years made the area more popular with bikers until separate trails had to be developed.

Les Gets is part of the large Portes du Soleil ski lift area, albeit at the far end which makes it an attractive place for skiers and now bikers. Les Gets is still a small village and is very quiet out of season but both summer and winter see a large number of thrill-seeking visitors enjoying the gaps in the trees that are the origin of the village.

Les Get in winter
Photo: Clemence Bergougnoux
Roundabout in the village square
Merry-go-round in the village square

Winter sports in Les Gets is split over the two sides of the valley. The Chavannes side has the less steep terrain and the Mont Chery side has something for the more adventurous. Snow coverage is better at the top of both sides and snowmaking can be found on the Chavannes side. The Chavannes side links with Morzine and onto the rest of the Portes du Soleil area.

Summer in Les Gets is now all about mountain biking. Infamous for its UCI Mountain Bike downhill course that has seen some of the most exciting races in the series. One of the first places to hold UCI races in the ’90s, the course has never been used outside of the series as a lot of it is owned privately by local farmers. You could sort of ride it if you dodged the electric fences and didn’t get run over on the road crossing. Today the Chavannes side has been extensively developed for downhill biking with multiple tracks dominating the area under the ski lifts. Other events still take place but while the lifts are open much of the village is taken over with bike hire shops and related activity.

This has had a dramatic effect on the once quiet wood chopping village and in winter it is much the same as it always was, summer is now more for biking than anything else.