The July & August Bike Ban Explained: What’s Rideable

As of writing, an Arrête Municipale (n° 124/2004) bylaw is in place restricting mountain biking to a certain handful of authorized trails in the Chamonix Valley during the months of July & August. That means no biking anyway except on authorised trails during these months. There are good sides to this (there are too many hikers on the trails during this time to get any decent flow going anyway, it limits brake bumps, it halts the rate of trail degradation during the peak period) and bad sides (not being able ride the sick stuff in midsummer). Let’s take a minute to focus on what you can ride without being given a fine – or, likely, just a torrent of abuse from other trail users.

The document you need to be studying is right here. It’s the electronic version of the free ‘bike map’ that’s given out at the Chamonix Tourist Office, and shows you the ‘legit’ trails during the bike ban. Some of the trails on this map are brilliant fun and some are absolutely hopeless. Most are pretty average and not the sort of trail you’ve come all this way to ride. Most of the map we struggle to get our heads around even after living here for years.

If you want to have a look at the actual wording of the July/August bike-banning bylaw, it’s right here. Eagle-eyed French speakers will note a few tracks that are excepted so long as pedestrians aren’t disturbed; one’s that aren’t highlighted on the Tourist Office pamphlet, namely:

  • Chemin entre les Gaillands et les Bossons (rive droite de l’Arve)
  • Piste de la Roumna
  • Couloir du Brévent
  • Couloir de la Flégère
  • Sur le chemin du retour des Nants
  • Pistes de fond (CHAMONIX)
  • Pistes de fond ( ARGENTIERE)
  • Sortie de la VALLEE BLANCHE
  • Piste de la Pierre à Ric (ARGENTIERE)
  • Chemin de la Pendant, Croix de Lognan, pluviomètre
  • Chemin du Vorgeat
  • Sentier du Tour, Charamillon, chalet de Balme

Make of that what you will. If you don’t want to bother with the red-tape sifting, just cruise the July/August-friendly Hugh’s Way, Hot & Cold, Promenade de l’Arve, Lavancher XC, Vallorcine-Chamonix, Les Jeurs, Tour of Le Tour, or Lavancher DH routes in The Chamonix Bike Book. Or, don’t bother with July & August at all and come here in May, June or September.

Footnote: there are other Arrêtes Municipaux in place preventing you from riding in the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve, a big part of Les Houches, the Tour du Mont Blanc trails and the Les Houches dump trail. There are also arrêtes municipaux covering St Gervais.