• Tag Archives Col de la Forclaz
  • AlpineBiker tours- feedback

    If you are one of the 18,500 visitors to this blog since I started posting in 2009, thanks very much for your visit, and I hope you found something on here of interest to you.  My blog however, is an add-on to my main website www.alpinebiker.com. which perhaps you may not have visited yet?  The tour website features films, pictures and details of the types of alpine tours I offer,  and have run so far.

    I put a lot of time and effort into providing excellent quality and high value tours, and into giving people a really special riding experience in the  amazing  mountain scenery and awesome alpine passes, and from being on some of the best roads in Europe.  My tours have attracted riders from all over the world,  and I’m very proud to be able to post just a few representative comments from some of those riders from America,  Norway and  Australia, who have recently taken an AlpineBiker tour and thoroughly enjoyed it . (Check the tour website for other comments from riders from the UK, Canada, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands)

    If you haven’t yet visited the tour website www.alpinebiker.com, perhaps these comments may inspire you to do so and see what these guys are talking about, and see for yourself what you’ve been missing?


    Eddie (USA) Your passion for motorcycling and touring the Alps is apparent in your attitude and from the detailed planning and thinking that went into making the trip a once in a lifetime vacation. Thank you for sharing that gift and passion with me and the others. I would not hesitate to highly recommend you to others and to book another trip with you in the future.  Sincerely  Eddie”


    Mike (Canada) It clearly takes a true biker with a wealth of experience riding in the region to put together a spectacular tour like the one we enjoyed this summer. It also takes hard work and an eye for detail in the planning phase. I think the “something extra” that assured the success of our tour was your patience, good humour and genuine interest in seeing us all really enjoy ourselves.

    Thanks Paul for an amazing adventure. I am certainly recommending an alpinebiker tour to my biking friends and acquaintances, and I am looking forward to my next chance to ride with you”.



    Nick & Terese (Australia) “Great ride, beautiful scenery, great company, great food and accomodation. We had an awesome time and it really was the trip of a lifetime for us “flatlanders”.

    nick and therese

    Dan (USA) “
    A big thanks for your efforts in having this tour exceed every expectation we had prior to the start of the journey. I look forward to our next “once in a lifetime ride with you next summer!”


    Chris (USA) “Hands down one of the best trips of my life! Paul is a terrific guide with extensive knowledge of the roads. He is also a hell of a lot of fun to have a beer with! This trip exceeded expectations with both Paul’s leadership of the tour, and the quality of the lodging and food at the Le Biot chalet”.


    Steve (USA) ” I would like to thank you for a once in a lifetime (well until next year) experience.Your planning, expertise and riding skills made it the thrill of a lifetime”


    Rob (USA) ” Paul’s experience and organisation set this trip apart from any other. Perhaps the best biking trip I have ever taken”


    Paul (USA) ” The once in a lifetime long weekend Alps riding tour experience with Paul Starmer exceeded my expectations. So much for once in a lifetime- I’ll be back, maybe Spain or the Dolomites next time!”

    Cesar (USA) “An AlpineBiker tour is the experience of a lifetime. Excellent roads, challenging passes, great accomodation, breathtaking landscapes and perfect logistics let’s you worry about nothing but to enjoy and work on your riding skills. Paul’s catering to everyone’s needs and riding styles will make your experience second to none. You will leave wanting to come back and adding Paul to the list of your friends!”


    Cary (USA) ” Thanks for a fabulous tour. The routes we rode, and the sights we saw are unparalleled. The lodging and food was first class; and your easy demeanour, local knowledge and flexibility made our tour an unforgettable experience. AlpineBiker.com tours is a must for those who want to ride the Alpine”


    Trond (Norway) “Paul, I have had the best of times. Your tour, riding and companionship really made this an event for the history books. Enjoyed myself enormously!”

    “Do not think twice about getting one of his tours. I`m usually a do it yourself kind of guy, but this experience really was something else. If you have time, just do it. I`m quite sure you wont regret it”


  • Col du Grand St Bernard- 2469m

    I’ll use Martigny as my start point for this report, as I always ascend the Col du Grand St Bernard from here, crossing the 2469m summit over the international border into Italy, and then descending into Aosta.

    Martigny is also the start point of the Col de la Forclaz, and although it’s only 1526m, its a really great, fast ascent, with amazing views if you’re not enjoying yourself too much to stop and look! Once at the top you can continue on and over the Col des Montets into France and onto Chamonix and Mt Blanc.

    Looking back down to Martigny from the Col de la Forclaz

    The Col du Grand St Bernard itself is really one of two distinct halves and characters. From Martigny on the Swiss side, the road winds gently upwards through small villages, and lower down, alongside a river usually flowing strongly with snow melt and run off water from the mountains above. Its picture perfect Swiss countryside with clear views ahead, and towering hills to your right. Once past the Lac des Toules and the final small village, with a couple of petrol stations and souvenir shops selling St Bernard soft toy dogs, you enter a tunnel section, where water often cascades over and off the bridge above you, until you arrive at a  junction with a choice of turning right to cross the Col itself, or continuing on, to stay on the main road down towards Aosta.

    We always take the Col road (unless in the car), but from here on the road changes character completely. Gone are the open sweeping bends, and the surface immediately changes, becoming irregular and bumpy, and punctuated with tight hairpin bends. Snow is often still on the hills here as late as July/August. It’s not what I would call a “fast” ascent, speed comes in very short bursts from one bend to another, until eventually you arrive suddenly at the top and see parked cars and coaches, throngs of people, a hotel, and souvenir shops. Stop here for a coffee break and sit on the upstairs terrace at the cafe on your imediate left, and watch the plethora of vehicles arriving. I’ve often seen cyclists being cheered over the top!

    The view as you cross towards the Italian border


    Grand St Bernard


    Less than a km further on and you’re at the Italian border, where the guards always wave you through, preferring to stop and check the exotic Ferraris, Lambos and assorted exotica that are passing on through. Once through, there is a bar/hotel on the right that makes a great cup of hot chocolate, if you didn’t stop on the Swiss side for refreshment.

    The descent is fun, now that a lot of work has been done on road improvements. Over the past couple of years the Italian side has been resurfaced, and safety barriers erected, making for a much safer ride. Watch as you go though, as those coming the other way will cut the bends and the road is quite narrow, especially on some of the hairpins. In truth, coming back up is actually the best section and direction to ride to the summit, as you can really have some fun with pretty good visibility, but then again, any fool can ride fast uphill, but it takes skill and talent to do it going down!

    The following pics show the descent towards Aosta

    The downhill twists and turns are a lot of fun. Watch out for the marmots that live in the fields here, they’re quite big and look like a cross between a rabbit and a beaver. Once the initial height has been dropped, you run into the remaining section of roadworks. Once through them the road winds through a wooded section with some nice, but tightish hairpins, until you cross a small bridge at the bottom, and then wend your way on more gentle twists and turns, ending with a final sequence of tight hairpins leading you to the main road junction, where the road rejoins the alternative tunnel road. From here you drop through the valley on well surfaced roads all the way down into Aosta.

    If you’ve got the time, stop at Moto America in Aosta and have a coffee or panini in their shop restaurant , then check out the Ducati’s, Triumph’s and BMW’s in this large dealership.


    Ride experience 8/10     Road quality 9/10      Scenery 7.5 /10