An enchanting mountain bike loop trail between hamlets and riverbanks, for a gentle start to the season!
Spring is here! While there’s still snow on the ground that stops us taking to the mountain trails, this is the ideal time to go mountain biking along the paths of the Lake Annecy Sources region. We arrange to meet our cycling buddies at 10am on Doussard beach car park. Kelly and Tom are both there. Off we go, heading for the greenway to reach the Doussard marshes and cycle along the Bornette stream to the first hamlets, Marceau and Arnand. The itinerary is very pleasant and smooth-flowing, alternating between tracks and lanes. A section through the forest leads us to Giez and the golf driving range. We then reach Vesonne and Le Villard via a section of the greenway. As we leave Le Villard, we pick up a narrow path that takes us across fields and through forest all the way to Verthier. The entire route follows the Bornette, the Ire, the Nant de Montmin, the Eau Morte and other rivers and streams of the Lake Annecy Sources, with frequent crossings via bridges or on foot, and visits hamlets and villages oozing with charm.
What a joy it is to cycle through these small villages, between old farms, ancient buildings, picturesque stone bridges, fountains, chapels and so on. Kelly makes frequent stops to take photos of these monuments to activities of the past. In Marceau, we stop to cool off at the fountain and admire the communal oven just next to it. Each hamlet is a new discovery! In Vesonne, the old mill (with its huge millstone), which has been converted to a sawmill, was once powered by the flow of the Nant de Montmin. The river is now a popular canyoning site. After passing a few ‘mazots’ (traditional grain stores), we arrive in Verthier to find washhouses, a chapel and the Blain house. We then head back to the car park, having come full circle!
This time we set off on foot, because bikes aren’t allowed in the Bout du Lac Nature Reserve. This walk is a continuation of our morning ride. It features the same terrain, shaped by the presence of water. We cross the Ire again via a suspended footbridge and pick up the interpretative trail of this unspoilt habitat.
We follow a section through the forest amid the sweet smell of wild garlic, then cross the marsh and the reedbed, one of the largest on Lake Annecy. It offers precious sanctuary to the great crested grebe and many other bird species. The information panels along the way indicate the different species that live here. We learn to identify the tracks of wildlife, including the Eurasian beaver but we only see its prints, dams and lodges.
Half-way along our itinerary we reach the Beauvivier Tower, a rare example of Medieval architecture around Lake Annecy. We climb to the top to enjoy a superb view over the lake and the Bout du Lac Nature Reserve. A short distance away, we find ourselves back at the Eau Morte, the river we cycled along this morning. We then make our way slowly back to the beach, to enjoy the beautiful setting a little longer.
After today, all we want to do is come back to explore Doussard and Faverges-Seythenex by bike. The mountain biking guidebook that we bought at the Tourist Office features more than 120 km of waymarked trails, the promise of many more wonderful adventures. Why don’t we try the Sous la Dent trail, a shorter but technically challenging route leading to the Marlens lake, where there’s an educational trail and some lovely views over the Arclosan and Mont Charvin?! Unless we opt instead for a ride along the greenway to Lake Annecy… There’s a host of possibilities in the Lake Annecy Sources region of the Annecy Mountains and we’d like to try them all!