La Thuile is an up-and-coming mountain bike holiday destination in Italy, with lift assisted trail access, beautiful natural singletrack, plenty of sunshine and a load of Italian character.
Nestled in a valley just over the French/Italian border in the Aosta valley, by winter it’s a popular snow sports destination, forming the Espace San Bernando with French counterpart La Rosiere. By summer, the lift system allows you to access a myriad of mountain bike trails.
La Thuile itself describes the riding as more lift-assisted trail access than bike park, and it’s a far cry from the groomed, gravelled downhill tracks of Morzine. Instead, expect beautiful natural single track, fast open trails on the mountaintop and twisty, rooty tracks through the wooded mountainside.
The bike park has only been running for two years, and when we visited on a hot dry day in July, there were only about 20 other people using the lift system. We virtually had every trail to ourselves.
This may be set to change, as La Thuile was the location for the 4th round of the Enduro World Series. Unseasonal weather notwithstanding, it was an excellent showcase for the riding available in the area, and we imagine it won’t be long before more people discover the joys of mountain biking here.
The La Thuile Trails
La Thuile has 1 green trail, 2 blue trails, 3 red trails and 5 blacks so it caters more to the intermediate/advanced mountain biker. If you’ve ridden in the Alps before, or are competent at riding natural terrain and red routes in the UK then you’ll be fine on the reds and some of the blacks.
The trails here are very much maintained natural trails, rather than constructed hard-pack tracks. Although you’ll encounter constructed jumps and berms, be prepared for roots galore.
It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the soil here, which is the beautiful, grippy, loamy stuff that you often see in films but hardly ever seem to encounter in real life. It’s soft and wonderful to ride in when dry.
The top of the mountain is a wide plateau with high alpine meadow peppered with flowers, with fast single track flowing through. The trails then all drop down through the forest, and the hillside here is steep so there’s plenty of fun to be had. Most trails will deposit you a short cycle from the lift station.
Lifts in La Thuile
The mountain is served by two chair lifts that are open over the summer, from June 28th to August 31st in 2014. The lower Bosco Express which is open from 9.30am to 5.00pm daily, and the higher Chalet Express, open from 9.45am to 4.45pm daily. Unlike some lift systems elsewhere in the Alps; they don’t stop over lunchtime either.
Opening dates may vary so visit the La Thuile website for up to date information.
You can day multiple day lift passes which start at 34 euros for 2 days, and are also valid at other MTB locations in the Aosta Valley.
La Thuile Top Tip #1
Near the top of the Bosco Lift is La Clotze, a mountain restaurant and bar that serves tasty food. However, even better is the fact that it’s got a swimming pool outside – completely perfect for cooling down on a hot day, with a nice cold beer. Bliss!
When you finish up for the day, we recommend a cold beverage of your choice at Bar La Buvette, which is right next to the chairlifts.
My Favourite Trail:
It's not hard to choose! La Tour is a 5km long red route that drops you down the west side of the mountain takes you from the top to the bottom of the mountain.
It’s got just the right amount of natural technical elements like small rock drops, roots and switchbacks to challenge you, but nothing excessively intimidating or steep. It has plenty of flow and is just super fun to ride.
Mountain Biking near La Thuile
The Aosta valley in Italy has plenty of riding to choose from, including Pila, Monterosa and Cervinia, all of which are included in the 2+-day lift pass. Pila in particular is worth a visit, as it has a great bike park. It’s also a couple of hours from Bourg St Maurice, where you can take the funicular railway up to Les Arcs and access the mountain bike trails in this area. All of these are definitely worth a day trip or two.
La Thuile Top tip #2
If the weather is bad in La Thuile, very often it’s fine just over the mountain in La Rosiere, where there are also mountain bike trails. Just hop in the car, drive over the wonderfully scenic Col de Petit St Bernard, and enjoy!
Where to stay in La Thule
As La Thuile is a ski resort in the winter, there are plenty of accommodation options in the summer including hotels and B&B’s.
A quick search on AirBnB threw up some beautiful and snug options that would make a wonderful base for an MTB holiday, in the region of £700 a week for an apartment that sleeps 5.
If you fancy camping, or you are traveling over in a camper van, then the place to park up is Camping Rutor. It’s got pitches with electrical hook-ups, plus a playground, shop and bar.
How to get there
The nearest airports to La Thuile are Turin Caselle and Geneva, and from there it’s possible to get a transfer to the town itself.
The closest train station is Pré-Saint-Didier in France. There is also the major station of Bourg St Maurice over the other side of the Little St Bernard Pass.
Driving is also a good option, as it means you don’t have to worry about weight limits when packing your kit, plus you’ll be able to explore other mountain biking locations in the vicinity.
La Thuile Destination Overview
Location: La Thuile, Aosta Valley, Italy
Lift pass prices: From 18 euros per day
MTB lessons and hire: Both of these are available; visit the Tourist Office in town for more information. Prices start from 120 euros for one day, which includes bike rental, lift pass and 7 hours of instruction.
Information office: The tourist office, where you can purchase lift tickets, is the Punro Giallo Blu, located near the lifts and next door to Bar La Buvette.
La Thuile website: La Thuile MTB
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