Mountain bikes with batteries may not look hip but they bring wondrous landscapes within reach of many, and this region next to Grenoble is a great place to try them
I wanted gentler slopes and a serene alternative to the soaring, rugged landscape of the Alps. I found it in the Vercors Massif, less than an hour from Grenoble airport, where Ryanair’s new thrice-weekly summer route is opening up the region’s grassy pistes. But I also discovered a paradise for mountain biking, hiking and roller-skiing...
In a valley about a third of the way down the 60km-long massif between Valence and Grenoble, Villard-de-Lans, a small town of wooden chalets, has become the area’s activity hub. It has a twice-weekly food market, the only fishmonger in the region and, most importantly, many places to hire skis and bikes.
However, among the high-octane sports was something new to me: riding an electric mountain bike. While the presence of a giant battery on your bicycle frame can appear humiliating on the tarmac, it does at least mean you can genuinely go “mountain” biking in the Vercors.