Beaufort: Five Great Cycling Climbs in Cheese Country

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col_du_pre.jpg

Famous for the eponymous cheese, Beaufort is one of the best bases for fabulous climbs in the north French Alps.

This quaint little town surrounded by mountains is on the Route des Grandes Alpes and provides incredible challenges on quiet stunning roads in all directions.

joly2.jpg

This is cycling country and just off the main square is a HUGE map of all the various cycling routes in the area. The tourist office provides fantastic route cards (example on left) for more than a dozen rides ranging from family friendly down low to giant alpine loops for the super strong.

Of note, probably the best known climb in the area – Col des Saisies – doesn’t make my top 5 (click here for info on Saisies).

Here are my top 5 climbs from Beaufort. At the bottom of the page is an interactive map of all 5 routes.

This is in large part a summer “To-Do” list for me as I have only climbed the first 2 of these 5 climbs all 5.

#1 – Cormet de Roselend

Cormet de Roselend has been in the Tour de France 9 times, most recently in 2007 when Rasmussen was the first over the top. Part way up at the Col du Meraillet is a huge lake created by a dam creating a superb environment.

The Climb: 20.5 kms (12.7 miles); Ascent: 1,240 metres (4,070 feet)

Blog Post – includes other side from Bourg-St-Maurice | Get Google Map, Google Earth or GPX File

cormet de roselend Roselend Elevation Profile Cormet de Roselend

#2 – Col du Pré

This is one of two climbs that the tourist office calls “mythic.” This is a much steeper alternate route up Cormet de Roselend. The Col is above the alpine lake – see photo for the stunning view. Descending the Col you can cycle right over the dam and join the Roselend route at the Col du Meraillet.

Of course the stats are even bigger if you do include Roselend.

The Climb: 13 kms ( 8.1 miles); Ascent: 960 metres (3,150 feet)

Blog Post | Get Google Map, Google Earth or GPX File

Col du Pre Col du Pre Elevation Profile Col du Pre
#3 – Cormet d’Areches

I really want to climb this route. Note, the last three kilometres require a mountain bike – but you can join a path on the other side and descend all the way to Bourg St Maurice – returning via the south side of Cormet de Roselend would make a pretty epic route.

The Climb: 19.7 kms (12.2 miles); Ascent: 1,400 metres (4,590 feet)

Blog Post | Get Google Earth Earth or GPX file

Cormet d-Areche Elevation Profile View north near top of Cormet d'Areches

#4 – Col du Joly

A long steady climb through a quiet valley to high summit. Apparently there is very good hiking from the Col.

The Climb: 23.1 kms (14.4 miles); Ascent: 1,260 metres (4,130 feet)

Blog Post | Get Google Earth Earth or GPX file

Col du Joly joly1.jpg Col du Joly

#5 – Signal de Bisanne

This is the other “mythic” climb. It shares the same mountain as Col des Saisies but goes much higher and is much steeper. A monster.

The Climb: 14.5 kms (9.1 miles); Ascent: 1,230 metres (4,035 feet)

Blog Post | Get Google Earth Earth or GPX file

signal.jpg signale.jpg Hairpins

For more “Top Five” Climbs articles see the following:

Click “View Larger Map” at bottom for a clearer view of climbs.


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About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.

21 Comments

  1. That is a man talking. Just crashed his complete front and mainframe, but nothing will stop him from planning for more. I’m in for these cols Will!
    PS : Recovery seems to be going well :-)

  2. The Cormet de Roseland is a fantastic climb. I love how you have associated the ride with cheese; I still have a Swiss hotel placemat showing all the cheese regions and I have ridden in Gruyere, Emmenthal and Appenzell as a result. Cols and cheese–what a place!

  3. For me the more beautiful area in the Alps with great climbs.

    Normally, I have to go there in June with my bike.

    PS: For the difficulty, Signal de Bisanne must be done by Albertville.

  4. Salut Bast,

    oui – tu as raison – mais depuis Albertville jusqu’au depart il ya un peu de trafique.

    Yes, you are correct – but from Albertville to the “start” of Bisanne there is a bit of traffic and for me it’s not that steep or interesting.

    I was thinking that Cormet d’Areches is the perfect sort of route for you with your touring bikes and sense of adventure – over to Bourg St Maurice.

  5. Yes… and I’ll have wine with that climb please. Just curious how do you say Beaufort? There are two here in the states… one in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. In NC, it’s pronounced “boh-fert” and in SC it’s pronounced “byoo-fert”… what’s the Swiss way?

  6. Hi Donald

    The French way:

    Bow (like Bow and Arrow) + 4 (number four) – the “T” is silent

    Bow -Four

    =======
    Beau = Beautiful

    Fort = strong or “a fort”

  7. Actually, the Cormet d’Arèches is probably very interesting.

    Other possibilities:
    -At the summit of Col du Pré, you can carry on climbing with the “Passage de la Charmette” (4.6 km, 2058m, the road isn’t paved but it seems it’s feasible with all bikes, this way is apparently gorgeous with incredible views)

    -Les Saisies: you can climb towards the Montagne de Vorès (north). At the beginning the road is paved with one col ( about 1780m) then the road becomes a path but very feasible with 3 cols. After it’s possible to join the road of Col du Joly (La planay). If I go there I think I’ll try.

  8. Bast

    I can Imagine above Col du Pré is beautiful. The Alpine lake below is huge.

    Cormet d’Areches is the one I really want to try – the mountains are much higher and savage than near Saisies / Bisanne.

    I will watch your blog for the Montagne de Vorés route :)

  9. Pingback: Col du Joly : Cycling Challenge

  10. Patrick Mc Mahon on

    Hi,

    I am cycling the Route des Grand Alps this summer. Can you advise me of the best towns to stop along the way for accomadation. I plan to start from Menton and hope to spend 2 weeks in France. Appreciate the advice. Thanks ps

  11. Will,
    Fantastic website- browsing through it has effectively prevented me from doing any work this afternoon. My partner and I (47 and 50 y.o. – enthusiastic but slow uphill, recreational cyclists from Australia) are planning a trip to France this August. We are taking our bikes (compact cranks- 34/29 low gear) and will be spending a week cruising on the Canal du Midi, using the canal boat as a base for rides, and then a week in friends’s chalet near Courchevel in mid September. We “enjoy” slogging uphill, and, of course, flying downhill, and I was musing that I would like try the eastern side of the Cormet de Roseland and perhaps the northern side of the Madeleine (on different days, of course), both of which seem be within reach. Do you think that either or both these climbs would be feasible? Any other suggestions?
    Cheers,
    Grant.

  12. Hello Grant,

    Of course they are feasible ;) – you have the right gearing, just take your time and enjoy.

    Both Madeleine and Roselend are very nice climbs. If you are staying in Courchevel, there are lots of interesting rides up to ski stations nearby – many which I haven’t yet explored.

    Val Thorens might be the best (two valleys over) and is certainly the highest.

    Enjoy your trip

  13. Pingback: Cormet d’Arèches and Col du Pré : Cycling Challenge

  14. Pingback: Annecy to Albertville Cycling Path : Cycling Challenge

  15. Pingback: Cormet de Roselend : Cycling Challenge

  16. Hi. I just returned from 2 weeks in Beaufort and like probably a few before have been inspired enough to want to aim for the Col du Pre. I am a 42 year old ex smoker who has £600 to spend on a bike so would love to know what specs i should be looking for (crank etc) it might not be pretty for the money but I’ll have a go at getting something as appropriate as I can.
    Any advice would be welcomed
    Thanks for the site, its spuring me on!
    Rob

  17. Hi Rob,

    I think a triple is essential for any but the very strong to climb something like Col du Pré

    My easiest gearing is 30 at the front and 27 at the back …. and I use them

    Good luck

  18. Thanks Will
    Looking at the Trek 1.5 triple at the moment (2013), looks like it could be the one for the job in hand.
    It has a Shimano Tiagra 12-30, 10 speed cassette and some great reviews. Please intervene if you think I should stop now!!
    All the best
    Rob

  19. Pingback: Col du Joly : Cycling Challenge

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