Col de l’Iseran – both sides


Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved Col (mountain pass) in Europe – Cime de la Bonette is NOT a pass. :) Last weekend this beautiful road was closed to motorized traffic on both sides. Iseran is on the Route des Grandes Alpes and a popular summer road for motorcycles, so banning them for several hours was just paradise for a cyclist:

For more Alps bike-only days see here.


The north side from Bourg St.-Maurice is the longest climb in France (47+ kms), but honestly it’s only interesting above Val d’Isére where the bike-only stretch started. Below has more traffic and a set of terriblly lit, dark, wet tunnels near Tignes. So I was happy to to skip the lower slopes.


Similarly, I climbed the south side from Bonneval-sur-arc which is where the road turns up – for details of a longer version of this side starting from Lanslebourg see here.

Bike-only days means cheerful cyclists. I started with the first pack and the roads where wet after some early morning rain – but the weather was perfect for the remainder of the day. Honestly, about as good a day of high-altitude cycling as possible.

Col de l'Iseran

Some more photos:

Col de l'Iseran

Col de l'Iseran

Col de l'IseranCol de l'Iseran


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About Author

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


  1. Hi Will,

    Thanks so much for all the info. Planning a trip at the moment to tackle some of the cols and your information and opinion is really helpful. Sounds like you’ve had a busy month or so!

    Just a quick correction for this article though. You mention climbing the north side from Bourg d’Oisans… I think you mean Bourg St Maurice? So many Bourgs, so little time!

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