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


Bike route 1705459 – powered by Bikemap 

About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  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!

  2. Pingback: Tour d’Enfer Day 3 – Col de l’Iseran and Col du Mont Cenis : Cycling Challenge

  3. Pingback: Array : Cycling Challenge

  4. Pingback: Cycle the Alps Traffic-Free: Here’s How (2013 Edition) : Cycling Challenge

  5. Pingback: Col de l’Iseran — Car-free Day : Cycling Challenge

Leave A Reply