Col du Noyer is a beautiful, medium difficulty, climb in the Hautes Alpes starting beside the Route Napoléon (there is a refuge Napoléon at the summit).
It has appeared 4 times in the Tour de France (’70, ’71, ’82,’10), and will feature in Stage 7 of the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné.
The more beautiful east side starts easily enough, but one can see the unlikely last stretch high in the distance – drool. It’s a wide single lane (or narrow double lane?) but perfectly surfaced on the top half of both sides – perhaps due to the 2010 Tour de France visit.
Above Le Noyer things get fun. A long cliff stretch and then the very difficult last 2.5 kilometres. Uneven percentages, certainly some long stretches at 12-13%.
Just below the summit are some magnificent hairpins:
The Dauphine will climb this magnificent east side (the first couple of kms are different than my route – see map below – but they will pass through Le Noyer). After a fairly non-technical descent, the stage will climb three kilometres to the ski station at Superdévoluy.
It’s a wide, fairly easy ramp, with grade generally in the 5% to 6% range.
If you see a French village starting with “Super” it is inevitably a ski station.
Before I climbed to Superdévoluy, I first rode a superb loop that visited Col du Festre and Col de Rioupes. Nothing too steep, but lovely, quiet roads with high mountains in every direction:
Col du Festre:
The Hautes-Alpes department has done a wonderful job not only adding cycling kilometre signs to big climbs but also marking routes. Much of my loop was an offical route, very well signposted including markers every kilometre — even on the non-climb parts.
The Hautes-Alpes also sponsor two week-long series of bike-only climb days. See here for more.
I don’t know this area very well, but will enthusiastically return.
I was surprised at just how fun this ride was. Especially the top hairpins. But there is plenty of good roads over the top too. A pleasure.
Quiet / No Traffic