Col Hunting in the Bauges Alps

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A scenic, very quiet route – including a long stretch of trails – in the Bauges Alps. Five Cols (although, I actually descended to two of them). :)

Col des Prés Col des Prés

The route starts with the climb to Col des Prés. Note, the profile at left is only for this climb. See the map above for the entire ride profile.

After negotiating the little tunnel and reaching St-Jean-d’Arvey, the route is very quiet and scenic. Not the longest, or hardest climb, but it’s enjoyable with some nice hairpins – see photo below – and views of Mont Revard nearby.

Don’t confuse Col des Prés with the much tougher and more beautiful Col du Pré, near Cormet de Roselend. See here.

Col des Prés

Thanks to my friend Bastien at Cycols for this route idea. Cycols is a similar “Col Hunting” blog as mine, but with better photography.

After a fun descent to Aillon-le-Jeune, the route turn towards a little ski station. Bastien took the direct – far better surfaced – road directly to col du Lindar. I’ve highlighted it on the map. Whereas, I somehow found myself cycling up a ski slope on the way to Col de la Sciaz. This stretch was steep, rocky and hard work – some bike pushing required.

A ski slope:

Cycling up a ski slope

Note, that between La Correrie and Col du Marocaz, the route is not paved. At times it is very steep and rough, both up and down. But most of it is very enjoyable to ride.

Approaching Col du Pré du Tour

Upon reaching the top of the ski slope – Col de la Sciaz! – there is a short, crazy descent and then a nice trail up to Col du Pré du Tour. From here, I finally realized that I was well above Col du Lindar. Some of the (hiking) trail down is exceedingingly steep (30%?) – and a little bike pushing was necessary.

Descended this on foot Col de la Sciaz Col du Pré du Tour Col du Lindard Col du Marocaz

Part of the goal of today’s ride was to see if Lindar was passable. And indeed the gravel road on the other side is quite good, descending to Col du Marocaz.

At this point I made a big mistake. I had mapped out a perfect loop – returning to the start point on the very quiet D11 – marked on the map. But I accidentally descended the wrong side of Marocaz.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful descent of a great little climb – for details see here. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was at the bottom, and I was too tired to climb back up. So I was forced to go around the big massif and take some fairly busy roads back to the car. Oops. Luckily French drivers, even during rush hour, are quite polite with cyclists.

All in all a fun, quiet loop just before the snow arrives.

PS – The Col sign for Col du Lindar incorrectly spells it Lindard.

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

5 Comments

  1. Hi Will, Good to see you back on the bike and in Les Bauges where I have our ‘Chatox ‘ in Le Chatelard. I recognize le Sciaz as we’re supposed to be skiing there in a few weeks! So I hope the snow arrives soon. Les Bauges so quiet and often overlooked by visitors to the Savoie. Have you been up to Le Revard recently? The restaurant at the top is very good. Best wishes. Paul

  2. Hi Paul, lots of snow between this ride and now. And more tomorrow. Hopefully, Sciaz ski run will be whiter for you. :)

    I like Revard as a possible winter ride if the roads are dry as it’s well played on the Aix side. Maybe January?

  3. “some bike pushing required”, “a little bike pushing was necessary” …
    Ahh ! Du poussage ? Tu aurais du me faire signe, j’en ai fait une spécialité ! Même si je préfère rester sur le vélo, le col des Prés est très joli je trouve, et pas si facile !
    Je vois que tu as fait 2 cols où je ne suis pas passé, j’espère pouvoir les faire l’année prochaine comme d’autres autour de la pointe de la Galopaz….

  4. Les deux cols sont assez intéressants, même si la route est parfois difficile.

    Oui, j’ai vu qu’il y a d’autres cols là. L’année prochaine? :)

    a+

  5. Pingback: The Ten Best Cycling Climbs from Lake Annecy

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