There are 4 ways up the monstrously steep Grand Colombier. Sunday’s route from Culoz is the second or third hardest, but easily the most scenic. This is the side that appeared in the Tour de France in 2012.
For details of all four sides of Le Grand Colombier, including the +20% madness from Artemare, see here.
After a couple of tough kilometres out of town, the best part of the Culoz side is the hairpin-filled stretch perched high above town. Great views of Lac du Bourget and the Rhône river.
Here is a video I took cycling Le Grand Colombier with my Swedish friend Jens during the 2012 Tour de France. Fun.
After the hairpins, the climb enters the woods. Some long, straight tough stretches that are far steeper than they look.
Reaching the summit, we were tired, but our “beer fuel” convinced us to make the route into a loop by descending the back side and climbing Col de la Biche.
On the way, I saw some nice new hay bales and decided to teach Markus how to hay surf.
We had joined Col de la Biche part way up, but as the profile above shows, it is a steep little road. After reaching the Col there is a short descent, then a very steep uphill kilometre before coming to Croix de Famban. On a clearer day than Sunday, the Alps views are pretty good.
After descending Biche it is roughly 14 kms back to the start along a busier (but not too bad) road. It is ever so slightly downhill, much-appreciated after two tough, tough climbs.
For details/profiles of the route in the opposite direction see here. Col de la Biche is extremely difficult in that direction.