The Chartreuse Alps is the massif between Chambéry and Grenoble. It is home to the Grande Chartreuse – the head monastery of the Carthusian order.
It’s a great place for cycling col hunters with Col du Granier, Col de Porte, and Col du Coq probably the most “famous.” Click here for several Chartreuse Alps loops.
For this ride I was looking to see of it was possible to climb a tiny “road” up to Col de la Charmette. Leaving St-Laurent-du-Pont heading into the Gorges du Guiers Mort there is almost immediately a tiny, unsigned, unlikely looking road to the right. This is the start of the climb. See map at bottom for details.
After Chartreuse de Curière monastery the road is closed to cars (wooohooo) and no longer decently surfaced. It shouldn’t be descended on a road bike ….. and probably shouldn’t have been climbed on one either. Very rough at times. But it is fairly awesome.
I’ll let the video below explain the rest.
I forgot my camera so all photos are with my phone.
Half way to Col de la Charmette:
The other side of Charmette is steep but a normal little road — I saw several cyclists. Next, I set off up into the Chartreuse …. first on a deserted, but challenging road to Col de Palaquit.
Here the route joins the quiet (but main) road to Col de Porte. At Col de Porte I had lunch (!!) and then headed left on a little road for another 6 kilometre climb up beautiful hairpins to Charmant Som.
Note, the profile above for Charmant Som is for the principle road from Grenoble, I started higher and took a quieter road, and then joined up at Col du Palaquit. Both are great.
View from Charmant Som:
From Charmant Som it’s completely downhill back to St-Laurent-du-Pont. The second half is through the fabulous Gorges du Guiers Mort. The tunnel sign was scarier than the tunnels.
This is a terrific loop. I was thrilled that it was passable by road bike. But next time I’ll bring my hybrid.
The "Secret" road to Col de la Charmette is one of those special routes that while riding it you can't help but smile.
Quiet / No Traffic