3 Col Loop: Chambotte, Sapenay, and Clergeon


A beautiful, hilly loop on deserted roads (maybe because the climbs were all still strangely signed as closed?). As the map profile shows, the ride was pretty much either uphill or downhill the entire way.

north tip of Lac du Bourget climbing Col du Clergeon Tunnel 200 metres below Col de la Chambotte Col de la Chambotte Col du Sapenay Col du Clergeon

Lac du Bourget is surrounded by great cycling climbs – many of them on steep, quiet roads with great views of the lake. For example, Mont Du Chat, Grand Colombier, Mont Revard, Col de l’Epine, and the 3 climbed in this loop.

This loop started with Col de la Chambotte: a moderately steep 5 km climb on a narrow cliff road with superb views of the lake below – a nice little gem.

Nice Haipin

The route then climbs the back side of Col du Sapenay through quiet rural French countryside …. with stunning views of the Alps in the distance. I don’t have a profile for this, but it’s definitely the easier side of Sapenay (the steeper west side is profiled here). More great lake views during the descent of Sapenay brought me back to the start.

Desceding Col du Sapenay

Col du Clergeon

The car just happened to be at the beginning of the climb to Col du Clergeon. My cleverly planned bail-out option.

Last year, I bailed and just got in the car at this point, but today I decided to add this steep climb.

climbing Col du Clergeon

Maybe due to the sun, I had a little trouble getting photos that looked as good as it did in person. My friend Bastien did a similar loop a couple of weeks back and has much nicer photos here.

It’s actually a 4 Col loop as on the way to Sapenay, the route passes Col de Cessens – see map.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Lovely. I’m sad I could not join you on this one. This road has it all … cliff roads, hairpins, views, tunnel, multiple cols and an extra climb to finish off the hard work. I know how hard a decision it is to add an extra climb at the end (just up and down) so all I can say is well done!

  2. Now this would be a great base spot for a vacation. I would love for that to be my daily ride. Twice a day for that matter. I’m not saying it looks easy… I’m just saying it looks so inviting!

  3. Super pour le vélo ce coin ! Sinon, faire le tour du lac pourrait être intéressant… une boucle qui passe par la Chambotte, puis longe le lac (un peu avant le col une petite route descend sur le lac), ensuite Mt du Chat, descente sur le versant Ouest, col du Chat pour rejoindre en hauteur les bords du lac (Petit et Grd Villard) et boucler le parcours. Un peu moins de 100 kms.

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