Alpe d’Huez, Oulles, and Col d’Ornon


A beautiful April day – there may still be skiing at Alpe d’Huez – but the cycling wasn’t bad either.

Not fast, but my personal best climbing Alpe d’Huez. I beat my last Marmotte

ascension by more than 20 minutes – more a sign of how much I was bonking that day than any speed today. 🙂

The perfectly surfaced and very wide road was very quiet. A few cyclists – as usual at least half of them Dutch.

The early hairpins are the toughest:

After descending the Alpe, I went to see if the little road to Oulles was open. It was, and what a treat! This little known gem-of-a-climb starts just few couple of kilometres from Bourg d’Oisans.


Oulles is the commune with the lowest population (12!) in the Isère Department. 8 kilometres cut into the edge of a steep gorge up to a little perched village. It’s a well surfaced road, with hairpins galore. And quiet: I saw no cars on the ascent or the descent.

It’s quite steep, and I was slow and April-tired, but thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Lower Hairpins:

Upper section:

Village at snow line:

Hairpins galore:

Finally, after descending Oulles, I turned up to (slowly) visit Col d’Ornon. It’s a nice easyish climb … good testing ground for cyclostourists a little imtimidated by Alpe d’Huez.

A great route — and if you take one thing from this post: Go and cycle Oulles!


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Bonjour,

    super images comme toujours,
    j’ai fait la montée d’oulles et du col d’ornon le 13 avril, (it’s funny to have the same idea) !
    par contre je n’ai pas rajouté l’alpe d’huez, ca aurait fait trop pour moi !

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    • It depends on the recent weather. Both roads are kept open all year because of the skiing. If it hasn’t snowed recently, a sunny day in March can be great. (bring warm clothes for descent).

  4. Thanks for another great tip Will! I can’t understand why the climb to Oulles is so little ridden. It’s beautiful, challenging and practically traffic-free. The nice people in the cafe at the top deserve more visitors!

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