Bauges Massif Three Col Loop


Col de Marocaz

The Bauges is the Alps Massif roughly in the triangle formed by Annecy, Chambéry, and Albertville. The majority of this scenic, forested, hilly, cow-filled, sparsely populated region is part of the Parc naturel régional du massif des Bauges.

This is not the high Alps (but it’s still the Alps: the highest peak is roughly 2200 metres). The best known road-bike cycling climbs are Mont Revard (see here), and Le Semnoz (see here). This ride explores the south part of the massif via 3 medium-altitude cols. A peaceful 71 kilometre loop with 1700 metres of ascent.

I started at the base of Col de Marocaz (958 metres). It’s a challenging little climb with plenty of hairpins. The entire loop is quiet, but this is the quietest of the three cols: I saw several cyclists and not a single car. Early in the descent of the far side, I made a small detour to visit Lac de la Thuile (see map below).

Col de Marocaz

Lac de la Thuile

Col des Prés

Next, I would join the road to Col des Prés (1142 metres; don’t confuse this with Col du Pré that will feature in the 2018 Tour de France). My route joined the climb roughly half way up. See map in this old ride that starts near Chambéry and climbs from the beginning.

Col des Prés – a sexy hairpin

This particular loop is front-loaded. the second half is much easier, riding through the Hautes-Bauges, eventually gently climbing the easy side of Col du Frêne.

Cheese Country

Note, my loop climbs the more interesting sides of Marocaz, and Col des Prés but descends the best side of Frêne. See this ride that climbs the better side of Frêne, post includes profile of the nine kilometre ascent.

The descent of Col du Frêne is fun. Lots of hairpins, and lots of views of the higher snow-covered Alps to the south.

When you reach the base of Frêne, it’s just a few kilometres traverse back to the start. Make sure to use the D201 for this traverse. Don’t head lower to a far, far busier road. I was rained on for the last stretch but survived.

In total: 71 kilometres, 3 cols, quiet, scenic roads. Not bad.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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