Col de la Bailletta

Lac de la Sassière
Lac de la Sassière

An alpine Lake adventure:

To begin, I cycled up to Barrage (dam) du Saut – the 13th highest paved road in France at 2280 metres (it’s a side road below Tignes above the Lac du Chevril off the main road to Col de l’Iseran / Val d’Isère).

The route on the map has an early climb that I aborted because it was far too steep to bike

Early slopes above Lac du Chevril:

For 28 great cycling climbs to Alpine dams/lakes see here.

The paved road ends at Barrage/Lac du Saut (no photo). But I had a cross bike and continued higher on a good quality unpaved road. It passes through a high alpine valley and is not very steep, gently climbing to the Lac (and dam) de la Sassiére – 2460 metres.

Road to Lac de la Sassière
Above Lac de la Sassière
Lac de la Sassière

Above this lake is the decrepit remains of an old military “road” (I think), that is still just about ride-able. Near 2700 metres it has been destroyed by landslides so from here I was mainly carrying the bike on hiking trails.

I passed another Lake, Lac du Santel at 2718 metres.

Lac du Santel

I did this climb 2 years ago, also in the first week in July and there was far, far more snow nearing the summit. But today the path was clear with just a few snow drifts. Great views though.

Nearing the Col

The Col de la Bailletta is at 2853 metres.

Over the top is a hiking trail that descends down to the main road a little above Val d’Isère. But it seemed far too steep to be any fun with a bike.

I would later find out that I wasn’t supposed to take a bike above Lac de la Sassière. Oops, sorry. Although I only saw a handful of people, I suppose this is the last time I’ll do this super-scenic route (at least, on a bike).


Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Phil Millham on

    Hey Will,

    Thanks for providing the reading on another great adventure. I always love seeing that scenery high above where most punters ride.
    A couple of things.. What do you mean when you say you weren’t supposed to take a bike there? Is that because they are designated ‘hiking only’ trails? And, is it usually signposted as such?
    And, what tyres are you running on your new BMC? 30’s, 35mms?
    Just interested as I plan to do some of your ‘unpaved’ adventures next year when we come over again and keen to know what tyre combos you run.

    Thx in advance

    • Hi Phil,

      The bike has 35c tires. It’s definitely not ideal for bumpy descents as no suspension, but it’s great going up. And I like the disc brakes and flexibility it gives me between trails and paved road – much easier climbing than my mountain bike.

      A hiker at the summit of Col de la Bailletta told me no bikes were allowed in that section of the national park. and there was in fact a sign at the summit with a lot of rules and a small no-bike sign. But I hadn’t seen anything heading up. When I descended, I saw a small no bike sign above Lac de la Sassière that I had missed as there were a couple of trails between the dam and the old road higher.

      I’d imagine on a weekday you’d see 2 people along this route. But a few more on weekends. But not busy and until 2700 metres it is a “road” of sorts – bad surface but always wide.

      • Phil, just to add,

        Most super high “roads” are allowed for bikes. Some places – especially in Switzerland – will clearly lay out when a hiking trail is pedestrian only, and I’ll avoid it.

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