There is “heat wave” in the Alps at the moment so I decided to take advantage and visit one of my favourite routes in the Maurienne Valley.
This summer, Les Lacets (hairpins) de Montvernier made its Tour de France debut, revealing this great “secret” road to the unwashed masses. It’s a beautiful series of 17 hairpins, but – a warning – it’s perhaps only 20% of the way up the challenging Col du Chaussy.
Here is a more detailed post discussing just Les Lacets de Montvernier
It’s tough to photograph the hairpins from up close, but I did my best:
“Yates You Can” is graffitied on every hairpin. Left over Tour de France encouragement for the pro cyclist brothers Adam and Simon:
There is only one way to “easily” photograph all the hairpins. Once past the top of the hairpins there is a small gravel farm track to the right through a field (see map below). Follow it and then enter some trees to find yourself on a cliff look-out. Careful! Me terrified:
The rest of the climb to Col du Chaussy is very quiet, but not easy. From Montvernier, look up and you will see a great, unlikely cliff stretch a few kilometres from the summit. Woohoo! Note: I was very careful balancing my little tripod for this photo:
The far side of the Col used to be a gravel road, but was nicely paved a few years back. It’s narrow, but smooth. Once can descend via the D99 down to approximately 850 metres, joining the famous, main road to Col de la Madeleine – this makes a fully paved route perfect for road bikes. But I had my hybrid, and instead turned up at Bonvillard to follow a truly superb alternate route to Madeleine via Lac du Loup (Wolf Lake).
The road is paved until perhaps 1600 metres, then becomes a good quality gravel road – lots of fun.
At La Traverse, the route effectively summits the crest into the next valley, the valley with Col de la Madeleine. The next couple of kilometres cross through the ski slopes, finally joining the paved road to Madeleine at the second last hairpin. Leaving 2+ tough but lovely kilometres to the summit.
Strangely, there is some anti gay marriage graffiti on the road. Boo.
Recently, the big col sign was replaced with this monument. Interesting enough, although, like its predecessor it still overstates the altitude of 1993 metres. 🙂
For details of all three road bike routes to Col de la Madeleine see here.
Finally, it was a crazy, 40 hairpin descent, down the south side of Madeleine to La Chambre. If you like descents, this is a good one.
This loop is tough, and most people will try it for the experience of climbing the amazing Les Lacets de Montvernier. But for me, the unpaved route to Madeleine via Lac du Loup is what makes this route special.
Quiet / No Traffic