Col de l’Iseran Bike Day

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Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved col in Europe (2764 metres). It’s a beautiful road, but similar to many famous passes along the Route des Grandes Alpes it can suffer from loud summer traffic: motorcyclists love this road. But once a year, the road is closed to motorised traffic. It is tough to explain how quiet and relaxing these car-free days are.

See here for almost 100 car-free bike days in 2019.

Doreen waving

This is our 4th time attending a Col de l’Iseran bike day. It’s just too great an opportunity to pass up. The closures included all the best parts of both sides: The 16 kms above Val d’Isère (north side), and the 13 kms above Bonneval-sur-Arc (south side). Two years ago Doreen had rented an e-bike, but this year she was determined to reach the summit with her much-loved heavy city bike. Allez!

The North Side

We started in Val d’Isère. After a couple of kilometres the route crosses the Pont St. Charles and things get fun. The road just goes higher and higher looking down on the route below. And some truly great hairpins.

Doreen was VERY excited to get a snow wall photo:

Perhaps a kilometre before the summit is Lac de l’Ouillette

The South Side

With the road closed for five hours I had enough time to descend the far side too. Woohoo! I descended about 11 kilometres down to the first great hairpin above Bonneval-sur-Arc:

I love the north side, but the south side might be even better.

How high is Col de l’Iseran? The ski lift just below the col was OPEN:

Pont de la Neige:

This side had some good snow walls too:

At the summit were free snacks and refreshments, and a lot of cheerful and satisfied cyclists:


We descended back to Val d’Isère and had lunch on an outdoor patio. Soon the road was re-opened. From then on? Nothing but the endless drone of motorcycles. Definitely the best ride of the year enjoying a beautiful, quiet, traffic-free climb with my beautiful wife. Paradise.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Just found this page, thank you so much for our the amazing fotos and reports. I have so much new climbs now on my to do list.

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