Col de l’Iseran is one of my very favourite climbs. A perfect Bastille day, with three French friends, cycling up the more remote (and more interesting) South side.
It’s the highest road bike-able pass in Europe (yes, there are a couple of roads slightly higher, like the incredible Cime de la Bonette, but they are not passes).
It’s not the hardest climb (although it’s not easy) – the start over 30+ kilometres away in Lanslebourg is already at 1,400 metres.
Near the beginning is a short, steep stretch to Col de la Madeleine at 1,746 metres (this of course is not the famous Madeleine) . Then route is flat for several kms until Bonneval-sur-Arc, and then the fun begins.
After Bonneval, apart from the occasional ruin, there is nothing but mountains, rivers, cascades, and beautiful views – and the constant screeching of a Marmotte or two.
The hardest part of the climb is definitely the last two kilometres. Steep, high and beautiful.