Col de Pierre Carrée – Flaine

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Col de Pierre Carrée is the highest paved col in Haute Savoie. It’s kept open all winter to provide access to Flaine ski station. I like to ride it every spring as soon as the skiing has ended as it keeps the climb, especially the second half, very quiet. It’s a big climb (21 kms). As long as some of the Alpine giants – if not quite as steep.

Mont Ventoux21.4 kms1,640 metres ascent
Col du Tourmalet19 kms1,404 metres ascent
Col de Pierre Carrée21.11,343 metres ascent
Alpe d'Huez13.2 kms1,071 metres ascent

Note, the (too-steep looking) profile below shows the far side grade as well. The road continues over the col to Flaine itself.

Flaine

While Flaine is the end of the paved road, it’s possible to go far higher on thicker tires. See here for an absolutely brilliant 5 col loop that reaches the top of the gondola-ski-lift at Les Grandes Platières (2480m)

Col de Pierre Carrée has never appeared in the Tour de France, but the lower slopes were in the 2009 Tour, turning off the climb at Arâches. Cowards.

Some photos of the main climb:

A very scenic paravalanche tunnel:

When friends tell me they are planning cycling here, I always encourage them to visit the far side. Again, it’s only 4 kilometres down to Flaine, but it’s very scenic. Some photos:

A 3D video of the ride:

Col de Pierre Carrée is a great road climb. Long and challenging (and open all year). Flaine is pretty much closed down in summer, so the top half of this climb is very quiet outside of ski season even mid-summer.

I encourage those that have wider tires to consider exploring higher. Here’s a sample photo from the 5 col loop I mentioned earlier. Amazing views of nearby Mont Blanc.

And, to provide you extra encouragement, here’s another multi-col ride that heads above a different section of the ski domaine. Link.

Road up to Les Grands Vans

Map of today’s ride:

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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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