In 1967 a local farmer – Jean Poncet – joined two mountain forestry roads, one from Queige the other from Venthon creating this fantastic “Col.”
Then, in 1969 during a rally, someone erected the Col des Cyclotouristes sign at the top. This sign was quickly removed by the Mayor of Venthon – because it’s not technically a geographic col (damn bureaucrats).
But the sign was replaced during a winter storm – without anyone leaving foot prints! Finally, in 1992 the name Col des Cyclotouristes appeared on an IGN map. It was official.
For more on the history see this French link.
There is now a monument to Jean Poncet at the top:
“Jean, in inventing this Col (mountain pass), you have engraved in our memories an indelible track. Your friends cyclotouristes”
Starting just below the historic village of Conflans, it’s a very nice climb on a super quiet road. Hairpins absolutely everywhere (see map).
2 kilometres from the top is the Fort du Mont. A miltary fort built in the 1880’s (see photo at left).
The descent – apart from a few potholes – is also very scenic:
After the fort, the quality of the road deteriorates. The entire route is paved – and it’s definitely possible on a road bike if you are not fussy, but I was happy to have my hybrid – especially beyond the fort and descending the other side.
After descending, I had mapped a route on more very quiet roads on the other side of the valley, visiting a couple more Cols (see map).
Col de la Forclaz and Col de Montessuit are both fairly small, but quiet and scenic. And they turn the route into a nicer, more challenging loop than just returning directly to Albertville on the main road.
Oh, and I bumped into the Google Maps car halfway up to Col des Cyclotouristes. He stopped and we snapped each others photo: 🙂