The Climb (from Chambery): 19.5 kms (12.1 miles) Ascent: 950 metres (3,115 feet)
Chambery is one of those French Alps towns that is made for cyclists. Down low, there is a very well developed network of cycling paths – and on all sides are fantastic climbs into the mountains.
Pré means meadow in French – so Col des Prés clumsily translated means “mountain pass of the meadows” (which makes sense as at the top it opens up into alpine meadows).
I started outside Chambery to minimize the first few busyish kilometres. After St Jean d’Arvey, it’s becomes a very nice wide-open, quiet road, that winds up the side of the mountain.
I hadn’t expected to get lost, but I came to an intersection with no signs and took the “up” road, not remembering there was a descent in the middle of the climb. Fortunately, this led to a superb little detour through the woods and a couple of tiny villages. No harm no foul.
While a fair bit of snow near the top, the roads were perfectly cleared. On the descent I considered detouring to Col de Plainpalais – but my legs told me to call it a day.
Note: There is also a Col du Pré, a fantastic climb above Beaufort.