I was the last day of my five-day Haute-Alpes trip. Not much better way to finish than visiting the beautiful and famous Col d’Izoard.
I started up the north side from Briançon – the instant the roads leaves the town it becomes quieter. Again, here are kilometre markers with gradient and altitude info meaning we are in cycling country. I took it fairly easy, but the climbs starts off gradually anyway and I made good progress.
While the north side is fairly lush and green, just over the south side is the famous Casse Déserte. Arid, eerie, spectacular. I decided to only descend 10 kilometres over the top and just climb the steepest and best part of the south side.
As the profile shows, the south side of Izoard is almost 30 kilometres up from Guillestre. But much of the early slopes are flattish on a beautiful but sometimes busy, narrow gorge road. Nice enough cycling, but I decided to skip it today.
Col d’Izoard was host to many great duels in the 1950s between the legendary Italian Fausto Coppi and the French great Louison Bobet – so I stopped for the required pilgrimage at the easy-to miss Coppi-Bobet monument a km or so below the summit.
The south side can be straight and deceivingly steep leaving the last villages, but once the hairpins start, it is cycling heaven again.
As I approached the Casse Déserte for the second time, I realized all the climbing for my trip was done, so I took my time — and few photos.
The high point, as one enters the Casse Déserte is also Col de la Platrière:
Enjoying myself at Col de la Platrière – Casse Déserte behind me:
I’d cycled Izoard before, but it was the perfect location to end a successful 5 day visit to many of the highest climbs in the south French Alps.
As the map below shows, I initially started up Col de Montgenèvre – but changed my mind given all the traffic. The route sucks — and I later drove it and the Italian side is perhaps even worse, with tunnels and construction and trucks, etc. Easyish Cols linking countries should often be approached with caution. eg. Simplonpass, Brunnerpass, etc
Both sides of this legendary climb are fabulous. But the Casse Deserte near the top of the side side is extra special. Don't forget to stop at the easy-to-miss Coppet/Bobet monument.
Quiet / No Traffic
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