A scenic loop up and over the Massif de la Chambotte, in the French Jura mountains, on extremely quiet roads. Fantastic.
My friend Chris and I debated here whether the Chambotte massif is in fact a Jura (geologically yes) or an Alp (geographically yes). 🙂
Starting from bustling Rumilly it takes about two minutes to escape traffic and begin the climb up the east side of Col du Clergeon. It’s 15 kilometres to the summit, but that includes some downhill.
Leaving the pastures, through the higher woods, are a few steep kilometres, before finally reaching the Col on a plateau near the summit of Mont Clergeon.
The west side faces the redoubtable Grand Colombier and is shorter, thus steeper, with more hairpins – I descended very slowly. Details climbing the west side (plus an ascent of nearby Col du Sapenay) – are here.
As shown on the map below, I descended to just above the main road, taking a quieter route traversing vineyards to the start of Col de la Chambotte.
This is not the toughest climb (360 metres of ascent) but it’s beautiful: climbing on a narrow road with cliffs on the left and Lac du Bourget on the right. Highly recommended.
After reaching Col de la Chambotte, there is still some more uphill as I headed towards Cessens. Finally, a great 10 kilometre descent back to Rumilly, not too steep, on narrow winding roads.
This route is perfect for reducing one’s blood pressure. Quiet, scenic, well surfaced. A pleasure.
Note, perhaps three kilometres of the descent were covered in fine gravel. Apparently the construction work will be complete by end April- annoying but I survived on a road bike.
Here is one more route idea. From a couple of years ago, it climbs the same east side of Col du Clergeon returning by Col du Sapenay:
Thought I might try this. Wondered which of the 2 routes you preferred?
All The Best
A couple of thoughts:
If you have extra energy, do all three : Climb Clergeon, Climb to Chambotte, descend back to bottom of Sapenay, climb it, then descend back to Rumilly.
Or, choosing between the two? Both good, but I think the views of Lac du Bourget while climbing Chambotte make the easier Chambotte worth it.
I took your advice Will and climbed Sapenay as well. A great day if a little colder than I expected but all three Cols were great fun.
If you are someone that “counts their cols” – above Sapenay before Cessens you rode over the Col de Cessens. Near the little chapel at the high point of the road.
Missed the sign but I’m more than happy to add it to the list 🙂