Col du Joly and Lac de la Girotte


The beautiful village of Beaufort is on the Route des Grandes Alpes (RGA) at the base of Cormet de Roselend. But if you’re touring the RGA it’s worth stopping for a day there and taking a detour up to Col du Joly.

Leaving Beaufort towards Roselend, the route almost immediately leaves the RGA turning left/east and climbing into another valley.

Surrounded by mountains on both sides, the first 12 kms are lovely but not too hard. But as you reach the end of the valley and the ski lift – the road starts heading up.

Going up

It’s a very quiet and beautiful ride continually winding up – giving ever changing views.

Except for a brief moment, Mont Blanc is never visible. Until I arrived at the Col du Joly – where I was met with this view:

Arriving at Col du Joly

After enjoying the views I headed back to search for my second goal: a visit to Lac / Barrage de la Girotte.

The road to Joly – while occasionally a little bumpy is fine for a road bike. But the entire detour to Girotte requires a mountain bike.

It’s a pretty fun climb up to the dam. Although it’s quite hard to find how to get to it. At about 1700 metres on the Joly route is an un-labeled gravel road. This road descends past a chair lift down to 1490 metres. It’s then roughly 3 kms at 10% up to the dam.

This is a view of the road. You can just see the dam on the upper right:

View of route to Lac de la Girotte

Route to Lac de la Girotte

It’s a beautiful little lake. Perhaps prettier once it fills up with snow melt. But a very worthwhile little side trip.

Barrage de la Girotte Lac de la Girotte

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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Pingback: Col du Joly : Cycling Challenge

  2. Hi Will,
    Went up to Joly and lake Girotte today (from Alertville). Some interestig cows on the road beyond the lake that could fit in your selection of cow photos! I like m too! The lake had a bit more water than in your pics.
    I have been cycling a little unpaved on my racing bike since quite some years (23mm GP4Seasons) but now have a gravel bike with 40mm tyres. Thanks so much for all your inspiring posts. Wish I’d live a little closer to the alps.
    Cheers, Maarten-Jan

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