Cormet de Roselend via Col du Pré


Cormet de Roselend is one of the more beautiful climbs in the Alps. But remember, the best route is not via the main Route des Grandes Alpes road that climbs the north and south sides. Instead, take the 3rd way up via Col du Pré, like the Critériun du Dauphiné will on June 5th.

Col du Pré is a challenging beautiful climb with 26 hairpins and high mountain views in all directions. And just beyond the summit is one of the great views in the Alps down towards Lac de Roselend. And best of all? To get to Cormet de Roselend you must ride over the lac de Roselend dam! Damn!

The climb to Col du Pré starts immediately in Beaufort. But it’s after the village of Arêches where all the hairpins begin.

Lac de Roselend is still not quite full, so not quite as beautiful as in late summer. But the views from Col du Pré are amazing.

At the summit of Col du Pré is a brilliant gravel road that leads much high to La Passage de la Charmette. See this old post for details of the south side of Cormet de Roselend and then this gravel adventure with towering views of Lac de Roselend.

Unpaved road to Passage de la Charmette – 2014

But back to the current ride: I had my drone and tried to take a few different angles crossing the dam.

After the dam, the route rejoins the main road at Col du Mérailet (1605m) and runs along the edge of the lake.

La Chapelle de Roselend:

The road then leaves the lake and heads higher.

There was still a fair amount of snow along the last couple of kilometres, but the road is well cleared and fine for road bikes.

Cormet is a local word for col. Above Arêches on the route to Col du Pré the road splits and one can head to another lake/dam:
Lac de St Guérin – See here for ride details. And above that is Cormet d’Arêches at 2100m. I believe it is still gravel above the lake, but it’s now fully paved on the far side. See here for a ride idea that goes far above Col d’Arêches to a couple of cols, one that overlooks Lac de Roselend. And see here for an old ride that reaches Cormet d’Arêches after visiting a bunch of high gravel cols.

Finally, as shown on the maps below, I descended the main Route des Grandes Alpes road that goes directly to Beaufort. But there is some sort of construction that caused a detour that required some climbing. But it’s a scenic, quiet hair-pinned route. Not a bad detour although my legs were tired.

What a great day. I can’t recommend this route enough. Woohoo!


Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Very inspiring! I am planning to be there on Saturday when the Criterium du Dauphine goes that way. Just hoping that the riders will get your weather… The forecast is not looking promising.

    • Not quite your weather on Saturday (how do you do it?!), but good enough to ride up the Col du Pre and be sitting atop the Cormet de Roselend as the race came through. Definitely a good day out.

      • Well done! Shame it wasn’t sunnier. I was sooooo disappointed the TV coverage didn’t show the peloton crossing the dam.

      • I was standing by the Cofidis car – a tiny red figure as the TV coverage started. Such a shame that they missed out the dam and all the fans watching on the Col du Pre!

  2. Jonas Decraene on

    Mmm, I have good memories of this climb 🙂
    You seem to have been lucky with the conditions… low traffic, sunny and snow!

  3. Ralph Bowman on

    Will, Spectacular scenery, my friend. You continue to inspire me with your wonderful photos and commentary. Was looking for you on the side of the road in the C du D.
    The move to Central Oregon is getting closer for us….

  4. I was there on the 3rd June. Same loop as you by chance. The road was rideable back to Beaufort – they were just fixing a bridge but no problems to ride through without taking the climb.

    The Cormet d’Arêches is not fully paved on the Tarentaise side. There is about 2km of gravel still. On the Beaufort side there is about 5km of gravel. A couple of km above the reservoir is rough tarmac. It is doable on a road bike. Jumbo Visma did it as a training ride on their race bikes in 2020

  5. We did the col du pre from beaufort yesterday. Thanks for the info, it was great.
    We started in bourg saint maurice and had to do the roseland first what makes it a hard day. Especially the col du pre is really steep. We’ve done quite some mountains and I think only mortirolo was tougher.

  6. I have done that climb a number of times from all directions and it never fails to inspire. The descent on Col du Pre is pretty sketchy (inattentive drivers, narrow road with no runouts), so I prefer to go down by the main road.

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