Many of the most famous climbs in the alps have days where they are closed to motor traffic, reserved for cyclists. Nice.
Here is a 2014 list of “Cols reservés,” car-free days. I’d be grateful for any comments indicating other car-free days. But first, let’s be clear about these special days:
1) They are NOT cyclosportives or races.
2) There is no need to register, and they are free. Show up, start when-ever you want.
3) There is a mix of cyclists of all levels, ages, sizes. Most riding leisurely.
4) The ambience is great. Everyone is in a good mood.
5) There is usually a free drink and snack stand or two. Perhaps even (minor) entertainment.
6) Usually it’s surprisingly uncrowded (but then these are big roads).
7) Check details: Usually the roads are only closed in the morning and often only the top half of climbs are closed.
Easily the most fun I had on a bike in 2013 was cycling Col de l’Iseran bike-only day with my wife Doreen. I even paid €8 for the pro photographer’s photo:
A brief video of the band at the summit: 🙂
Use the Search bar for more details on any of these climbs with the exception of week 2 in the Haute Alpes region — which I’ve yet to visit.
Savoie-Mont Blanc Region (official site)
Sunday June 22: Col des Aravis
Sunday June 29: Mont Salève
Thursday July 3: Col du Galibier
Sunday July 6: Col des Glières
Sunday July 6: Col de l’Iseran
Sunday July 27: Col de Joux Plane
Sunday August 17: Col de la Ramaz
Thursday August 21: Col de la Madeleine
Friday August 22: Col de la Croix de Fer
Sunday August 24: Champlaurent/Grand Cucheron (to be confirmed)
Friday August 29: Col du Glandon
Sunday September 14: Le Semnoz (to be confirmed)
Philippe enjoying car-free day near top of Col du Glandon:
Hautes Alpes Region (official site)
Organised as two week-long events, ride all five in week and get a free event cycling jersey. Nice. Perfect for a week long tranquil vacation in a beautiful region.
Week one features four huge climbs plus the scenic Col d’Echelle. Note, that the Col du Galibier day (south-side) corresponds with the north-side day above. That makes for a truly amazing day.
Monday June 30: Col Agnel
Tuesday July 1: Col d’Izoard
Wednesday July 2: Col de l’Echelle
Thursday July 3: Col du Galibier
Friday July 4: Col du Granon
Week two features some smaller far lesser known climbs (I’ve only done Col du Noyer and it’s superb).
Monday August: Col de Pommerol / Fromagère
Tuesday August 12 : Montée de Chabre
Wednesday August 13: Col de Foureyssasse
Thursday August 14: Montée de Céuze
Friday August 15: Col du Noyer
Sella Ronday Bike Day (official site)
1. Sunday June 22 from 8.30 am until 3.30 pm
2. Sunday Sept 15 from 8.30 am until 3.30 pm
A very cool event: the 55 kilometres loop is entirely closed to traffic as well as several of the top stretches of arterial roads leading up to the loop. It gets fairly crowded.
Monte Grappa Bike Day (official site)
Saturday May 24th. Looks great! Thanks to @rankka74 for the tip.
Stelvio Bike Day (official site)
Saturday August 30 from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm
The greatest set of hairpins in cycling? This climb is even better without motor-cycles!
Sunday September 7: Albulapass (official site)
Saturday Sept 27 Klausenpass (official site)
Most aren’t difficult climb-wise but for a whole series of well-run and well-attended bike-only events all-over the country see Slowup.ch
I will definitely be at a few of these events and I hope you will get a chance to vist some as well.
Again, I’d love to hear about any other bike-free days that I may have missed.
Free cheese at last Hairpin on Col des Aravis car-free day:
Did the Col de I’ Iseran in 1961, part of a trip by bicycle from Cornwall across France, to Interlaken (did the Jungfraujoch railway) , then down to Lugano, down to Torino taking in all the passes we could find, did the Mont Cenis, stayed at Lanslebourg youth hostel . Then it was up the Iseran, lovely ride up from that direction. We did not see any other cyclists or motorcyclists, not so many around in those days! We then had to do the Little St Bernard as we did not have any French money on us at that time. Then the Great St Bernard to Martigny, on to Interlaken. Then it was a dreadful ride back across France (wind and rain – those bulky cycle-capes. Back in England we rode non stop from Lewes to Penzance overnight, Honiton early morning – food from a delivery van supplying a baker at 6 in the morning. Penzance at about five oclock. Never again !!!
Thanks for the story. What great memories! I can only imagine what it was like to ride then. Well done,
Kind words ! We cycled in company with an American cyclist on the way down to Interlaken, he had a very lucky escape, He was using a bike with a back-pedal brake, his front brake was not working – not sure why, we were going down a pass when there was a shout, he back pedalled and his split link got caught and the chain came off, he was fortunate that at that moment there was a grass slope up on the side of the road with a smooth run off the road, was he lucky ! Up he went off to the left – I shall never forget it . Split link and back pedal brake should not be allowed !!
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I’m really keen to find out if the Semnoz day ( marked as To Be Confirmed above ) is going ahead as I will be in the area, with bike, on that date ( Sept 14th ) . My Googling hasn’t turned up anything more solid, other that the fact that the Annecy Velo club are running a climb up to Semnoz on that day.
I’d be grateful for any further details
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I think that ou can add the Col du Grand Colombier on the second Saturday of June, July, Aug and Sept each year, so still 2 left this year. Its the Culoz route used in the 2012 Tour and is from 7am to 3pm.