Hautes-Alpes Cycling Guide


The Hautes-Alpes is a department in the central French Alps (the south-east part of the former Dauphiné province). It has a well developed cycling network and is full of very interesting, high, and quiet cycling climbs.

In this post you’ll find:

  1. A map of all the official signed loops and signed climbs.
  2. My five favourite climbs in the department.
  3. The 2016 schedule of Col Reservés days (bike-only, no cars).

The map below shows information about all the bike routes and signed climbs detailed at the official department cycling site.


  • The red tracks are 11 of the 12 departmental signed cycling loops (I can’t find info on loop 12). The green pins are the start of each loop.
  • The blue tracks are the sign-posted climbs, with the mountain icons being the summit.
  • Click on any route or icon and there is a link to more details about the ride. It’s either a blog post if I’ve cycled it, or a link to the official site details if I’ve yet to visit – either way gpx files are available.

Below the map I’ll tell you my five favourite climbs in the region and give you the 2016 dates for their excellent Col Reservés program.

My five favourite Hautes-Alpes climbs:
#1 Col d’Izoard

One of the most famous climbs in cycling. The land of Coppi and Bobet. 2 sublime sides, the south includes the legendary Casse Deserte. Details here.

Col d'Izoard - La Casse Deserte

Col d’Izoard – La Casse Deserte

#2 Col Agnel

Or Colle dell’Agnello in Italian. The pass itself is the France/Italy border. At 2744 metres, this monster is the third highest paved mountain pass in Europe, just a few metres lower than Iseran and Stelvio. The Giro d’Italia will climb the tougher Italian side next week. Details here.

French side of Col Agnel / Colle dell'Agnello

French side of Col Agnel / Colle dell’Agnello

#3 Mont Colombis

Le Cycle magazine calls Mont Colombis one of the most difficult climbs greater than 10 kilometres in France. But at least the views at the summit are worth the effort. Details here.

Mont Colombis.  Ouch 12.9%

Mont Colombis. Ouch 12.9%

#4 Tunnel du Parpaillon

The signed road only goes to 1858 metres. But from here continues a truly great unpaved road to the Tunnel du Parpaillon at 2643 metres. A military road built in the 19th century, it was once the highest in France. Details here.

Unpaved road to Parpaillon

Unpaved road to Parpaillon

#5 Col du Noyer

Col du Noyer will be the last major climb in the upcoming Critérium du Dauphiné bike race. It also has some of the sexiest hairpins anywhere. Details here.

Col du Noyer near summit

Col du Noyer near summit

#6 Col du Galibier

The south side of Col du Galibier is in the Hautes-Alpes (the north side is in Savoie). While the north side is a better climb, the final 8.5 kilometres of the south side, from Col Lautaret are truly fabulous. Details of both sides here.



2016 Col Reservés (bike-only days)

The Hautes-Alpes continues its tradition of hosting a series of car-free, bike days. For every event, the roads are closed from 9:00am to Noon. For the bigger climbs like Izoard or Agnel, it is not the entire route, but the upper kilometres.

These events are always fun. Non-competitive, relaxed and cheerful cyclists. There is no need to register. Refreshments are offered at the summit. In the Haute-Alpes I have attended Izoard and Mont Colombis Col Reservés events. Both fabulous – the silence is deafening.

Col d'Izoard 2014 Bike-only day

Col d’Izoard 2014 Bike-only day

2016 Schedule

Sun. July 3 – Montée au Pré de Madame Carle
Mon. July 4 – Fonts de Cervieres
Tue. July 5 – Croix de Toulouse
Wed. July 6 – Col du Granon
Thu. July 7 – Col d’Izoard
Fri. July 8 – Col Agnel
Wed. July 12 – Risoul
Sun. July 17 – Puy St. Vincent
Mon. August 8 – Col de Pommerol
Tue. August 9 – Montée de Chabre
Wed. August 10 – Col du Noyer
Thu. August 11 – Col Foureyssasse
Fri. August 12 – Montée de Céüse
Tue. August 16 – Risoul


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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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