Mont du Chat


44.9 km

Think of that really short steep stretch on your local ride that you hate because it’s just a bit too hard. Now imagine it’s 13 kms long.

I have had my eye on Mont du Chat for a couple of years. But partly due to fear, and partly because it is not a famous Tour de France climb (it appeared only once in 1974 when Poulidor dropped 5x champion Merckx going up only to be caught on the descent), I have avoided it. But it was recently included by a French magazine on its list of the best climbs in France. Thus it was time to try.

Quote (loosely translated): “At the South-West of Lake Bourget Mont du Chat (Cat Mountain) is one of the most redoubtable climbs in France with terrifying steepness …”

It is hard! Averaging just under 10% for 13 kms with one stretch of 300 metres at 13%. Probably the hardest I have climbed this year. But it is a fantastic ride. It starts very low (250 metres) beside beautiful Lac (lake) du Bourget and finishes at about 1,500 metres. Because it starts so low, unlike most big climbs, it is forested the whole ride. (many big alp climbs get well above the tree-line). The road has hardly any traffic as there is nothing up top except a TV/communication tower and a great view of the Lake and the Alps.

Plummeting down the other side, I wasn’t certain of my route back – although I was trying to follow a sign posted bike trail. The other side is nothing but immaculate little quiet french villages – great riding. I soon realized that returning would require some more climbing over the – much easier and much lower – Col de Chat. I had three water bottles and they were all empty as it was hot work. But after the Col it was all downhill to the lake and car. Great ride.

Total distance 6,875 kms


About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Pingback: My Cycling Challenge » Blog Archive » Cycling the French Alps

  2. Hi Will,

    I “know” you a bit thanks to Bast’ site, I saw you leave some replies sometimes, and -at last- I’ve decided to have an eye on yours : I realize I should have done this long ago =)

    I would like to congratulate you for all those climbs you did, and all those challenges achieved, that’s just so great !

    I’m a big fan of cycling too, though I can’t cycle as much as you do, because of school -I’m just 18-. Unfortunately, I actually live in one of the flattest regions in France, so let’s say it’s a bit difficult to climb a pass when the highest point near your house is 80m high ^^

    All the same, every summer since 2006 (but unfortunately not this year) I go and ride two weeks with my brother. We went to Pyrénées, Massif Central, but actually I’ve been planning to have a big trip in Alps for a long time, itineraries are already done, and I was surprisingly delighted to see that you did almost all of the climbs we’re planning to do. Well, I have to say it’s comforting me in the idea that would be a great trip, because all your posts make me envious =)

    All those passes seem to be just so beautiful, I can’t wait to go there. I’ll have a thought for you 😉

    I wish you good luck for your 2009 Challenge, which I have no doubt you will achieve =)

  3. Pingback: Jura Giants - Storms and Steep! : Cycling Challenge

  4. Pierre Mouton on

    Hello Will, I get updated on your rides every Monday and find your website really excellent.
    On your good advices I experienced on Saturday, August the 1st, the Mont du Chat – east side. This cat is a tiger. It’s the hardest climb I’ve ever made (but I’m not as experienced as you are), more difficult than the Grand Colombier in my mind.
    Thanks for your beautiful website.

  5. Pierre,

    Félicitations ! Mont du Chat ….. oui, c’est pas facile! Mais ça vaut la peine. N’est-ce pas?

    Did you see that Grand Colombier will be in the Tour de l’ain next week? I can’t imagine racing up that monster.

  6. Pierre Mouton on

    I’d love to see either the Grand Colombier or the Mont du Chat in the Tour de France. I know that the Grand Colombier has already been in the Tour de l’Ain and the Tour de l’Avenir (in the seventies I think). You also write that the Chat has been in the Tour de France, but nothing since then. But I guess that the finfish line should be at the top because the downhills are dangerous…

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