Up and Over Col de Cenise


The road up to Col du Cenise is not only quiet and beautiful – it is one of the very steepest climbs I know.

Don’t confuse this climb with Col du Mont Cenis further south on the Italian border – details here

Starting in St-Pierre-en-Faucigny, I skipped the busier main road through the Gorges du Borne, taking a great steep little road at the entrance to the gorge that rides for 4kms beside and above the main road – see map below.

This then rejoins the main road as I approached Le Petit Bornand – the start of the main climb to Col du cenise. I love this route. Endless steep hairpins, amazing views, and it just keeps getting harder.

At about 1550 metres, the road becomes gravel. This just makes the steep parts even harder (my GPS mentions +20% a couple of times).

At the top, it opens up to huge open fields surrounded by high mountains. Over the top is a bumpy farm road for a couple of kms that then becomes paved.

I’d never been on this side and it’s beautiful. Lots of cows, mountains, and a winding road.

Near Col du Cenise

At Mont Saxonnex I took the descent through the amazing Gorges du Bronze (this is a steep and beautiful climb in the other direction).

Finally, I turned back up again for 4.5 kms @10% as I returned to St-Pierre via the Plateau d’Andey – another scenic deserted route.



About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. bravo
    la vidéo est excellente ! très réussie
    et quelle chance d’avoir tout ce soleil au mois d’octobre, tu as l’air bien légèrement couvert pour la saison

  2. Hi Will! This seems to be a great tour! Climbing Cenise seems to be especially attractive!… Two questions are in my mind: first, is it possible to go up to Cenise with a road bike? In other terms, is the gravel part of the road relatively bumpy or not? And second, is it possible to make the link between Cenise and Solaison (another great climb, in my view)? Thanks for your feed-back! Cheers,

  3. HI Nicholas,

    The first gravel stretch is short and easy to cross …. but at about 1550 metres (less than 2 kms from top) the road is just NOT suitable for a road bike. Too rough, bumpy, gravelly, and steep. Still it is a worthwhile climb just to this level and about half way up (1100 metres) is a nice steep little detour to “Paradis”

    Same on the east side. You could ride a road bike until Les Frachets (see map) but not the final stretch higher

    From Col du Cenise there is a hiking trail directly to Solaison (it says 1 hour on the Col sign). As best I can tell from IGN maps it would be pretty mountainous and steep for a stretch and probably require a little bike carrying …. but not certain – Solaison is 1500 metres so 225 metres lower than Cenise. I thought about taking the trail ….. but decided against the adventure 😉

  4. Hi Will,

    based on your recommendation I did Col de Cenise yesterday – a beautiful spot, but very steep and the last stretch definitely nothing for a road bike (took my MTB). The path down to Solaison is not suitable for biking (very steep, went there hiking last fall), so your route is the best one.

    Otherwise, congratulations for your website. I am regularly following your reports – a great source of inspiration for somebody like me who is relatively new to the region.

    Thanks and best regards,


    • Markus,

      Well done. Yes, it’s very steep, and difficult – but beautiful.

      Thanks, I had always wondered if it was possible to get down to Solaison from Cenise …. but it always looked far to steep on the map.


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