One of the classics of the alps and steeped in history, it is believed the Carthaginian general Hannibal used this very route. The road connects Bourg st Maurice on the edge of the Isere in France with the Aosta Valley in Italy via the french resorts of La rosiere and La thuile on the Italian side.
It offers a great introduction to alpine cycling. Although long at around 30km in length it has a steady average gradient of around 5%. The descent is made all the more enjoyable due to the great surface, stunning views and flowing bends.
Stats 90 km 1595 metres
Refreshments & Where to Stay
This route offers many options for breaks and refreshments. Aime and Bourg in particular offer up a variety of restaurants and La Rosiere has plenty to offer aswell along with stunning views. On the climb itself there are plenty of laybys to safely stop, but if your short on water be sure not to miss the Hotel Belvedre.
Tough alpine road cycling route with extensive mountain views, and an epic descent to introduce you to alpine cycling.
- We start this route in the picturesque riverside town of Aime at an altitude of just over 650m at the carpark on Rue des Iles. It is here you will join the cycle path that follows the Isere for around 13km gently climbing up to bourg St Maurice at 840m. The river keeps you cool on hot summer days and the gentle path allows you to warm those legs up before the start of the mountain road.
- At Bourg we pop off the cycle path and on to the D1090 and the famous climb to the Hospice and border checkpoint ahead.
- Heading on we pass through the village of Seez and start into the switchbacks. Every metre gained rewards with even more stunning views to the ski station of les Arc across the valley and vistas upwards to Tignes and Val D’isere leading on to the mighty L’iseran.
- About 14km out of Bourg you will find the Hotel Belvedre(marker16?) on your right with an outside water tap to quench your thirst. Its pink and easy to spot but is your last chance to refill your bottles before La Rosiere.
- At the 23km mark you reach the Ski station Of La Rosiere 1850 and it has an array of restaurants and bars. A great spot to take in the views and some sustenance if required.
- Pushing on through La Rosiere the roads takes a more meandering course than the switch backs below. With about 6km to go it sweeps to the right offering up views of the imposing Hospice ahead and the awaiting snow banks depending on the time of the year. From here the end is in sight and with a final push through the short section of switchbacks under the watchful eye of the st Bernard statue its on to the border and the top at 2188m.
- We like to give the day an international feel by heading over the crossing a few hundred metres into Italy and enjoying a coffee on the Italian side before turning back to enjoy a lunch in the little restaurant on your right just before the hospice.
- Well fed, the descent back to Bourg is a delight. The road is wide and sweeping with lots of tarmac to let off the brakes between the switchbacks, and is a great place to start for those new to or not as confident at alpine descending. From Bourg, you can retrace your path along the cycle path or the road to Aime.
For this route we have chosen to return from the top of the Col. Of course it is possible to continue as far as you like towards Aosta adding kms and m’s as desired. For those looking for a more challenging variation there is the option of a shorter, steeper ascent to La Rosiere via the town Montvalezan.
Now that you’ve read about it, seen the video, it’s definitely time to view the map and think about riding the classic French road cycling route that is the Col de Petit St Bernard.
Ben and Andrew have lots of great cycling routes for you to try, so why not visit them in the Alps – contact them here
Click below for GPX file & accommodation