Agnel Pass – Col d’Agnel

The col d’Agnel is the junction between France and Italy. Culminating at 2,744 meters, it is the second highest road pass in the French Alps after the Col de l’Iseran and the Col du Stelvio in the Italian Alps. The Col d’Agnel is located on the territory of the commune of Molines en Queyras, in the Hautes Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, in the Queyras Regional Natural Park. It is one of the most famous passes of the Route des Grandes Alpes along with the Cols of Galibier, Vars, Izoard, Lautaret and Noyer.

Traffic on the pass is forbidden in winter because of the snow. At the summit, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Caramantran peak which stands at an altitude of 3,015 meters, the Queyras with the Pain de Sucre, Pic d’Asti, Taillante and Vieux cols, Italy with Mount Viso, the Chianale valley and the Cunéo plain and finally the Ecrins with the Pelvoux and Meije mountains. It is also a starting point for hiking and biking. You can thus reach the lake of Asti, the hamlet of Echalp, Ristolas, the col de l’Eychassier…

The col Agnel on a bicycle

The ascent of the col d’Agnel can be done from Ville Vieille, in the municipality of Château Ville Vieille, or from the side of the Varaita valley in Villanovetta, municipality of Verzuolo. The ascent on the French side, starting from Molines, is regular and magnificent. The ascent takes 21 kilometers with an average slope of 6.5%. The last 5 kilometers require more effort with an average slope of 9%.

The ascent of the Italian side is particularly difficult. It takes more than 22 kilometers with an average slope of 6.5%, some passages vary between 11 and 14% average slope. The last 10-kilometer section before reaching the summit, between 1,800 and 2,740 meters, requires training with an average slope of 9.5%.

At the summit, you get an incredible panorama of the Barre des Écrins, Mount Pelvoux and the Meije, but also of the nearby Italian border. The Col d’Agnel offers a wonderful high mountain landscape.

Due to its location on the French-Italian border, the Col d’Agnel has welcomed both the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France. The Tour of Italy has passed through it 4 times in 1994, 2000, 2007 and 2016. The riders of the Tour de France passed it in 2008 for the first time. It was initially not supposed to be crossed, but was scheduled following a change in the route, as the Col de Larche was considered too dangerous.

History

The Col d’Agnel played a decisive role in the history of France. Indeed, the troops of François I crossed the Alps through the col d’Col d’Agnel to retake the Duchy of Milan in 1515, thus allowing the victory of Marignan. Horse scouts led by the knight Bayard took the paths of the col d’Col d’Agnel to destabilize the enemy Swiss troops by surprising them.

The col d’Agnel also allowed the troops of the King of France and Spain to reach Italy and fight the Anglo-Sardinian troops in order to obtain the inheritance of the Emperor of Austria Charles VI in 1740. The Piedmontese also passed through the Col d’Agnel during the French Revolution.

The Napoleon refuge at Col d’Agnel was built in 1885 to accommodate travellers blocked by bad weather.

The road was built in 1973. Previously a mule track, it was transformed into a road and named “route du Général Guillaume” in homage to the general and mayor of Guillestre who ordered its construction. You can see a stele in his honor at the Hannibal Rock.

In winter

Molines, located at the foot of the Col d’Agnel, is a family and authentic village resort that gives access to a panoramic altitude ski area with 1,100 meters of vertical drop and nearly 100 hectares of ski slopes.

Saint Véran, classified as one of the “Most beautiful villages in France”, located at an altitude of 2,040 meters, is the highest commune in Europe. Its ski area is linked to that of Molines and is in fact the largest in Queyras.

Events

The “Cols réservés” operation (Reserved pass operation) is organized every year by the Hautes Alpes Development Agency at the various major passes in the department, such as the Col de l’Izoard. During one morning, motorists and motorcyclists cannot drive on the pass road so that cyclists can enjoy it. The event is open to all and does not require registration. Refreshments are offered in a friendly atmosphere.

Sélection de cols en Région Sud

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