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Bonette Pass

Col de la Bonette

The col de la Bonette, also called col de la Bonette Restefond, culminates at 2,715 meters of altitude. It is the highest pass in Provence and is part of the Mercantour National Park, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The Bonette pass connects the Tinée valley in the Alpes Maritimes department to the Ubaye valley in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

The sportier can climb it by bike and thus discover the magnificent landscapes, almost lunar, that stand in front of them. These high mountain landscapes consist of pastures, streams and waterfalls. Visitors can also certainly come across marmots on their way and bearded vultures if the look up to the sky. The road allows to make a loop by bike, motorcycle… and the different paths to climb the pass on foot.

The col de la Bonette by bike

You can reach the Bonette pass by bike. On the way, you will encounter forests, green fields and mountain pastures where cows or sheep graze, you will admire lakes, torrents and waterfalls, all the way to snowy summits until spring… The diverse landscapes parade before your eyes, each more enchanting than the next. Calm reigns and creates a restful atmosphere.

However, to climb the pass by bike, you need to be trained. Indeed, it is nearly 24 kilometers that you have to cross from Jausiers with 1,589 meters of difference in altitude, that is to say 6.6% of average slope with sections at more than 13%. This ascent presents difficult passages, but also shorter, more pleasant sections. Starting from Saint Etienne de Tinée, the distance is 26 kilometers to reach the pass with 1,658 meters of difference in altitude (6.4% of average slope). Passing through Saint Etienne de Tinée, the route is more complicated due to the length of the route, its irregularity (ascent, descent) and its slope.

The pass is open in season. Depending on the weather conditions, we invite you to contact the local Tourist Office: when the summit is snowy, the path leading to it can also remain snowy for several weeks.

The Bonette summit pass is a stage of the Tour de France. The Frenchman Cyril Dessel in 2008, the Spanish Federico Bahamontes in 1962 and 1964 and the Scotsman Robert Millar in 1993 successfully completed this stage, which is among the most difficult. The Tour de France has only passed through the Bonette Pass four times because the route was laid out late and its remote location in the extreme south-east of the country makes it very difficult to integrate it into the Tour.

History

The Bonette road, which connects the Ubaye and Tinée valleys and links Barcelonnette and Nice, was originally a mule track held by the army. It was transformed into a road in 1832 after the passage of Spanish troops during the War of Austrian Succession. The road was classified imperial in 1860 by Emperor Napoleon III.

Today, the Bonette pass, which culminates at 2,715 meters above sea level, serves the towns and villages of Jausiers and Lans on the northern slope and Sainte Étienne de Tinée, Saint Dalmas le Selvage, a ski resort in winter, the hamlet of Le Pra and the village of Boussiéyas on the southern slope. The road meanders winding around the mountain. At the level of the former military camp of Les Fourches, you can also reach, for a hike, the Tête de l’Enchastraye, not to be confused with the town of Enchastrayes.

 

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The summit

Once at the top, you can take the footpath to go up to 2,860 meters of altitude and get a 360° panorama. An orientation table will allow you to better locate yourself in the landscape and identify some of the most prestigious peaks of the Alps.

At the top of the pass, the view is breathtaking. In good weather, you can even see the neighboring summits: Pelvoux, Viso, Mont Pelat, Queyras summits, Southern Alps and the Italian summits.

The Bonette pass, located at 2,715 meters above sea level, is the fourth highest road pass in Europe, after the Iseran (2,764 meters), Stelvio (2,757 meters) and Agnel (2,744 meters) passes. It is a real tourist attraction in the region.

Events

In 1963, the oratory of Notre Dame du Très Haut was installed at the Col de la Bonette, at an altitude of 2,715 meters. Sculpted by Adrée Diesnis, the statue represents the Virgin and Child. Every year, since its installation, a pilgrimage has been organized and brings together the inhabitants of the two valleys: the Ubaye and the Tinée. A mass and a procession take place between Notre Dame de Très Haut and the Plateau des Sources de la Tinée every last Saturday of July.

Sélection de cols en Région Sud

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