Lombarde Pass – Col de la Lombarde

The col de la Lombarde is located on the border between France and Italy. It connects the Tinée valley in the Alpes Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region to the Stura di Demonte valley in Piedmont in Italy. Culminating at 2,351 meters of altitude, the pass overlooks the famous ski resort Isola 2000.

6th highest road pass in France, the Col de la Lombarde can be closed to traffic in the winter season because of too much snow. It is very popular with cyclists, hikers, motorists, motorcyclists and campers.

The col de la Lombarde by bike

The Tour de France riders crossed the Col de la Lombarde in 2008 during the 16th stage of the Tour between Cuneo and Jausiers. Frenchman Christophe Le Mével spent the stage in second place, but gained the points of the 1st in the classification. The German Stefan Schumacher who took the lead was downgraded for a positive doping control. The pass was also crossed by the Tour of Italy in 2016 during the 20th stage between Guillestre and Vinadio.

The ascent of the Col de la Lombarde by bike is possible on both sides. Although the road on the Italian side is narrower, you will need to be trained to climb the summit by bike, whatever the slope you are riding on. Indeed, the average slope is relatively steep with sections of almost 10%.

From the French side, starting from Isola, south side, you can reach the pass in more than 21 kilometers with a difference in height of 1,477 meters and an average slope of 6.87% that can reach maximums of 9.3%.

On the Italian side, at Pratolungo, on the northern slope, the distance to reach the summit is about the same with more than 21 kilometers, a difference in height of 1,447 meters and an average slope of 6.79%, with a maximum of 9.1%.

Experienced cyclists can tackle the “Three Passes race” (Course des Trois Cols) starting in Saint Etienne de Tinée or Saint Dalmas le Selvage for the more seasoned. Saint Dalmas le Selvage, also known as the roof of the Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis, is the highest village in the department, two-thirds of which is located in the Mercantour National Park. The itinerary starts with a 26-kilometer ascent to the Col de la Bonnette, at an altitude of 2,802 meters, then continues with a descent to Jausiers before reaching the Col de Larche, at an altitude of 1,991 meters. Once in Italy, you descend to Vinadio before climbing the last pass: the Col de la Lombarde in France. The return trip is via Isola to complete a loop.

A bit of History…

The Col de la Lombarde is located between the Lombarde peak, at 2,800 meters above sea level, and the Tête de l’Adrech, at 2,475 meters above sea level. At the summit you get a breathtaking view.

Until 1947, the territory where the winter sports resort Isola 2000, the upper part of the Chastillon valley, is located today, belonged to Italy. It was ceded to France at the Treaty of Paris and a road was built on the French side from the Tinée valley. Opened in 1964 and completed in 1971, it created a road passage between France and Italy. The Isola 2000 station is accessible from the Col de la Lombarde.

Rich of its history, the pass still has many military vestiges. Blockhouses and barracks were used until the end of the Second World War.

Many activities

Although very popular with cyclists, the Col de la Lombarde is also a playground for hiking enthusiasts. Various trails start or end at the pass. For example, you can reach the Lausetta ridge. Along the way, you may come across marmots. You will appreciate the vegetation that grows in summer: semps, gentians, carnations, cotton grass… On the Italian side, you can continue the trail to the sanctuary of Saint Anne of Vinadio (Sant’Anna di Vinadio in Italian), the highest sanctuary in Europe, perched at 2,010 meters above sea level. From there, various hiking trails wind their way through the mountains, including to Lake St. Anne and the Lausfer Lakes.

In winter, the Col de la Lombarde is adorned with its white coat and welcomes you for snowshoe hikes on the southern slope. Skiers will be able to take advantage of the facilities of the Isola 2000 resort to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ski touring… Isola 2000 is the closest resort to the French Riviera, and enjoys sunshine and snow coverage thanks to its altitude. It is a starting point for many hikes such as those to the lakes of Terre Rouge or Mount Saint Sauveur.

Sélection de cols en Région Sud

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