Montgenèvre Pass – Col de Montgenèvre

The Col de Montgenèvre culminates at 1,850 meters of altitude. It is located in the mountain range of the French Alps, between the Cerces and Queyras massifs, in the department of Hautes Alpes in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It takes its name from its proximity to the village of Montgenèvre and is located at the crossroads of the Durance valley leading to Arles and the Dora river to Turin.

The pass is entirely on the French side of the French-Italian border and connects Briançon to Cesana Torinese. It attracts every year many visitors, cyclists, hikers, motorists, motorcyclists, campers…

The col de Montgenèvre by bike

The Col de Montgenèvre has been crossed 10 times by Tour de France riders since 1949. Among the riders who have crossed the pass in the lead are the Italian Gino Bartali in 1949, the Spanish Julio Jiménez in 1966, the French Richard Virenque in 1996 and 1999 and the French Sylvain Chavanel in 2011.

You can climb the Col de Montgenèvre by bike from La Vachette, a hamlet belonging to the municipality of Val des Près. The distance to reach the summit is more than 7 kilometers with a difference in altitude of 494 meters and an average slope of 6.39%, which can reach maximums of 7.7% in some places.

It is also possible to start from Cesana Torinese in Italy. The ascent on this slope is more than 8-kilometer long with a difference in height of 500 meters and an average slope of 6.02%, with sections with maximums of 9.4%.

The Col de Montgenèvre is a great place for cycling. There are many cycling circuits. Descent of the Col de Montgenèvre, ascent of the Col de Sestrières, the Italian roads, Oulx, Bardonnechia, the Col de l’Echelle, Val des Près… The mountain bike area also climbs in high mountains.

History

The col de Montgenèvre was at the Roman time a way which made it possible to connect Plaisance to Nimes. The road was the most convenient passage to reach Piedmont in Italy on one side and the Durance valley in France on the other. At Briançon, another road detaches itself and joins Grenoble, through the Lautaret pass and the valley of the Romanche and Vienne rivers, and Lyon. The road was in the continuity of the Via Domitia built in Languedoc. Since the 1990s, these routes have been the subject of a heritage enhancement project. A French section of the Via Francigena, a pilgrimage route to Rome, also passes through the Col de Montgenèvre.

In the Middle Ages, the road was used for traffic and trade between regions. It is paved in the cities, but not outside. Napoleon made the road to Col de Montgenèvre passable. An obelisk pays homage to him, a replica of an ancient military milestone that indicates the distances and directions to the nearest cities such as Susa, Turin, Briançon or Marseille.

Over the years, Briançon equipped itself with forts to protect the town and the new border established in 1713 at the Col de Montgenèvre.

Today you can see in Montgenèvre the chalet Saint Bernard, historical and emblematic chalet of the first French ski resort. It was once the chalet of the Club des Sports d’Hiver and welcomed members of the Briançon ski club as well as competitors of the 1924 Chamonix Olympics. Later, it also hosted the Tour de France, the Alpine Ski World Cup and a French Mountain Bike Championship. It is now a renowned hotel-restaurant.

Activities

In summer, the Col de Montgenèvre is a playground for hikers. Different paths wind through the mountain. You can, for example, start from the ski resort of Montgenèvre to reach the Petit Collet ridge and then the Mont de la Plane trail. Thus, you will enjoy an exceptional panorama of the surrounding peaks, both French and Italian. It is also possible to go to the Mautino hut, near the Italian lake under the Bousson ground.

Montgenèvre is also appreciated in winter. Its location gives it pleasant sunshine and its altitude an abundance of snow, to the delight of skiers and other snowboarders. The winter sports resort, at an altitude of 1,860 meters, combines the charm and character of a mountain village in the Southern Alps in an international ski area, that of the Milky Way (Voie Lactée). The slopes follow one another from both sides of the Italian border to take advantage of the activities: sledging, skiing, snowboarding, etc.

Sélection de cols en Région Sud

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