From Valloire to Briançon via the Col du Galibier, the French Alpine cyclists’ Holy Grail
Route North / South
↗ 1233m ↘ 1383m
Leaving central Valloire, you cross several hamlets along a gently climbing road. Then the first hairpin bends up to the Col du Galibier (2642m) appear and the iconic climb begins – along 18km, you confront a shift in altitude of over 1200m, with stretches at a gradient of 10% and a final section that seems to go on for ever... The descent is in two parts: first, 9km of very steep roads taking you down 600m in altitude as far as the Col du Lautaret (2057m); second, a 27km stretch with a 700m descent in altitude. As you go down the broad Guisane Valley road, you get the chance to take a good look at all the villages that make up the greater ski area of Serre-Chevalier.
Route South / North
↗ 1233m ↘ 1383m
From Briançon, reaching the Col du Galibier (2642m) involves tackling a shift in altitude of over 1200m across 35km of cycling. And don’t forget, you get two passes for the price of one here! Heading out from Briançon, you can take a good look at all the Guisane Valley villages that together make up the ski area of Serre-Chevalier before you reach the Col du Lautaret (2057m). Then the really serious climb begins, involving a 600m shift in altitude across 9km. It’s worth the effort. Finally, enjoy the reward of a fabulous 18km descent to the aptly-named resort of Valloire-Galibier.
- Valloire-Galibier: a big resort in the Maurienne and a very beautiful, extended high-altitude village, made up of 17 hamlets spread out along the road to the Col du Galibier, gateway to the Southern French Alps.
- Briançon: the highest fortified town in Europe, designated a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire for its rich heritage and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Vauban fortifications. In addition, the mountain resort of Serre-Chevalier 1200 forms part of its territory, the lowest portion of the ski area of Serre-Chevalier, joined to the rest of the domain by cable-car.
- The Vauban fortifications: Briançon’s historic walls, bridge into town and surrounding four forts are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to works designed by Vauban, Louis XIV’s brilliant military architect.
- Serre Chevalier: the mountain resort for the Guisane Valley, stretching between the Col du Lautaret and Briançon and across four communes (parishes). The highest is Le Monêtier-les-Bains, which doubles as a thermal spa resort. The others are La Salle-les-Alpes – Villeneuve, Saint-Chaffrey – Chantemerle, and, of course, Briançon Serre Chevalier 1200.
- The Jardin Alpin du Lautaret: this garden offers a magnificent walk in a truly unique setting, amidst Alpine botanical treasures.