Col du Petit
Saint Bernard

 

 

 

March 7th 2013

 

 

 

 

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France - Italy

Petit Saint Bernard Pass

Col du Petit St. Bernard

period opened

altitude

from - to

distance

GPS - coordinates

May - October

2,188m

Les Lances Pre - Saint Didier

57 km

N 45°40´50”    E 006°53´03”

7,178ft

35.4mls

detailed pass road map  detailed pass road map

picture collection  picture collection

 

Googlemaps pass road map  Google Maps map

Panorama view of Col du Petit Saint Bernard

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The Little Saint Bernard Pass, or in French language Col du Petit Saint Bernard, connects the Aosta valley in Italy with France and the Savoy region. At the upper end of the Aosta valley, south of the mighty Mont Blanc, there are only three ways to leave the Aosta valley. Either through the Mont Blanc toll tunnel, turn to the left across the Little Saint Bernard pass, or ride back the same way that you came, south towards Aosta and Turino.

Normally, the pass is open depending on snow conditions already in May, but pretty sure at Pentecost, since the local tourist industry won’t miss the motorcycle tourism, especially at Pentecost. We cross the pass coming from the Northeast out of the Aosta Valley from the small town of Pre Saint Didier. The road here is well developed and offers some serpentines (ital. tornanti) and tunnels that lead up to the wooded slopes ski resort of La Thuile.

La Thuile itself lies in a valley and is accessible throughout the year. In the low season the place seems deserted. The pass road leaves the place in a wide right turn to the north and crosses pastures further upward. Here, the road surface is a bit worse and narrow. The pass road continues climbing up in a wild curve orchestra and allows, up to above the tree line, always a view down to La Thuile and the Aosta Valley in the background.

About 1 mile before you reach the pass summit, there are some abandoned buildings, just as you will find them on the pass summit. Since the reunification of Europe, the border station is relying on the pass, and the building barricaded. Only a small restaurant on the Italian side is still up and runing and offers local specialties. We cross the plateau and about 3,000ft behind the border on the French side we find a hotel on the right side, which was at this time of the year (Pentecost 2006) closed.

Two mighty monuments line the route just before the road leaves the plateau. One shows the Holy St. Bernhard with the Shepherd's in oversize,  the other commemorats the victims of the war. Even this secluded area was not spared by the war. Shortly thereafter (about 4mls) we reach a further ski resort, La Rosiere. From here, the road is very wide and well-developed and brings us rapidly down to Bourg Saint Maurice. This  place allows entry to the South to the Col d' Iseran or North to the  Cormet de Roselend.

Recommended regional links about Petit Saint Bernard pass