Col de la 




March 12th 2013





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Col de la Iseran (Col d’Iseran)

period opened


from - to


GGPS - coordinates

July - September


Val d'Isere - Bonneval-sur-Arc

32 km

N 45°25´47”    E 007°01´12”



detailed pass road map  detailed pass road map

picture collection  picture collection


Googlemaps pass road map  Google Maps map

Col d'Iseran Pass summit

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If you approach the Col d' Iseran from the north, you can plan this either over the Little Saint Bernard Pass from Italy, or across the narrow street of the Cormet de Roselend. Through the village Bourg Saint Maurice you then enter into the Val d'Isere.

The first settlers in the valley were Celtic herdsmen, named Ceutrons and in Roman times, the valley served as a passageway for the legions of Cesar. The name Val d'Isere comes undoubtedly from the Latin term "vallis", which indicates a plateau valley. But because the passage to Tignes was too dangerous, the local community members dedicated their own church in 1664 to the name  "Laval Tignes" which formes the actual name today of Val d'Isere. The church tower is still a landmark today in their village.

As you can see in the section “detailed pass road map”, there is a small cross-passage over from the pass summit of the Saint Bernard pass, which can be seen on the map as a grey line. It runs along the eastern hills of the Val d'Isere over to the Col d' Iseran and is preferable in any case a better path through the valley. Through meadows, woods and small villages the little road runs almost at the same level of altitude on a stunning route over to the pass road of the Col d' Iseran.

In the little cosy village of Saint Foy Tarentaise this little side road then reaches the pass road, that then runs very well developed up to the resort of Val d'Isere, past the reservoir Lac du Chevril and its dam.

At the end of the village the actual pass road starts up to the Col d'Iseran, slightly narrower, without trees in an alpine environment, following a high valley to win at the end to the right with a first serpentine row altitude. Many cyclists see this pass still as the ultimate challenge and worship of the Tour de France and it is not surprising that many of the amateur athletes try to climb up to the pass almost every season.

If you have left the rows of serpentines behind, you will reach at around 2,500m a very rocky plateau, which you cross until you reach the summit at 2.770m, think about it - over 9,000ft. Up here, it looks more like a desert. Gray rock, bare rock, hardly any plants.

Many have already posted in front of the pass sign and you have to queue for a photo. A small restoration, a souvenir shop, a monument and a church form the pass before heading south to the National Park Parc National de la Vanoise. If you ride down to the south, you then will reach at 1,835m altitude the ski resort Bonneval sur Arc and the end point of the pass road.

The pass road from Val d'Isere on is very straightforward and  relatively easy to ride. For the cyclists wooden panels are installed along the route which indicate the height and the distance to the peak point. Before you reach the second plateau, a gigantic view into the valley to Val d'Isere and the Lac du Chevril is accessible to the traveler.

Entry point to the Col d' Iseran is from the north the Little Saint Bernard Pass either from Italy and the Mont Blanc tunnel, the Cormet de Roselend coming from Chamonix, or the Route du Grand Alps from the south from Turino through a series of passes, where we want only to mention the Col du Mont Cenis.

Recommended regional links about Col de la Iseran