Cycling the Col de la Madeleine

Col de la Madeleine – Tour de France Pedigree

The Madeleine is a regular inclusion in the Tour de France since Eddy Merckx won in 1969. A beautiful climb and yet so unrelenting. Whichever way you look at it, the climb of the Col de la Madeleine is a beast. The route mapped out below tackles the climb from the southern approach. The start of the climb officially begins at the village of La Chambre. From here the average gradient is 7.8% for 20km/12.4mi and there really is no respite until you reach the top.

The first section of the climb sees you making your way through a wooded section of road. With no views to distract yourself with, you just need to keep plugging away at the steep gradients. Once you pass the halfway point of the climb at Le Planet, finally you’ll be out of the trees and the surrounding mountains begin to reveal themselves. The road often hits double-digit gradients which will really test out your legs. In the distance, you can see the looming hairpins which lead all the way to the summit. Keep a steady pace, and let yourself be distracted by the beautiful mountains.

Suggested cycling route

Distance: 61.3km / 38.1mi

Start elevation: 573m / 1,881ft

Max elevation: 2,000m / 6,562ft

Metres climbed: 1,760m / 5,774ft

Metres descended: 1,760m / 5,774ft

Categorised climbs: 1

Food and water

There are plenty of places to top up with food and water at the start of the climb at La Chambre.

There is a small cafe at the summit where you can resupply with food and water before taking on the descent.

Climb statistics and gradient profile

Gradient profile for Col de la Madelaine from La Chambre

Col de la Madeleine

Length: 20km / 12.4mi

Average gradient: 7.8%

Start point: La Chambre

Elevation at top: 2,000m / 6,562


  • Reaching the top is no mean feat as the Madeleine is an Hors Categorie climb.
  • You’ll ride no less than 27 hairpin bends to reach the summit – 6 more than Alpe d’Huez
  • On a clear sunny day you can take in views of Mont Blanc from the summit.

Discover our comprehensive guide to Cycling in the French Alps

Cycling the Col de la Madeleine climb is just one of many great routes you can ride in the French Alps.

If you are not familiar with cycling in the French Alps, our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the French Alps with climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself whist on your cycling holiday
  • cycling hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to and from the French Alps
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Click here to see a list of cycling routes available in the French Alps.