A Guide to Cycling the Grand Colombier Climb
Cycling The Grand Colombier – the Jura’s grand peak
The Grand Colombier looms large over Lac de Bourget. From the shore of the lake, you can see the mountain imposing itself upon the landscape. Surprisingly this climb is a relatively recent addition to the Tour de France, having made its first appearance in the 2012 edition. There are several approaches to choose when cycling the Grand Colombier climb. We have chosen to map the route from the Culoz approach and then descend down towards Anglefort. You of course can choose to do this climb in the opposite direction. You will hit some steep gradients on either approach – be mindful of this on the descent too which can be quite tricky.
Plan to ride the Grand Colombier climb on Car free days
On select Saturdays between June to September the climb of Grand Colombier via Culoz is closed to car traffic. This provides you with a fantastic opportunity to experience the climb on closed roads. Generally, the road is closed from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Group rides are organised at the Maison du Velo centre which is run by the l’Ain department Tourism Office. The summit also normally sees the operation of a feed station as well. If you happen to be in the area during one of these days it is definitely an opportunity to take advantage of.
Grand Colombier – Culoz approach
The climb of the Grand Colombier from Culoz is the approach which is used by the Tour de France. The climb is long at just under 18km in length and whilst the average gradient may only 7% don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. There are numerous sections of this climb that are extremely steep and you will pedalling double-digit gradients repeatedly. A set of switchbacks winds its way along the mountain ridge road and from here you have stunning views of Culoz, the village where you began climbing from. It’s always amazing to see just how quickly you’ve gained so much elevation. Thankfully the last few kilometres see some respite in the average gradient.
Grand Colombier – Anglefort approach
The approach from Anglefort is shorter in length than Culoz. Of course, this means the average gradient is that little bit steeper at 8%. No doubt about it if you want to ride the Grand Colombier climb from this side you will need a strong pair of climbing legs and some grit. You may feel like you are pedalling squares once you hit the kilometre averaging over 16%!
Cycle around Lac de Bourget
We have included a lap of Lac de Bourget to complete this cycling route. Whilst you could easily just return directly to Aix-les-Bains, a pleasant spin around the lake itself seems fitting for a ride as big as this one. If you are here on a hot summers day you may even decide to cool off for a swim.
- Stunning views back across to Lac de Bourget.
- The tight switchbacks from the Culoz approach.
- This route takes on a full lap of Lac de Bourget. From the shoreline you will get a fantastic view of the peak of Grand Colombier.
Food and water
There are several options for resupply of food and water along this route. These include:
- Aix les Bains
- Le Bourget-de-Lac
Suggested cycling route
Distance: 109km / 67.7mi
Start elevation: 244m / 800ft
Max elevation: 1,499m / 4,917ft
Metres climbed: 2,386m / 7,828ft
Metres descended: 2,386m / 7,828ft
Categorised climbs: 2
Climb statistics and gradient profile
Grand Colombier – Culoz
Length: 18.2km / 11.3mi
Average gradient: 7.3%
Start point: Culoz
Elevation at top: 1499m / 4917ft
Grand Colombier – Anglefort
Length: 15.1km / 9.5mi
Average gradient: 8.1%
Start point: Anglefort
Elevation at top: 1499m / 4917ft