A Guide to Cycling – Col des Montets

Bike leaning against an indicator sign for the Col des Montets

Col des Montets Climb Statistics

Gradient profile Col des Montets from Chamonix

Col des Montets Southern Approach

Length: 11.8km / 7.3mi

Average gradient: 3.6%

Start point: 1,037m / 3,402ft

Elevation at top: 1461m / 4,793ft

Category: Category

Nearest town: Chamonix

Facilities at top: Toilets, Picnic Tables

When to ride: March to October

Road condition: Good

Nearest climb: Lac d’Emosson

Number of approaches: 2

Through road at top: Yes


Gradient profile Col des Montets from Le Chatelard

Col des Montets Northern Approach

Length: 7.7km / 4.1mi

Average gradient: 4.8%

Start point: 1,110m / 3,641ft

Elevation at top: 1461m / 4,793ft

Category: Category

Nearest town: Le Châtelard

Facilities at top: Toilets, Picnic Tables

When to ride: March to October

Road condition: Good

Nearest climb: Lac d’Emosson

Number of approaches: 2

Through road at top: Yes


Col des Montets cycling route

Total Ride distance: 40km / 24.8mi

Elevation gain: 857m / 2,812ft

The climb of the Col des Montets is included as part of an out and back cycling route from the centre of Chamonix. Of course, you can easily adjust this to begin from any of the villages along the Chamonix Valley. We have also designed the route so you will ascend both approaches of the climb. If you feel like a shorter ride you can simply return back to Chamonix once you reached the summit of the Col des Montets from the southern approach.

Col des Montets – Southern Approach

As you depart Chamonix you will immediately begin the climb of the Col des Montets. Whilst almost 12kms in length the climb is relatively gentle which means you can get into a good rhythm without having to strain too hard. There are spectacular views along the Chamonix Valley with high peaks and glaciers. A short way into the climb you will pass through an avalanche tunnel which is separated from traffic – yes, cyclists here get their own tunnel! As you make your way up towards the summit you will also see signposts for Mountain bike and hiking trails on either side of the road which gives an indication of the other outdoor pursuits available in this area. Before you know it the summit is in reach. Now you can enjoy the descent all the way down to the French/Swiss border.

Col des Montets – Northern Approach

This side of the mountain pass is the shorter of the two and has a slightly steeper gradient of just under 5% for its 7.7kms. The climb begins in the small village of Le Châtelard. If you need to you can refill your water bottles here before embarking on the ride back to Chamonix. The road surface here is in great condition and given the relatively shallow gradients, you will make good progress to reach the summit once more. Then you have an enjoyable long descent back to where you started the ride in Chamonix. Sure to bring a smile to your face.

Two cyclists at the summit of the Col des Montets

Above: The Summit of the Col des Montets, 1461m.

Road cycling along Chamonix Valley

The view from the summit of the Col des Montets. The high peaks of the Mont Blanc range are clearly visible in the distance.

Cyclist approaching the summit of the Col des Montets. Views of the Alps in the distance

Departing the town of Chamonix, the climb of the Col des Montets begins with a nice gentle gradient.

Cycling Climbs near the Col des Montets

There are a number of other climbs which you could choose to include on this route if you are looking to add on some extra distance and climbing. These are listed below. Click on the ride links to explore the climbs in greater detail.

Barrage d'Emosson.jpg

Lac d’Emosson

The base of the climb of Lac d’Emosson is situated in the small village of Gietroz. This is just a few kilometers from the village of Le Châtelard which is the starting point of the northern approach of the Col des Montets, and as such is conveniently located if you want to add an extra climb on the route. The climb of Lac d’Emosson is noticeably harder than that of the Col des Montets and has an average gradient of 8.6% for the 10.7km climb. In total this climb will add on 30kms / 21mi and an extra 916m / 3,005ft of elevation to your ride.

Ivan Babovic, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Col de la Forclaz summit sign

Col de la Forclaz – Southern Approach

The southern approach of the Col de la Forclaz climb begins at the French/Swiss border in the Trient valley. To include this on your ride you simply keep travelling straight on the road once you have descended the northern approach of the Col des Montets. The Col de la Forclaz climb is 7kms long and has an average gradient of 6.3% In total this climb will add on 15km / 9.3m and 478m, 1,568ft of elevation to your ride.

Cycling in the Chamonix Valley

Unfamiliar with the cycling available in the Chamonix Valley? Check out our comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know to plan your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the Chamonix Valley with cycling climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself for your cycling holiday
  • a list of cycling hotels and lodges
  • a list of bike hire outlets
  • travel information for getting to and from the Chamonix Valley
  • non-cycling attractions and activities to discover whilst holidaying in the region