Val Thorens-Orelle Road

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling the Wild Road from Val Thorens to Orelle

Set high in the Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in France, the high mountain road from Val Thorens to Orelle is one of the highest roads of Europe, climbing up to 3.007m (9,865ft) above the sea level.

Set high in the Massif de la Vanoise range, the road to the summit is totally unpaved. It’s a ski-lift service road running north-south from Val Thorens ski resort, the highest ski resort in Europe, at 2.300m altitude above the sea level, to the village of Orelle. The infamous Val Thorens-Orelle road is 28.3 km (17.58 miles) long and features 55 hairpin turns. The hairpins are signed and numbered. It’s a brutally tough drive with panoramic views of a thousand summits of France, Switzerland and Italy. The road climbs up to:
Col de la Montée du Fond, at 3.007m (9,865ft) above the sea level
Col de Rosael, at 2.993m (9,819ft) above the sea level
Col de Caron, at 2.996m (9,829ft) above the sea level

Tucked away on the southeastern part of the country, within the Tarentaise Valley, it is one of the highest mountain roads drivable in Europe. 4x4 vehicles only. The route roughly follows the line of the chairlift, passing under it now and then. The average gradient is 10.4% but it hits about 17-18% through some of the corners. It is usually drivable only in July and August. The road has no protections, painted lines or security guardrails, and features spectacular cliffs and precipices.
Road suggested by: Pim van Dongen
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