40 hairpin turns to Col de Braus in the Alpes Maritimes

Col de Braus is a mountain pass at an elevation of 1,002m (3,287ft) above sea level, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, in France. It’s one of the most famous hairpinned roads in the world.

Col de Braus

Where is Col de Braus?

The pass is located in the Alpes-Maritimes department, in the southeastern part of the country. Set high in the Alpes Maritimes, the pass sits over the major ridge that separates the Nice area from the Menton area drainage.

How long is Col de Braus?

The road to the legendary summit is totally paved. It’s called D2204. The pass is 21.5 km (13.35 miles) long, running from Sospel to L'Escarène. This col is the main gate to Col de Turini, the famous stage of the Monte Carlo Rally, which is held on the tight road with its many hairpin turns. The road is famous because there are several walled switchbacks neatly stacked up on one another, held in place by walls that could double as medieval fortifications.

Is the road to Col de Braus challenging?

The road to the summit is not easy. It has a good surface, but around 40 beautifully engineered stacked hairpins with some amazing views will test your driving skills. The road offers an exciting blend of hairpins and faster sweeping bends on the way. But you need to stay focused because there are some very long drops off the side which will not be good for your health if you drive recklessly. The narrow road also demands that you keep your wits about you to avoid oncoming traffic.

How long does it take to drive the road to Col de Braus?

To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 35 and 45 minutes. Nearing the top is a little road that turns up and left and can be a “long-cut to Col de Turini via Col de l’Able. As enjoyable as the road is though, it is well worth pulling into one of the numerous lookouts to take in the spectacular views of the French countryside the high road allows. When you reach the summit, you might want to take a moment to give the brakes a break because the road continues its sinuous path down the mountain. Looking back on the dramatic switchbacks you’ve just climbed is the best feeling ever! At the top of Col de Braus, there is a monument to René Vietto – one of the greatest French riders to never win the Tour.

Is Col de Braus steep?

The pass has been featured in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia bicycle races. Starting from L' Escarène, the ascent is 10.3 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 662 meters. The average percentage is 6.4%. And starting from Sospel, the ascent is 11.2 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 639 meters. The average percentage is 5.7%. The climb is never too steep (it hits a 12.3% maximum gradient through some of the ramps), but it’s a beautiful climb with nice contoured hairpins.