Col du Mont-Cenis

Col du Mont-Cenis, a hors-catégorie climb in France

Col du Mont-Cenis (Colle del Moncenisio) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.094m (6,870ft) above the sea level, located in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the Alps.

The road to the summit is paved in good conditions. It’s called D1006. The pass connects Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis in France in the northwest with Susa in Italy in the southeast. Col du Mont-Cenis was the border between France in Italy until 1947 Treaty of Paris, when it passed completely to France.
The pass forms the limit between the Cottian and Graian Alps. The climb has been featured several times in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia bicycle races. There are 2 ways to get the summit. Starting from Lanslebourg, the ascent is 9.84 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 682 meters. The average percentage is 6.9 %. The climb includes a famous sequence of five hairpins. The surface of this wide road is very regular, with a slope constant of 7%. The maximum gradient is 12.8%. And starting from Susa, the ascent is 30.51 km long, and the elevation gain is 1.581 meters. The average percentage is 5.2 %. The maximum gradient is 10.9%.

Is Col du Mont-Cenis open?

The road over the pass is seasonally closed. On the French north side, the pass is open between 15 May and 31 October. On the Italian south side, it is open the year round.

The road over Col du Mont-Cenis was built in 1810

This is a remarkable road trip. Remember to bring your camera. Make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way. The area is pretty busy on weekends with locals and tourists. Some historians believe this pass was used by Hannibal when he made his famous elephant Alps crossing. It is very nice up around the lake and there are many rough-stuff routes to explore for those with a mountain bike. People have been crossing the Col du Mont Cenis for thousands of years. Both Constantine the 1st and Charlemagne crossed the Pass with armies. It was the most frequently used passage between Italy and France in the middle ages. When the French ports were blockaded by the British after the battle of the Nile, Napolean ordered an improved road built over the pass. Finished in 1810, it allowed carts and carriages to be able to make the crossing.

 

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NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.