Col de Vars

Col de Vars, a steep (10%) paved road in the Alps

Col de Vars is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.108m (6,916ft) above the sea level, located between the departments of Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in France. The pass is traversed by the scenic Route des Grandes Alpes.

Nestled in the Alps, the curvy road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called D902. The pass is 13.0 km (8.07 miles) long, running north-south from Vars (in the Hautes-Alpes department) to Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye (in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department). It’s quite a scenic drive, with various small French towns and varying landscape.

The pass has been featured many times in the Tour de France race. It’s one of the great cols of the Alps. The road to the summit is usually closed from November to April.  It’s a beautiful winding route, although there is a little bit of traffic as it is part of the Grandes Route des Alpes and one of the only roads crossing this section of the Alps.
The road to the summit is steep, hitting a maximum gradient of 12% through some of the ramps. It gets a decent amount of traffic in summer. The pass connects the Ubaye Valley with the Queyras valley and Embrun. The pass is in near the center of a whole series of high paved passes, that spend a majority of their asphalt above treeline. This pass usually precedes or follows the climb of the Izoard in most itineraries.

There are 3 possible routes to reach the summit. Starting from Les Gleizolles, the ascent is 14.1 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 801 meters. The average percentage is 5.7 %. Starting from Guillestre, the ascent is 19.4 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.111 meters. The average percentage is 5.7 %. And starting from Guillestre, the ascent is 19.08 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.030 meters. The average percentage is 5.4 %.

 

 

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