Col de Joux Plane, one of the six major passes of the French Alps
Col de Joux Plane is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.697m (5,567ft) above the sea level, located in the Alps in Haute-Savoie, France. For cyclists, it’s renowned as one of the six major passes of the French massif, along with the Galibier, Izoard, L’Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux and the Tourmalet.
Situated on the southern end of the Chablais, the road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called D354. It’s narrow, often single carriageway, and steep, hitting a grueling 15.0% through some of the ramps. Known as one of the tougher climbs on the Tour de France, it’s a difficult climb with no respite.
The steep and sinuous pass is 23.7 km (14.72 miles) long, linking the town of Morzine to the north with Samoëns to the south. The views over the Mont-Blanc are majestic. The summit hosts a bar called Le Relais des Vallées and a parking lot. To climb the route on a sunny day in mid-summer it is important to start early, because the whole slope faces south, making the climb potentially exhausting in the heat.
A gravel road north the pass climbs up to the real pass, at 1.714m (5,623ft) above the sea level. The climb has been featured in the Tour de France cycling race. It’s is a tough climb from either side but from Samoëns is probably the toughest climb in the Haute Savoie. It is not the longest climb but it is very steep and irregular. It may not be as famous as some of its cousins to the South, like Alpe’d’Huez or the Galibier, but it is undeniably one of the toughest climbs in the Northern Alps.
There are 2 routes to reach the summit. Starting from Morzine, the ascent is 10.9 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 711 meters. The average percentage is 6.5 %. And starting from Samoens, the ascent is 11.6 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 989 meters. The average percentage is 8.5 %.