An old military road to Col de la Buffee in the Alps
Col de Buffère is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.431m (7,975ft) above the sea level, located in the Hautes-Alpes department of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, in France.
This pass is steeped in history. The road to the summit was constructed between 1902 and 1907, primarily for military purposes. At its peak, you can find remnants of military constructions from World War II, which were part of the Ouvrage Col de Buffere of the famed Maginot Line. Although the ouvrage had one main combat block, plans for additional blocks either never materialized or were left incomplete.
The Journey: Navigating Piste du Col de La Buffere
The pathway leading up to Col de la Buffère is named Piste du Col de La Buffere. Although this route offers some of the most picturesque views of the Alps, it presents a challenging terrain. The road is entirely unpaved, with stretches of gravel and rock. The ascent is notably steep, with certain ramps boasting a maximum gradient of 20%. Starting from the paved D234T, this climb spans 5.1 km (3.16 miles), with an elevation gain of 314 meters, averaging a gradient of 6.15%. It's recommended to use a 4x4 vehicle given the rugged terrain and the road's steepness. Additionally, due to its altitude and the Alpine conditions, this route remains impassable from late October through to late June or early July.
Accessibility Insights: Seasonal Restrictions and Road Closures
While the beginning of the route is accessible, the last portion leading to the summit is barred to private vehicles. This ensures the preservation of this historic site and the safety of its visitors. The road's narrowness, combined with precarious drop-offs, makes this regulation essential.
Attractions and Views: Embracing the Alpine Beauty
Located in the heart of the Écrins national park in southeastern France, Col de la Buffère offers unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. Apart from the breathtaking vistas, the remnants of the military fortifications provide an insightful glimpse into the region's past.
Pic: Clément Poulain