Col de Viraysse is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.746m (9,009ft) above the sea level, located in the Cottian Alps, in the southwestern part of the Alps, in southeastern France. The road to the summit is extreme. It’s terrible narrow and the drop offs are a bit intimidating. There’s only enough room for one car to go up. There is no turning around if you change you mind. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Europe.
The road to the summit, located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, is gravel. It’s an old military road, not for beginners. It’s very narrow and should be used only by experienced drivers. Along the road there are several military constructions and fortresses. The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice.
The track to the summit is impassable between September and June and includes never ending hairpin turns. It was built between 1885 and 1888. It’s extremely narrow and very steep, with sections up to 17 %. After rain, sections of road can become decidedly hazardous when fast-flowing creek crossings and slippery mud can cause road closures. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the country.
Due its unique location and the climb in elevation over thousands of feet, and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. The pass is also known as Tête de Viraysse. From the summit there are superb views of Italy, Mercantour and Ubaye valley.
The road continues as a walking path to the Fort de Viraysse, a fortification complex at an elevation of 2,772 metres (9,094 ft) above the sea level, to defend France against invasion from Italy. The position was one of the highest military posts in France and the only one in the Alps with a clear view of Italy.
Pic: Ole Christian Paasche