Le Bourg-d'Oisans, France

Alpe d'Huez
Col du Galibier (Villar-d'Arène)
Col du Galibier (Briancon)
Col d'Izoard (Briancon)
Col du Lautaret
Col du Granon
Col de la Croix de Fer West
Col du Glandon- West
Col du Glandon
Col de la Croix de Fer North

Climb List: Le Bourg-d'Oisans, France
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Cycling Le Bourg-d'Oisans, France

Le Bourg-d’Oisans is in France’s Isère department and has been famous since 1952 when the Tour de France first featured Alpe d’Huez in the Grand Tour.  The tour has passed through Le Bourg-d'Oisans 30 times (twice in 1979 and 2013) and never skipped the venue more than one year, except when there were two year gaps from 2008-2010 and 2015-2018.  Le Bourg-d'Oisans has a population of  3,278 (2017) and is situated at 700 meters elevation.  

Within a 50 kilometer radius, there are close to 20 well known to outright famous bike climbs, including Alpe d’Huez (most famous bike climb -- PJAMM Most Famous Bike Climbs), Col du Galibier, Col D’Izoard, Col de la Croix de Fer, Gol du Glandon and Col de la Madeleine.


Cycling Alpe d'Huez - hairpin turn and yellow jersey on rock wall with cyclist riding past

Alpe d’Huez

Turn 10 after 2018 TdF Stage 12.

Cycling Alpe d'Huez, France - road signs for Alpe d-huez, bike parked in parking lot, aerial view of climb

Photo clockwise from top left:

Start; Turn 21 (first turn); Turn 1 (last turn); finish; Turn 1 (center).

Of the hundreds of climbs we have documented for this website, Alpe d’Huez needs the least introduction -- everyone has heard of this most famous of all World Climbs!  The finish is inauspicious (other than during the TdF of course), but it is the 21 well-known switchbacks and its rich TdF history that makes this “The One”!

Cycling Alpe d'Huez, France - collage of all the road signs for the switchback turns on the Alpe d'Huez climb

It’s the turns, not the finish, that makes this The Most Famous Climb in the World.

Hairpin 21 is the first hairpin on the climb and #1 is the last.  


Cycling Col du Galibier, France - roadway on Col du Galibier climb, French Alps

Col du Galibier from Briancon.

Cycling Col du Galibier, France - photo collage, road sign for Col du Lautaret, stone sign, village in french alps, John Johnson standing with bike in front of sign for Col du Galibier

Ride 33.4 kilometers gaining 1282 meters at 3.8% average grade.


Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer, North - Lac de Grand Maison and quarry

Lac de Grand Maison

Cycling Col du Glandon (Le Verney) - 22.5 kilometers gaining 1365 meters at 5% average grade.

Cycling Col du Glandon, France - road signs for Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer

Col du Glandon has been included in the Tour de France 13 times since it was first introduced in 1947.  After its inaugural year, Glandon was not included again until 1977, and has been included sparingly thereafter (averaging about once every four years, 11 times in the 43 years between 1977 and 2020).  As of 2020, the last time Glandon had been included in the Tour was 2013.

Cycling Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer sign, PJAMM cycling, bicycle

Merckx realized his mortality on Glandon, Stage 18 1977 TdF.


Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer, North - Lac de Grand Maison and quarry

Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer from the west.

24.2 km / 1,635 m / 5.2%

This is a wonderful and scenic climb that begins just north of Lac du Verney and is not far from La Garde (the start of the Alpe d’Huez climb). There are three routes to the Col de la Croix de Fer (“Pass of the Cross”) and we have charted those in the map in the menu bar at the bottom of this page. The northern approach to this pass is by far the most difficult of the three.

Climbing Col de la Croix de Fer, North by bike - Iron Cross at summit

The Pass of the Cross has been featured in the Tour de France 19 times between 1947 and 2017.


Cycling Col du Madeleiene - roadway and green fields with mountains in background

Col de Madeleine south (La Chambre)

Ride 18.8 kilometers gaining 1477 meters at 7.9% average grade.

After taking off 2019, Col de Madeleine was again featured in the Tour de France -- Stage 17 September 16, 2020.  This was the 27th time this amazing bike climb has been featured in the TdF since 1969 when the pass was first included in this Grand Tour.

Image: Tour de France Stage 17.

A tale of two routes -- the southern approach of Col de Madeleine is very strenuous and a Top 100 World Climb, while the northern route is less difficult but extraordinarily beautiful. Although each is a little more of one than the other, both climbs are considered challenging and beautiful.  If one finds themselves in the French Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Region and certainly in the Savoie Department of eastern France, this is simply a must-do set of climbs.  

Cycling Col de Madeleine south (La Chambre), France - photo collage, John Johnson stands with bike in front of stone sign for La Madeleine, road signs for Gendarmerie, St. Francios, Col de la Madeleine, small french alps town, french alps hillsides

Col de Madeleine is one of the many exceptional HC climbs in the Saint Jean-de-Maurienne area (in our opinion one of the greatest climbing areas in the world -- Col du Galibier, Col du Télégraphe, Col de L’Iseran, Col de Glandon, Alpe d’Huez).  Add that it has been featured in the Tour de France 26 times from 1969 (admittedly late on the scene) to 2018 (Stage 12 in 2018; and will be Stage 19 in 2019), and you have a true bucket list extraordinary climb!