This route is an absolute gem. It’s an out and back, it’s not super difficult and hasn’t got a famous pedigree.
But it is magical.
You ride through the Vénéon valley, right into the heart of the Écrins National Park. The road clings on to the valley side, surrounded on both sides by towering beasts of mountains. Locals call it the road to the end of the world, and it’s easy to see why.
Though the ride isn’t too tricky overall, watch out for the section just before Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans, where hairpins take you up a towering wall of rock.
Looking for a return GPX route? Click here. For reference, you’re looking at roughly: distance 65 km and elevation gain 1,520 m.
All metrics in this article are approximate.
The 10km or so after Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans offers easy riding in surroundings that are off-the-scale beautiful. If you like unspoilt mountains, old villages and feeling far away from the rest of the world, don’t miss it!
1. Bourg d’Oisans to Venosc: 0-13 km
The first five kilometres are entirely flat as you head southeast out of Bourg d’Oisans, along the valley road. As you turn off into the Vénéon valley, you soon come across the gushing milky blue Vénéon river to your right. The road starts to rise very gradually, and it’s a generally gentle climb up to Venosc.
Venosc is a nice rustic old mountain village and has some shops and restaurants if you fancy a break. It’s also connected by cable car to Les 2 Alpes.
2. Venosc to Saint-Christophe-en-Oisans: 13-22 km
This is where the going gets a bit tougher: the 9km stretch between Venosc and Saint-Christophe has an average gradient of 7.5%.
After the bridge in Venosc, there’s a 10% section through the forest for 3km. You get a short breather when you come out of the forest, cross the dam, and the valley opens up. You might get a glimpse of whitewater rafts speeding down the turbulent river, but soon your attention will be back on the road: rearing up on your left you can’t fail to notice a somewhat daunting wall of rock.
Eight hairpins wind their way up, and it’s a leg burner to the top. After the sixth hairpin, you get your first glimpse of the Saint-Christophe church and its fantastic mountain backdrop. Two final bends later and you’re at the top, ready to drop! Don’t worry, it’s worth the effort to experience the road to come.
3. Saint Christophe to La Bérarde: 22-32.5km
This is one of our favourite stretches of tarmac in the world. The road is narrow and quiet with easy gradients. Yet you are surrounded on both sides by peaks that soar up to 4,000m. Mini waterfalls cascade down to the road (and in some cases underneath it), and cows graze. There is an indescribable air of peace and tranquillity. It’s a great ride.
Bourg d’Oisans is obviously well equipped. Other options include:
We did this ride from our base at Chalet Ribot, at bend 12 of Alpe d’Huez, just above Bourg d’Oisans. It was perfect for this ride.
Not right for you?
Take a look at the accommodation suggestions in our ultimate guide to the Alps: Alpe d’Huez and surrounds.
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