• Distance 27 km
  • Elevation gain 1220m
  • Difficulty
  • Epic rating

The Cormet de Roselend is a demanding, but spectacularly beautiful, climb. It’s 20 km to the summit, with 1,154 m of elevation gain and an average 6% gradient. This is our favourite ride from Bourg Saint Maurice.

The downside of climbing the Cormet de Roselend from the south is that it doesn’t pass the incredible Lac de Roselend. But not to worry, you can still tack it on; it’s worth the 7km descent to the lake (and the extra ascent on your way back) just to see it.

Looking for a return GPX route? Click here. For reference, you’re looking at roughly: distance 53 km and elevation gain 1,660 m.

All metrics in this article are approximate.

Cormet De Roselend highlights

Passing from the narrow steep-sided valley into the open green and verdant pastures at Cret Bettex. The green bowl surrounded by vertical mountains is idyllic, and the gradient slackens off for a few kilometres, so you’ve even got more energy to enjoy it.

We recommend dropping down the other side of Le Cormet de Roselend summit, towards Beaufort, to take in the turquoise waters of the Lac de Roselend. You’re letting yourself in for a tough set of hairpins back up to the summit, but the Lac Roselend is something you shouldn’t miss.

Route notes

1. Bourg Saint Maurice to Cret Bettex: 0-11 km

The climb starts from the centre of Bourg Saint Maurice. You’re soon steadily climbing up through a narrow, forested, steep-sided valley. It’s the Vallée des Chapieux, and you’re accompanied for much of your journey by the white water of the Torrent des Glaciers.

At around 7km the road ramps up to an average 8% gradient for 3km through a series of ten tight hairpins.  You come over a crest and into Cret Bettex. It’s here you leave the narrow tree-covered valley and come into stunning, wide green pastures.

You get a brief respite as the gradient eases up for a few kilometres.

2. Cret Bettex to summit: 11-20 km

You see the L’Aiguille des Glaciers sign and the gradient rises again. It’s quickly back to 8% as you take on straight runs and climb hairpins. The pain might be lessened by the scenery: green meadows with 360° views and the Aiguille des Glaciers on your left. There can be some headwind on the final couple of kilometres, so save something for the final push.

Don’t miss the cheese and sausage stall at the top! They also sell drinks… but in all seriousness, the region’s Beaufort gruyère is amazing!

3. Summit to Chapelle de Roselend (and return to Bourg Saint Maurice): 20-27km

The best bit about riding Col du Cormet de Roselend from the north (the Beaufort side) is cycling around the Lac du Roselend. So we decided to drop down from the summit and take a look. We’re glad we did as it’s a stunner of a turquoise mountain lake. However, be prepared for the steep hairpins down to/back up to the summit. They’re tough but also beautiful in their own right: you pass under amazing creamy coloured overhangs and through narrow outcrops.

Take care on the return to Bourg Saint Maurice. It’s a fast one, and the hairpins make it technical in places. Don’t be like Johan Bruyneel and fall off the mountain!

Cormet De Roselend restaurants and cafés

Bourg Saint Maurice: stock up before you leave. There are supermarkets on the main road and several good bakeries.

Cormet de Roselend: assuming the cheese stall at the summit is open you should be able to refuel with drinks and basic food there too.

Lac and Barrage de Roselend restaurants: there are a couple of small, rustic cafés/restaurants near the lake: Etoile des Neiges, Bar des Lanches and Chalet de Roselend for example. Check opening times if you’re going to rely on them.

Accommodation

We stayed at The Peak, in the ski station of Sainte Foy Tarentaise. The accommodation and service were excellent. From Sainte Foy Tarentaise it’s 20km down the valley into central Bourg Saint Maurice, from where you pick up the road to Le Cormet de Roselend.

Want to see some alternative options?

Take a look at more of our accommodation suggestions in our ultimate guide to the Northern French Alps: Col d’Iseran region.

If you want something closer and don’t mind fewer creature comforts, you could try Lac de Roselend camping or the Chalet de Roselend.

Tips

  • The Roselend is part of the Route des Grandes Alpes that links Lake Geneva with the Mediterranean. This means it gets a decent amount of traffic in summer.
  • There may be a bit of snow on the mountain, even in the middle of summer. The road usually stays clear though.
  • The Cormet de Roselend has been crossed ten times during the Tour de France, six times from Beaufort and four times from Bourg St Maurice.
  • The Chapelle de Roselend is on the shore of the lake and is very photogenic. It’s a copy of the building that was submerged under the dam waters and is dedicated to St. Magdalene.
  • If you cycle further around the lake, you come to the Roselend barrage that creates the 3km² Lac Roselend. The dam is an impressive sight, at 150m tall and over 800m long.
  • It’s always worth checking the weather before setting out: here you’ll find the meteo Cormet de Roselend and some nearby webcams
  • Read our tips for cycling in the Alps before you set out.

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a road cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com to help make it easy for road cyclists to explore new places by bike.

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