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Col de la Bonette

Ride along one of the highest roads in Europe nestled in the French Alps


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Col de la Bonette is one of the iconic mountain passes in the French Alps, featured in the Tour de France cycling race. With an elevation of 2,715 m (8,907 ft) above the sea level, Col de la Bonette is located near the border with Italy within the Mercantour National Park. It marks the border between departments of Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The road over the pass, which is ranked as seventh highest in the Alps, is open only from July to October, depending on weather conditions.

The road was built in 1961 as a part of the highway connecting Nice to Briançon. The original dirt road existed since the 1860s, but the final route by the summit of the Bonette was constructed in 1960-1961.

The climb to the Col de la Bonette is not that steep, around 8-10%. It begins quite easily but turns more challenging towards the end. The Route des Grandes Alpes crosses the scenic pass. There are two ways to reach the summit. Via a 24-km route from Jausiers with 1,589 m of elevation gain, or a 26-km route from Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée with 1,652 m of elevation gain. When on top, visitors can take a 2-km long scenic loop around the Cime de la Bonette Peak, 2,802 m (9,193 ft), which is the highest paved road in France.

The pass attracts many cyclists thanks to its exposure during Tour de France in 1962, 1964, 1993 and 2008. Cycling markers are placed at every kilometer on both sides of the mountain road, indicating height, the distance from the start, and the distance to the summit.

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