Best time to visit France

Col du Galibier in France

An iconic climb that inspires cyclists and drivers

Best time: late May–late October

Col du Galibier
Col du Galibier
Col du Galibier
Col du Galibier

Col du Galibier is a mountain pass set in the Dauphiné Alps, between Savoie and Hautes-Alpes departments of southern France. It connects St Michel de Maurienne in the north with Briançon in the south. With a considerable elevation of 2,645 m (8,678 ft) above the sea level, it is known as one of the highest and most spectacular mountain passes of French Alps featuring the views of glaciers, beautiful snow-capped peaks, and alpine meadows during ascent and descent. The pass bears the name of a nearby mountain peak of Le Grand Galibier, 3,228 m (10,591 ft) towering over the pass.

The road to Col du Galibier is asphalted and called D902 road officially. The first road over the pass was a mule track, improved and widened for military purposes in 1879. The road is 24.5 km long, 16 km is the northern part, 8.5 kilometers is the southern part. The road construction took place in 1911. Since then, the road often serves as the highest point of the Tour de France cycling competition, which makes it a legendary cycling destination. The south entrance to the tunnel through the pass features a monument to Henri Desgranges, the founder of Tour de France in 1903. The pass is also crossed during La Marmotte, a 1-day cyclosportive event that covers Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier and Alpe d'Huez.

Being part of the scenic Route des Grandes Alpes, it attracts many tourists, hikers, and backpackers. In the winter the road often becomes impassable due to snow. Closures occur regularly from late October until late May. When reaching the top of Col du Galibier, visitors can stop and take a short walk to a scenic viewpoint with a fantastic panoramic view of surrounding legendary mountains: Meije, Grand Galibier and Mont Blanc.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Col du Galibier in France?

Col du Galibier can be visited from late May to late October. During this time, the pass is accessible and ideal for hiking and cycling activities. Late May and early June offer a breathtaking view of the snow-covered peaks. The summer months provide good weather, smooth and safe roads for travelers to enjoy their visit. Show more

Where is Col du Galibier located in France?

Situated within the Dauphiné Alps, the Col du Galibier connects the Savoie and Hautes-Alpes departments of southern France. It is a part of the Route des Grandes Alpes that offers tourists, hikers, and backpackers an opportunity to experience the stunning beauty of the French Alps. Show more

What is the altitude of Col du Galibier?

At 2,645 meters (8,678 feet) above sea level, the Col du Galibier is one of the highest passes in the French Alps. Tourists will love the panoramic view of the surrounding legendary mountains, including Meije, Grand Galibier, and Mont Blanc. Visitors can take a short walk to a scenic viewpoint or stop by a café to savor local delicacies while taking in the breathtaking views. Show more

What is the history behind the road construction to Col du Galibier?

Originally, Col du Galibier was a mule track before being improved for military purposes in 1879. It wasn't until 1911 that construction on the road began, and it took three years to complete. Given the challenging terrain and elevation, the road's construction was an engineering accomplishment. Since then, it has become an iconic route, with Col du Galibier serving as the highest point of the Tour de France cycling competition, cementing it as a legendary cycling destination. Show more

What other popular cycling events take place at Col du Galibier besides Tour de France and La Marmotte?

Alongside the well-known Tour de France and La Marmotte, there are other popular cycling events taking place at Col du Galibier. The TIME Megève Mont-Blanc, for instance, takes cyclists through the stunning French Alps landscapes and legendary climbs. The Etape du Tour, which is an amateur cycling event, takes place over a stage of the Tour de France, covering significant climbs in the French Alps, including the Col du Galibier. Show more

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