Col de la Bonette

Today Mike Cotty brings you the Col de la Bonette. At just over 2,800m it's one of the true monsters of the French Alps. The climb is awe inspiring, beautiful and tough. This one is well worth a read.

Words and Images - Mike Cotty and the Col Collective

Okay, so the Col de la Bonette may not be the highest road in Europe as it often proclaims but scaling its way up 2,802 metres with a cheeky little 2 kilometre loop around the top just to out trump some of its competition will always make it the stuff of legend.

From Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée you face a long 25.8km ascent, immediately giving you the sense that you’re going on a real journey as you venture deep into the Mercantour National Park.

As you climb higher the sheer peacefulness that the Bonette instils often reminds you of how simple life can be, until it takes on an eerie (almost surreal) twist as you pass through the now derelict Camp des Fourches, once home to a battalion of Alpine troops.

It’s not often that you get both character and history melded together in such a beautiful way to create a climb that no matter how long it takes, or how much it hurts, by the summit you can’t help but feel totally alive once more.

Key Statistics

  • Length of climb - 25.8km
  • Start elevation - 1,150m
  • Summit elevation - 2,802m
  • Elevation gain- 1,652m
  • Gradient (avg)- 6.4%
  • Gradient (max)- 15.0% at 11.5km and 25.9km
  • Gearing Suggestion 34x28 (minimum)

For the full story, detailed maps or to ask a question about this epic climb visit The Col Collective

We've teamed up with awesome team at 'The Col Collective' to bring you insights into the best riding in the world.

Run by Mike Cotty, The Col Collective are all about providing cyclists with the inspiration, education and support needed to reach the summit of the greatest mountain passes in the world. With amazing video overviews, maps, hints and a Q&A forum, The Col Collective should be your first stop when preparing for your European cycling trip!