Places of Interest nearby
Location address: France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Jausiers
Number of texts: 5
Col de Bonette is situated within the Mercantour National Park on the border of the departments of Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The road over the col is the seventh highest paved road in the Alps. A signpost at the foot of the climb makes the claim “Col de la Bonette - Restefond, 2802 m above sea level, highest road in Europe”. This claim is incorrect for various reasons. The actual Col de la Bonette rises to 2,715 m, but there are three Alpine road passes whose altitudes are higher: Col de l’Iseran (2,770 m (9,090 ft)), Stelvio Pass (2,757 m (9,045 ft)) and Col Agnel (2,744 m (9,003 ft)). There is also the road to Veleta (Sierra Nevada), Spain (near Granada) which reaches 3,392 m (11,129 ft) but it is not a through road. The road around the Cime de la Bonette reaches an altitude of 2,802 m (9,193 ft), but this is not a “pass”, but merely a scenic loop. It is, however, the highest asphalted road in France and is the highest through road in Europe.
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. The raw power of the Vens waterfall is a landmark well worth taking a moment to draw breath for as it thunders its way down the side of the mountain. 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.
Start: Saint Étienne de Tinée
Elevation gain: 1,652m
Average gradient: 6.4%
Max gradient: 15%
Col de la Bonette (el. 2,715 metres (8,907 ft)) is a high mountain pass in the French Alps, near the border with Italy. It is situated within the Mercantour National Park on the border of the departments of Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The road over the col is the seventh highest paved road in the Alps.