The Col De La Cayolle, An Undiscovered Gem


The Cayolle was a climb I hadn’t read much about before traveling into Barcelonnette and the Mercantour National Park. It is nestled in amongst some of the greats, The Bonnette and The Allos, and sits at 7361ft with a winding 29km to the summit from the village of Barcelonnette. It is a beautiful ride. The road surfaces were smooth and hadn’t suffered too much in the winter, but most enjoyable of all was the complete lack of traffic. It is too narrow for the campers and maybe a little too bendy for the motorbikes. The lower slopes are carved out of the gorge and hug the river in the shade in the opening KMs (the gradient fluctuates between 4-5% with one section touching 8-9%). It is a great introduction to help find your climbing legs, and really only started to test in the last 5km when it starts to average between 7-8%. The climb was last in the Tour on stage 9 of the 1973 edition, when it was positioned as a Cat 2 climb and was crested first by Vincente Lopez Carill riding for KAS. So no name marking on the road. It felt like I had found someones secret training ride. Imagine having this on your doorstep for your hill repeats.

Categories: Routes

  1. Spent a few days in Barcelonette last year and rode Col de la Cayolle, then Col des Champs and home via Col d’Allos one day. Fantastic ride, and you’re right, the Cayolle is a beautiful climb.

    Loved it.

  2. I rode the Col de la Cayolle last month with Les Veloistes Gentils as part of our ride from Geneva to Antibes. I’d read a couple of reports that had said it was pretty, but none of them did it justice – it’s a real beauty!

    We started up in Pra Loup, so kicked off the day with a rapid 7km descent before picking up the road out of Barcelonette (exactly at the point of the road sign picture above I think). The kilometres through the gorge were the perfect way to start the day – not tough and utterly stunning.

    Not only is it a nice climb, but the run down the other side to Guillaumes is great fun too.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>