Col de L’Iséran, France 2018 🇫🇷

Date:  18th July 2018

Travelled: 127 kilometres from Les Saises to Col de L’Iseran

Visited: Route des Grandes Alps

Stayed: Col de L’Iseran car park, free. Toilet and bin.  N45.41743, E07.02994

We enjoy a quiet night at Les Saises.  We are surprised to see so many motorhomes here in the morning, the huge carpark seems full but I am prone to exaggeration.  It’s a bright and sunny morning again.  At 1650 metres Les Saises stands high on a plateau.  Not really a mountain top, but surrounded by a series of rolling hills the vista disfigured somewhat by chairlift towers that proliferate in every direction.

We annoy our Italian neighbour by starting the Hymer’s engine at 7am to make a coffee.  Why in such a huge car-park he would park less than a metre away from us at 10 pm in the evening and then proceed to have a rowdy dinner, is now his problem.  In fact I feel so good about it I let the engine run for a few minutes longer than required.  I am not even in Italy yet and they are already annoying me.

From the car-park in Les Saisies, just hills.
Winding our way down the hill from Les Saisies the first town we strike is Beaufort.  We turn onto the D925 and start the climb to Col de Pre.  Mostly a very pretty drive through forest, but again I spend most of my time dodging cyclists.

Nearly the Col (top of the pass) we rise above the forest and the view opens up. Mind you, with a 500 meter precipice on our side of the road, Pam is not looking.
We have taken this road specifically to lunch at Borge-de-Roselend. I have seen this amazing lake as a stop on ‘Our Bumbles website’ last year and it’s a highlight of the Route des Grandes Alps.  However we find the tour is passing here this afternoon and we don’t want to get caught up in that again.
Despite dodging cyclists at every bend the scenery is magic.
With the top of the Col or pass in sight, we hope we can get ahead of the tour and do some easier travelling.
Bourg-St-Maurice is something of a mad-house. The tour stage finishes here this afternoon so we do a stop at the Lidl and move on as quickly as we can.  An Australian guy who owns a house here comes over for a chat whilst we are packing the shopping away.
Coming over the crest we see a sign for Barrage de Tignes and this huge dam. So we pull over for a look.

The road atlas shows another dam or lake higher up, so we turn off and go for a drive.
It’s another steep and challenging drive through a series of avalanche tunnels.
When we spot this lake we decide to park and go for a walk.  We soon discover this resort village is Tignes.

So we walk around the lake which takes about 40 minutes.  It’s a picturesque place as you can see.
Our walk done, we drive back down to the big lake and find a picturesque parking spot for a late lunch.
From Val-d’Isere the D902 changes from a red to a yellow line on our road atlas. The road narrows rapidly as we start the long climb to the top of the pass.
We enjoy some breathtaking scenery as the Hymer grinds its way to the top. It takes around 40 minutes to negotiate the hundred hairpin bends, but finally we make to Col de L’Iséran.  At 2770 metres the highest road pass in Europe.
Col de L’Iséran has a small chapel, cafe and tat shop. Despite it being in the late afternoon there are cars, motorcycles and bicycles coming and going.

Like everyone else we take a Col de L’Iséran selfie.
We park the Hymer behind the cafe which we hope will provide a bit of a wild break.  A french campercar is nextdoor so it looks like we will have company tonight.

Michael and Pam

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