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Col du Galibier - Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne     open your myclimbbybike to add this climb

34.9 km  2642 m  (1924 m)  5.5 %


The Col du Galibier can only be reached when the Col du Télégraphe or the Col du Lautaret has been conquered, which makes the pass one of the toughest Alpine passes in the history of cycling. From St Michel-de-Maurienne you first serve the Télégraphe. Make no mistake; the Télégraphe may be easier than what's coming, but it's also not just a warm-up. After the heavy first kilometers the climb becomes less difficult. Time to set a time, or better, save strength for the Galibier itself.

After about twelve kilometers, mostly between the trees, you reach the top of the Télégraphe with its typical wooden chapter, flanked by a skier on the right (hiver) or cyclist on the left (été) made of straw. You're already at 1566 meters altitude. Here you can take a break on the wall or across the street in the Relais du Télégraphe. On top of that you get rewarded with a fairly gentle descent of about four kilometers on a wide road to the ski village Valloire.

Of course you can also strengthen the inner man in Valloire, but this can be quite disappointing in a ski village in the middle of summer. So also here! yet, the village has some allure, but perhaps it is too far away from civilization to attract many visitors during the summer. And you won't see many cyclists here either. For many the col might be too heavy or too long. And for a round trip (a Marmotte-like one) you are a full day on the bike.

It is very quiet when you find the D902 again after a walk through the village and you continue your journey towards Galibier. Initially there is not too much fun. It's not very steep in those first few kilometers and the straight road doesn't encourage an early demarrage. That's good, because there will soon be other things to do. When you suddenly leave the river Valloire at Bonnenuit, the real climb finally seems to start. Here you get a real view on the rough and beautiful surroundings and the jagged, surrounding mountain tops. Yet you still get a few kilometers of relaxation, but when you see Plan Lachat on your left, things are starting off.

The climb now takes a wide turn to the right and the final can begin. Via a few hairpin bends you will soon be about 200 meters higher. The landscape gets rougher and rougher. Try to enjoy it anyway. A bit further you reach la Grange du Galibier, where next to one of the famous garbage cans (throw your garbage in here!) there is also a statue of Marco Pantani. To be honest, we missed it. Luckily not the garbage can.

The Galibier now remains persistently steep. After a hairpin bend, follows a wide arch to get an overview of fellow climbers on the mountain. A few hairpin bends later, we reach the restaurant named after the mountain. We are at an altitude of 2556 meters and it gets chilly here, even in summer. Here, you can take the tunnel straight on to the other side of the mountain, but of course you drive straight on to the top. After all, it's just one kilometre anymore, but because of the altitude and the ascent (still 106 altitude meters!) it's very heavy. Finally, you reach the summit where you get one of the most beautiful views of the Alps as a reward. Here you are!

And now that you've gotten here, some good news. Actually, the Galibier is the toughest road bike col on the French mainland. Before the Col de la Loze and Mont Ventoux. When you take the real altimeters into account (2089 altimeters in total) you'll end up with a Climbbybike difficulty index score of 182.8! Congratulations!

The Col du Galibier is situated in Rhone-Alpes. This climb belongs to the Alps. The Col du Galibier via Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne is ranked number 74 of the Alps. The climb is ranked number 36 in France and number 282 in the world. Starting from Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, the Col du Galibier ascent is 34.9 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1924 heightmeters. The average percentage thus is 5.5 %. The maximum slope is 12%. If you want to climb the Col du Galibier, you can find more information on how to train to climb the Col du Galibier here.

Since 2005, the Col du Galibier will be/was climbed in the following big tour stages:
Tour de France 2017 :  La Mure - Serre Chevalier on 19/07/2017
Giro d'Italia 2013 :  Cesana Torinese - Col Du Galibier on 19/05/2013
Tour de France 2011 :  Modane > Alpe-d’Huez on 22/07/2011
La Marmotte 2010 :  Marmotte 2010 on 03/07/2010
La Marmotte 2009 :  Marmotte 2009 on 04/07/2009

Images of the Col du Galibier


Climbbybike difficulty score (168)
Ranking Alps
Ranking France

Col du Galibier via Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne popularity rank : 6

The Col du Galibier has been climbed by 177 climbbybikers. It is ranked No. 6 as the most climbed climb in the world.
Discover all the most difficult climbs in France and the most popular climbs in France.

Col du Galibier via Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne: 29 reviews

Malcolm R Rogers

Just completed the Telegraphe and Galibier combo in Sept of 2019, we were very fortunate, warm temps and sunny skies. A bit too warm at the bottom in the low 30''s. Telegraphe was a great warm up, with some tough sections, Galibier is relentless, once out in the open the switches and gradients are quite tough as was the wind and plummeting temps. Summit was fantastic with lots of high fives. Will be returning for sure to see what an educated climb looks like vs my rookie run.


I rode this last weekend and it was one of the best mountains I have ever climbed. I took off from Valloire, but next time I''m adding in the Telegraphe as well. It''s a tough climb for a guy just under 100kg''s, but I loved it. Not to many ultra steep bits with the exception of the last couple of km''s, and fairly consistent all the way. I left early on a Sunday morning to beat the traffic, which was a good idea, as on the decent there were a heap of cars, rv''s and motor bikes on their way up. Definitely doing this one again

Mike brosius

Beautiful climb probably the highlight of all the climbs we did on a Thomson bike tour. The scenery is spectacular at the top and all along the way you can look back at just how far you have gone. As mention d before telegraph is pretty easy comapr d to what is to come. It is a long climb so you need to be preparred for a tough day, but it is well worth it!

David Hillman

I have noticed that many people have sad they "did" Galibier, well Galibier "did" me! I set off in July 2013 with my son and his best friend and really flew up the Telegraphe with no idea of what was to come!

Down into the valley and I was loving it. Hard? What are they on about! Then I hit the real climb and it all went Pete Tong from there on.

I cried like a baby, wobbled all over the road, remember little other than the front wheel, until I reached that little bit at the end where everyone is waiting, and suddenly I found I could sprint! The view and the achievement were phenomenal (I was nearly 60. I only mention this climb now as I train for Ventoux and some more alpine stuff this year after a two year lay off. Memories. Still hurts now when I recall Galibier.

Paul T

This is an epic climb, though as people note, the fun begins after Valloire. Did this in 2010 as part of a Thomson tour, and will do again in August 2014 with a group of fellow cyclists on our own. This is really a tough climb, due primarily to the length, but the pain is more than compensated by the spectacular views, the ice, the glacial rivers, and other sights on the way up. It is sort of nice not to have a big touristy thing at the top, but you can go over a bit and find this on the other side. Compared with some of the other rides in the area, Galibier has to be at the top, along with the Madeleine, and Glandon, which we will also do in August...We will also climb Galibier from the other side, via the Lauteret, which should be interesting and looked quite spectacular on the Tour a few years ago when they did it both ways....

Geoff Pyle

Rode from St Michel as part of our version of the Marmotte circuit, having started in the morning from the car-park of the Col de Lautaret and passed through Le Bourg-d''Oisans and over Col de la Croix de Fer (note to self: next time take the fork at the top over Col du Glandon as the northern decent is better).

We climbed the Galibier on the first day the pass was open in 2014, 29 May, starting late in the day from St Michele and summiting about 8pm in dusk. Plenty of snow at the top with high drifts either side of the road and the tarmac wet with snow-melt - the tunnel was closed - the temperature just above freezing.

The Col du Télégraphe was mainly a ''head'' job, with the road winding through trees with little view and little sense of making progress; the summit is underwhelming, though there is a water-tap. The descent to Valloire was nice but felt like losing hard-won altitude. Then soon after leaving the edge of the town to begin the Galibier, the drama of the climb began to unfold. Fantastic peaks, scree slopes, meadows and streams - another world - making the grind of the Télégraphe completely justified (echoes of Mt Ventoux from Bédoin). The summit with no-one there, and a bone-chilling decent - stunning!!

Steve Barker

Climbed the Telegraphe and Galibier on June 16 2014. Spectacular ..... Everything I expected and more. "Warmed up" on Ventoux last week and glad I did as this was quite a climb! Two very different climbs .... Telegraphe with lots of switchbacks in the forest, Galibier winds it''s way up and no trees to be seen and still lots of snow. My wife joined me in " the support car" and for her it was equally exciting given the awesome views. Sunny day and light winds until the top where it was around 10 degrees C and cold with a strong wind. I was surprised at the number of cyclists doing it ... But even more so the number of motorbikes going up. Another bucket list climb completed ... And I highly recommend it.

peter wolthers

I have done Telegraphe + Galibier from St Michel de Maurianne once in 2008. and in 2011 + 2013 as part of La Marmotte.

For me this is "THE CLIMB". Long, Hard and fantastic surroundings. Starting at Telegraphe in the forest to bushes when parsing Valloire, to grass, to pure rocks at the top. and also very nice views.


Did Telegraphe and Galibier from St Michel de Maurianne in June this year (2013) as part of a trip that also included Alpe d''Huez and Ventoux. Am 66yo and 59kg and have ridden approx 10,000k per annum for the last ten years. Telegraphe and Galibier are certainly arduous in terms of length but Galibier gets a little more difficult after 2000m altitude when you wonder if the bends will ever stop. No apparent effect of altitude on breathing though. I was very lucky with blue skies, dry roads, summer kit with arm warmers and wife in the hire car with extra kit if needed (remember the Giro a month earlier?)although there was 3m of snow on each side of the road at the top of Galibier. The ferme (closed) signs were out at the base of the climb, so it was very quiet and peaceful with only one or two cars - divine!! I had been told that although closed you could ride to the closed tunnel doors at the top which is effectively the top anyway. Took my own bike (Look 595)and did the 35k in 2hr 45m with no stops on a 39x25/27 most of the time and occasionally 39x23. Epic ride, stunning scenery and strongly recommended as long as the weather isn''t like it was in the Giro!

terry thomas

St Michel-de-Maurienne over Telegraphe to Galibier on Jully 1 with friends Brad Honnold and Mike Coyne, comfortable ride over Col du Telegraphe on fresh graveled road, down into Valloire and then straight up to Col du Galibier with brutal head winds and rain for last 5km. Have also climbed Galibier from Bourg d''Oisans via Col du Lautaret and enjoyed both climbs.


I completed this climb as part of a tour. What a treat. Completing Telegraphe, while difficult, was actually a fun climb, legs felt great at the summit. Then, the work begins. 18 kilometers of unrelenting climbs. I never thought I''d love to see 7% on my Garmin. What makes this such a great climb are the amount of people doing it. While the summit is windy and barren, it''s an atmosphere like no other, very festive with people celebrating making it to the top. I loved it!!!!!! The descent wasn''t much fun, probably my fear of heights and too-fast descents are to blame. A five for difficulty and a five for fun. I''d do it again in a heartbeat.

Enda Marron

A classic must-do climb. I rode it 3 times from Valloire and once from Biacon during the past Summer as part of my cycling holiday of a lifetime. It starts as a tough drag which batters you then the ramps kick in; the first one is very frightening the second is subtle and plays with your head the last one (over the tunnel) is the real killer

Anthony Lue

Climbed the fabled beast, Telegraphe + Galibier from St Michel de Maurianne on July 25, 2008 as part of a 16 day cycling vacation in the French Alps. This is a monster climb, over 21 miles (35 kms) long. Although, not the hardest of the climbs perhaps, because of its history in the TdF - its is on every climbers list. The first section from St M de M. meanders thru a forest until you reach the first summit, Col du Telegraphe. This was harder than expected, not to be under estimated and taken lightly. You descend for a few miles to Valloire. From here on, the real work begins, 11 miles (18 kms) to go. By this junction, the heat and humidity of the valley gradually subsides as you steadily gain altitude. After Plan Lachat, the summit seems awefully close, but cruelly the last 2 miles (3 kms) are the hardest. By now, you are over 8,000 above sea level and the air is getting thin as you battle both the slope & altitude. But 3 hrs 1 mins. from the start (with a water stop at the Telegraphe), Success!! All in all - a beautiful climb - distance, a shade over 21 miles (35 kms), that alone made the trip worthwhile. Cheers.


Incredible climb. Starting at the foot of the Telegraphe you can see the sign: tunnel Galibier 34 km. First km of the Telegraphe are more difficult than the others, but is a fairly easy climb. However , it is only the beginning.. After the descent to Valloire the actual climb (and the most difficult part)to the Galibier starts at Plan Lachat. From here its 8 km of wonderful hard working to get to the top. Notice the tunnel at the top en the monument at the other side, in memoru of henri desgranges, founder of the Tour the France


What a thrill to ride up the Galibier this July the day before the Tour climbed it. I was able to rent a pretty decent road bike in Valloire, where we were staying. They were able to loan me some Look pedals at the bike shop, so I could use my own cycling shoes....I thought that I might have to rent a mtn bike and ride in running shoes. I felt lucky that day. It was a perfect sunny cool day.....well, except for the 20mph wind coming down the valley and into my face. The lower slope from Valloire is not too steep , but the wind made it pretty hard. At around 10K the road finally switches to the west and the wind was at my back...perfect, because this is about where the grade kicks up and stays pretty steep the rest of the way.Even though the swithbacks change direction frequently, at least some of the time it was not in my face...and after a few more kilometers I got some protection from the peak to the east. The road was lined with camper vans and fans holding the best viewing locations for the Tour. They had their flags flying and many had nothing better to do than to cheer the amateurs like me in various languages.....I mean, I think they were cheering....? I rode around Didi "the devil" so as not to disturb his pavement painting....yes he was in full costume the day before and painting the road as the gendarmes watched.The last kilometer was tough....about 10% , but what a feeling getting to the summit of that legendary Col. The scenery was spectacular....the people yelling made it a real Tour fantasy ride. My girlfriend drove our rental car ahead and videoed about a half hour of my ride. She also had a great time meeting people all the way up...including Didi.It will be fun to watch on the trainer this winter. The next day we hiked up 7 miles to a spot which overlooked the valley on a steep ramp to watch the pros climb quite a bit faster than I did.....I think I could have hung with the gruppetto....maybe.

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