11 Alpine passes in 48 hours

By motorcycle in the Alps between France and Italy, to discover the mountain passes and the most beautiful roads between Savoy, Vars, Liguria and Piedmont.

By motorbike in the Western Alps, between France and Italy, on 11 mountain passes, among lakes, canyons and enchanting landscapes.

It's the end of May and a few days ago I retired my new adventure partner, one Honda Crosstourer 1200. We immediately decide to put it to the test with a nice solo weekend in the Alps starting from Cuneo. Click here for the gallery

Maximum altitude 2.770
Total distance 962 Km
Number of hairpin bends and curves infinite!
Best time June> September
Road conditions and notes Pay attention to grazing animals and dangerous asphalt in some stretches more exposed to weather and ice

Load tent, sleeping bag and everything you need, I'll take an old map with me. For this ride I will not use any navigator o gps.

Content index

  1. Moncenisio and Col du Galibier
  2. Col de Croix de Fer and Lautaret
  3. Col del Izoard and de la Bonette
  4. Col de Champs and Gorge de Daluis
  5. Gorges du Cians and Colle della Lombarda

The hills are not yet all accessible, but this does not stop me, in case I will improvise and go hunting for secondary roads.

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Moncenisio lake

Moncenisio and Col du Galibier

It is Saturday morning the sky is clear and the temperatures are starting to turn summer, I head towards the Turin area, more precisely in the Susa valley, where, in the town of the same name, I will take the road to the Colle del moncenisio. The wide and well asphalted road begins to make room for views that only the Alps can offer. I arrive at the top and the Moncenisio lake it shows itself in all its beauty, unfortunately the winter was dry, so the level is low but the color is crystalline and reflects the surrounding peaks. Allotment in the direction of Hill of Galibier, one of the highest hills in the Alps, but a few tens of km from the summit I discover that the pass is still closed.

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Col du Lautaret

Col de Croix de Fer and Lautaret

I open the map and see that not far away is the Iron Cross Pass, which will take me southwards, putting me back on the itinerary I had in mind. The road becomes narrower, very little traffic, that's what I was looking for, this is a less noble step given its height, but it offers landscapes that make me stop countless times to contemplate its beauty.

Next stop Colle del Lautaret, which will lead me to Briançon, where I decide to stop at a campsite. It's not too late yet but given the period I'm not sure if the campsites in the smaller villages are already open. After two passivated in the center, a slice of pizza and a beer I decide to go to sleep.

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100 steps by motorbike - Col de la Bonette

Col del Izoard and de la Bonette

It's Sunday it's 7 and the motorcycle and already loaded, the road to go and a lot, but a clear sky will accompany me even today. First stop of the day on Col of the Izoard, this pass has a peculiarity, its landscape near the top becomes "lunar", only rocks and boulders with particular shapes. I continue towards Colle del Vars and I reach Barcelona. Being early I decide to take a small detour on the Col de la Bonette which, from the height of its 2715 meters, never disappoints: snow walls a couple of meters high lead the way to reach the vicinity. I retrace the road in the opposite direction and reach the city of departure.

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Gorges du Daluis

Col de Champs and Gorge de Daluis

From here I follow the directions for Col d'Allos and subsequently for the Col de Champs, two steps where the road becomes very narrow and full of hairpin bends with a succession of landscapes that never make the journey monotonous. I reach the country of William where one of the highlights of this tour, the Daluis gorges, a curvy road that skirts this canyon of red rocks through which the Vars river. I recommend taking the road in both directions, in fact they have two separate lanes: one passes through 18 tunnels dug into the rock while the other is always overhanging.

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Col de Champs


It is getting late, I decide to get on the way back, I continue towards Gorge du Cians, Col de la Couillole and finally the Lombard hill, a secondary path that takes me back to Italy one hour from Cuneo.

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Colle della Lombarda - Ph. Shutterstock

The speedometer ticks 900 km from the beginning of this escape, kilometers traveled with absolute tranquility, little traffic, uncontaminated landscapes, clean air, marmots running around. The Alps always manage to give strong emotions, even after years retracing the same roads you always experience them with different eyes; a naturalistic and cultural heritage that must always be protected and respected.

Discover the other itineraries between France and Italy

SOURCEPhotos and texts by Marco Nebbiolo