Col de Marocaz
This pass cuts across the very southern end of the Massif des Bauges. When following a route in the valley of the Isere, it is very easy to just bypass it by following the Maurienne River instead. And so it makes a nice optional climb at the end of a ride, because you never know exactly just how you are going to feel then. In my case the weather was just too good, and the next day was a rain day, so a long day in the saddle could be followed by a day of rest.

1.(280m,00.0km)START-END EAST:jctD1006 - bike path, west of Montmelian
2.(958m,9.5km)TOP: Col de Marocaz
3.(665m,18.0km)profile turns left here, going straight will descend into Chambery
4.(340m,23.3km)START-END WEST: jct D21-1006, south of La Ravoire and Chambery


From East.
A cyclist, who I asked for directions, told me that this was the most difficult climb in the area immediately south of Chambery. It is definitely steeper than the western to the same pass. The lowest point on this side is somewhere next to the straightened Maurienne River. A number of small roads lead up to a higher more pleasant traverse through Arbin and St Laurent. The profile takes one of these little paths.

The road exits a short, narrow traverse of the village between house walls, that form a slot canyon of the ancient village variety. Now the sheer cliffs of the Chartreuse Plateau come into view in the distance. At the same time the highest white capped peaks of the Belledonne range, slowly creep above the foothills of the green Hurtiere on the opposite side. The road disappears into the forest, and the slope does not let up even for the switchbacks. Soon what appears to be the summit comes into sight, and the road progresses towards it in a roundabout way with many switchbacks. But this visible summit is quite a bit higher than the one the road is heading for. What looks like the goal is in reality in the Col du Lindar several hundred meters higher. The summit of Col Marocaz suddenly shows up behind a curve as a complete surprise. At the summit an unpaved road keeps climbing. It leads over an unpaved fairly rough path to the top of Col du Lindar

From West. (described downwards). This side is gentler, mostly inside a low valley, and there are no far views until the lower section. A possible short detour takes in the lake at La Thuile. But the profile takes the direct way down into Challes-les-Eaux. During the lower descent triangular, massive limestone outcrops seem to float through the field of view en masse, while turning the bike in a flurry of curves down to Challes-les-Eaux. Here the roundabout marks a definite boundary between suburban traffic of Chambery, and the more isolated mountain roads, where we just came from. An alternate descent over Curienne leads directly into Chambery.

A Dayride with this point as intermediate summit is on page: Col du Grand Cucheron

History: 1900 is an important date in the history of this pass. In this year the French military built the Pont de Crouzat (the bridge in the narrow part of the eastern approach), so that the farmers of Cruet and La Thuile could use the pass more easily. However it never became popular. It may have been an easier path, but it added distance to their habitual paths (according to a local resident).

The pass has been on the Tour de France route twice. In 1954 the stage lead from Briancon to Aix les Bains, then in 1974 from Aix les Bains to Serre-Chevalier.