Col de Noyer

The pass connects the Champsaur Valley on the east side with the Devoluy valley on the west. The ridge has a steep strike slope with cliff faces on the the east, and a more gradual dip slope on the west. The mountains in the Devoluy part of alps are lower than the adjacent ones in the Ecrins National Park. But they are especially attractive for cyclists because of several passes, that thread in between the tooth like cliff faces of these mountains. Col de Noyer has a good road surface, is fairly narrow, and still appears to have relatively few motorcycles ( I saw about 10 ), the best of many worlds.
01.(00.0km,967m) START-END EAST: jct D17 - N85, west of Saint Bonnet en Champsaur
02.(02.0km,1059m) Poligny
03.(05.9km,1134) le Villard
04.(12.1km,1664m) TOP: Col de Noyer
05.(14.7km,1520m) profile stays left at this jct
06.(17.1km,1376m) Truziaud
07.(18.1km,1331m) profile turns hard right down D17
08.(19.5km,1280m) START-END WEST: jct with road up Col de Rioupes, north of Le Pre
09.(20.3km,1283m) St Etienne en Devoluy
10.(27.1km,1042m) Saint Disdier
11.(29.4km,933m) START-END WEST ALT: jct D217 - D537, south end of Lac du Sautet


From East. The first chance to get off the busy Route Napoleon and head for this pass is a different spot, depending if you come from south or north. I came from the south, so that's the profile shown, and also the description. There is an Intermarche supermarket right at the turnoff, perfect location for last minute carbohydrate shopping, just east of St Bonnet en Champsaur. The route circuitously collects several sleepy, picturesque villages on the lower slope, first Poligny, and others too small to be shown on my map. I saw at least two gites in these towns, though I don't know about their ouvert status.

Col du
                                    Noyer, view from summit
Col de Noyer: looking west from summit

At the junction with the approach form the north, near La Serre, the climbing becomes more serious. The view of the cliff face to the south belongs to Bec de l'Aigle 2384m. Mountains like this one, on the other side of the Chamsaur valley, towards the Ecrins National Park have a much darker appearance, without the cliff faces of the mountains in the Devoluy area.

About 3 km before the top, an especially interesting section starts, existing of several switchbacks, held with walls to the mountains face. On top a picture perfect vista appears behind the Gite Napoleon, mountains with cliff faces like an uncut diamond.

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Col de Noyer - left: entering St Etienne;        right: the road swings on the east side

From West. After a fast descend on a fairly narrow road, it starts climbing again and turns to the left, in order to head for St Etienne en Devoley. But before passing between the picturesque houses of this village, the road had to switchback to the north again. Exiting St Etienne is the junction with Col de Rioupes. But the profile continues to descend. Past St Didier another road, coming down from Col du Festre joins in. Still, there is no traffic to speak of, that I encountered. You can ride around both sides of the Solouse Gorge. The more common way is on the west side. Going around the east involves quite a detour if heading east, but the smaller road looks very interesting. The profile descends around the western side to Bge de Sautet, where a bridge crosses the Drac. Alternatively if heading west, one can contour along the hills direction St Sebastian - also a very scenic route with practically no traffic. This is the tour route below.

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Col de

Col de Noyer: the steep strike surface on the east side


A first road to replace a mule trail was built in the 1850s. The strategic location of the pass between the two valleys was highlighted by the fact, that Napoleon built six shelters along the route in 1858. The shelter on top is an exact reconstruction of this hut. The original was built in 1854, destroyed by fire in 1947 and reconstructed in 1955. It is now open for business only in the summer. The pass became a less important traffic connection, when a road over Col du Festre was built in the 19th century.

Cycling - Tour de France: During the post WW2 years, this pass was four times on a stage, all fairly recently: 1970, 1971, 1982 and 2010.

A day on an Extended Tour:

(<Col du Moissiere|Col de Malissol>)
Col de Noyer: St Leger Melezes > Pont du Foss > Forest > Poligny > Col du Noyer > St Etienne en Devoley > St Disdier > D66 west > Cordeac > St Sebastien > la Mure > Theafrey: 59.9miles with 4790ft of climbing in 5:29hrs (VDO MC1.0 m4:12.6.11). 

Col de
upper Devoluy valley from lower western approach to Col de Noyer

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