Col de Solude

This pass makes a good daytrip or half day trip from Bourg d'Oisans. While on the other side of the valley cyclists by the hundreds are climbing up Alp d'Huez, over on this side of the valley there are so few, they still greet one another when they pass. There are two very special things about Col de Solud. First: the lower eastern approach is hewn out of the cliff and has 4 dark tunnels. Second: Several km over the top are not paved.

Chances are this is not going to be the first bike ride one does, when exploring around the Bourg d'Oisans area. But chances are also good, that during that first or second bike ride you have seen a straight line cut along the cliff south east of the village. That's the lower part of the road to this pass.

picture page

1.(00.0km,716m) START-END WEST: Bourg d'Oisans
2.(10.0km,1530m) Villard Notre Dame
3.(12.4km,1680m) TOP: Col de Solud
4.(14.5km,1640m) Villard Reymond
5.(23.9km,930m) profile turns right in Palud, left goes to Col d'Ornon
6.(28.2km,731m) START-END EAST: jct D928 - D1091 in La Paute


From East. Down in the valley, signs do not name this pass by name. But signs on the Briancon side of town do have signs for Villard Notre Damme, and that's the road to this pass. As soon as the narrow road starts approaching the cliff, a sign warns cyclists of 4 dark tunnels. Counting another short tunnel, preceeding the four, actually there are 5. The second one is the longest, and really does require a light of some sort, because in the middle you cannot see either entrance, and therefore it is completely dark. The other 3 are easier.

The road connecting these tunnels is just as hair raising up close, as you would expect from seeing it at a distance. This is as close to real exposure on a bike as you can come. Only a low stone embankment separates the road from the drop off. It makes a great foreground in photos that celebrate the grandeur of nature.

This long traverse along the cliff winds around to the south east side of the mountain, and opens the view shed onto the highest peaks of the Ecrins National Park. Once the road switches back to traverse westwards it is still a fantastic narrow road climbing through the forest. But compared to what it was before, it is just plain relaxing for the nerves. As another switchback changes the direction of travel once more, a series of 3 large waterfalls, one on top of the other, comes into view, across on the mountain on the opposite side. Now short switchbacks work the road up to Villard Notre Dame. There is a gite located here, but I think for groceries you have to go to Bourg d'Oisans - quite a climb.

Col de
left: D219 shelf road leading to Col de Solud                 right: unpaved portion over summit

The pavement on the road ends at this group of fortified looking medieval houses, and a small sign names the upcoming pass by name for the first time. The road remains smooth with a surface of small packed stones. It continues to work up the shoulder of le Grand Renaud. The view of the valley and Bourg d'Oisans is never far away. Basically the road is heading back to the west now. As the valley comes into sight in full view, the road descends a short distance, and now becomes a true dirt road, though still very smooth. There are actually two crossings over to Villard Raymond. The one on the right is closed to public traffic. Past the junction, the other option makes one more small switchback to the west and crests quickly and unexpectedly.

From West. (described downwards). Narrow pavement starts up again also. Quickly the road traverses along below the houses of Villard Raymond. These are much more spread out over the hillside than the houses of Villard Notre Dame. This is the biggest group of settlements next to the road sofar. The big triangular peak above, le Grand Renaud (2776m) seems to increase in size drastically, as the road quickly descends into forested hillside. Finally the road crosses a narrow bridge and emerges in Ornon on the col d'Ornon road.

Col de
left: looking back to Bourg D'Oisans from D211     
right: telephoto picture, looking across the valley from below Villard Notre Dame

Dayride with this point as highest summit:

Col de Solude , D211B Villard Reculas s(u): Bourg d'Oisans > Allemond > D211B Villard Reculas s(u) > Huez > Bourg d'Oisans > Villard Notre Dame > D210 > Col de Solude > Villard Raymond > Ornon > sp: 50.1miles with 6780ft of climbing in 5:17hrs (M4:12.6.14).

The last summit ride with different start and end points on this Extended Tour is on the page: Col de Morte

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