The 18 hairpins of the lacets de Montvernier (on the route départementale 77b), that are hanging from the mountain constitute one of the most spectacular roads in Savoie and a real challenge for cyclists. There is a nice panorama at the top.
Where are the lacets de Montvernier located?
This scenic road is situated in the towns of Pontamafrey-Montpascal and Montvernier, which are in the Savoie region that is located in the French Alps.
The road leaves from the village of Pontamafrey and then arrives at the lacets of Montvernier. Then, the road continues towards the Chaussy pass.
You can find the localisation of this well known road on the map below:
Enlarge the map
Facts about the lacets de Montvernier:
The official name of the road is route départementale 77b.
The road allows to link the village of Pontamafrey, located on the banks of the Arc river, and Montvernier then Montpascal on the southwest flank of the Coins mountain, in the Maurienne region.
This is a tight two lanes (one each way) asphalted road in good conditions. It is approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long and has 18 impressive hairpin turns. These hairpins allow crossing the cliff between the two villages.
In the turns, the road is only 4 meters (13 ft) large and has an average gradient of 7,5% with a maximum of 10%.
The idea of this road dates back to 1900. In fact, it was to open up the villages of Montvernier, Montbrunal et Montpascal. Although, the construction starts only in 1931.
The road was built on an old mule track by Boniface Bochet and a local construction company. But, after they start they realized that it will be too difficult and they abandoned the project. Another local company took over the project and finished the road with only 36 workers and the help of a truck that brought the cement for the road. Even the sand was directly taken in the local river.
The construction of the road ends in April 1933, so it took 3 years to build that road.
The road was highly frequented until the 1970s when a new road through Le Chatel was built. This road has more convenient access because it doesn’t have so many hairpins.
How to get to the lacets de Montvernier road?
In order to get to this famous, you should know that this segment is located on the départementale 77b. You should take the road D1006 and at Pontamafrey village take the 77b road in direction of Montvernier. You can also access this segment using the A43 highway and use the exits 27 or 26. Then drive also to Montvernier.
You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:
Things to know about this scenic road:
The road is famous in the cyclist world and you will surely meet a lot of them. The famous Tour de France went to this place in 2015 and 2018. Also, a lot of other cycling races use these roads such as the Tour des Pays de Savoie and the Critérium du Dauphiné for example.
In 1945 the road was classified as a route of common interest in order to make this road more touristic. That’s why people include it for their alpine road trip.
In 1958 a photography of the road was displayed at the universal exposition in Brussels. It was one of the most sold pictures at that event. This fact contributed to making the road famous. Indeed, after that, the photography of the lacets de Montvernier illustrated the geography school books for more than fifty years.
In winter there is a small ski resort, Grand Coin resort where you can practice the nordic ski. You will find some accommodations and restaurants in the crossed villages.
A preview of the drive:
If you are planning your road trip to this road, you can watch this Youtube video in order to have an overview of the drive:
Are the lacets de Montvernier open?
The lacets de Montvernier road is usually open all year round. Although, it can be closed in the winter because of the snow.
While driving on this amazing road you should always be very careful, indeed the hairpins are very tight, and also even if the road is a two lanes way, the crossing can be challenging.
You should also pay attention to cyclists, indeed, this road is well known by them and they are a lot of cyclists there.
Also during the high season and on the weekends, there can be a lot of tourists there, so if you want to avoid the crowd you should consider to come early in the morning.
Remember that the traffic rules in France say that in a climb, when the road is not wide enough to allow two vehicles to cross, the vehicle going up has priority over the one that goes down. If the crossing requires a reverse, then the most maneuverable vehicle has to achieve it.
So, as you understand, the lacets de Montvernier is a very impressive balcony road in the French Alps region that climb to the col du chaussy. If you drive in the area you should definetely make the detour in order to discover these 18 hairspins turns!
Pictures credits: @UCI_cycling @MontvernierBike on twitter.
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