The Petit St Bernard Pass
The Climb in France
For over a thousand years, the Petit St Bernard Pass, and its bigger brother, the Grand St Bernard Pass provided the two main routes across the Alps on either side of Mont Blanc - the highest peak in Western Europe. This page illustrates the Petit St Bernard pass - for the Grand St Bernard, you'll need to go here. You'll also need a time machine because, at the time of writing this page, the Grand St Bernard pages haven't yet been written. If you can't wait that long, you might want to check out AlpineRoads.com which gives information on both these passes, as well as countless others in the Alps.
In the finest traditions, of this site, it would probably be useful to outline the geography of the area. The Petit St Bernard pass is on the French / Italian border, and can reached by following the N90 from Albertville, via Moutiers and Bourg St Maurice. Bourg St Maurice is a small and uninspiring town situated at the bottom of a deep valley in the heart of the Alps, here. To get to the pass, you need to climb some 1,300m. You do this by following the road towards La Rosiere along an interminable sequence of hairpin bends as you climb the steep valley sides. This will take longewr than you think. I have not usable photos of this section of the route as most of our time was spent ensuring that the car remained on the road - a mistake would frequently mean a long and fast trip downwards.
From La Rosiere, things straighten out, though we still have to climb another 300m. It is in this area that our photo tour begins.
North of La Rosiere, there is a small car park at the side of the road, and the first three pictures were taken from there. The first illustrates the fact that the area is popular with cyclists, though why you'd want to cycle up a mountain like that is beyond me. The second picture looks up towards the top of the pass, and in the third picture, we are looking back down into the valley, and the town of Bourg St Maurice.
In the next three pictures, we see the road in more detail. It is single carriageway, marked out in two lanes, and appeared to have a reasonable number of big vehicles trying to use it. Where they were going puzzles me - the Italian side seemed much quieter, and narrower, and we certainly saw more traffic in France. The middle picture looks across the valley from the car park.
On the next page, we reach the top of the pass...