Col de la Bonette

Col de la Bonette

Cime de la Bonette, viewed from the northern ascent from Jausiers. The Col de la Bonette is marked by the gap in the centre of the picture, while the circle road takes a loop up and around the Cime de la Bonette, before joining the col behind the ridge.
Elevation 2,715 metres (8,907 ft) or 2,802 metres (9,193 ft) (Cime de la Bonette)
Traversed by D64
Location Alpes-Maritimes/Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Range Alps
Coordinates 44°19′37.2″N 06°48′25.2″E / 44.327000°N 6.807000°E / 44.327000; 6.807000Coordinates: 44°19′37.2″N 06°48′25.2″E / 44.327000°N 6.807000°E / 44.327000; 6.807000
Col de la Bonette

Location of Col de la Bonette

Col de la Bonette (el. 2,715 metres (8,907 ft)) is a high mountain pass in the French Alps, near the border with Italy. It is situated within the Mercantour National Park on the border of the departments of Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The road over the col is the seventh highest paved road in the Alps.

Col de Restefond

The passage over the Col de la Bonette is often mistakenly referred to as the Col de Restefond, and in the 2008 Tour de France the summit was referred to as the Cime de la Bonette-Restefond. Stage 16 of the tour approached the summit from Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée (south-east), and after reaching the Col de la Bonette, took a loop round the Cime de la Bonette reaching the summit of 2,802 m (9,193 ft), which is the highest point reached by the Tour de France,[1] before re-passing the Col de la Bonette. On the descent to Jausiers, the actual Col de Restefond was then passed on the right approximately 1 km from the summit.

“Highest road in Europe”

The two kilometre long teardrop shaped loop around the Cime de la Bonette peak (2,860 m (9,380 ft)) from either side of the pass is the highest paved through route in the Alps.

A signpost at the foot of the climb[2] makes the claim "Col de la Bonette - Restefond, 2802 m above sea level, highest road in Europe". This claim is incorrect for various reasons. The actual Col de la Bonette rises to 2,715 m (8,907 ft), but there are three Alpine road passes whose altitudes are higher: Col de l'Iseran (2,770 m (9,090 ft)), Stelvio Pass (2,757 m (9,045 ft)) and Col Agnel (2,744 m (9,003 ft)). There is also the road to Veleta (Sierra Nevada), Spain (near Granada) which reaches 3,392 m (11,129 ft)[3] but it is not a through road.

The road around the Cime de la Bonette reaches an altitude of 2,802 m (9,193 ft), but this is not a "pass", but merely a scenic loop. It is, however, the highest asphalted road in France and is the highest through road in Europe.

Details of the climb

One of the mountain pass cycling milestones along the climb from Jausiers
The road from Jausiers passes next to the Casernes de Restefond, an old military building

From the south, the climb starts at Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée and is 26 km (16 mi) long. Over this distance, the climb is 1,652 m (5,420 ft) (an average percentage of 6.4%). On the climb to the actual Col de la Bonette, there is one short section at over 10%, but on the loop around the Cime de la Bonette, the gradient reaches 15%.[4]

From the north, the climb starts at Jausiers and is 24.1 km (15.0 mi) long. Over this distance, the climb is 1,589 m (5,213 ft) (an average percentage of 6.6%), with the steepest sections at 9%.[5]

On both sides mountain pass cycling milestones are placed every kilometre. They indicate the current height, the distance from the start, the distance to the summit, the average slope in the following kilometre, the number of the street, as well as the distances to villages and cities connected by the pass. They provide information for cyclists going up- and downhill.

Tour de France

The pass has featured in the Tour de France four times (1962, 1964, 1993 and 2008). In 1962 and 1964, the race was led over the summit in both years by Federico Bahamontes, approaching from the south in 1962 and from the north in 1964. Robert Millar led over the summit (from the north) in 1993.[6]

In 2008 John-Lee Augustyn led over the mountain, before falling on the descent to Jausiers. He did, however, receive 5,000 Euros for the leader over the highest point of the Tour, also known as the "Souvenir Henri Desgrange".[7][8]

Appearances in Tour de France

Year Stage Category Start Finish Leader at the summit
2008 16 HC Cuneo Jausiers  John-Lee Augustyn (SAF)
1993 11 HC Serre Chevalier Isola 2000  Robert Millar (GBR)
1964 9 1 Briançon Monaco  Federico Bahamontes (ESP)
1962 18 1 Juan-les-Pins Briançon  Federico Bahamontes (ESP)


  1. Woodland, Les (2003). The Yellow Jersey Companion to the Tour de France. London: Yellow Jersey Press. p. 261. ISBN 0-224-06318-9.
  2. Panneau « Col de la Bonette - Restefond, 2 802 m d'altitude, plus haute route d'Europe » (Jausiers)
  3. "Road to the Pico de Veleta". planetware. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  4. "Col de la Bonette - Saint Etienne de Tinée". climbbybike. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  5. "Col de la Bonette - Jausiers". climbbybike. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  6. "Le col ou cime de la Bonette ou col de Restefond dans le Tour de France" (in French). ledicodutour. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  7. "Dessel's Day After Dramatic Descent!". 22 July 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  8. "Stage 16 - Newsflashes". 22 July 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
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