The Col du Glandon (1924 m) and the Col de la Croix de Fer (2064m) are 2 km apart and form the border between Isère and Savoie, between Oisans and Maurienne.

A breathtaking panoramic view!

The Col du Glandon boasts a splendid view over the Col de la Madeleine, with Mont Blanc as a backdrop. Stand in the middle of the 4 pillars (above the car park) and your gaze will be automatically drawn towards Mont Blanc.

From the Col de la Croix de Fer, at the foot of the Pic de l’Etendard (3664m) and its glacier, you can enjoy an outstanding view over the Arvan Valley, the Aiguilles d’Arves and the peaks of the Massif des Sept Laux.

Some history

The source of the Eau d’Olle river is at the Col de la Croix de Fer, which explains why the pass was formerly known as Col d’Olle. It owes its current name to the imposing iron cross on its summit.

For several centuries, there was only a mule track up to the mountain pass. This was turned into a road in 1900, firstly from Saint-Sorlin-d’Arves to the pass and then extended to the Col du Glandon (opened on 14 July 1912).

In Roman times, the Col du Glandon was the pass from Oisans, via the Eau d’Olle Valley, to the Maurienne, down through the Villards valley. The road up to the pass was opened in 1898. From 1912 onwards, St Jean de Maurienne could at last be accessed directly via the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The Memorial at the top of the pass marks an event in the Second World War. In the summer of 1944, the Oisans maquis succeeded in temporarily halting a German attack.

The Col du Sabot

Until 1860, the Col du Sabot marked the border between France and Savoie. Vaujany had a border post to protect the province of Dauphiné. The road went through Vaujany and over the Col du Sabot, before winding down towards other passes.

“Sabot” comes from Sabaudia, which means Savoie in local patois dialect. This explains the curious name of this pass, as in modern day French a “sabot” is a clog, which would be odd as mountain dwellers rarely wear clogs!

In the area now home to the Lac de Grand’Maison, huge areas of pastureland were shared between the French and the Savoyards. The “Grand’Maison” was a large building to accommodate shepherds.

 

Important! These roads are now only open in the summer, from June to October.

Below the mountain passes lies one of the biggest dams in Europe, the Lac de Grand Maison.

The Grand’ Maison Reservoir extends over the villages of Vaujany and de Saint-Colomban-des-Villard… Work began on the dam in 1978 and was completed seven years later. Commissioning took place in 1988 and since then, the hydroelectric power station has been the most powerful in Europe.

2 iconic mountain passes for cyclists:

Featuring in both the Tour de France and La Marmotte, these 2 cols are unmissable experiences for experienced cyclists. The Tour de France has featured these passes no fewer than 15 times! It’s hard work cycling up them but the exhaustion of cyclists is more than compensated for by the beauty of the surrounding scenery.