Cols and Côtes

According to official French definitions, a col is a mountain pass. It is the highest part of a road, in between two higher mountaintops. However, not all climbs in this tour are cols, and not all cols are climbs. Of the 111 named cols only some 70 are indicated as climbs.

Other climbs, that cannot be characterized as "cols" are called "côtes", which simply means "slope". There are 114 hills characterized as côtes. Most of them are small ones, but some of them are quite difficult, like the Côte de Ste Croix in the Cevennes, or the Côte de la Croix Signy, which is the longest climb in the Beaulolais.

A very remarkable col is the Col de Loushpach in the Vosges. You get there by descending the Col du Calvaire. The Col is then the lowest point, after this the road goes up again to the Col de Bonhomme. How comes that the lowest part of the road is called a Col? Simply: the col is located at a crossing, and the Col definition refers to the side roads, which both descend from the col.

111 classified cols
The route passes 111 classified cols. A col is classified if it is really the highest point of a road, or it is a high point where you leave the road to climb to an even higher col. Examples are the Col du Lautaret (where you take the branch to the Col du Galibier), or the Col du Caougnous where you take left to the Col de Péguère). 

Moreover a classified col has to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The col is included in the Chauvot (the list of all 8500 French cols);
  • There is a name sign on top;
  • The col is shown on Google Maps, the map Michelin, the IGN-map or a local map.

For colhunters we mention all unclassified cols too, but they are not part of the hundred. The route includes 53 unclassified cols. They are unclassified because it is not the highest point. It is nevertheless a col, because they have a name and they are the highest point for crossroads, like the Col du Wetstein (in the descent of the Col du Linge).