Col de Noyer (1664m)

If you try and find the Col de Noyer near Die it’ll take you a while, as it’s actually in the Devoluy area, which I’ve visited briefly before on the Menée & Grimone cols route. One of the attractions of that route is the view of the High Alps, so when new French cycling friend Jérôme offered to drive over to Clelles so that we could have a ride in some grown-up hills, the idea immediately appealed. Even more so given that the Col de Noyer was one of the ones mentioned by a Bike Radar forum member.

The route itself was a good 75-miler, heading towards Corps, and coming back through St Disdier. The col road kicks up sharply at the start off the N85 before lulling you into a false sense of security in some gentler slopes. But the 12km climb really gets going after Le Village, with some testing slopes. If you can take your mind off the pain, there are some stunning views over the broad valley below. (All but a couple of my photos were taken on the move, as I didn’t fancy stopping, so please do excuse any blurriness or not-quite-level-ness.)

After the pleasing short switchbacks near the top, you come to the col, replete with refreshment cabin, but more importantly, stunning views, especially of the completely different descent. If, like me, you like a short sharp climb followed by a long steady descent, this is the way to do it. The views soon open up to the skiing village of St-Etienne-en-Devoluy, where I suppose you might consider the climb to the col to start if coming from that side. But doing it the way we did, we still had a good descent of the gorge below St-Disdier to come.

All in all a truly spectacular col: the east side is by far the more challenging going either way, but both sides are really worth the effort.

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