SAint-GErmain, Patron Saint of steep roads

March 31st 2021


Small discovery ride today up to the little hamlet of Saint-Germain. This is a small side valley that I had never visited before. My interest was raised because the road ends in a gravel section that leads all the way up to the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard. This is the old road which was used in Roman times (look out for the signs ‘Voie Romaine’). Because of the snow, that would have to wait for another day, but I was at least curious to explore the asphalt section. 


I took the small roads starting at the center of Séez, repeatedly cutting across the main road to the Col. Although these roads are a lot more quiet, they are also substantially steeper than the main road. I regularly touched 15% on my GPS. At Villard-Dessus (easily spotted from the foot of the climb because of the big white hotel “Au Val Joli”) I took the small road for Saint-Germain. Immediately the views change and you’re in a deserted little valley full of green meadows. A first straight, steep section leads to the waterfall of the Torrent du Reclus. After the bridge, the road becomes even smaller and has a few steep hairpins. There are some nice views of the valley and Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The climb is absolutely deserted apart from some hikers and a few mountainbikers looking for the start of the descent into Séez. The road remains very steep as I reach the hamlet of Saint-Germain. A chapel was built here in the 12th century to commemorate the journey of the body of Saint-Germain. This 5th century saint died in Ravenna, Italy and was transported back to Auxerre, France via this road. Some houses were built around the chapel and that’s how remote mountain hamlets are formed. I continued towards the end of the paved road in La Chavonne. The end is very unsatisfactory and I wished I could go on to the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard over the gravel road. However, that would have to wait for another time. A lovely, quiet ride through some wonderful scenery but I will probably only come back again with my gravel bike to see if I can get all the way up to the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard along the old Roman road.