Vue Sur Le Col AgnelVue Sur Le Col Agnel
©Vue Sur Le Col Agnel|Amoros fabrice

Agnel Pass

An unbearable light breeze

Walkers, contemplative ones, cyclists, shepherds, mountaineers or naturalists, we all have a good reason to say hi to you. A climatic and transalpine border, that charms us so much… A little too much even, on fine summer days. That’s why we’re going to keep on flattering you and your countless wonders, but just a little.

a dizzying sensation

A Mecca

Agnel, at 2,744 meters and the second-highest road pass in the French Alps, is out-of-the-ordinary . But not just for cyclists! It’s a destination, a starting point and a gateway to another world, the immense Italian Val Varaita. The breath of fresh air, the sense of adventure, with Mount Viso and other crazy peaks like the Taillante and Asti Peak. When you emerge from this improbable asphalt serpentine shared by cars, motorcycles and bicycles, the wind slaps you gently in the face. Put your sweater on before opening the door! You’ll gaze at the north glaciers of the Ecrins or at the south showing the Italian Alps. The Agnel Pass is one of those high places that does everything but leave you indifferent.

What about you? Will you feel the same light, jubilant vertigo when you’ll look over the pass? Italians and French meet there on a “tour du Queyras”, for a picnic. We measure ourselves against each other on the pedals. We say hello to each other like good bikers during an Alpine crossing. Some discover life in a refuge, others come to admire the strange red brick wall that runs through the mountain. Many clever people leave to do their first 3,000m on the Caramantran peak (if it’s your first too, you pay the drinks!) or a nice climbing route. If you’re hiking towards the big lakes, you’ll come across a shepherd, his hundreds of sheep and his big white dogs, the patou dogs, that do their job by barking loudly… At the Agnel Pass, the happiest people are those who take their time.

Altitude: 2,744 metres

An out-of-the-ordinary mountain pass

This out-of-the-ordinary mountain pass is a regular feature of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. In a high-altitude setting, it’s one of these exceptional itineraries that you can face with jubilation and… a healthy dose of training (or electric assistance)!

Start from Ville-Vieille
  • Length: 15.2 km
  • Ascent: 1,384 metres
  • average gradient: 6.5 %
  • % maximum: 13 %
Start from Casteldelfino
  • Length: 22 km
  • Ascent: 1,464 metres
  • average %: 7 %
  • % maximum: 13 %

Good to know

The Agnel refuge, located before the last steep slope, welcomes hikers in summers and winters alike for traditional blueberry tarts and much more. In fact, the refuge serves as a stopover during the Tour du Queyras, or as a base camp for enjoying new tracks and summits every day, thanks to its ideal location for ski touring.

Plunged into a transalpine universe

Come with me!

Even if it’s only open from June to October, because of the snow, this pass is a real umbilical cord with Italy. A place steeped in history… For centuries, people came here, cousins to exchange letters and soldiers to pick up fights. The south-eastern road goes down to Pontechianale even more vertiginously than the Queyrassin road to Molines. In just two or three kilometers, no kidding, you’d think the cows were already mooing differently. Enjoy feeling and listening to changes: accents, even if someone responds in your own language, lights, the colors of mountain pastures and the architecture of walls and bell towers. This is Italy! It opens up to you, here, sudden and smiling, like a small journey, just beyond the Col Agnel.

Good to know – Mountain bike traffic

For 2-wheeled enthusiasts, the Bouchouse valley trail is closed to bicycle traffic from the Vieux Pass to the Echalp hamlet parking lot, from July 1st to August 31st, from 8am to 3pm. The aim of this restriction is to preserve the peace and quite necessary for pastoral activities, while allowing mountain bikers to practice at less busy times.

Winter isn't all green...

It's even all white!

In August, the Agnel Pass can be a bit of a crowd, but in winter it’s a white desert. Beautiful snowdrifts cover the road starting in Autumn, the road is cut by the Fontgillarde hamlet  at a place called “le Pont de Lariane”. For a few months, it becomes a groomed trail for your enjoyment, whether you come to dog sledge, cross-country ski, ski-tour or snowshoe. This high, wind-gathering valley is also a great spot for snow kiting. In spring, when the snow rises again, the first marmots coming out may be surprised by this ballet of colorful sails!

The Nebbia trail

On a splendid summer day, coming from the Queyras, you’ll climb up to Agnello to see Mount Viso. You’re greeted by a genuine Italian white cotton sky. You turn around. And no, you’re not dreaming! On the French side, it’s “big blue sky”… You can smile, but Italians are not cooking pasta all at the same time either! It’s the “nebbia”, that condensation fog rising from the immense Italian plain. When the thermal breezes from France’s south-western mountainsides are established enough, it’s a fight on the ridge. This climatic contrast is one of the fascinating features of the Agnel Pass. There are many others, linked to altitude or pastoralism. Discover them by following the “Sentier de la Nebbia”, an educational trail created by the Hautes-Alpes department, starting from the large parking lot just upstream from the Agnel refuge.

Protect the ptarmigan!

Many ptarmigan nest near the Agnel Pass, so it’s essential that you walk your dog on a leash to protect this fragile species.

A quiet zone has been set up from 06/15 to 08/15, with flags indicating an area not to be crossed, to allow the nestlings to grow to adulthood.

The trail is closed to bicycle traffic from the Vieux Pass to the hamlet’s parking lot.

Work completed for

The Queyras Reginal Natural Park and the Hautes-Alpes department have invested time and money in limiting erosion, disturbance and even endangerment of plant and animal species due to the heavy use of the Vieux Pass and rambling. We’re counting on you to be part of the solution.

Project 1: Condemnation and revegetation of parking spaces 

  • Why? To centralize starting points for hikes and prevent traffic.
  • Completed in September 2020
  • Results: The planted seeds have germinated. The areas are revegetating.
  • What can you do to help? Park in the parking lot at the foot of the pass.

Project 2: Modification of trail layouts and revegetation of closed trails & ecological engineering

  • Why do we need to do this? To channel the human flow, limit erosion, avoid sensitive areas
  • Carried out between 2016 and 2019
  • Result: The planted  seeds have germinated. The areas have been re-vegetated.
  • What could be your contribution? You can only wander in your head… don’t go off-trail and even more so here, follow the trails marked out by the cords to climb to the Vieux Pass.