Col de la Madeleine, 1993 m
The view of Mt Blanc, 4810 m, is spectacular at the col. It's a classic granite Alpine climb from industrial La Lechère through pine forests, road and views widening out through pretty villages towards the summit.
The south side is fast being developed as a ski resort; on this day there were hundreds of cyclists from the Netherlands enjoying a ride in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières. And four very friendly donkeys in pasture at the summit. The map gives the altitude as 1993 m and the col marker says 2000 m!
This mountain route from the Col de la Madeleine between the Tarantanise valley and Maurienne valleys makes a direct route back to Marseille from Albertville, onwards to the Col du Glandon and the Col d'Ornon. That's a fun route but not easy and not fast, even on a bike. Not this time: I headed up Maurienne valley to the Col de L'Iseran.