Snow stops opening of French alpine road pass

Late spring snowfall near col d’Iseran means part of Europe’s highest road is still blocked

Road signs at the route du col d'Iseran in eastern France
The road is usually passable at this time of year, however snow is still blocking more than 300 metres of the road. Photo for illustrative purposes only

An alpine road pass is still closed nearly halfway into the year, after continual heavy snowfall delayed its expected reopening. 

The road, known as the Iseran Pass or route de col d’Iseran, sits at 2,770 metres above sea level – making it Europe’s highest – and traverses the valley between col de l'Iseran and Bonneval-sur-Arc (Savoie)

The popular road was set to reopen on Friday (June 14), after being closed over winter due to the conditions.

However this had to be pushed back, as parts of the road were still blocked by thick mounds of snow, some of which were over six metres high.. 

A rare burst of late snowfall in spring and early summer meant the road – which usually opens earlier in the year – had to remain closed for safety reasons. 

Previously, a lack of snowfall in France’s mountainous areas had led to some concern over whether ski resorts would be forced to close, however the eventual snowfall coincided with a larger-than-usual amount of snow falling, eventually delighting alpine holidaymakers.

Despite workers clearing part of the road, the final 300 metres of the pass which leads to Bonneval-sur-Arc is still covered, with fresh snow falling as little as two weeks ago in the area.

There is a ten-metre high ‘snow wall’ on one side of the passage which may also be dangerous for vehicles.

This week’s warm weather in the south and east of France will help dispel some of the snow, however could equally make conditions difficult for workers attempting to clear the road.

Read more: Weather in France June 17 - June 21: Forecast by area this week

It is currently unknown when the road will be able to reopen, with local media Le Dauphiné saying it will not be before June 20.