Cottian Alps

Coordinates: 44°45′N 7°0′E / 44.750°N 7.000°E / 44.750; 7.000
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cottian Alps
French: Alpes Cottiennes; Italian: Alpi Cozie
Mont Cenis in the Cottian Alps, seen from the Rocciamelone
Highest point
PeakMonte Viso
Elevation3,841 m (12,602 ft)
Coordinates44°40′18″N 7°15′13″E / 44.67167°N 7.25361°E / 44.67167; 7.25361
CountriesItaly and France
Provinces and regionsPiedmont, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Range coordinates44°45′N 7°0′E / 44.750°N 7.000°E / 44.750; 7.000
Parent rangeAlps
Borders onGraian Alps, Dauphiné Alps, Provence Alps and Prealps, Maritime Alps and Po plain
OrogenyAlpine orogeny

The Cottian Alps (/ˈkɒtiən ˈælps/; French: Alpes Cottiennes [alp kɔtjɛn]; Italian: Alpi Cozie [ˈalpi ˈkɔttsje]) are a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps. They form the border between France (Hautes-Alpes and Savoie) and Italy (Piedmont). The Fréjus Road Tunnel and Fréjus Rail Tunnel between Modane and Susa are important transportation arteries between France (Lyon, Grenoble) and Italy (Turin).


Roman aqueduct of Susa

The name Cottian comes from Marcus Julius Cottius, a king of the tribes inhabiting that mountainous region in the 1st century BC. Under his father Donnus, these tribes had previously opposed but later made peace with Julius Caesar. Cottius was succeeded by his son Gaius Julius Donnus II (reigned 3 BC-4 AD), and his grandson Marcus Julius Cottius II (reigned 5-63 AD), who was granted the title of king by the emperor Claudius. On his death, Nero annexed his kingdom as the province of Alpes Cottiae.[1]


For a long part of the Middle Ages the Cottian Alps were divided between the Duchy of Savoy, which controlled their northern part and the easternmost slopes, and the Dauphiné, which at the time was independent from France. The Dauphins also held, in addition to the southwestern slopes of the range (Briançon and Queyras, now on the French side), the upper part of some of the valleys that were tributaries of the Po River (Valle di Susa, Chisone valley, Varaita Valley). The Alpine territory of Dauphiné, known as Escartons, used to have a limited autonomy and elected its own parliament.[2] This semi-autonomous status lasted also after the annexation of the Dauphiné to France (1349), and was only abolished in 1713 due to the Treaty of Utrecht, which assigned to the House of Savoy all the mountainous area on the eastern side of the Cottian Alps.[3]

After the treaty annexing Nice and Savoy to France, signed in Turin in March 1860 (Treaty of Turin), the north-western slopes of the range became part of the French republic.[4]

Two eastern valleys of the Cottian Alps (Pellice and Germanasca) have been for centuries a kind of sanctuary for the Waldensians, a Christian movement that was persecuted as heretical from the 12th century onwards by the catholic church.[5]


Administratively the range is divided between the Italian province of Cuneo and the Metropolitan City of Turin (the eastern slopes), and the French departments of Savoie, Hautes-Alpes, and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (the western slopes).

The Cottian Alps are drained by the rivers Durance and Arc and their tributaries on the French side; and by the Dora Riparia and other tributaries of the Po on the Italian side.


The borders of the Cottian Alps are (clockwise):


The Northern Cottian Alps from Pointe Clairy

The chief peaks of the Cottian Alps are:

name metres feet name metres feet
Monte Viso 3841 12,609 Aiguille de Chambeyron 3412 11,155
Aiguille de Scolette 3506 11,500 Pics de la Font Sancte 3387 11,112
Brec de Chambeyron 3388 11,116 Dents d'Ambin 3382 11,096
Rognosa d'Etiache 3385 11,106 Visolotto 3353 11,001
Punta Ferrand 3364 11,037 Punta Sommeiller 3333 10,935
Bric de Rubren 3340 10,958 Bric Froid 3302 10,833
Pic de Rochebrune 3320 10,891 Rognosa di Sestriere 3280 10,761
Punta Merciantaira 3293 10,804 Roche du Grand Galibier 3242 10,637
Panestrel 3253 10,673 Rocca Bernauda 3225 10,581
Peou Roc 3231 10,601 Pointe Haute de Mary 3212 10,539
Grand Galibier 3228 10,590 Pic du Thabor 3207 10,522
Pic du Pelvat 3218 10,558 Mont Thabor 3180 10,440
Pain de Sucre 3208 10,526 Tete des Toillies 3179 10,430
Pointe des Cerces 3180 10,434 Monte Platasse 3149 10,331
Monte Granero 3170 10,401 Tête de Moïse 3110 10,204
Rocce del Rouit 3145 10,318 Punta Bagnà 3129 10,266
Mont Chaberton 3130 10,286 Pelvo d'Elva 3064 10,053
Monte Meidassa 3105 10,187 Rocca Bianca 3059 10,307
Monte Ferra 3094 10,151 Bric Ghinivert 3037 9,963
Grand Queyron 3060 10,040 Monte Politri 3026 9,928
Monte Albergian 3041 9,977 Viso Mozzo 3019 9,905
Monte Barifreddo 3028 9,933 Pointe du Fréjus 2934 9,626
Pic Caramantran 3025 9,925 Pic du Malrif 2906 9,535
Bric Bouchet 2998 9,836 Cima Ciantiplagna 2849 9,347
Monte Orsiera 2890 9,479 Mont Froid 2822 9,410
Punta Cornour 2868 9,259 Monte Friolànd 2738 8,981
Pointe de Bellecombe 2775 9,104 Monte Gimont 2646 8,681
L'Aiguille Rouge 2545 8,350 Gran Truc 2366 7,762
Pic de Morgon 2324 7,625 Monte Birrone 2131 6,991
Monte Ricordone 1764 5,787 Monte Freidour 1445 4,741


Colle d'Agnello/Col Agnel, 2,744 m

The chief passes of the Cottian Alps are:

name location type
(as of 1911)
elevation (m/ft)
Col Sommeiller Bardonecchia to Bramans snow 2993/9820
Col de la Traversette Crissolo to Abriès bridle path 2950/9679
Col d'Ambin Exilles to Bramans snow 2899/9511
Col de Saint-Véran Valle Varaita to the Queyras Valley footpath 2844/9331
Col du Parpaillon Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley footpath 2780/9121
Col d'Étache Bardonecchia to Bramans bridle path 2799/9183
Col Agnel Valle Varaita to the Queyras Valley road 2744/9003
Col Girardin Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley bridle path 2699/8855
Col de Sautron Valle Maira to Barcelonnette bridle path 2689/8823
Col de Longet Ubaye Valley to Valle Varaita bridle path 2672/8767
Col de Mary Ubaye Valley to Valle Maira bridle path 2654/8708
Col d'Abriès Perosa to Abriès bridle path 2650/8695
Col du Fréjus Bardonecchia to Modane dirt road 2542/8340
Colle della Rho /Col de la Roue Bardonecchia to Modane dirt road/briddle path 2541/8338
Col de Clapier Bramans to Susa bridle path 2477/8127
Col de la Vallée Étroite Bardonecchia to Modane footpath 2434/7985
Col d'Izoard Briançon to the Queyras Valley road 2388/7835
Col de la Croix /Colle della Croce Torre Pellice to Abriès bridle path 2299/7541
Petit Mont Cenis Bramans to the Mont Cenis Plateau bridle path 2184/7166
Col de Vars Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley road 2115/6939
Mont Cenis Lanslebourg to Susa road 2085/6840
Colle Sestriere Pinerolo to Cesana Torinese road 2021/6631
Col de Larche /Maddalena Pass Ubaye Valley to the Stura Valley road 1991/6532
Col de Montgenèvre Briançon to Susa road 1854/6083
Col de l'Échelle Briançon to Bardonecchia road 1760/5774

See also[edit]



  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alps" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 737–754. Statistics on the Cottian Alps are listed in tables on pages 741 and 742.
  1. ^ Bibliotheca classica or A classical dictionary, John Lemprière, G. and C. Carvill, 1831; pag. 414
  2. ^ Escartons, hommes libres, (accessed on 2012-04-05)
  3. ^ Joseph Visconti (2003). The Waldensian Way to God. Xulon Press.
  4. ^ "Traité de Turin, Signé à Turin le 24 mars 1860 entre la France et la Sardaigne". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. ^ Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 874–876