Cottian Alps

Cottian Alps
French: Alpes Cottiennes; Italian: Alpi Cozie

Monte Viso in the Cottian Alps, seen from the Rocciamelone
Highest point
Peak Monte Viso
Elevation 3,841 m (12,602 ft)
Coordinates 44°40′18″N 7°15′13″E / 44.67167°N 7.25361°E / 44.67167; 7.25361


Countries Italy and France
States/Provinces Piedmont, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Range coordinates 44°45′N 7°00′E / 44.75°N 7°E / 44.75; 7Coordinates: 44°45′N 7°00′E / 44.75°N 7°E / 44.75; 7
Parent range Alps
Borders on
Orogeny Alpine 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).


The name Cottian comes from Marcus Julius Cottius, a king of the tribes inhabiting that mountainous region in the 1st century BC. These tribes had previously opposed but later made peace with Julius Caesar. Cottius was succeeded by his son, also named Marcus Julius Cottius, 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 founded by Peter Waldo and which was persecuted as heretical from the 12th century onwards.[5]


Administratively the range is divided between the Italian provinces of Cuneo and 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:

Monte Viso 3841 12,609 Viso di Vallante 3672 12,048
Aiguille de Scolette 3506 11,500 Aiguille de Chambeyron 3412 11,155
Brec de Chambeyron 3388 11,116 Pics de la Font Sancte 3387 11,112
Rognosa d'Etiache 3385 11,106 Dents d'Ambin 3382 11,096
Punta Ferrand 3364 11,037 Visolotto 3353 11,001
Bric de Rubren 3340 10,958 Punta Sommeiller 3333 10,935
Pic de Rochebrune 3320 10,891 Bric Froid 3302 10,833
Grand Glaiza 3286 10,781 Rognosa di Sestriere 3280 10,761
Panestrel 3253 10,673 Roche du Grand Galibier 3242 10,637
Peou Roc 3231 10,601 Rocca Bernauda 3225 10,581
Pic du Pelvat 3218 10,558 Pointe Haute de Mary 3212 10,539
Pain de Sucre 3208 10,526 Pic du Thabor 3207 10,522
Pointe des Cerces 3180 10,434 Mont Thabor 3180 10,440
Tete des Toillies 3179 10,430 Monte Granero 3170 10,401
Monte Platasse 3149 10,331 Rocce del Rouit 3145 10,318
Mont Chaberton 3130 10,286 Tete de Moyse 3110 10,204
Punta Bagnà 3129 10,266 Monte Meidassa 3105 10,187
Pelvo d'Elva 3064 10,053 Rocca Bianca 3059 10,307
Monte Albergian 3041 9,977 Bric Ghinivert 3037 9,963
Monte Barifreddo 3028 9,933 Monte Politri 3026 9,928
Pic Caramantran 3025 9,925 Bric Bouchet 2998 9,836
Pointe du Fréjus 2934 9,626 Pointe des Marcelettes 2909 9,545
Pic du Malrif 2906 9,535 Monte Orsiera 2890 9,479
Punta Cournour 2868 9,410 Monte Friolànd 2738 8,981


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 snow2962/9718
Col de la Traversette Crissolo to Abriès bridle path2950/9679
Col d'Ambin Exilles to Bramans snow2854/9364
Col de St Veran Valle Varaita to the Queyras Valley foot path2844/9331
Col du Parpaillon Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley foot path2780/9121
Col d'Étache Bardonecchia to Bramans bridle path2787/9144
Col Agnel Valle Varaita to the Queyras Valley road2744/9003
Col Girardin Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley bridle path2699/8855
Col de Sautron Valle Maira to Barcelonnette bridle path2689/8823
Col de Longet Ubaye Valley to Valle Varaita bridle path2672/8767
Col de Mary Ubaye Valley to Valle Maira bridle path2654/8708
Col d'Abriès Perosa to Abriès bridle path2650/8695
Col de la Roue Bardonecchia to Modane bridle path2566/8419
Col du Fréjus Bardonecchia to Modane dirt road2542/8340
Col de Clapier Bramans to Susa bridle path2491/8173
Col d'Izoard Briançon to the Queyras Valley road2388/7835
Col de la Croix or Colle della Croce Torre Pellice to Abriès bridle path2299/7541
Petit Mont Cenis Bramans to the Mont Cenis Plateau bridle path2184/7166
Col de Vars Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley road2115/6939
Mont Cenis Lanslebourg to Susa road2101/6893
Colle Sestriere Pinerolo to Cesana Torinese road2021/6631
Col de Larche/Maddalena Pass Ubaye Valley to the Stura Valley road1991/6532
Col de Montgenèvre Briançon to Susa road1854/6083
Col de l'Échelle Briançon to Bardonecchia road1760/5774
Col de la Vallée Étroite Briançon to Modane foot path2445/8022

See also



Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

  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. 874876
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