Cottian Alps

Cottian Alps
French: Alpes Cottiennes; Italian: Alpi Cozie
Monviso Cottian Alps.jpg

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
Alps - Cottian.JPG


Countries Italy and France
States/Provinces Piedmont, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Range coordinates 44°45′N 7°0′E / 44.750°N 7.000°E / 44.750; 7.000Coordinates: 44°45′N 7°0′E / 44.750°N 7.000°E / 44.750; 7.000
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).


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
  • 3 Geography

    • 3.1 Borders
  • 4 Peaks
  • 5 Passes
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Maps
  • 8 References


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. 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 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 Maddalena Pass to the south, which connects the Cottian Alps with the Maritime Alps;
  • the Ubayette Valley, the Ubaye Valley, the Serre-Ponçon Lake, the high Durance Valley, and the Guisane Valley to the southwest;
  • the Col du Galibier to the west, which connects the Cottian Alps with the Dauphiné Alps;
  • the Valloirette Valley, the Maurienne Valley, and the Chardoux Creek to the northwest;
  • the Mont Cenis Pass to the north, which connects the Cottian Alps with the Graian Alps;
  • Mont Cenis Lake, the Cenischia Valley, the Dora Riparia Valley, the Po Plain, and the Varaita Valley to the east.


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 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
Punta Merciantaira 3293 10,804 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
Grand Galibier 3228 10,590 Pointe Haute de Mary 3212 10,539
Pic du Pelvat 3218 10,558 Pic du Thabor 3207 10,522
Pain de Sucre 3208 10,526 Mont Thabor 3180 10,440
Pointe des Cerces 3180 10,434 Monte Granero 3170 10,401
Tete des Toillies 3179 10,430 Rocce del Rouit 3145 10,318
Monte Platasse 3149 10,331 Tete de Moyse 3110 10,204
Mont Chaberton 3130 10,286 Monte Meidassa 3105 10,187
Punta Bagnà 3129 10,266 Rocca Bianca 3059 10,307
Pelvo d’Elva 3064 10,053 Bric Ghinivert 3037 9,963
Monte Albergian 3041 9,977 Monte Politri 3026 9,928
Monte Barifreddo 3028 9,933 Bric Bouchet 2998 9,836
Pic Caramantran 3025 9,925 Pointe des Marcelettes 2909 9,545
Pointe du Fréjus 2934 9,626 Monte Orsiera 2890 9,479
Pic du Malrif 2906 9,535 Monte Friolànd 2738 8,981
Punta Cournour 2868 9,410 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[update])
elevation (m/ft)
Col Sommeiller Bardonecchia to Bramans snow 2962/9718
Col de la Traversette Crissolo to Abriès bridle path 2950/9679
Col d’Ambin Exilles to Bramans snow 2854/9364
Col de St Veran Valle Varaita to the Queyras Valley foot path 2844/9331
Col du Parpaillon Ubaye Valley to the Queyras Valley foot path 2780/9121
Col d’Étache Bardonecchia to Bramans bridle path 2787/9144
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 de la Roue Bardonecchia to Modane bridle path 2566/8419
Col du Fréjus Bardonecchia to Modane dirt road 2542/8340
Col de Clapier Bramans to Susa bridle path 2491/8173
Col d’Izoard Briançon to the Queyras Valley road 2388/7835
Col de la Croix or 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 2101/6893
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
Col de la Vallée Étroite Briançon to Modane foot path 2445/8022

See also

  • Alpes Cottiae (the original Roman province)
  • Cottii Regnum
  • Cottius
  • Donnus
  • Ambin group


  • Italian official cartography (Istituto Geografico Militare – IGM); on-line version:
  • French official cartography (Institut Géographique National – IGN); on-line version:


Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Alps”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 737– cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}

  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