A Guide to Cycling Luz Ardiden

Luz Ardiden is a challenging cycling climb located in the Pyrenees that has been featured in both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Starting on the outskirts of Luz Saint Sauveur, the climb rises 993m over 13km at an average gradient of 7.6% before finishing at the ski station of Luz Ardiden. A feature of this climb are the 30 hairpin bends you will navigate on the way up, 9 more than the infamous Alpe d’Huez.

Luz Ardiden Climb Statistics

  • Length: 13km / 8.1mi
  • Average gradient: 7.6%
  • Start point: 722m / 2,369ft
  • Elevation at top: 1,715m / 5,627
  • Category: Hors Category (HC)
  • Tour de France appearances: 9
  • First Tour de France appearance: 1985
  • Last used in Tour de France: 2021
  • Vuelta a España appearances: 2
  • Last used in Vuelta a España: 1992
Gradient profile of Luz Ardiden
  • Nearest town: Luz Saint Sauveur
  • Facilities at top: See below
  • When to ride: May to October
  • Road condition: Great
  • Nearest climb: Col du Tourmalet
  • Number of approaches: 2
  • Through road at top: No
  • Closest bike hire: Luz Saint Sauveur

Cycling Luz Ardiden

While Luz Ardiden has only been used in the Tour de France a handful of times we highly recommend including it on your itinerary if you are planning to visit the Pyrenees on a cycling holiday. It will definitely test the legs and the ever-changing gradient saps the energy as you ascend. A highlight of the climb is looking back down at the road you have just ridden up as it snakes its way up the mountainside. If you are looking for an extra challenge it is close proximity to Col du Tourmalet and the two can be linked in a single ride.

Where to stay to ride Luz Ardiden

If you are planning to cycle Luz Ardiden we would recommend staying in either Luz Saint Sauveur, Argeles Gazost, Lourdes or Bagneres de Bigorre. These are all bigger towns with all the facilities you need for a great cycling holiday and give you access to a range of other climbs as well. You can view our Lourdes region destination guide for more details.

If you are not familiar with the Pyrenees, our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the Pyrenees with climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself depending on which mountains you would like to ride
  • cycling hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets in the Pyrenees
  • getting to and from the Pyrenees
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Our cycling route suggestions start in Argeles Gazost as we know from experience the majority of people visiting the area will stay in, or close to the town. From here it is also possible to include other climbs in addition to Luz Ardiden if you want a bigger ride.

Luz Ardiden via Argeles Gazost cycling route

Cycling route for Luz Ardiden

Click on the link here to see the route in full or download it to your device.

Taking a break on the way from Luz Ardiden to enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains

Starting from Argeles Gazost you will make your way along the valley, through the beautiful Gorge de Luz before getting to the base of the climb. The first 18kms ascend gradually and are a good warm-up before you begin the climb proper. It doesn’t take long before you start tackling those hairpin bends with steady gradients of between 7 – 9 percent for the duration. The climb through the forest section lasts almost 8 km and on a hot day brings with it welcome shelter from the sun. With just over 4 kilometers from the top, you will leave the forest behind and you can see the ski station at the summit. Be sure you stick to the left when you reach an intersection with just 1.5 kilometers to go.

From here the summit is in reach and you can begin to really appreciate the height you have gained. From the top, you will have commanding views of the great Pyrenean giants including the Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam, but it will be that iconic view of those hairpin bends which will bring the biggest smile. It is a one-way road to the top so you also have an exhilarating descent to look forward to all the way back to Argeles Gazost.

In 2021 a cafe/bar opened at the top of Luz Ardiden over the summer months (July – September). We hope that this becomes a regular occurrence as there has usually been nothing open at the top. The town of Luz Saint Sauveur, at the base of the climb, has plenty of cafes and shops to stock up on supplies as well as public toilets.

Nearby climbs to Luz Ardiden

If you are looking for a longer ride or to include other climbs in addition to Luz Ardiden then there are plenty of options to choose from. From Argeles Gazost the valley runs for nearly 40km to the UNESCO listed Gavarnie. The base of Luz Ardiden is located about halfway along the valley making it easy to add on more kilometers. The climbs listed all start in the main valley. You can click on the climb name to see the corresponding page for that climb.

Col du Tourmalet

The base of the Col du Tourmalet is located only a few kilometers from the base of Luz Ardiden and is the closest climb. Including it would add approximately 40km and 1,400m in elevation. You could climb either first depending on your preference and how your legs feel as you will have a nice warm-up before you get to the base of either climb. Col du Tourmalet is the longer of the two.

Hautacam

Hautacam is located on the outskirts of Argeles Gazost at the start of the ride and is another option to consider if you are after a bigger ride. It will add about 30km and 1,200m of climbing. We would recommend climbing Hautacam after Luz Ardiden as you will have a much bigger warm-up before the first climb.

Cauterets Valley

The two climbs from Cauterets, Cambasque, and Pont d’Espagne are all options as well or simply the ride to Cauterets if the legs are not quite up to it. The turn-off to Cauterets is located about 6km from the start of the ride and 12km from the base of Luz Ardiden. Depending on what you choose to do you could add anywhere from 20km to 45km in distance and 410m to 1,400m in elevation gain. You could add these on either before or after climbing Luz Ardiden depending on your preference.

Gavernie

From the base of the Luz Ardiden, you can ride further up the valley to the town of Gavarnie which also gives you the options of the Cirque de Troumouse and Col de Tentes climbs. This will add from between 40km and 90km in distance and 720m and 2,500m in elevation depending on the route you select. The order in which you do these is up to you, there is no reason to complete any particular climb first over the others.