Cycling Cirque de Troumouse

If you get the chance to cycle the climb of Cirque de Troumouse you are in for a real treat. This ride can be classified as a hidden gem in this part of the Pyrenees. Due to its location within the Pyrenees National Park, the Cirque de Troumouse climb has never been featured in the Tour de France. The Tour’s loss is your gain though as it is an absolutely stunning hors catégorie climb that has it all. Topping out at an elevation of 2110m (6923ft) it is also one of the highest climbs in the Pyrenees.

We have ridden this climb 3 times now and always love it. Make no mistake it is a tough one, but well worth the effort. The final 3km to the top are now car-free so don’t be fooled into thinking that once you get to the car park and auberge the ride is over. Bikes are permitted to ride past the boom gate and onto the top. Once at the top we always love sitting and taking in the 360-degree mountain views. You definitely feel very small. It’s always nice to roll back to the auberge for a well-earned drink and some food before the descent.

Our cycling routes in the Pyrenees page has 40 great routes for you to choose from. It covers the entire length of the Pyrenees and includes all the iconic climbs.

Two cyclists descending the switchback road of Cirque de troumouse. A lesser known climb you've never heard of in the pyrenees

Cycling up the Gorge de Luz

This route begins from Argeles Gazost, although you could certainly start the ride from any of the towns between there and Luz Saint-Sauveur. Personally, we have always enjoyed the warm-up winding through the valley and on up through the Gorge de Luz gives you. A few kilometers from Luz Saint-Sauveur you will ride past the Pont Napoléon bridge. A quick stop here affords you fantastic views of the deep, rocky gorge and valley. In the summer months, you may be fortunate to watch some people bungee jumping from the bridge!

The town of Gédre marks the start of the climb. Once you make your way through the cobbled streets and take a series of hairpin bends you will immediately take a left turn. Whilst your ride to get to this point is all uphill – the real climbing begins now.

The Cirque de Troumouse climb begins

There is no other way about it – the road to the summit is hard. Steep ramps of over 13% await you, and if you are riding this climb in the heat of summer you will be exposed to the full force of the sun. After passing through a set of toll gates (ride on through it is free to continue for those on bikes), you will start climbing the first set of spectacular switchbacks. The road is narrow and cut up and it is quite common to see sheep and cattle grazing on the pasture beside it. If you are lucky you may even spot a marmot! The spectacular views you are afforded as you gain elevation will hopefully distract you from the double-digit gradients.

Spectacular road leads to the summit of Cirque de Troumouse

A quick descent follows and as you pass a small cafe on your left, you may be hoping the climbing is finished. But the road ahead tells a different story. One final set of switchbacks and 3kms/1.8mi of climbing awaits you. From here the road to the top stays consistently between 10 – 11%. With the big rock amphitheater looming large you will feel quite small in this stunning landscape.

A small car park at the top signifies the end of the climbing. If you feel like a short hike there are walking trails to be found at the summit. Personally, we think the views of the hairpin road with the surrounding large mountains is one of the most spectacular in the whole of the Pyrenees – make sure you take some photos!

Quick Stats

Route stats

  • Distance – 91 km / 56 miles
  • Meters climbed – 2 218m / 7 276 ft
  • Max elevation – 2 110m / 6 923 ft

Food, water, and toilets

There are numerous villages on the route which offer up the chance to replenish your food and water supplies and use public toilets.

  • Argeles Gazost – there are two public toilet facilities in Argeles in the town center and shops, supermarkets, and cafés for food and water. You can top your water bottles for free at one of the taps in the town center.
  • Luz Saint-Saveur – there is a public toilet behind the Tourist Information Centre and plenty of places for food and drink.
  • Gédre – there are public toilets, cafés, and water. When we climb Cirque de Troumouse we usually have a quick stop here and fill water bottles.
  • Cirque de Troumouse – There is an auberge located at the base of the last set of switchbacks, 3kms/ 1.8 mi from the summit of the climb.

Other similar nearby routes

Cycling to Cirque de Troumouse is just one of many great cycling routes in the Hautes Pyrenees that you can enjoy. Here are some others that you may also like to try

  • Col des Tentes – another one of the hidden gems of the Pyrenees.
  • Col du Tourmalet – this one needs no introduction. A true icon of the Pyrenees and definitely one for the bucket list
  • Luz Ardiden – if you like hairpin bends then this one is for you. 26 hairpin bends, 5 more than Alpe d’Huez