Guide to cycling the Col d’Aspin and the Hourquette d’Ancizan

This route includes two beautiful climbs in the Pyrenees and we think some of the most picturesque scenery as well.

Col d'Aspin Pyrenees

From the start town of Saint Lary Soulan, you will enjoy a pleasant warm up of 13 km/8mi along the valley road to Arreau – the starting point of the Col d’Aspin. Due to the lower elevation levels of both peaks these are both climbs which can still be ridden in winter when the roads to the larger Col’s are cut-off by snow.

Cycling the Col d’Aspin climb

The Col d’Aspin is synonymous with the Tour de France having featured in the race no less than 71 times. When riding the Col d’Aspin from this approach it is just over 11kms long and climbs at a fairly gentle pace for the first seven kilometres allowing you to get into a nice rhythm. The closer you get to the summit, the harder the gradient becomes with steady pitches between 7 and 9% for the remainder. The real beauty of the Col d’Aspin climb though is the changing scenery along the roadside. From the village of Arreau you will cycle through tree-lined sections of road before you start to twist and turn through vast meadow expanses.

The clanging of cow-bells are also a constant sound and more prevalent as you make your way to the summit. Large herds of cattle often gather at the top so be mindful of this as you make your way up to to the summit- and especially on the descent down the other side! Before you descend though get off the bike and look around at where you have come from. The winding road all the way down to the valley is visible and you can feel a true sense of achievement at reaching the top.

Cycling the Hourquette d’Ancizan climb

The turn-off to the climb of Hourquette d’Ancizan is located at Payolle – approximaely 6kms on the descent from the top of the Aspin. You will take a left turn here and begin the 10km climb. The lower slopes climb quite gently and whilst there are some steeper sections towards the top, in the main the gradient remains quite pleasant. As you climb you will find a mix of open both open meadows as well as sections of forest.

On a hot Summer’s day you will be thankful for the shade which the alpine forest affords you. Like the Col d’Aspin it is also very common to see grazing animals here – when we climbed we saw cows, horses and donkeys all the way along. You are never on your own in this area of the Pyrenees with the animals for company. From the top it is all downhill to the village of Ancizan and then back to your starting point of Saint Lary.

Quick Stats

Distance: 55.8km / 34.7mi

Start elevation: 816m / 2,677ft

Max elevation: 1,564m / 5,131ft

Metres climbed: 1,519m / 4,985ft

Metres descended: 1,519m / 4,985ft

Categorised climbs: 2

Cyclist at the summit of Col d'Aspin. Views of the Pyrenees mountains in the background.

Summit views at the top of the Col d’Aspin

Food and water

Options for food and water can be found at the town of Arreau which is located 12km/7.5mi from the Col d’Aspin Summit. You will also be able to top up supplies at Payolle before you begin the climb of Hourquette d’Ancizan.

Highlights

  • Cycling two categorised climbs made famous in the Tour de France.


  • The summit views from Col d’Aspin are truly stunning with the valley road in the distance.


  • The rustic charm of the Pyrenees is really on display on the Hourquette d’Ancizan.
A herd of cows at the summit of Col d'Aspin in the French pyrenees

It is quite normal to see herds of cows adorning the road whilst cycling the Col d’Aspin.

Col d’Aspin

Length: 11.59km / 7.2mi

Average gradient: 6.7%

Start point: Arreau

Elevation at top: 1,480m / 4,856

Horquette d’Ancizan

Length: 10.1km / 6.28mi

Average gradient: 4.65%

Start point: Payolle

Elevation at top: 1,564m / 5,131ft

A rider cycling past a donkey on the climb of Hourquette d'Ancizan. A ride in the French Pyrenees

The open grazing pasturelands of the Pyrenees means it is common to have animals along the roadside.

Hourquette d'Ancizan cycling climb

The lower slopes of the Hourquette d’Ancizan are stunning, with large grassy meadows all around.

Hourquette d'Ancizan summit view across the French Pyrenees

The summit of Hourquette d’Ancizan affords you fantastic panoramic views across the mountain range and valleys below.

Discover our comprehensive guide to Cycling in the Pyrenees

Cycling the Col d’Aspin and Hourquette d’Ancizan climbs is just one example of themany great cycling routes in the Hautes Pyrenees which you can enjoy. This area of the Pyrenees is very popular with cyclists who are keen to ride some of the famous climbs of the Tour de France for themselves.

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

  • a map of the French Pyrenees with climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself whist on your cycling holiday
  • cycling hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to and from the Pyrenees
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Click here to see a list of cycling routes available in the Pyrenees. We have mapped out 38 rides across five regions within the Pyrenees mountain range for you to explore.


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Looking down a layer of cloud in the valley from the summit of Col du Tourmalet

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