This is the first ride we ever did in the Pyrenées and it takes in no less than three cols. This includes two famous Tour de France climbs being the greats in Col du Soulor and Col d'Aubisque. Certainly cycling the Col d'Aubisque
This ride takes you from Argeles Gazost to the small village of Saint Savin and great views of the mountains all around. The road is constantly uphill as you wind your way up through beautiful tree lined countryside beside a small stream. The looming heights of the surrounding mountains are a good indication of what is to come. Once you reach the town of Estaing, take the turn to the right onto climb Col des Borderes. From here the summit is 3kms up a short but very steep climb, before dropping down to the village of Arrens Marsous and the bottom of Col du Soulor.
The Col du Soulor is 7.5km long and maintains a fairly steady gradient for the whole climb. As you keep passing the kilometre markers on the roadside you start to understand what these climbs are really like. Soak in those amazing views as you make your way to the top. It is quite common to see flocks of sheep grazing on the surrounding roadside pastures as you get closer to the summit.
From the top of the Col du Soulor the road drops down to the Cirque du Litor, which is seemingly perched on the side of a cliff. Personally we think this is one of the most spectacular roads you could ever wish to ride. You will pass through two short tunnels before heading up to the top of the Col d'Aubisque. The actual climb of the Col d'Aubisque from this approach is not very long but don't be misled by the average gradient of 4.6% as the final kms are much steeper.
Once you crest the summit you will see the famous giant bikes, each representing a jersey in the Tour de France. During the peak summer cycling season the summit is a hive of activity. Cycling the Col d'Aubisque is a bucket list climb for thousands of people so enjoy the atmosphere. Often you are not just sharing the climb with other cyclists but also herds of cattle too! Be sure to take some time to soak in the view before retracing your steps back to Arrens Marsous. From here you take the main road all the way back to Argeles Gazost on beautiful smooth pavement, that makes for an amazing decent.
Distance: 67.7km / 42.1mi
Start elevation: 469m / 1,538ft
Max elevation: 1,708m / 5,608ft
Metres climbed: 2,150m / 7,053ft
Metres descended: 2,154m / 7,068ft
Categorised climbs: 3
Looking over at Cirque du Litor from the top of Col du Soulor.
There is a café or bar at both the top of Col du Soulor and Col d'Aubisque. You will pass through the villages of Arrens Marsous, Aucun and Arras-en-Lavedan on your way back home all of which have options for food and water should you wish to stop. There are plenty of facilities in Argeles Gazost, the start and finish point.
We have seen these friendly donkeys at the top of Col du Soulor on each of our trips there.
You will typically see these wild horses along the roadside as you are cycling the Col d'Aubisque
A photo at the big bikes from the summit of Col d'Aubisque is a must!
The top of Col d'Aubisque is always a hive of activity.
Cycling the Col d'Aubsique climb is just one of many great cycling routes to discover in the Pyrenees. 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:
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.