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Cycling Holidays Col du Tourmalet


Col du Tourmalet

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Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Lourdes

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Tour de France 2012 Col du Tourmalet
Bagneres de Bigorre
Argeles Gazost


The Col du Tourmalet

The region local to the Col du Tourmalet covers of the Vallée des Gaves with the famous towns of Lourdes , Argeles Gazost and Luz Saint Sauveur and the Vallée de Campon with Bagnères de Bigorre, Campan and Ste Marie de Campan.

The medieval town of Lourdes and the larger town of Tarbes are both located close to the entrance of these valleys and provide the perfect combination of busy tourist town, flat, rolling hill and mountainous cycling. Tarbes Lourdes international airport is located between the towns and offers a very short transfer time to properties in the area. Ryan Air (UK & Ireland) Hop (France) and Iberia (Spain) all fly to this airport.

Vallée de Gaves

Argelès Gazost – A pretty village in the widest part of the valley with access to many of the famous climbs. The Col d’Aubisque, Col du Soudor and Col de Tramassel all start here. This is a great family destination thanks to the number of different activities available.

Luz Saint Sauveur - A busy touristy resort with a bustling town center full of shops and bars, built at the confluence of the Bastan and Gave river valleys. The village marks the start of the westerly climb to the Col du Tourmalet. 

Barèges – Small ski village on the climb to the Col du Tourmalet

Vallee de Campan

Bagneres de Bigorre is a beautiful market Spa town at the altitude of 550m and located in the Campin Valley. It is the largest settlement in the valley, which has had a wealth of history since 28BC, when the Romans first developed the regions natural thermal hot springs. Over the year’s plagues, earthquakes and fires have shaped the fortunes of this pretty town. The famous Géant du Tourmalet statue, spends its winters here, before being escorted to the summit of the Col du Toumalet on the first Saturday of June.

Sainte Marie de Campan is a tiny hamlet significant for its position at the start of  both the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin.  There are a handful of shops, bars, cafe and restaurants.

Pic du Midi in winter. Mountain biking possible in summer

Pic du Midi in winter. Mountain biking possible in summer

Lourdes Pic du Fer funiculaire - Location for 2015 UCI MTB DH event

Lourdes Pic du Fer funiculaire - Location for 2015 UCI MTB DH event


The Col du Tourmalet (2115m) may be climbed by road bike from the Gaves and the Campon valleys. The more popular climb is from the western Luz Saint Sauveur side from which it is a 19.4km climb at an average of 7.4%. Alternatively at approximately 100km, a circular route may be attempted in a day by riding either clickwise of anti clockwise up one valley to the col and back down the other side and adjacent valley.

The vallies either side of the Col du Tourmalet boasts some of the highest concentration of famous road cycling peaks, including Tour de France climbs anywhere in the world. A selection of other popular rides in the area are. Col d’Aubisque (1709m), Col du Soulor (1474m), Col d’Aspin (1489m). In addition the five ski resorts of the valleys provide a number of well maintained deserted hill climbs, such as the Col de Tramassel, the Col des Tentens (2208) above Gavarnie and the Pont d’Espange above Cauterets.

When does the Col du Tourmalet Open. 

During thre winter the Col du Tourmalet is closed and the area becomes a ski resort. The roads to the Col start to be cleared of snow around the beginning of May, but the roads may not officially open until the end of the month. In 2014 the col opened from the La Mongie side on on the 23rd May, but not until the 22nd of June from Barèges due to flood damage.

Family – Located in the Vallées des Gaves between Pierrefittle Nastalas and Lourdes is a 25km section of Frances famous voie vert, or green routes. This is a section of paced road built from a disused railway track reserved for bikes, walking and non motorized vehicles.

Mountain biking is popular all over the area.

From Lourdes the Pic du Fer funicular (open mid March to early November) can take mountain bikers up to a 900m viewpoint over the town. ON the 12 April 2015 Lourdes will host the UCC Mountain bike world cup

The Tournaboup chairlift (part of the Grand Tourmalet ski resort) opens in high summer and gives access 4 marked downhill tracks and numerous enduro trails back to the valley.

The observatory at Le Pic du Midi (2872m) can be reached by cable car from La Mongie from early July until late September. Epic descents on quiet single track can be made back to either valley.


The 2015 Tour de France will spend 3 days in the Pyrenees, but the 188km stage 11 will be the big one for the region. Starting in Pau, it passes through Lourdes, Bagneres de Bigorre then over the Col d Aspin via Arreau. It then takes a sharp left turn at Saint Marie de Campan before climbing the Col du Tourmalet from the eastern side, descending into  Luz Saint Sauveur before finally climbing to Cauteret

UCI MTB World Cup Lourdes. On 10/12 April 2015, Lourdes will host the first round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. This will be the first time the cup has been held in the Pyrenees and the only round to be held in France. 

Montée du Géant du Tourmalet - On every first saturday of June, the statue of Octave Lapize is transported from its winter resting place in Gerde, Bagneres de Bigorre, to its famous prominent summer position on the Col du Tourmalet. The statue, inaugurated in 1999, is a tribute to the 1910 Tour de France winner Octave Lapize. 

The day starts in Bagneres de Bigorre where hundreds of cyclists, many in traditional cycling clothes and some on vintage bikes, line up to follow the truck  loaded with the statue up the famous climb. The route is lined with local people playing live music and farmers offering a selection of regional wines, sausages and cheeses. The event is free to enter.