Col du Tourmalet Region
Pyrenees and the Col du Tourmalet Region
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.
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
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.
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.
Luz – Col d’Tourmalet (Western Side) 19km 727m – 2110m Hight Gain 1387m Average Gradient 7.3%
Sainte-Marie-de-Campan – Col d’Tourmalet (Eastern Side) 16.5km 850m – 2115m Hight Gain 1265m Average Gradient 7.5%
Sainte-Marie-de-Campan – Col d’Aspin (Western Side) 12.8km 850m – 1484m Hight Gain 635m Average Gradient 5.2%