Col du Tourmalet
Available from May - October

Check dates

Col du Tourmalet

The Col du Tourmalet is located south of the religious towns of Lourdes and Tarbes within the Pyrenean mountain range of Hautes-Pyrénées. The Tourmalet sits to the east of the ski station Luz-Ardiden and the town of Luz-Saint-Saveur and to the west of Sainte-Marie-de-Campan near the river Adour. The road takes you through the Neouvielle Park which was one of the first nature reserves in France and is an extension of the National Park Pyrenees.

To ride from Argeles-Gazost you will need to follow the river before cutting left and eastwards through the town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur. After around one km you are faced with the gradient being a pretty significant 7% (average). The road will then take you up through the towns of Viey, Betpouey & Sers. These towns have needed a huge amount of reconstruction since the flooding damage of early 2013 and the road itself is a bit of a slog as you aim towards the ski town, Bareges. You will then pass through part of the ski station connected to La Mongie and the views open up quite magnificently to which on a clear day you can see the summit right in front of you. This is where the climb gets interesting and the major difficulty occurs, you will start to see the historic names written in chalk along the road. The higher you get the steeper it feels. After a few hairpin turns you start to ascend fairly rapidly and with the last km averaging over 10% the relief is fantastic once you see the statue of Octave Lapize and the finish line stretching across the road.

The route from Sainte Marie de Campan differs slightly from the western side of the climb as the gradient eases up over the first 5km and is not so steep to begin with. It still is through just as a harder climb as you will spend the rest of the journey above 8%. This route provides amazing views of the mountains ahead as you pass through the ski resort La Mongie. It is a drag up to the last few kilometres of the climb and three switchback turns which liven up proceedings.

Arguably making up one of the big three climbs of the Tour de France, alongside the Galibier and Col d’Aubisque. The Col du Tourmalet has been included more than any other in the La Grande Boucle. It is here that tour organisers were described by Octave Lapize as murderers with riders often having to dismount their bikes before an arduous trek into the unknown in the early 20th century. This might now not be the case but the legendary stories are still told with revere to this day. It was here that Eugène Christophe walked for miles to fix his forks in a forge near Sainte Marie de Campan to only be disqualified after a boy in the town helped hold the bellows in the forge as he worked to fix the bike. In 2010 the Tour made history as the route passed over the summit twice. The scene of Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck battling for the yellow jersey all the way to the line is one of the defining moments of the modern Tour. In 2014 the tour will pass over for the 83rd time and we are sure more memories will be made, the Etape will also feature this monumental stage.

You can stay in the Pyrenees and climb this historic climb with us here at bikecation. Follow the link for more information LINK .

From Luz-Saint-Sauveur:

Average Gradient: 7.4%

Maximum Gradient: 13%

Length: 17.2km

Height: 2115m

Elevation Gain: 1405m

  • Octave Lapize Statue

  • Col du Tourmalet Cafe in Barages 

 
   Dates Adult(PP)

Write down your review

Frequently asked questions

1. How fit do I need to be for these holidays?

Our Bikecations are designed to attract people of all ages and levels of fitness. All the holidays can be enjoyed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Some holidays involve greater distances or frequency of cycling and some will cover hillier terrain than others. Our tour gradings and itinerary descriptions should help guide you towards the most suitable holiday options for you. If you are not sure, give us a call.

2. How many miles a day can I expect to cycle?

This depends on the Bikecation you choose. These have been graded so you know what to expect.

For a bikecation leisure cycling holiday a gentle pace is about 7-8 miles per hour, so, if you cycle for four hours, you can expect to cover 25-30 miles comfortably. This leaves plenty of time for sightseeing, picnics, visiting castles or churches, stopping for morning coffee or whatever you want to do. You have all day to get to your next stopover, so you can relax and enjoy the countryside. We can also include rest days when you can enjoy other activities if you require.

For our road cycling and bespoke tours for groups we will advise you what is best for the particular trip you wish to ride on. Usually we try to cover 60-100 miles at an average speed of 13.5 to 14.5 mph but this can be slower or faster depending on the group.

3. What do I wear for leisure cycling ?

It is important to be comfortable when cycling so we suggest wearing thin layers of clothing. Padded cycling shorts, a zipped top, windproof light jacket and trainers are standard fare. Fast drying and hardwearing synthetic fabrics are ideal as a base layer as these allow your skin to breathe and wick the moisture away from your skin to the next layer, avoiding the chill which cotton T-shirts can cause. In mid-summer you may just need shorts and a t-shirt. Safety helmets are strongly recommended on all Bikecation holidays and are a legal requirement in some countries so please bring your own helmet. We will send out a What to wear document to you well in advance of your Bikecation.

4. Are cycling holidays suitable for children?

Cycling can make an ideal family holiday, provided the right distances are chosen for the younger members of the party. We would suggest that you call us to discuss the most suitable tours for your children. In most places we are able to offer children’s bikes and child seats, if you have toddlers or babies.

5. How much luggage can I bring?

Your luggage is transported for you every day so bring what you need to make your holiday relaxing and comfortable. Please try and limit it to one item of luggage per person and that it is clearly labelled. On some tours there is a weight limit per item.

6. What happens to my luggage?

We want you to enjoy your Bikecation to the full so, for your comfort, we arrange the transportation of your luggage from one hotel to the next. The only thing we ask is that you leave your suitcases in reception on setting out each morning, and the hoteliers will ensure that it is waiting for you at your next hotel. We will provide luggage labels for you. All you need carry with you are drinks, a camera, waterproofs and sun cream.

7. Is my money safe if anything happens to Bikecation?

Your money is safe when you book your Bikecation. To protect your payments fully, all monies paid by you to us for your holiday are held in a separate Client’s Trust Account and are not released to Bikecation until your holiday has taken place. This practice fully satisfies the requirements of EC and UK law. Please call us if you would like to discuss this further.

Bikecation is also fully licensed by ATOL ( no. T7462) that is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). for full details how how your payments are protected, please read our Your Financial Security page.

8. Do I need to bring my own bike? What type of bike should I bring?

We arrange for hire bikes to be provided for your holiday or tour. However, if you would prefer to bring your own bike then by all means bring it with you, but it must be in good working order. We recommend either a hybrid or a mountain bike fitted with road tyres for our leisure cycling holidays.

For our road cycling trips we can advise on what is best for your situation but we regularly transport bikes to the start destination.

If you do bring your own bike, you should insure it separately. Most household insurance policies can be extended to cover your bike whilst on holiday.

9. What happens if I have a problem with the bike or any other problem en route ?

If you are provided with a bike it will be well-maintained and serviced before being rented out so there should be no problems however, there are emergency numbers provided in the Route Notes for more complex problems.
If you have brought your own bike and you are unable to fix it, we will find you a replacement for the rest of your holiday.

Our road cycling trips will also have back up support with a mechanic unless requested otherwise with a possible spare bike for any major problems.

10. What should I do about holiday insurance?

If you choose a holiday abroad, you should have adequate insurance to cover you for medical expenses and for cancellation or curtailment of your holiday. For holidays in the UK we recommend everyone should have holiday travel insurance. Not all insurance policies cover cycling daily so we recommend Campbell Irvine. For full information, please read our ‘Trip Preparation’ page

11. Where will I leave my car for the duration of the leisure cycling holiday?

In most cases you can leave your car for the duration of your holiday in the car park of the hotel used for the first night’s accommodation. Where parking is not available at the first hotel, you will be advised of the alternative arrangements made for you.

12. I’m on my own – Which holidays are best for me ?

Nearly all our holidays are open to single travellers, but our Group guided holidays may be of most interest. Group holidays give you the opportunity to meet others of like mind and to enjoy cycling together. The group ‘vibe’ continues into the evening if you decide to eat together. A guide will help you appreciate the history and culture of the area you’re visiting.

13. What type of accommodation can I expect?

There is a variety of accommodation ranging from Castles and Chateaux to small boutique hotels and good quality B&Bs, thereby offering a range of different priced holidays. If you have any questions regarding which accommodation is used in the trip you are interested in riding please contact the office.

14. What are the routes like?

The descriptions of our Leisure Bikecations indicate the main types of routes we use on each holiday, such as provincial roads, country lanes, dedicated cycle ways, some tracks and Casa Verdes (disused railway tracks). While we try to use quiet routes wherever possible, you should be comfortable riding occasionally in traffic. Traffic volumes can vary even on minor roads, especially in more popular tourist areas; we sometimes have to use short sections of busier roads to cross rivers or connect scenic routes, and traffic will inevitably be heavier in and near towns.

Some routes include occasional sections on unsurfaced tracks, but these don’t require any specific technical riding skills. If you are unsure of your level, or would like to know more about the cycling on specific holidays, then please do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable reservations team.

15. Do I need to bring money for food?

All the holidays include a hearty breakfast each day. Some also include lunch and an evening meal. Where they are not included, you are free to choose where and when to eat. Some hotels will provide you with a packed lunch on request, but most people like the freedom of stopping at the place of their choice to experience the local cuisine. Some routes have been designed to incorporate gastronomic delights and will include an evening meal. Details are given with each individual tour.

16. Is it possible to extend one of the holidays from a few days to a full week?

We have the resources to design a tour to suit your requirements, incorporating rest days if desired, taking in places that are of interest to you. Give us a call and we will try to accommodate your wishes. The only constraint may be the availability of the accommodation.

17. Can you arrange flights for the overseas tours?

Flights are not included in the tour price, however we can book flights for you. Holding an ATOL licence means that if you book a tour and flight together with us you will have the added piece of mind of the financial protection offered by ATOL. If you prefer to book your own, we recommend that you wait until your tour booking is confirmed before you book any flights and booking separately means you will not be covered by ATOL. For full information on our flight services please contact us on email@bikecation.co.uk

18. When are the tours available?

Departure dates are shown for all tours. Please be aware that the holidays are very dependent on the availability of the selected accommodation. These have been chosen carefully, looking for a high standard to ensure you are comfortable at all times. During busy periods this is not always available, so we advise that you should book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

  • What to do now
  • Enquire now
  • Call us now
    +44 (0)1435 884368

Share this page

Ask An Expert

If you thought this page is useful to your friend, use this form to send.
Friend Email
Enter your message
Cycle Scheme

Subscribe now