Col du Tourmalet is the most iconic climb of the Tour de France cycling race. It is also one of the most challenging in the country. Being the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees, it has an elevation of 2,115 m (6,939 ft). The eastern side of the pass features a La Mongie ski station, while the western side—the village of Barèges. The road to the pass (D918) is open during summer and early autumn roughly from late May through October, weather permitting of course. For the road closure updates, please check the Pyrenees traffic webpage.
If you ascend the pass from the western side, the climb runs for 19-km (12 mi) starting from Luz-Saint-Sauveur, with an elevation gain of 1,404 m (4,606 ft) and an average 7.4% gradient. When you go from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, it is a 17.2-km (10.7 mi) climb, with 1,268 m (4,160 ft) of elevation gain and 7.4% gradient. The steepest sections are close to the top with 10-12%.
Tourmalet is famous for its sheep milk cheese produced in the area. The summit of Col du Tourmalet features a memorial to Jacques Goddet, director of the Tour de France from 1936 to 1986, and a statue of cyclist Octave Lapize. There are also plenty of hiking trails. A short trek leads to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre observatory. Visitors can get inside the observatory and take the funicular down to La Mongie.
When is the best time to visit Col du Tourmalet?
Col du Tourmalet is best visited between late May and October when the road leading to the pass is open. To ensure a safe journey, the Pyrenees traffic webpage has regular updates on road closures. Given the weather changes, the climbers and cyclists should keep a tab on the alerts. Show more
What are some of the locations found near the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees?
Col du Tourmalet, which is situated in Hautes-Pyrénées department found south-western France, is the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees. This mountain pass separates two valleys, Aure, and Campan valleys. The skiers will find the La Mongie ski station located on its eastern side whereas the western side is dominated by the village of Barèges. Show more
What are the route statistics for the climb from Luz-Saint-Sauveur up to Col du Tourmalet?
The 19 km (12 mi) long Col du Tourmalet ascent from Luz-Saint-Sauveur features an elevation gain of 1,404 m (4,606 ft) and a 7.4% average gradient. Starting from the town center, the climb heads southeast towards the Col du Tourmalet sign located at the pass. An enjoyable adventure awaits the climbers with scenic landscapes, thrilling descents, and breathtaking views. Show more
What makes Col du Tourmalet in France popular?
The French Pyrenees is popular for the sheep-milk cheese that the Col du Tourmalet region produces, especially the Barèges-Gavarnie cheese that is considered one of its finest. Besides the cheese, the region is famous for its lamb dishes such as the Navarre-style lamb stew and potato cake. Visitors can also relish the locally produced wines such as Madiran, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, and Béarn wines. Show more
Apart from hiking and cycling, what are some of the other things visitors can do around Col du Tourmalet?
Hiking and cycling are some of the popular activities for visitors to Col du Tourmalet. However, visitors can also visit the Pic du Midi de Bigorre observatory atop the mountain by taking the funicular from La Mongie. The observatory offers a unique astronomical experience and a panoramic view of the Pyrenees. During winter, tourists can enjoy the skiing options at La Mongie ski resort. In addition, thermal spring spas, such as the Aquensis Spa located in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, are well-frequented. Show more