The Col d'Aspin is a mountain pass in the central pyrenees, south of Tarbes and Lourdes.

Explore the Col d'Aspin

France This Way review: the scenery of the Col d'Aspin is inevitably very picturesque, although most of the lower parts of the road are in the forest, which is refreshing if you are cycling but rather limits the views.

The Col d'Aspin is a mountain pass at 1493 metres altitude on the route that connects the valley of Campan to the west and the valley of Aure to the east. Visitors will start and finish the route at the towns of Sainte-Marie-de-Campan in the Campan valley and Arreau in the Aure valley.

Scenery on the col d'Aspin

From the car park at the col d'Aspin you can walk a little further up the hill for a better view of the mountains. There are no cafes or shops here so bring water or a picnic, although you might be joined by the cows, horses and sheep that amble around the mountain top...

One of the highlights as you travel the col d'Aspin is the Lac de Payolle, a man made lake in beautiful surroundings of forests and mountains. The Lac de Payolle is next to the ski resort of Payolle and used for various leisure activities such as fishing, canoeing and hiking (in winter the lake is usually frozen).

Note: the col d'Aspin is closed in winter because of the snow


Col d'Aspin cycling

The Col d'Aspin is well known to cycling enthusiasts because it very often forms part of the route of the Tour de France as it passes through the pyrenees.

If you are cycling up the col from the east from Arreau, the route is 12 kilometres long with an average gradient of 6.5%, although this is not evenly distributed: the first two kilometres are about 4% but later stretches can reach a slope of 9%, with the steepest sections around the mid-way point of the climb.

If you are approaching the col from the west, starting from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, the ascent is slightly longer at 13 kilometres but less steep than the eastern slope because you are starting at an altitude of 850 metres (compared with Arreau at 700 metres altitude). The first half is around 3% but the second half is as steep as the approach from the other direction.

Note for non-cyclists: a slope of 3-4% might not sound very steep, but after several kilometres of cycling at this gradient you might have a different opinion, and a slope of 9% is really a lot of hard work for a cyclist who lacks serious training! Just because Tour de France riders make gentler slopes look easy does not mean they are for the rest of us...

Scenery on the col d'Aspin

Attractions nearby

The town of Arreau is charming and has various shops and restaurants, and in a picturesque location on the edge of a river.

If you leave Sainte-Marie-Campan towards the south-west you can reach the Col du Tourmalet, perhaps the most beautiful and best known of the pyreneean cols. These two mountain passes, together with about 30 others, form a sequence of passes from east to west through the pyrenees, called the "route des cols".

See more scenic highlights in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Hautes-Pyrenees guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

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Photos of Col d'Aspin

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Visit near Col d'Aspin with France This Way reviews



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... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Hautes-Pyrenees

The French version of this page is at Col d'Aspin (Francais)