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Col d'Aubisque visitor guide

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Visit Col d'Aubisque, France

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The Col d'Aubisque is a mountain pass in the west Pyrenees, between the towns of Laruns and Argelès-Gazost and south of Pau and Tarbes.

Explore the Col d'Aubisque

France This Way comment: the Col d'Aubisque is one of our favourite mountain passes in the Pyrenees, and perhaps the most attractive because of the beautiful scenery and the large number of horses, sheep and cows that are free to roam around the mounatins, adding an interesting dimension to the scenery

mountains around the col d'Aubisque

There is a large car park and a restaurant at the Col d'Aubisque, as well as a short walk that climbs further up the hill for further lovely views. When we visited there were more horses than cars in the car park, that seemed very friendly! There is also a hotel, the Hôtel des Crêtes Blanches, between the col and Gourette.

The route to the col from Laruns passes through the town of Eaux-Bonnes and the small ski resort of Gourette. Eaux-Bonnes is a 19th century spa town that has some impressive buildings so you will want to stop to explore the village. Gourette is less interesting to visitors during the summer, unless you are staying in the resort as a base for hiking in the mountains.

The route leading to the Col d'Aubisque is in part due to the spa town of Eaux-Bonnes: the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III in the 1860s, liked to visit the spa towns and beach resorts in the region, and to be able to travel between them easily, so a route was needed...

Shortly before you reach Gourette, you can stop in the Ley parking area, from where a short trail leads to a 140 metres high waterfall called the Cascade de Ley.

Of course, it is the mountain scenery in the higher parts of the route that is the highlight of your visit. The col d'Aubisque is at a height of 1709 metres and you see a large expanse of meadows and numerous mountains: the highest peak here is the Pic de Ger, at an altitude of 2613 metres and to the south of the col.

Note: you can only visit the col d'Aubisque from early summer to late Autumn: it is usually closed by snow in other seasons.

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Cycling the Col d'Aubisque

The Col d'Aubisque is one of the most popular routes on the Tour de France and has been part of the race more than 70 times. It was first included in 1910, when the road was still a very basic track.

If you are approcaching from Laruns, the first few kilometres is at around 5% slope, but after Eaux-Bonnes there are several sections with slopes up to around 10% and a short section at 13%, before a final few kilometres at around 8%. Overall, you will climb at an average slope of 7.2% for around 17 kilometres.

If you are approaching from the east, you will first need to cross the Col du Soulor, then climb the Col d'Aubisque, but overall this route is easier than the approach from the east: around 30 kilometres at 4%, but remember this includes a downhill section from the Col du Soulor, so you will still find plenty of steeper sections!

At the summit you can see the statues of three bicycles - these are much larger than you might think from the photo, perhaps five metres tall, and every cyclist who gets here likes to have their photo taken with the bikes!

Bikes of the tour de France at the col d'Aubisque

Attractions nearby

The Col d'Aubisque is one of a sequence of cols that cross the Pyrenees, called the Route des Cols. Others in this part of the Pyrenees include the Col d'Aspin, the Col du Tourmalet and the Col de Peyresourde, all equally well known to cycling enthusiasts.

Laruns is a very small town with a picturesque town centre where you can also find restaurants and a supermarket.

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

See also: 

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Map of Col d'Aubisque and places nearby

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Visit near Col d'Aubisque with France This Way reviews

Gourette

Gourette

Gourette s a small ski station on the route to the Col d'Aubisque near Eaux-Bonnes

Gourette guide
Eaux-Bonnes

Eaux-Bonnes

Eaux-Bonnes is a 19th century belle-epoque spa town at the base of the Col d'Aubisque

Eaux-Bonnes guide
Laruns

Laruns

Laruns is a pretty village, but it is the surrounding mountain scenery that attracts most visitors here

Laruns guide
Pyrenees National Parc

Pyrenees National Parc

The Pyrenees National Parc contains a great deal of the most beatiful mountain scenery in France

Pyrenees National Parc guide
Saint-Savin

Saint-Savin

It is the abbey church in Saint-Savin, and the surrounding countryside, that make a visit recommended

Saint-Savin guide
Sarrance

Sarrance

The small village of Sarrance is in the valley of the Gave d'Aspe and has an interesting church to visit

Sarrance guide

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

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

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