Col de Tentes (Cirque de Gavarnie) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Col de Tentes (Cirque de Gavarnie)


A gorgeous climb past Pont Napoleon and Gavarnie

Page Contributor(s): Bill Capobianco, Laguna Beach, CA, USA

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Climb Summary

Col de Tentes Climb Summary

Pont Napoléon Saut à l'élastique

The Col de Tentes bike climb is at the crossroads of greatness - the starting point for this magnificent ride can also be used to climb Tourmalet and/or Luz Ardiden.  The Argeles-Gazost/Luz-Saint Sauveur area is one of the greatest climbing zones in the world, home to Tourmalet, Ardiden, Soulor, Aubisque and several more.

The Tentes climb is in the Pyrenees mountain range of southwest Europe and forms the natural border between France and Spain.  Along with the French Alps, the Pyrenees are annually host to the mountain stages of the Tour de France.  The climb begins in Luz-Saint-Sauveur which is a commune in the French Hautes-Pyrenees department.  The town has a population of 1,098 (1999) and is known by locals as “Luz” and its inhabitants are Luzeans.  The incomparable Napoleon Bridge, completed in 1861 as a compliment to Napoleon Bonaparte who cherished the Pyrenees, is located at the southern edge of Luz-Saint-Sauveur over the Gave de Gavarnie Ou de Pau. .


Climb begins in Luz St. Sauveur (near start of Col du Tourmalet)  

Enter Gedre at km 6.3


Formal Col des Tentes climb begins at km 19 just past Gavarnie

The “official” climb is 10 km gaining 766m at 7.7%.


Very narrow road and some cliff action along the climb.


Station de ski Gavarnie Gedre at km 25.


End of the line at km 30.

Steepest kilometer begins at km 21.4 (8.7%)

The climb is located in Parc National des Pyrenees which was created in 1967 and is 50,000 hectares (123,552 acres)  

It does not appear that this climb has ever been included in the Tour de France.  The road continues on as gravel for for 1.6 km at 3.5% to Port de Boucharo. Wikipedia notes:

“ The port of Boucharo has long been a crossing point in the Pyrenees. The idea of ​​building a road is old. The construction of a road was thus planned by Napoleon in 1811. But it was not until the 1930s that studies were started in this direction. With the Spanish Civil War , then the Second World War , the project is set aside.

While in 1969 the road was completed on the French side, no road was ever built on the Spanish side. Finally the last 2 kilometers between the Col de Tentes and the port of Boucharo are downgraded. The tarred pavement is then removed to make way for a path accessible to people with reduced mobility in the first 800 meters.”  

Three other exceptional bicycle climbs begin near the start of Luz Ardiden.

Luz Ardiden

Col du Tourmalet

Cirque de Troumouse