Col du Soulor - Ferrières Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Col du Soulor - Ferrières


The Col Du Soulor Climb: Jewel of the Tour de France

Page Contributor(s): Lynn Sugden, Sherwood Park, AB, Canada

Explore this Climb

PJAMM Cycling LogoDark Sky logo



If you love climbing by bike and would like more detailed information on the world’s top bike climbs, join our PJAMM Cycling group and receive our Special Edition Climb Report.
  • Receive a monthly report.
  • Get detailed and entertaining information on the greatest bike climbs and climbing areas throughout the world.
  • Discover beautiful landscapes with drone video and professional photos of remote and exotic places.
  • Gain insider knowledge on where to stay and how to conquer some of the most difficult climbs.

Climb Summary

cycling Col du Soulor from Ferrieres - kilometer marker sign - km 12

Summary submitted by Lynn Sugden, Sherwood Park, AB, Canada

It is not well known that as you travel east on D918, the Col d’Aubisque ends at the Station de Ski de Fond du Val d’Azun, and you then ride west to Col de Soulor, eventually ending in the town square of Argelès-Gazost, one of PJAMM Cycling’s World Climb Areas.  We stayed five nights at Des Pyrenees on the square -- it was reasonably priced and a comfortable place to stay with a great view over the town square.  

The real gem is to follow D126, south bound, from Asson up to the Station de Ski de Fond du Val d’Azun.  This is the north-south portion of the Col de Soulor.  How we found this climb is a story in itself.  We stayed in Lourdes, among other things a cycling mecca and close to the Col de Tourmalet.  The LBS is owned by Hubert Arbès, an ex-pro.  He rode as Bernard Hinault's domestique while on Renault-Elf-Gitane in late 70’s and early 80’s.  In 1980, Hinaut, in the yellow jersey after Stage 12, abandoned the tour.  To avoid the media crush, they left by the back door and out of Pau.  Arbès left the tour at the same time.  He drove Hinaut to his house in southern France to hide from the media.

Talking with Hubert Arbès, once he established we were serious and not just tourists, he set us up on a couple very nice bicycles, map in hand and off to the Col du Soulor.  No regrets whatsoever!  Admittedly we found it on a bright, clear, warm day.  The ride starts with the mountains of the Parc national des Pyrénées in front of us as we rolled over gentle hills and through small, rural French towns.  Traffic was calm and accommodating.

As you arrive in Ferrières and Hougarou the climb begins.  At times the grade is challenging, however, the scenery takes your mind off of any muscle discomfort or oxygen deprivation.  

Bike climb Col du Soulor from Ferrieres - road and field

 Col du Soulor from Ferrieres - cyclists riding on road

You travel out of the forest and into highland farmland, then into mountain grazing pastures.  It is common to see sheep and cows wandering the slopes where there are no fences.

Biking Col du Soulor from Ferrieres - forest and roadway leading to col

As you climb further you turn a corner that uncovers an incredible scene.  Across the valley you can see the Col d’Aubisque cutting a path across the Cirque du Litor.  At the intersection of D126 and D918, stop for the obligatory café.  The ski station is 100 meters east of the café.  The descent down to Argelès-Gazost is fast and enjoyable.


Col du Soulor was first featured in the 1912 Tour de France and has been included many times since then.  The race organizers truly were “assassins” -- as Octavio Lapize uttered on Tourmalet in 1910. TdF’s 1912 Stage 10, Luchon to Bayonne, was just plane gruesome -- 326 km with five cols: Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet, Soulor and Aubisque.   Torturous and unbelievable -- truly!

Col du Soulor first appeared in the TdF on Stage 10 1912

Photo - - 1912 Tour de France.

Soulor has not been considered a category climb when it is part of the approach to Col d’Aubisque.  During the post WWII Tour de France (1947) Soulor has been featured 12 times between 1973 and 2010 and will return in stage 14 July 20, 2019.  Other than receiving the prominent HC rank in 1982, it has most often been ranked a Cat 1, but for Cat 2 in 2000.  

Bicycle ride Col du Soulor from Ferrieres - tour de france paint on ground

Col du Soulor -- TdF made it famous and the Vuelta visited in 2016.