Port de Balès (Luchon)

Start Town Altitude Elevation Gain Length Gradient Difficulty Rating
Bagnères de Luchon 1,755m 1,125m 19.7 km 5.7% 924 *****

Port de Balès   Profile

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Climb Description

Port de Balès is one of our favourite climbs in the Pyrenees. It has quiet roads, stunning scenery and a firm place in the history of the Tour de France. Despite only being used for the first time in 2007, Port de Balès quickly entered into Tour de France folklore following the infamous 'chaingate' incident between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck in the 2010 edition.

The climb has also been used once during the Vuelta a España and numerous times in the local Route de Sud race. So far it has always been climbed from the north side, beginning in Mauléon-Barousse, largely because descending that side has been considered too techinical for racing.

Port de Balès Green Scenery

Green scenery with the peaks of Aneto and Maladeta in the background

The Luchon side, however, is the more attractive and the more compelling to col hunters and cycle tourists. The gradients are inconsistent, but generally allow you to keep spinning the pedals and enjoy the stunning scenery. To the south there are incredible views of the high mountains which form the border between France and Spain, while from the top there are equally beautiful views across to Mont Né and the Ariège Pyrenees. This is really a sublime climb and should be near the top of any list of cycling mountains in the area.

The first 3km of the climb are shared with the Col de Peyresourde, and there are numerous other great climbs in the area to include in a longer route. Port de Balès is usually open from late May to October - although this can be extended depending on the severity of the winter.

Port de Balès (Pyrenees)

The climb is very quiet and with beautiful mountain scenery

Roads & Traffic

The road surface is in very good condition throughout and there is little traffic on the climb.

Alternative Routes

Port de Balès can also be climbed from Mauleon-Barousse in the north.

Nearby Climbs

Col de Peyresourde


Col du Portillon

Hospice de France

Col de Menté

Col des Ares


Cycling Holidays

Port de Balès is a highlight of our Pyrenees Coast to Coast and Best Of The Pyrenees cycling holidays.

Check out the information below for details of these and some of the other tours that we run in high mountains.

Port de Pailheres Cycling
French FlagFrance

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 9 Days
Level: Difficulty Hard
Price: €1,980 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

French FlagFrance

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: €1,630 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Lagos de Covadonga
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: from €1,490 EUR