Port de Balès (Mauléon)

Start Town Altitude Elevation Gain Length Gradient Difficulty Rating
Mauléon-Barousse 1,755m 1,178m 19.5 km 6.0% 1,119 ****

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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.

The Mauléon-Barousse is the tougher side, but also the less scenic. It is an enjoyable and really pleasant ascent, but much of the climb is in forest and the views really only open up in the final 3km. The scenery towards the top, however, is fantastic, with great views of Mont Né and across to the Ariège Pyrenees.

Port de Balès is usually open from May to October .

Port de Balès from Mauleon (Pyrenees)

Watch out for cows on the road if you descend this way!

Roads & Traffic

The road surface is in fairly good condition for most of the climb. On the upper part of the climb there are sections with some loose gravel and some tight, narrow corners, but it is still comfortable to ride on a road bike.

There is very little traffic on the climb.

Alternative Routes

Port de Balès can also be climbed from Luchon in the south; this is our preferred side.

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