Port de Pailhères (Ax-les-Thermes)

Start Town Altitude Elevation Gain Length Gradient Difficulty Rating
Ax-les-Thermes 2,001m 1,266m 19.0 km 6.7% 1,272 ****






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Climb Description

Port de Pailhères may not be one of the most famous cycling climbs in the area, but it is one of only two passes in the French Pyrenees which is over 2,000m altitude - the other of course being the legendary Col du Tourmalet. The Tour de France has taken notice of the potential of Port de Pailhères in recent years, with the race visiting five times between 2003 and 2013. The most recent of which saw Nairo Quintana lead over the summit on his debut in the race.

The Tour de France has largely used the other side so far, following it with a stage finish at nearby Ax-3 Domaines, but the climb from Ax-les-Thermes is also a giant of a climb. The gradient gets increasingly steeper towards the top and it is an ascent which requires you to measure your effort well. The scenery is pleasant throughout: it is largely forested on the lower slopes, but opens up impressively as the switchbacks begin higher up the climb. Overall, this is a great climb which we highly recommend.

Port de Pailhères is usually open from May to October, but can be open considerably longer depending on local weather.


Port de Pailhères (Pyrenees) Cycling Climb

The views at the top are among the finest in the Pyrenees






Roads & Traffic

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





Alternative Routes

Port de Pailhères can also be climbed starting from Usson-les-Bains.




Nearby Climbs


Ax-3 Domaines

Col du Chioula

Col de Puymorens

Port d'Envalira

Col de Marmare

Plateau de Beille

Col de Port

Port de Lers





Cycling Holidays

Port de Pailhères is one of the highlights of our Pyrenees Coast to Coast cycling holiday.

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





Port de Pailheres Cycling
French FlagFrance

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 10 Days
Level: Difficulty Hard
Price: €1,610 EUR
French FlagFrance

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: €1,350 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Lagos de Covadonga
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: from €1,130 EUR