Great Roads: Port de Pailhères, Pyrenees

Due to be the 8th stage in the 2013 Tour de France, its fifth appearance, Port (or Col) de Pailhères climbs 1,281m (4,200ft) in nearly 12 miles, an average 6.9% with a maximum 10.4% at the summit.

Don’t be put off by that. There are no barriers but no dizzying falls either. It’s only terrifying on a bike.

Best of all it’s a normally quiet back road, between Ax-les-Thermes and Mijanès in the very south west of France. There are no cafés or carparks at the summit, just a sign saying 2,001m (6,564ft) and wide grassy verges to pull over and take it all in.

The night before we stayed in Ax-les-Thermes, on the edge of town, in a wooden chalet hotel (Le Roy René ) for €63.20 for two B&B (and prices haven‘t changed much since).

Port de Pailhères was a pure chance discovery. We were headed for nearby Andorra but heard it was ‘shut’ for its National Day, 8 September. It was annoying at first to have to come this way…

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