Col d’Aubisque via Col de Spandelles and Col du Soulor (north)


For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.

Here is an alternate, quieter route to Col d’Aubisque from Argelès-Gazost. Most cyclists take the D918 direct main road. But frankly the first 10+ kilometres to Col du Soulor just aren’t interesting and can have a fair bit of traffic in summer.

For another excellent (and easier) alternate route to Aubisque via Col des Bordères – see here.

Leave Argelès on the D918 following signs to Aubisque and after a kilometre or so you will see a small sign to turn right to Col de Spandelles.

A few kms later there is another not-that-clearly-signed left turn …. then you can’t get lost.

It’s a tiny road to Spandelles, and tightly treed so few views, but it’s a good choice for the following reasons:

  1. It’s very, very, quiet.
  2. It’s almostly completely shaded, good in a heat-wave.
  3. The descent on the other side is superb.
  4. It leads to best side of Col du Soulor.

The other side is a different world. A scenic valley with open views of hairpins in the distance. It’s a lousy surface and technical descent – and I had to walk behind a herd of several hundred sheep for 10 minutes, chatting with a friendly farmer.

But it’s a beautiful:

Col de Spandelles

At the bottom is a sharp left and then 12 kilometres up to Col du Soulor. This north version is quiet, and super scenic from the very start – in my opinion far better than the well known east side – and the final few kilometres are a cliff road with perfect views of the amazing Cirque du Litor.

Col du Soulor

View of north side of Soulor from Aubisque slopes:
View of north side Col du Soulor

At Col du Soulor I stopped for some calories – enjoying the usual large flock of sheep, cows, and even horses, wandering around.

The route then descends into the fabulous cliff road Cirque du Litor. I struggled to get a decent photo as rain clouds rolled in on my return.

There is now a toll collector at the entrance:

Road to Cirque du Litor

I’ve never done the east side of Aubisque, but the short stretch past Litor on the west side is just beautiful:

Col d'Aubisque

I was tired but happy with this challenging but superb and quiet loop – after Hautacam in the morning – so I celebrated at the Col sign before taking the direct descent back to Argelès. Fast, non technical and I reconfirmed: far less interesting than the route here.


8.4 Very Good

Another quieter alternate route up Col d'Aubisque. Spandelles is OK, the north side of Soulor is the best side of Soulor, and Aubisque is lovely.

  • Views 8.5
  • Difficulty 8
  • Quiet / No Traffic 8.5
  • Fun Factor 8.5
  • User Ratings (13 Votes) 5.8

About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Pingback: Pyrenées Trip Summary : Cycling Challenge

  2. Hi Will,
    Just got back from hols, couldn’t find the right hand turn to spandelles, or I missed the sign!
    Amazing ride though, agree with first 10k, not the best. Cliff road was amazing.
    Great site and thanks

  3. Did this route in 2015. So much quieter and more scenic than the traditional Aubisque route. The signage must have improved since the article – just follow the Route de Spandelles arrows from Argeles and you can’t get lost. The Spandelles descent was still rough with gravel and scored tarmac, but the Solour ascent makes up for it with its awe-inspiring views.

  4. Pingback: Pyrenees day 7 – parts 1 and deux | SteveCycles

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