Home
The latest Col Collective film comes from the second highest pass in the French Pyrenees

Also known as the Port de Pailhères, the Col de Pailhères is the second highest road pass on the French side of the Pyrenees, but as Mike Cotty discusses below, it's much less heralded than the only taller one, the Col du Tourmalet.

Nevertheless, topping out at 2,001 metres, it has featured in the Tour de France on five occasions since 2003.

None of those have been summit finishes, however, with each of those stages finishing in Ax-3-Domaines other than in 2007, when the finish was at Plateau de Beille.

Here's what Mike Cotty has to say about the climb:

Located in the Ariège department in the Occitanie region of south-west France, the Col de Pailhères joins the village of Mijanès in the east to the spa town of Ax-Les-Thermes in the west.

Despite being just one of two road passes to top 2,000m in the French Pyrenées (the other being the legendary Col du Tourmalet at 2,115m) the Pailhères was a relative late comer to the world of professional cycling, appearing for the first time in the Tour de France in 2003.

A popular climb for cyclo tourists crossing the mountains from coast to coast the Pailhères has a certain serenity that only increases the higher you go and, although it may only be 10.4km from Mijanès, with switchback upon switchback and views that’ll leave you in complete awe it’s a far grander climb than it may otherwise have you believe.  

Vital statistics

Start: Mijanès
Length: 10.4km
Summit: 2,001m
Elevation gain: 871m
Average gradient: 8.4%
Max gradient: 11.5% 
Ridden in October

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.