Port d'Aulà is one of the most beautiful roads of the Pyrenees
Port d’Aulà is an international high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.265m (7,431ft) above the sea level, located on the border of France and Spain.
Where is Port d’Aula?
Set high in the Pyrenees mountain range, the pass links the Ariège department in the region of Occitanie, in southwestern France with the Province of Lleida in the western part of the autonomous community of Catalonia, in north-eastern Spain. The road to the summit offers amazing views, especially over the Etang de Prat Matau and Etang d’Areau, two alpine lakes.
Can you drive to Port d’Aula?
In France, the road to the summit is stunning. It’s totally unpaved and called Route Forestiere du Port d’Aula. Built in the 1970s, it’s said to be one of the most beautiful roads in the Pyrenees. The drive is extremely challenging, very narrow (impassable for 2 cars at the same time) with 43 hairpin turns. The last part of the road is closed to motorized private vehicles. Starting at Couflens, the road to the summit is very steep, hitting a 12.9% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. The ascent is 17.8km (11.06 miles) long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 1.570 meters. The average gradient is 8.82%. On the Spanish side there’s not any road to the summit.
Why is Port d’Aula famous?
This place has seen dark times linked to the history of the 20th century. During the Civil war in Spain (1936 to 1939) many refugees escaping of the Franco regime crossed the Pyrenees, particularly through this port, hoping to find a home in France. They were quickly disillusioned by the atrocious conditions in which they were overcrowded in camps on the French side. Then, during the Second World War, the port of Aula saw the passage in the other direction of French Jews fleeing the Nazis and the Vichy regime.