A journey on the legendary Coll d'Ares
Coll d'Ares is an international high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.513m (4,964ft) above the sea level, located in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain.
The road over the pass, also known as Col d'Ares, is asphalted. On the French side the road is called D115 and C38 on the Spanish side. The pass was crossed once by Le Tour de France in 1968. Starting from Prats de Mollo-La preste, the ascent is 13.06 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 875 meters. The average percentage is 6.6 %. The descent via the D-115 road is very long and steep. Wrap up well and make sure your brakes are working properly.
The road up to the Coll d’Ares is wide, well paved and has room for failures of newbies. The name of the pass is not derived from the ancient Greek got of war but from the eagles. Don’t be confused in the Pyreneen mountains: there are some other passes with the same or a similar name.
Crossing this pass provides, especially in the higher region beautiful sights on the surrounding hills and mountains. Traffic is low on this road. On the pass itself there are only some closed shops. This is a beautiful pass to cross the border between France and Spain because on the Spanish side there are a lot of other, near and beautiful roads.
Crossing this pass you are also crossing 2 additional passes:
Coll de la Seille
Coll de la Guilla
Both passes can easily be noticed because of labels aside the road. Coming from France be careful in Prats-de Mollo – La Preste. This is a tiny little village with a lot of mediaeval buildings. Entering this village leads you to a crossroad with 2 possibilities: Go on driving the D115 or driving through the old lanes of the town. Our choice was the second possibility and I can say it was worth it. You can easily lose your way in this maze of one ways and then you find yourself on the other end of the town on the D115A. If you have never been there you will think that you are still on the way to the pass and will be surprised that the road ends in La Preste Les Bains–. The road is also very beautiful.
On the Spanish side the road, now named C-38, declines much faster as it was inclining on French side so you MUST (!) use your engine brake until you reach the village of Camprodon. The pavement of Spanish side is much better than the French side – this can be a general statement when comparing roads in Spain and France. In Prats-de Mollo – La Preste there is the last fuel station before reaching Spain. Because the road is so wide (two 40-Ton-Trucks can easily pass by on every place on this street – it is a mayor traffic line) there are only rarely guard rails.
Road suggested by: Michael Spannlang