02 March 2015

The Creperie on the Col

One of the best landmarks of cycling

There is the Giant of the Tourmalet, the Henri Desgrange stone pillar on the Col du Galibier, the pointed white observatory on Mont Ventoux, but without a doubt one of the most beloved landmarks for visiting cyclists to France, is a tiny creperie on the crest of the Col de Peyresourde in the Pyrenees.

Why, because cyclists can linger at a table at this creperie and watch fellow cyclists come and go with a sense that they have not been the first, nor will they be the last. It's also a gem exactly because it is not. It's a shack.

As I sit at home in the United States, I often think of that small brown wooden building on a grassy pass in France. I remember the characters who work inside, who take the time to ask where cyclists have traveled from. They ask knowing the answers will most often vary greatly, for this creperie is not located at a peak, but along a passage. A passage that hosts cyclists from around the world often on their way to other magnificent mountain passes.

It is a place to say "I have been there!"

So when I read today, that this special creperie, on the Col de Peyresourde, had been damaged by a recent avalanche at the end of February, my heart sunk. Oh no! Not the creperie!

Read (and see the images): Café on Col de Peyresourde damaged, by Velo Peloton.

I have cycled to the creperie three times and driven past it a few more. It is a fantastic place and I hope it is rebuilt in all its shack-like glory. I have stood next to this landmark with family, friends and by myself. It is a place I like to imagine still exists.

©All photos by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

The wonderful Creperie on the Col de Peyresourde, Pyrenees, France

On the Col de Peyresourde on Tour de France day 2012:

Everyone here - rode their bike to the top
A landmark for cyclists
A great place to people watch
The scene at the top of the col with riders coming and going
The creperie set up for max capacity on Tour de France day
Camping out before the stage start
We visited Peter Thomson of Thomson Bike Tours at their perfectly placed perch on the Col in 2012
Typical scene on Tour de France day with campers, cars, hikers and cyclists
Camping all along the west side of the road to the Col de Peyresourde
This is what is feels like to camp out in advance of the Tour de France (this is a choice location). We rode up from Arreau on this day.
The simple beauty of cycling up the Col de Peyresourde on a non-Tour de France day in 2010 - pure peace and quiet.
My first visit to the creperie in 2008 with my brother Mike, and friend Dash.

Learn more about the climb to the Col de Peyresourde  on VeloPeloton's informative page: Col de Peyresourde

The road up and over the Col de Peyresourde travels along the bottom of that valley floor (left (west) to right (east)) between these mountains. The ridge in the background unleashed it's snow on the small wooden structure of the creperie below (view from the top of nearby Peyragudes Ski Resort)
Location of the smooshed creperie


My favorite climbs scattered across the Pyrenees are: Col de Agnes, Col du Portillon, Col de Peyresourde, Hourquette d'Ancizan, Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, Hatuacam, Col du Soulor, Col d'Aubisque, Col de Marie Blanque, Col d'Ichere.

Map of my favorite climbs in France https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zF3Mdi_RS4EA.khPsCpthHhgk

Also read an earlier post by Pedal Dancer - a travel series : Guess Where? #2