The Pyrenees, France

Legendary climbs, epic landscape

The Pyrenees, France

Legendary climbs, epic landscape

The Pyrenees, France

Legendary climbs, epic landscape

The Pyrenees, France

Legendary climbs, epic landscape

The Pyrenees, France

Legendary climbs, epic landscape

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Highlights

  • Custom itineraries and uniquely personal service
  • Explore France’s rugged and pristine valleys framed by snow-dusted mountains
  • Classic climbs and fast descents yielding spectacular vistas: Col de Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin, Col de Peyresourde
  • Ancient mountain villages, rejuvenating spa towns, and rare flora and fauna
  • Remote mountain villages such Argelès-Gazost and spa towns such as Bagnères-de-Luchon.
  • Legendary cols and villages visited annually by the Tour de France

Seasons

Spring, Summer, and Fall

Starting / Ending City

Tarbes/Bagnères de Luchon

Tour Length

3 to 14 days

Trip Types

 

◊ Self-Guided
With our Self-Guided tours an expert local guide takes care of your transfers, route briefing, luggage moves, and planned transfers. They are also available should you need mechanical assistance, help with a dinner reservation, or general questions. You have a GPS unit, maps, and a detailed guidebook to help you select your route, choose where you eat, and, generally, explore the area.

◊ Guided Group
Our Guided tours allow your group to explore a destination with an expert local guide with a dedicated support vehicle. You will also have GPS units, maps and a detailed guidebook to help learn about both the major sights and the hidden gems. Your guide takes care of both you and all the logistics – from route advice to bottle washing.

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Private Southern France Pyrenees Cycling Tours

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    Where do you want to stay?

    Budget

    Two Star Silverton Inn Suites

    Simple B&Bs and more modest hotels but all well-kept with en suite facilities

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    Classic

    Four Star accommodation

    Smaller hotels or luxurious B&Bs with very personal service often including wine tasting

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    Luxury

    Luxury accommodation

    Some of the nicest full-service hotels in the area. Typically include a pool and a good restaurant

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    Sample Itinerary

     

    Pyrenean roadExplore the rugged side of France where pristine valleys are framed by snow-dusted mountains and peppered with ancient villages. The culture and the food are rural, hearty and deeply satisfying. And, at the end of the day, rejuvenate tired legs in vibrant spa towns.
    The terrain in the Pyrenees is good for strong-intermediate and enthusiast riders as the routes include long climbs and twisting descents made famous by the Tour de France. Notable climbs include the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d’Aspin, and the Col de Peyresourde.

    TOUR LENGTH

    6 Days / 5 Nights

    ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

    Budget  

    Classic  

    START & END

    Tarbes

    SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS

    • Private transfer from your hotel with bike set up and full route briefing at the start of your tour
    • Accommodation and breakfasts
    • On-call roadside assistance
    • Optional transfers along the routes
    • GPS units, maps, directions and a comprehensive guidebook
    • Expert guides delivering superior service

    OPTIONAL EXTRAS

    • Alternative start/end location in Toulouse or Toulouse Airport
    • Customize your route

    BIKE AVAILABILITY

    DAY-BY-DAY FLOW

    Day 1: Tarbes to Argelès-Gazost

    Day 2: Argelès-Gazost Loop Day

    Day 3: Argelès-Gazost to Bagnères-de-Bigorre

    Day 4: Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Saint-Lary

    Day 5: Saint-Lary Loop Day

    Day 6: Saint-Lary to Bagnères-de-Luchon

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    Day One - Tarbes to Argelès-Gazost

    Your trip starts with a van transfer to the rural hamlet of Ibos – 6 miles west of Tarbes and 100 miles southwest of Toulouse. You ride south from the village across rolling farmland and through remote hamlets; typically, just a cluster of houses with a church and a manor.

    As you skirt around the pilgrimage town of Lourdes, you enter the foothills of the Pyrenees and start climbing.

    The Intermediate route climbs gently up to Argelès-Gazost along a rails-to-trails bike path paralleling the fast-flowing River Ousse. The hills close in on either side of the river and you glimpse the snow-capped peaks that lie ahead.

    The Challenge route follows the Intermediate route until shortly before Argelès-Gazost where it detours up Hautacam. This is a challenging climb that starts at an altitude of 1,500 feet and climbs up to 5,000 feet in a little over eight miles. The road ends at the ski lifts from where you descend down to Argelès-Gazost.

    You ride across rolling farmland and through remote villages towards the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees

     

    Pyrenees peaks

    RIDE OPTIONS

    Intermediate
    30 miles with 1,900 feet of climbing

    Challenge
    50 miles with 5,300 feet

    OVERNIGHT TOWN

    Argelès-Gazost

    At 1,500 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, this pretty spa town is well cared for with many flower beds, panoramic terraces, and fountains. The Tuesday market is the oldest of the valley and includes local fare such as sheep’s cheese, honey, blueberries, and charcuterie.

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    Day Two - Argelès-Gazost Loops

    Today’s riding takes you into the Pyrenees National Park – a sanctuary for flora and fauna that stretches for 60 miles along the French border with Spain. This is one of the last pockets of true wilderness left in France. Small lanes twist up the side of snow- capped mountains and cows roam freely across the unfenced valleys.

    The Epic ride takes you on a mountainous adventure over three high cols – Bordères, Soulor, and Aubisque – and down to Asson in the Ouzom Valley. The riding is literally breath-taking as are the views.

    The Challenge route is equally stunning but with less climbing and half the mileage. The ride ends with the Col de Spandelles: a small winding lane that climbs 2,750 feet in ten miles before descending through thick woodland to Argelès-Gazost.

    The Intermediate route also takes you deep into the Pyrenees National Park: to the Lac d’Estaing situated at the top of the valley at an altitude of 3,800 feet. On the lake at the top of the climb, thereis a café that makes a great lunch stop.

     

    One of the last pockets of true wilderness left in France – stretching for 60 miles along the border with Spain

    Col d'Aubisque Pyrenees

    RIDE OPTIONS

    Intermediate
    20 miles with 2,900 feet of climbing

    Challenge
    40 miles with 7,400 feet

    Epic
    75 miles with 8,600 feet

    OVERNIGHT TOWN

    Argelès-Gazost

    At 1,500 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, this pretty spa town is well cared for with many flower beds, panoramic terraces, and fountains. The Tuesday market is the oldest of the valley and includes local fare such as sheep’s cheese, honey, blueberries, and charcuterie.

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    Day Three - Argelès-Gazost to Bagnères-de-Bigorre

    The Challenge ride takes you over the famous Col du Tourmalet. You start heading south alongside the fast flowing Gave de Gavarnie. In the picturesque mountain village of Luz-Saint-Sauveur you turn east and the climbing begins in earnest. Towards the top, the classic switchbacks of the Tourmalet take to the summit. At 6,940 feet, this is the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees. The spectacular views make it all worthwhile and the café makes for a cozy rest stop. From the top of the col, it is almost 20 miles of pure descent into the vibrant market town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

    The Epic route follows the Challenge route but adds in a challenging detour before the Col du Tourmalet up to Luz Ardiden. You rejoin the Challenge route in Luz-Saint-Sauveur.

    The Intermediate route avoids the Col du Tourmalet by taking a northerly loop. You ride on delightful country lanes through the rolling countryside of the Pyrenean foothills. There are numerous villages as well as small farms and orchards along the route. In places, you will be riding a single-lane road alongside a sparkling stream with snow-capped peaks off in the distance.

    Towards the top of the Tourmalet, you twist around the classic switchbacks and realize you have been climbing for 20 milesCol du Tourmalet Pyrenees

     

    RIDE OPTIONS

    Intermediate
    25 miles with 1,900 feet of climbing

    Challenge
    40 miles with 5,500 feet

    Epic
    60 miles with 9,500 feet

    OVERNIGHT TOWN

    Bagnères-de-Bigorre

    Bagnères-de-Bigorre has an ancient history, having been conquered by Julius Caesar in 56 BCE. And, ever since Roman times, visitors have come here to “take the waters.” The town is also a bustling market town with specialties that include lamb, trout, and cabbage soup.

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    Day Four - Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Saint-Lary-Soulan

    Today you push deeper into the mountains: to the ski village of Saint-Lary-Soulan. Your ride starts heading south up the Campan Valley. This is a charming mountain village with an interesting tradition. Each summer, the inhabitants of the village create life-sized dolls made to look like the people of the village. You see these mannequins outside most of the houses.

    A little further up the valley, in Sainte-Marie de Campan you climb east towards the Col d’Aspin.
    The Intermediate route takes you directly over the famous Col d’Aspin.

    The Challenge route takes you a little further south and a little higher: up the Hourquette d’Ancizan – another favorite climb of the Tour de France.

    Both climbs have fantastic views and thrilling descents. After the cols, it is an easy cruise into the ski village of Saint-Lary-Soulan.

    Choose from the Col d’Aspin or the Hourquette d’Ancizan – both favorite climbs of the Tour de France

     

    Bagneres-de-Bigorre Pyrenees

    RIDE OPTIONS

    Intermediate
    30 miles with 3,400 feet of climbing

    Challenge
    30 miles with 4,000 feet

     

    OVERNIGHT TOWN

    Saint-Lary-Soulan

    Saint-Lary-Soulan is in the high mountains located on one of the main routes through to Spain. In winter, it is at the center of the largest ski area of the Pyrenees. In summer, it is abuzz with hikers, climbers and (of course) cyclists. Local cuisine includes the Garbure (ham & vegetable stew) and black Bigorre pork.

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    Day Five - Saint-Lary-Soulan Loops

    For many, riding through the Néouvielle Natural Reserve to the Lac de Cap-de-Long is the highlight of the tour. The raw beauty of this climb takes your breath away as does the final altitude at over 7,100 feet. The climb is a heady mix of forests, craggy peaks, and cascading waterfalls.
    Towards the top of the climb, the views open up and you see that you are riding along the spine of the Pyrenees. Your destination is the Lac-de-Cap de Long – the largest lake in the Pyrenees. There is a small café at the lake which provides the perfect spot to admire the view and appreciate the climb you just completed. You return to Saint-Lary-Soulan the same way you arrived – only much faster.

    For Intermediate riders this is an in-and-out ride to the lake.

    Riders doing the Challenge ride first take in a loop east of Saint Lary that includes the Col d’Azet before joining the Intermediate route up the Lac de Cap- de-Long. The initial, eastern loop adds 25 miles and is on small roads that pass through pretty mountain hamlets. The terrain is a little more benign than the final climb up to the lake but it is still stunningly beautiful.

    The climb is a heady mix of forests, craggy peaks, and cascading waterfalls ending at a lake at 7,100 feet

    Saint-Lary-Soulan Pyrenees

    RIDE OPTIONS

    Intermediate
    33 miles with 4,400 feet of climbing

    Challenge
    55 miles with 8,500 feet

    OVERNIGHT TOWN

    Saint-Lary-Soulan

    Saint-Lary-Soulan is in the high mountains located on one of the main routes through to Spain. In winter, it is at the center of the largest ski area of the Pyrenees. In summer, it is abuzz with hikers, climbers and (of course) cyclists. Local cuisine includes the Garbure (ham & vegetable stew) and black Bigorre pork.

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    Day Six - Saint-Lary-Soulan to Bagnères-de-Luchon

    The Intermediate route today is just twenty miles but features two classic cols from the Tour de France: the Col d’Azet and the Col de Peyresourde. The beautiful lake at Loudenvielle makes for a great lunch stop – between the cols. If you need another snack, there is a small hut selling tasty crêpes at the top of the Col de Peyresourde. At 5,200 feet, this must be one of the world’s highest pancake houses! From here you enjoy a 10-mile descent to the finish.

    The Challenge ride takes you north out of the mountains along the Neste d’Aure river valley. Having given up all your altitude, you begin a 20- mile climb up to Bagnères-de-Luchon over the Port de Balès – another Tour de France climb. The climb starts easily enough but pitches up to over 15% in the sections towards the top. From the top, it is a fast, technical descent down to Bagnères-de- Luchon.

    Your guide will meet you in Bagnères-de-Luchon for your end-of-tour transfer. Your guide can also meet you further back along the route if you decide to shorten the ride.

    More classic cols from the Tour de France and a small hut selling tasty crêpes at 5,200 feet

    RIDE OPTIONS

    Intermediate
    20 miles with 4,600 feet of climbing

    Challenge
    60 miles with 6,500 feet

    OVERNIGHT TOWN

    None

    As this is the last day of your tour, there is no overnight accommodation unless explicitly requested on booking.

    Argelès-Gazost:

    Le Miramont

    This Art-Deco hotel is close to the center of town. The décor is stylishly minimalist but service is warm and friendly. The rooms are also modern and well- equipped. The hotel has a good restaurant and cocktail bar. The property is very close to the Jardin des Bains thermal spa with its multiple pools and treatments.

    Bagnères-de-Bigorre:

    Les Dix Arches

    Stay as the guests of Caroline and Andy in their lovely home in peaceful grounds but also close to the center of town. The rooms in this B&B are simple but all have en suite bathrooms. Other facilities include a hot tub, games room, and pétanque. NOTE: a delicious evening meal – at the communal table – is available by prior arrangement.

    Saint-Lary-Soulan:

    Les Arches

    A great, simple, modern hotel that is well-located in the center of town. Rooms are clean and pleasant and there is a nice pool on the property. The staff is very helpful but the hotel is functional rather than charming.

    Ireland budget hotel features

    ACCOMMODATION NOTES

    Properties in our Budget category are typically simpler B&Bs and more modest inns or hotels. However, all the properties are well-kept with en suite facilities.

    Mix & Match
    You can choose accommodation in different categories in different towns. Please ask for prices.

    Tips & Notes

    Argelès-Gazost:

    Le Viscos

    This family-run hotel has been providing a warm welcome and attentive service for over 100 years. Located two miles from Argelès-Gazost, in the small village of Saint Savin, the property enjoys stunning views of the valley. The rooms are nicely finished in a traditional style. The restaurant serves some of the best food in the area.

    Bagnères-de-Bigorre:

    Carré Py’ Hôtel

    This is a simple, modern and functional hotel in a nice location – on the edge of town by the river. Many rooms have great views of the mountains or down the valley. Rooms are modern and comfortable.

    Saint-Lary-Soulan:

    Mercure Saint-Lary

    This modern mountain hotel is close to all the bars and restaurants in the center of town but set back enough – by the river – to be relatively tranquil and have great views of the mountains. Rooms are simple and modern – most having balconies. There is a restaurant, bar and sun terrace. The hotel also has a pool, thermal spa and fitness center.

    Ireland classic hotel features

    ACCOMMODATION NOTES

    Properties in the Classic category are typically smaller hotels or luxurious B&Bs with very personal service sometimes including wine tasting or evening hors d’oeuvres.

    Mix & Match
    You can choose accommodation in different categories in different towns. Please ask for prices.

    Tips & Notes

    BIKE CHOICES

    Hybrids bikes, a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike

    Hybrids bikes are a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. They have a relaxed riding position and are great for beginners and intermediate riders. A typical model is the Trek 7.3 FX with Shimano components and high-pressure road tires for better cycling efficiency than your typical hybrid.

    Road bikes, a racing style bike with drop handlebars

    Our road bikes are a racing style bike with drop handlebars. The road bikes are faster bikes than the hybrids with less upright riding position. A typical model is the Émonda ALR 5 with aluminum frame, carbon forks, and Shimano 105 components. (NOTE: Some of the smaller roads in Puglia can be a little rough making a hybrid bikes a better choice for some riders.)

    eBikes, designed to give you a little extra assistance when climbing hills

    Our eBikes are designed to give you a little extra assistance when climbing hills. The ride position is very similar to our hybrids. We typically rent Scott E-Sub equipped with a 250W E-drive Bosch motor. If one rider in a couple is stronger than the other, an eBike can be a great choice for the less-strong rider.

    Your Own Bike, if you have a favorite bike, we can help you get it to your destination as well as set it up once it is there

    If you have a favorite bike, we can help you get it to your destination as well as set it up once it is there. Please ask about options for bike shipping and assembly.

    group of cyclists

    OPTIONAL EXTRAS

    Receiving & Assembly
    per bike charge to receive bike from shipper, assemble the bike and repack it and deliver it to a shipper at the end of the tour.

    Bike Boxes 
    a per box charge for the extra logistics needed to handle bike boxes during a tour. Note: this fee can be avoided if you leave your box with your start/end hotel.

    Tandem Bike 
    a per bike fee for the extra logistics to handle a tandem bike that is brought by a guest.

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