ACROSS THE PYRENEES: FRANCE & SPAIN
Guided Cycling Holiday
The first half of the holiday is in France, where you will climb iconic Tour de France mountains such as Col du Tourmalet, and Col d'Aubisque. Half way to the Mediterranean, we cross into the Spanish region of Catalonia, and ride some of the highest climbs of the Vuelta a España before finishing in the coastal city of Barcelona.
Similar to our French Coast to Coast holiday; this is a really beautiful tour which combines incredible and diverse scenery along the entire route. As well as excellent cycling, we stay in charming towns and villages, giving you a real experience of the unique culture in each different region.
Unlike the well known Raid Pyrenees route, the emphasis of this tour is not to get from one coast to the other as quickly as possible, but rather to take our time to fully appreciate the stunning scenery along the way. But don't underestimate it, this is still a very physically demanding challenge with long distances and significant climbing each day.
The route is challenging, but accessible to a wide range of riders. On each day you can choose to do the shorter route, which crosses the most famous passes, and the longer route which includes additional out and back climbs such as Port de Bales, and Hautacam.
To find out more about this tour, click on the tabs to see the itinerary, tour highlights, and all the practical information about the holiday.
Day 1 - Arrival - St Jean de Luz
Here we will fit the bikes, and then you are free to explore the town. You can also visit the city beach near to the hotel and take a dip in the Atlantic. Depending on your arrival time, there is also the opportunity to do short circular ride around the town.
France's Atlantic Coast
Day 2 - Basque Pyrenees
The first cycling day is quite long at just over 100km as we quickly leave behind the busier coastal roads, entering the western edge of the Pyrenees range.
The basic route is relatively gentle, with rolling terrain along beautiful country lanes, rather than any steep climbing.
This area of the Pyrenees is not as popular with cyclists as the central part; however, the scenery is stunning, with narrow roads, winding around vibrant green hillsides. The main climb of the day is the very modest Col d'Osquich, which is a nice way to get the legs warmed up for the days to come.
For those looking to start the tour with a real challenge, there is the opportunity to extend the route to climb the formidable slopes of Ahuski towards the end of the day.
The Route: 115km (1,800m Elevation)
With Extension: 145km (2,650m)
The steep slopes of Ahuski - an optional extension
Day 3 - Marie-Blanque & Aubisque
The medium route is the same length as the shorter option, but tackles the Col de Marie-Blanque before the Aubisque. This is another Tour regular, and is a short but tough climb, with gradients consistently above 10% in the final 4km.
Both routes finish in the charming historic town of Argeles Gazost after a long and very fun descent. For cyclists with a lot of energy, there is the chance to extend the route from here to include the hors categorie climb to Hautacam.
Shorter Route: 104km (2,100m)
Medium Route: 105km (2,600m)
Longer Route: 138km (3,750m)
Col d'Aubisque Balcony Road
Day 4 - Col du Tourmalet, Hourquette d'Anzican & Col de Portet
From Luz-Saint-Sauveur the climb is 19km at an average gradient of 7.4%, with the last kilometre a gruelling 10%. The scenery on the climb is predictably spectacular, especially once you get above the tree-line 8km from the summit.
After descending Tourmalet, the tour continues heading east and the famous climbs keep coming. Next up is Hourquette d'Ancizan, a relative newcomer to the Tour de France, but already recognised as one of the more iconic climbs of the region. Although it is not a particularly difficult ascent.
The extension options are for those of you with very strong legs, with the possibility to climb to either Luz Ardiden or Col de Portet.
The day finishes in the charming town of St Lary Soulan.
The Route: 89km (2,600m)
With Extension: 113km (3,600m)
Col du Tourmalet
Day 5 - Col d'Azet & Col de Peyresourde
Both are really enjoyable climbs, with steady gradients and passing through forests which gradually give way to superb open scenery near the top.
The ride finishes with one of the best descents in the Pyrenees, down into the charming town of Luchon. It was this descent where Chris Froome attacked in the 2016 Tour de France to claim a stage win in unusual fashion.
The longer route has two optional extensions at the end of the day. The climb to Port de Bales is highly recommended, and is one of our favourite roads in France. Very quiet and really fun to ride, it offers views of Aneto and Maladeta - the two highest peaks in the entire Pyrenees mountain range. Another option is the climb to the ski resort of Superbagneres, another multi-time stage finish in the Tour de France.
Short Route: 46km (1,450m)
With Port de Bales Extension: 79km (2,400m)
Top of the Col de Peyresourde
Day 6 - Col du Portillon & Port Bonaigua
With an elevation of over 2,000m, Bonaigua is one of the highest road passes in the Spanish Pyrenees. Its gradients are mostly quite gentle, hovering around 5- 6%, and the scenery is exceptional towards the top, making it a really nice climb to ride. It has featured several times in both the Vuelta a España and Tour de France.
There is the option to extend the route with climbs to either Pla de Beret or Port Ainé, before a long and fast descent into the charming Catalan town of Sort.
The Route: 107km (2,100m)
With Pla de Beret Extension: 120km (2,500m)
Port de la Bonaigua
Day 7 - Port de Canto & La Vansa
Here there is the option of extending the ride to the ski resort of Port del Compte, before a long and fun descent to the town of Sant Llorenc de Morunys. Sant Llorenc is a small and picturesque historic village with fine mountainous views all around, and is a great place to sample some of the excellent local Catalan cuisine.
The route: 117km (2,700m)
With Extension: 128km (3,100m)
The climb to La Vansa
Day 8 - Catalan Pyrenees & Montserrat
We finish, however, in the Montserrat Natural Reserve – a stunning site which is as notable for its dramatic rock formations, as for its 6th century Benedictine Abbey which nestles into the mountain side.
The climb to Montserrat is a pleasant one – which is challenging but not too hard for something coming at the end of the day. We stay in a beautiful 16th century hotel at the top of the climb, surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks.
The optional extension today includes an additional challenging climb to Rasos de Peguera
The route: 113km (1,850m)
With Extension: 143km (2,900m)
Montserrat Natural Reserve
Day 9 - Barcelona
We follow a winding route to avoid the busy roads around Barcelona, passing through some of the Cava vineyards which are emblematic of this region. We then enter Barcelona from the west and climb over the small Montjuic hill – home to the Olympic Village and finishing circuit of the Volta a Catalunya race.
From here, it is just a short descent down to the Mediterranean Coast to complete our journey across the Pyrenees.
One of Europe's great cities, there is so much to see in Barcelona, and it also has a fine gastronomic tradition – which makes it perfect for hungry cyclists!
The route: 87km (1,300m)
Day 10 - Departure
If you would like to continue your holiday, we would be happy to arrange for you to spend time in a city or coastal town nearby. Popular options include Barcelona, Girona and the Costa Brava.
To find out more information about this holiday; including practical information, prices, dates and more tour highlights; return to the top of the page and click on the various tabs.
The Costa Brava - One possibility to extend the tour
On the way you will see the landscape change from rolling hills, to high mountains, to Mediterranean vineyards. The rides are demanding, but also rewarding. And you will be burning a lot of calories, so its also a great excuse to enjoy the excellent French cuisine of the region!
Check out just a few of the many tour highlights in our photo album below:
- ✔ Nine Nights Accommodation (see the Hotels section for more details)
- ✔ Transfer to and from the arrival/departure point (see below)
- ✔ Continental breakfast every day
- ✔ Lunch and refreshments every day. Lunch is sometimes taken in a restaurant, and sometimes a picnic.
- ✔ Luggage transferred between hotels
- ✔ Support vehicle along the route
- ✔ Detailed maps and route information for each day, with clearly marked points of interest.
- ✔ Route extensions every day for those of you who wish to cycle
- ❌ Flights
- ❌ Tour Extensions
- ❌ Travel Insurance
- ✔ Carbon Road Bike Hire (Optinal extra - see below for details)
More details about our bikes can be found on our bicycles page. The exact model depends on availability, so please get in touch if you would like more information.
All of our bikes come with helmets and handlebar bags if required, as well as a Cycle Fiesta water bottle.
Difficulty Level & Roads
It's advisable to have done a considerable amount of preparation in the months before the trip, if you want to get the most out of the holiday.
If you are concerned about the distances and the amount of climbing on this tour, you may prefer our Best of the Pyrenees tour, which has more flexibility and the option to do shorter rides on some days.
The roads in the Pyrenees are generally in excellent condition and the routes we use have little traffic throughout the year.
Find out more about our tour difficulty levels here.
Arrival and Departure
We are also able to transfer from San Sebastian if required. San Sebastian has an airport, although it currently only serves domestic flights from Madrid and Barcelona. However, it is well served by train, with regular services from Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona.
The departure point is Barcelona. Barcelona has a large international airport serving many destinations throughout the world.
It also has regular train connections to nearby airports including Girona and Reus, as well as to most of the rest Spain and France.
In all cases we will transfer you to/from the airport or rail station as is required.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please browse through some of the frequently asked questions about this cycling tour. If you have any further questions, or would like any more information, please contact us and we will answer by email.
When can I do this tour?
We run this tour in summer each year when all of the passes are open.
The weather is generally warm, sunny and dry. But this is high mountains, so it is also unpredictable. We strongly advise that you bring appropriate clothing for all conditions. In general, it is slightly warmer and drier on the Spanish side, than the French side of the Pyrenees.
Groups of more than six people please contact us to arrange the dates for a private tour starting on any date from late May to the end of September.
How big are the groups on your tour?
We usually limit the groups to a maximum of 10 people. We find that if there are many more than that, it can become a bit unwieldly. We think that smaller groups also provide for a more
personal experience, as well as enabling to book more easily in some of our favourite restaurants.
Who is leading the tour?
All of our guided tours are led personally by the founders of Cycle Fiesta - Ian & Lucia.
See our about us page for more information.
What is a single supplement?
Our prices are based on two people sharing a hotel room (in a double or twin room). For cyclists that wish to stay in their own room, the single supplement is payable.
Can I make any changes to the itinerary?
If you are booking a private tour as part of a group, the itinerary is entirely flexible. Feel free, for example, to change the number of days, the difficulty of the routes, to add longer transfers or to include evening meals.
Please contact us and we would be happy to discuss all the options with you.
On the 'public' tour, there is still some flexibility in the itinerary, with different route options each day and the possibility of being transferred at times. We can also add extra nights at the start or end of the trip if you wish to spend longer in St Jean de Luz or Argeles-sur-Mer.
What is your cancellation policy?
The full cancellation policy can be found in out terms and conditions.
Why book with us?
We are a small and independent company who are locally based, which offers several advantages:
- We have a lot personal experience of all of our tours, which have been refined over many years. We believe we are genuine experts in the regions where we run tours, and we are also close at hand to offer support and a personalized service.
- We are flexible and can tailor our itineraries to suit your requirements.
- We have low overheads. We don't spend money on advertising and don't use third party agents. We only sell our tours through this website.
By cutting out the middle man, you can be sure that more of what you pay is being spent on the important things: like hotels, equipment and other services.
- We are a registered and fully bonded tour operator in accordance with EU regulations.
Where can I find more information about the region?
You can check out our guides to cycling in the Pyrenees:
Pyrenees Cycling Guide Pyrenees Top 20 Climbs
And we also have information about most of the climbs that you will tackle on this route in our French Pyrenees and Catalonia climb sections.
The following are among the most well known, as well as a couple of our lesser known favourites:
Hotel de Paris
Auberge de l'Etable
Hotel les Cimes
Hotel Neste de Jade
Hotel Les Brases
Hotel Abad Cisneros
Hotel Gran Via
|Price (per person)¹
|Choose your Date²
¹Price is based on two people sharing a double or twin room. If you would prefer to stay in a single room, the single supplement is applicable.
To reserve a place on the tour, click the button above and complete the reservation form. We will then get back to you within 24 hours to confirm the reservation, and to arrange for payment of the deposit.
For more details on the booking process, please check out our Reservations page.
²DatesWe run this tour on request for groups of eight or more people. Please contact us to arrange a guided tour starting on any date.
For groups of ten or more riders the price is lower.