Pyrenees Cycling Holiday - Route des Lacs
French FlagFrance

BEST OF THE PYRENEES

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday

French FlagFrance

Best of the Pyrenees
Self-Guided Cycling Tour
Length: 9 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging to Hard
Price: from €1,220
This self-guided cycling holiday in the Pyrenees tackles the best known and most spectacular cycling climbs in the region. On this holiday you will enjoy the incredible scenery and real sense of accomplishment from conquering Tour de France climbs such as Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aubisque and Route des Lacs.

The routes on this tour are very flexible. The shorter options generally include just one climb each day, while there are multiple route extensions, allowing more ambitious riders to tackle two or three climbs on any given day. You can pick and choose each day whether to do the easier or harder options, depending on how your legs feel!

This holiday is multi-centered, staying in several different towns and villages, allowing you to see more of the region and climb all of the most famous cycling mountains in the Pyrenees. And you can choose to do it either as a self-guided trip, or as a guided tour with full van support.
Best of the Pyrenees Tour Map
Click on the map to view in full screen


Tour Availability


J F M A M J J A S O N D



Day 1 - Arrival in The Pyrenees

We will pick you up from one of the arrival points and transfer you to the historic town of Argèles-Gazost. Surrounded by some of the most iconic climbs in cycling, this is the ideal place to begin the holiday.

Depending on your arrival time there is the opportunity to do a ride through the valley, or to tackle one of the shorter climbs in the region, such as Cauterets-Cambasque or the Col de Spandelles.
Cirque du Litor
The Cirque du Litor

Day 2 - Col du Soulor & Col d'Aubisque

There are three different route options today, so you can choose whether or not to ease into the holiday. The main climb of the day, which is included on all of the routes is the Col d'Aubisque.

At just over 1,700m in altitude, the Aubisque is a stunning climb, particularly the section known as the Cirque du Litor - a balcony road nestled into the mountainside which constitutes the final 8km of the climb. Aubisque is the second most featured climb in the history of the Tour de France, and is undoubtedly one of the most iconic ascents in the Pyrenees.

The medium route includes an additional rolling section and a beautiful climb via the northern side of the spectacular Col du Soulor. While the longer and most challenging route also tackles another Tour de France regular, the scenic Col de Marie-Blanque before returning to Argèles-Gazost.


Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 62km (1,500m Elevation)

Medium Route: 101km (1,950m)

Long Route: 140km (2,900m)
Col d'Aubisque
Col d'Aubisque

Day 3 - Hautacam & Luz Ardiden

The day begins by tackling one of the marquee stage finishes of the Tour de France in recent years - Hautacam. Made famous by a stunning attack by Bjarne Riis in the 1996 edition of the race, the inconsistent grades of Hautacam have continued to provide great racing and incredible scenery ever since.

From Hautacam there is a short ride along a delightful gorge to the lively town of Luz St Sauveur. Here the short route comes to an end, while the longer route tackles another of the great climbs in the region - Luz Ardiden. Best known for the dramatic hairpins which make up the top section of the climb, Luz Ardiden is really fun to ride. The road is virtually empty and the views are incredible, while the gradient is often challenging but without ever getting too steep.

From Luz Ardiden you can descend back to Luz St Sauveur for a well deserved rest.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 51km (1,550m)

Long Route: 80km (2,600m)
Luz Ardiden Final Hairpins
The Final Hairpins of Luz Ardiden

Day 4 - Cirque de Gavarnie & Cirque de Troumouse

The ride today features a couple of climbs which have never appeared in the Tour de France, but were simply too good to leave out of this tour- Cirque de Gavarnie and Cirque de Troumouse. Their National Park status has made them off limits to the Tour (and all the circus that comes along with it), but its lack of professional cycling heritage barely seems relevant when you catch a glimpse of the 3,000m high rocky peaks forming the border between France and Spain.

The shorter route just tackles Gavarnie - the more spectacular of the two, while the longer route also conquers the Cirque de Troumouse. This area has stunning views throughout the climbs and Gavarnie is also home to one of the highest waterfalls in Europe. The longer route counts on nearly 3,000m of climbing over 90km.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 60km (1,650m)

Long Route: 91km (2,700m)
Looking into Spain from Cirque de Gavarnie
Looking into Spain from Cirque de Gavarnie

Day 5 - Col du Tourmalet & Hourquette d'Anzican

No Pyrenees cycling holiday would be complete without tackling the most famous climb of all - Col du Tourmalet. Tourmalet has been included more than any other mountain in the Tour de France and is one of the most iconic routes in the sport.

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 longer route is for those of you with strong legs, and includes the climb of another Tour de France regular - the Col d'Aspin. The hairpin bends, steady gradients and impressive pastoral scenery all make the Col d'Aspin a lot of fun to ride.

The day finishes in the charming town of St Lary Soulan.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 69km (2,200m)

Long Route: 103km (2,950m)
Col du Tourmalet
Col du Tourmalet

Day 6 - Route des Lacs & Col de Portet

The main climb of the day is the incredibly scenic ascent along Route des Lacs into the heart of the Pyrenees National Park. Due to its protected national park status, the climb has never featured in the Tour de France, but it is undoubtedly one of the finest in all of France.

The narrow roads climbs to nearly 2,200m along inconsistent gradients through beautiful landscapes. The highlight comes at the top, where there is a stunning view overlooking the mountain lakes and snow-capped peaks.

The longer route is for those of you with very strong legs, as it tackles arguably the toughest climb in the Pyrenees - the Col de Portet.

First used in the 2018 edition of the race, where it became an instant hit, with Nairo Quintana winning on the day, the Col de Portet has consistently challenging gradients throughout. Itss also extremely beautiful, with perfect hairpin bends offering exceptional views into both the valley below and of the surrounding mountain peaks.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 53km (1,500m)

Long Route: 89km (2,900m)
Route des Lacs
The climb along Route des Lacs

Day 7 - Col d'Azet & Col de Peyresourde

The shorter route today tackles the Col d'Azet and the Col de Peyresourde. Col d'Azet is a beautifully quiet and scenic climb, offering views from the top in all directions. While, along with Aubisque and Tourmalet, the Peyresourde is one of the key passes in the Pyrenees and is a regular on the Tour de France.

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 ends the day with the additional climb up to Superbagnéres. Featuring regularly as a Tour stage finish in the 1970s and 80s, stage winners here include all-time greats such as Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault. It is a fairly tough climb, with open impressive scenery on the upper slopes, where you get views of Aneto and Maladeta - the highest peaks in the Pyrenees.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 46km (1,450m)

Long Route: 80km (2,550m)
Col de Peyresourde
Top of the Col de Peyresourde

Day 8 – Port de Bales & Col du Portillon

The final day in the saddle gives you the option to tackle two or three of the finest climbs in this part of the Pyrenees. The shorter route climbs Port de Bales - which is one of our favourite climbs in the whole of France thanks to the varied scenery and winding road.

From Port de Bales you continues over gently rolling roads through the town of Saint-Bertrand-des-Cominges, which is home to some impressive Roman ruins. A short ride through the foothills of the Pyrenees then takes you to the hotel, in the relaxing spa setting of Capvern.

There are two optional extensions today. The medium route includes the out and back climb to Col du Portillon, a pleasant medium length ascent which takes you right up to the border with Spain.

The longer route tackles the steep slopes of the Col de Menté. This climb that has often appeared in the Tour, and played a key role in 1971 when Eddy Merckx won the race for the third year in a row! This route also ascends the modest slopes of the Col des Ares on the way to Capvern.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 83km (1,600m)

Medium Route: 102km (2,350m)

Long Route: 143km (2,950m)

Pyrenees Open Scenery
Open Scenery

Day 9 – Depart

The tour comes to an end today. We can transfer you to the departure point (see info section for the options). Or, we can also arrange for you to spend extra time in the Pyrenees if you would like to continue cycling, hiking or simply resting in the stunning surroundings.


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.
A satisfying tour!
A fulfilling tour!

As the name of the tour suggests, we explore the best of the Pyrenees on this holiday! You tackle many of the legendary climbs of the Tour de France and quite a few lesser known gems - including Routes des Lacs and Cirque de Gavarnie.

Check out our photo album below to see some of the highlights:

Included
  • 8 Nights Accommodation (see the Hotels section for more details)
  • 8 breakfasts in the hotels
  • Transfers to and from the arrival / departure point (see below)
  • Luggage transferred between hotels
  • Full GPS routes with extensions if you wish to cycle further on any day (as well as a few short cuts!)
  • Detailed information pack
Not Included:

Bicycles
Bicycle hire is an optional extra on the self-guided ones (as we know that some of you may prefer to bring your own). Our bikes for this holiday are lightweight 11 speed carbon road bikes. They are all fitted with a 34 tooth compact chainring and a 32 tooth large sprocket on the cassette, so hopefully you will be able to spin your way over the climbs!

All of our bikes come with helmets if required. More details can be found on our bicycles page regarding the kind of bikes we can provide for this tour.
Road Bicycles One of our carbon road bikes

Difficulty Level & Roads
We rate this tour as challenging to hard difficulty. The shorter routes each day generally tackle one significant climb; they are tough rides but accessible to riders of a wide range of abilities, as the daily distances are often not too long.

The longer routes are hard! They tackle two or even three climbs and on some days have around 3000m of elevation. If you plan to ride these routes then its important to have done some training in the weeks leading up to the tour.

Find out more about our tour difficulty levels.

Arrival and Departure
The arrival point is Tarbes or Lourdes. We will pick you from the airport, train station or other accommodation in either of these towns and transfer you to Arg´les-Gazost.

The departure point is Capvern train station. We can also transfer you back to Lourdes or Tarbes.

Tarbes and Lourdes are served by a small airport (Lourdes-Tarbes) with regular flights to London, Paris, Rome and various other destinations. They are also very well connected by train. There are several daily trains to Toulouse, which is home to the largest airport in the Pyrenees. And there is also a fast train directly to Paris which departs several times throughout the day.

The departure is from Capvern, from where you can get direct trains to Toulouse. If you would prefer, we can also transfer you to Tarbes-Lourdes airport, or Tarbes train station (for connections to Paris and elsewhere).

Upon request we can also arrange private transfers directly to Toulouse airport.

Please contact us if you would like any advice or more information regarding getting to and from the Pyrenees.

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.


What is the difference between the guided and self-guided tour?

We run this tour as either guided or self-guided. Both options follow similar routes routes. They both involve transfers at the start and end of the trip, luggage transfers each day, full route information and maps and accommodation.

The guided option runs on set dates and is with a group of usually between 6 and 10 riders. In addition to the above, it also includes a guide cycling with the group and a support vehicle, which provides assistance and also refreshments. On the guided tour lunches (taken in local restaurants) and bike hire are also included.

On the self-guided tour, bike hire is an optional extra (you may wish to bring your own) and there is no vehicle support or cycling guide.

When can I do this tour?

We run this tour from late May to the end of September. All the cols are usually open throughout this period, and there is usually little rain during the summer.

What is the weather like?

These are high mountains and the weather is somewhat unpredictable. In summer it is usually warm and sunny, and is common to get a full week of fine weather for riding.

But rain is always a possibility, usually in the form of showers. It's a good idea to bring a rain jacket with you and, if you wish to do the trip in early June or late September, you should bring some warm clothing as occasionally it can be a bit chilly at the higher altitudes.

Can I personalize or change aspects of this tour?

On a self guided tour, there is a lot of flexibility. We have designed a tour that we feel strikes a great balance between cycling routes, accommodation and interesting towns. However, if, for example, you would like to do the tour for a different number of days, stay in a different level of accommodation, or extend the route to a different location, we would be happy to discuss the options with you.

On guided tours it is also possible to add days at the start or the end of the trip, and choose between the different route options each day.



Can I make the tour shorter?

Yes, this tour spends two nights in three different towns (Argéles-Gazost, Luz-St-Sauveur and St-Lary-Soulan). If you prefer to do a shorter tour, the second night in any of these places can be removed.

Please contact us to discuss the options.

Can I extend the tour?

Yes, we would be happy to arrange any tour extensions for you. The most popular option is to spend extra nights in the Pyrenees. Either in the higher mountains or on the coast (for example San Sebastian or Biarritz).

But we can also help you to extend the trip if you wish to visit another destination in France or Spain.

What are the famous climbs on this cycling tour?

This cycling holiday climbs most of the HC and 1st category climbs in the region, which are regularly used in the Tour de France.

Some of the most famous include the following:

Col d'Aubisque
Col de Marie Blanque (L)
Hautacam
Cirque de Gavarnie
Cirque de Troumouse (L)
Luz Ardiden (L)
Col du Tourmalet
Hourquette d'Ancizan
Col d'Aspin (L)
Route des Lacs
Col de Portet (L)
Col d'Azet
Col de Peyresourde
Superbagneres (L)
Port de Bales
Col du Portillon
Col de Mente (L)


(L) = On longer route only

Other climbs that can be incluced as optional extras in case you are feeling very strong on any particular day, or wish to add extra days to the trip, are the following:

Col des Spandelles
Pla d'Adet
Piau d'Engaly
Artigue



Can I do this as a private guided tour?

Yes, we can run this as a private tour for groups of six or more people. Please get in contact with us to discuss dates and any changes you would like to make

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.

What is your cancellation policy?

The full cancellation policy can be found in our terms and conditions.

Where can I find more information about the region?

We have plenty more detailed information on the website.

Check out the mountains section of our website. There you can find details of all of the best climbs in the Pyrenees, as well as some videos.

We also have some more in depth articles looking at some of our absolute favourites:

Hotel Soleil Levant
Hotel Soleil Levant
You spend the first night at this charming family run hotel. It is situated at the foot of both the Col d'Aubisque and Hautacam and is just 200m from the historic center of Argeles-Gazost, where you can find several excellent restauants.

Hotel Montaigu
Hotel Montaigu
This Pyrenean chalet style 3-star hotel is situated on the edge of the lively center of Luz Saint Sauveur. It is also at the foot of Luz's 10th century castle, which is well worth a short hike to, both for the impressive building and for the views over the surrounding valley.
Hotel Les Arches
Hotel Les Arches
We spend two nights at this excellent 3-star hotel is right in the heart of Saint-Lary-Soulan. It has large rooms and a nice swimming pool area, which is great for relaxing at the end of the ride.
Hotel Panoramic
Hotel Panoramic
An exceptional *** hotel in the center of Luchon. Surrounded by good restaurants, this is well located and an enjoyable place to stay. One of the best patisserie in the Pyrenees is situated just across the square in case you want to treat yourself!
Hotel du Laca
Hotel du Laca
This 3-star hotel has comfortable and well equipped rooms and excellent facilities, including an indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi.

The hotel is just a short distance from Chateau de Mauvezin, a 14th century castle which used to be one of the main political centres of power in the Pyrenees.
To find out more about how we select our hotels, please see our accommodation page.



Self-Guided Tour

Starting Date Price (per person)¹ Single Supplement Bike Hire
July & August €1,320 EUR €600 EUR €300 EUR
Any other starting date €1,220 EUR €570 EUR €300 EUR
¹Prices are 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.


²Other Dates
Groups of six people or more contact us to arrange a private guided tour starting on any date.

Similar tours that you may be interested in:
Port de Pailheres Cycling
French FlagFrance

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 10 Days
Level: Difficulty Hard
Price: €1,610 EUR
Lagos de Covadonga
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: from €1,230 EUR
Picos de Europa National Park
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,230 EUR