BEST OF THE PYRENEES
Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
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.
Day 1 - Arrival in The Pyrenees
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.
The Cirque du Litor
Day 2 - Col du Soulor & 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.
Short Route: 62km (1,500m Elevation)
Medium Route: 101km (1,950m)
Long Route: 140km (2,900m)
Day 3 - Hautacam & Luz Ardiden
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.
Short Route: 51km (1,550m)
Long Route: 80km (2,600m)
The Final Hairpins of Luz Ardiden
Day 4 - Cirque de Gavarnie & Cirque de Troumouse
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.
Short Route: 60km (1,650m)
Long Route: 91km (2,700m)
Looking into Spain from Cirque de Gavarnie
Day 5 - Col du Tourmalet & Hourquette d'Anzican
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.
Short Route: 69km (2,200m)
Long Route: 103km (2,950m)
Col du Tourmalet
Day 6 - Route des Lacs & Col de Portet
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.
Short Route: 53km (1,500m)
Long Route: 89km (2,900m)
The climb along Route des Lacs
Day 7 - 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 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.
Short Route: 46km (1,450m)
Long Route: 80km (2,550m)
Top of the Col de Peyresourde
Day 8 – Port de Bales & Col du Portillon
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.
Short Route: 83km (1,600m)
Medium Route: 102km (2,350m)
Long Route: 143km (2,950m)
Day 9 – Depart
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 fulfilling tour!
Check out our photo album below to see some of the highlights:
- ✔ 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
- ❌ Bicycle Hire
- ❌ Flights
- ❌ Lunches & Evening Meals
- ❌ Travel Insurance
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.
Difficulty Level & Roads
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 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
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 de Marie Blanque (L)
Cirque de Gavarnie
Cirque de Troumouse (L)
Luz Ardiden (L)
Col du Tourmalet
Col d'Aspin (L)
Route des Lacs
Col de Portet (L)
Col de Peyresourde
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
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 Les Arches
Hotel du Laca
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.
|Price (per person)¹
|July & August
|Any other starting date
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.