Pyrenees Cycling Holiday - Route des Lacs
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BEST OF THE PYRENEES

Cycling Holiday

French FlagFrance

Best of the Pyrenees
Guided / Self-Guided Cycling Tour
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging to Hard
Price: from €1,090
This is our most popular Pyrenees cycling holiday, tackling 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

Available Guided Dates


19th - 26th September 2021
15th - 22nd July 2022



Day 1 - Arrival in The Pyrenees

The arrival point for this tour is the historic city of Pau, situated on the edge of the Atlantic Pyrenees. Pau was the former capital of the Navarre region and the birthplace of Henry IV - one of the most influential kings of France, who reigned during the 16th century.

Depending on your arrival time there is the opportunity to do a circular ride along picturesque country lanes through the Basque Pyrenees.
The Basque Pyrenees - Ahuski
The Basque Pyrenees

Day 2 - Col de Marie-Blanque & Col d'Aubisque

The cycling begins along gently rolling country lanes as we ride by the Ousse River. After a short while there is the opportunity to extend the route to the Col de Marie Blanque, before we continue to the main climb of the day - 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.

From Aubisque you descend the other side to the pretty town of Argeles-Gazost via the Col du Soulor.


Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 92km (1950m Elevation)

Long Route: 115km (2600m)
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 (1550m)

Long Route: 80km (2600m)
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 (1650m)

Long Route: 91km (2700m)
Looking into Spain from Cirque de Gavarnie
Looking into Spain from Cirque de Gavarnie

Day 5 - Col du Tourmalet, Hourquette d'Anzican & Col de Portet

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 very strong legs, as it extends the route to tackle 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 is one of the toughest and highest climbs in the Pyrenees. It is also one of the most beautiful, with perfect hairpin bends offering exceptional views into both the valley below and of the surrounding mountain peaks.

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

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 69km (2200m)

Long Route: 102km (3600m)
Col du Tourmalet
Col du Tourmalet

Day 6 - Route des Lacs, 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 starts the day by tackling one of the most scenic climbs in the region Route des Lacs. Similarly to Gavarnie, it has never featured in the Tour de France thanks to its protected National Park Status, but it is well worth the (considerable) effort to climb, for the incredible views of the lakes at the summit.

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 46km (1500m)

Long Route: 97km (2900m)
Route des Lacs
Route des Lacs

Day 7 – Port de Bales, Col des Ares & Superbagneres

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 - probably our favourite climb in the whole of France. Very quiet and really fun to ride, Port de Bales also offers views of Aneto and Maladeta - the two highest peaks in the entire Pyrenees mountain range.

From Port de Bales you continues over the gentle slopes of the Col des Ares, before following pleasant country lanes into the town of Saint Gaudens.

There are two optional extensions today. The first option comes at the very start of the route, with an ascent to Superbagneres. While the second option tackles the steep slopes of the Col de Menté.

Superbagneres is the more interesting climb in our opinion. Not only does it provide excellent views, but it is also rich in history - stage winners here include all-time greats such as Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault. But, the most ambitious among you could even attempt to do both extensions to finish the tour with a bang!

Cycle Routes:


Short Route: 84km (1850m)

Medium Route: 103km (2400m)

Long Route: 121km (3000m)

Pyrenees Open Scenery
Open Scenery

Day 8 – 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
  • 7 Nights Accommodation (see the Hotels section for more details)
  • 7 breakfasts in the hotels
  • Transfers to and from the arrival / departure point
  • 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 - Guided Tour Only
  • 6 lunches - taken in local restaurants - Guided Tour Only
  • Vehicle Support on the routes - Guided Tour Only
  • Guide cycling the routes - Guided Tour Only
Not Included:
  • Bicycle Hire - this is an optional extra on the self-guided tour.
  • Flights
  • Evening Meals
  • Travel Insurance

Bicycles
Bicycle hire is inlcuded on the guided tours and 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 and handlebar bags if required, as well as a Cycle Fiesta water bottle. More details can be found on our bicycles page.
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.

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.

On the guided tours we strongly encourage everyone to go at their own pace and to make sure you enjoy the routes. When we have riders of different levels we split up and regroup throughout the day so that nobody feels pressured to push themselves too hard.

Find out more about our tour difficulty levels.

Arrival and Departure
The arrival point is Pau and the departure point is either St Gaudens (self-guided) or Toulouse (upon request).

Pau airport has around five flights from Paris each day, as well as some other domestic connections. It also has great train connections and is around two hours by train from the airports of Bordeaux, Bayonne and Toulouse, making it very convenient to get to.

The departure is from St Gaudens which has regular trains to Toulouse, Lourdes, Pau, Biarritz and various other airports. Toulouse is the largest of the airports, with flights to the UK and USA and several other European destinations. It also has great train connections with the rest of France.

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

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 your policy regarding Covid travel restrictions?

*Covid Policy 2021*


In response to the Covid Pandemic we have made some temporary alterations to our standard terms and conditions.

Reservations made in 2021 (for holidays taking place in either 2021 or 2022) can be postponed for any time in the following two years, without penalty, if you are unable to travel as a result of travel restrictions or other uncertainty. Notification of the postponement must be made at least ten days before the start of the tour.

Before the balance of the invoice has been paid, the deposit of €150 is also refundable in full for reservations made in 2021, if holidays are cancelled because of Covid related travel restrictions or uncertainty.

For reservations not made in 2021, the normal terms and conditions regarding cancellation apply.

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

We run this tour as either guided or self-guided. Both options follow the same 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 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 de Marie Blanque (L)
Col d'Aubisque
Hautacam
Cirque de Gavarnie
Cirque de Troumouse (L)
Luz Ardiden (L)
Col du Tourmalet
Hourquette d'Ancizan
Route des Lacs (L)
Col d'Azet
Col de Peyresourde
Col de Portet (L)
Port de Bales
Col de Mente (L)
Superbagneres (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
Col d'Aspin
Pla d'Adet
Piau d'Engaly
Col du Portillon
Artigue



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.

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 de Gramont
Hotel Gramont
Housed in an 18th century palace, this 4-star hotel is situated in a classical square in the center of Pau. It's perfect for exploring the old town and has well-sized comfortable rooms.
Hotel du Soleil Levant
Hotel Soleil Levant
A family run 3-star hotel situated at the foot of both the Col d'Aubisque and Hautacam. It 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 Neste de Jade
Hotel Neste de Jade
A small and modern comfortable 3-star hotel in the center of Saint-Lary-Soulan. The hotel's swimming pool, surrounded by high peaks, is a nice area to relax 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 Commerce
Hotel Commerce
In St Gaudens we stay in a well equipped *** hotel in the town center. Here you can relax in the hot tub or rest your aching muscles in the sauna at the end of the trip.
To find out more about how we select our hotels, please see our accommodation page.




Guided Tour

Date Price (per person)¹ Single Supplement Bike Hire
19th - 26th September 2021 €1,350 EUR €350 EUR Included
7th - 14th July 2022 Fully Booked - - -
15th - 22nd July 2022 €1,350 EUR €350 EUR Included
Other Guided Dates² - - -



Self-Guided Tour

Starting Date Price (per person)¹ Single Supplement Bike Hire
16th July - 27th August €1,190 EUR €460 EUR €120 EUR
Any other starting date €1,090 EUR €440 EUR €120 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.

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