BEST OF THE PYRENEES
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 de Marie-Blanque & 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 & 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 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.
Short Route: 69km (2,200m)
Long Route: 102km (3,600m)
Col du Tourmalet
Day 6 - Route des Lacs, 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 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.
Short Route: 46km (1,500m)
Long Route: 97km (2,900m)
Route des Lacs
Day 7 – Port de Bales, Col des Ares & Superbagneres
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!
Short Route: 84km (1,850m)
Medium Route: 103km (2,400m)
Long Route: 121km (3,000m)
Day 8 – 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:
- ✔ 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
- ✔ 6 lunches - a combination of picnics and local restaurants
- ✔ Vehicle Support on the routes
- ❌ Flights
- ❌ 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.
All of our bikes come with helmets and handlebar bags if required, as well as a Cycle Fiesta water bottle.
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.
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
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 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.
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 very similar 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 support vehicle, which provides assistance and 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 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
Route des Lacs (L)
Col de Peyresourde
Col de Portet (L)
Port de Bales
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
Col du Portillon
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 eight 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
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.