The Best Of The Pyrenees Cycling Holiday
- Self-Guided / Guided 7 Nights
- Arrival - Pau
- Departure - Toulouse
- Difficulty - Medium - Hard
- Price - from €1090
- Dates - June - September
This is our most popular Pyrenees cycling holiday, tackling the most famous and spectacular cycling climbs in the Pyrenees. On this holiday you will enjoy the incredible scenery and real sense of accomplishment from conquering climbs such as Col du Tourmalet, Luz Ardiden and Route des Lacs.
The routes on this tour are very flexible. The shorter options 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!
Unlike many cycling tours to the Pyrenees, this 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.
Day 1 - Arrival in the High PyreneesThe 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 short circular ride along picturesque country lanes.
Day 2 – Col de Marie-Blanque & Col d'AubisqueThe 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.
Short Route: 90km
Medium Route 115km
Day 3 – Hautacam & Luz ArdidenThe 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.
Short Route: 52km
Long Route: 81km
Day 4 – Cirque de Gavarnie & Cirque de TroumouseThe 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.
Short Route: 60km
Long Route: 90km
Day 5 – Col du Tourmalet, Hourquette d'Anzican & Col de PortetNo 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.
Short Route: 68km
Long Route: 104km
Day 6 – Route des Lacs, Col d'Azet & Col de PeyresourdeThe 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 unsual 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: 61km
Long Route: 103km
Day 7 – Port de Bales, Col des Ares & SuperbagneresThe 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 first option is to climb 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 the route continues over the short, but enjoyable 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.
Both have a rich history in the Tour de France. Superbagneres is the more interesting climb though 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: 80km
Longer Route - Superbagneres Extension: 76km
Longer Route - Col de Menté Extension: 76km
Longer Route - Superbagneres and Col de Menté! -
Day 8 – DepartThe tour comes to an end today. On the guided tour we can transfer you to either Lourdes or Toulouse, so that you can catch a train or flight. 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.
On the self-guided tour, we will transfer you to St Gaudens train station, from where you can catch the train to Toulouse, which runs roughly every half an hour throughout the day.
Prices & Dates
|Price (per person)*||Single Supplement||Bike Hire (Optional)|
|26th June - 3rd July 2020||€1,320||€300||Included|
Groups of six people or more contact us to arrange a private guided tour starting on any date.
|Price (per person)*||Single Supplement||Bike Hire (Optional)|
|May, June, July, Sept||€1090||€320||€120|
*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.
The following is included in the tour (some options are included only with the guided tour)
- Seven nights accommodation in double, twin or single room with en-suite. Please see price list for details of single supplement.
- Transfer to and from the arrival/departure points (Arrival: Pau, Departure: St Gaudens / Toulouse
- Continental breakfast every day
- Luggage transferred between hotels
- 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
- Lunches & Refreshments throughout the route (Guided tours only)
- Support Vehicle (Guided tours only)
- Cycling Guide (Guided tours only)
- Bike hire (carbon road bike, hybrid or electric bike - see here for details) - Guided tours only
The following are optional extras available for an additional charge (self guided only):
- Bike hire (carbon road bike, hybrid or electric bike - see here for details)
The following is not included in the tour
- Lunches (on self guided)
- Evening Meals
- Any transfers not stated above
- Travel Insurance
- Entry to any attractions (e.g. museums, churches) except were explicitly stated
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.
How far do I cycle each day on this tour?
The average daily distance for the shorter route is around 35-40km (22-25 miles), although there are a couple of slightly longer days.
The longer route averages around 80km and includes an extra climb each day. If you would prefer to add even more climbing, please let us know and we can provide further route extensions each day.
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. In addition, 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.
How difficult is this tour?
This tour takes place in high mountains and so is not suitable for everyone, but because it is split into shorter and longer routes each day, it is accessible for a wide variety of cyclists.
The shorter routes include one or two famous climbs each day, and are reasonably short in terms of distances, for a holiday in the mountains. This makes the tour accessible to a wide range of cyclists, as you can go as slowly as you like (taking breaks where necessary) and still complete the route in good time. These shorter routes are designed for casual cyclists and people in good general physical condition, rather than solely for club cyclists or racers. However, they still involve climbing each day so are not really suitable for those new to cycling holidays or unsure of their general condition
If you plan to do the longer routes then a good level of cycling specific fitness is recommended to get the most out of this tour. The longer distances and challenge of two climbs each day, makes this a difficult tour and we recommend doing a significant amount of training before the trip if you wish to tackle the longer routes each day.
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.
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.
The cost is made up of the extra cost of accommodation when the room is single occupancy and also the greater cost of the transfers (luggage and people) when it is not split between two or more cyclists. We have made every effort to keep this to a minimum wherever possible.
What are the arrival and departure points?
The arrival point is Pau and the departure point is either St Gaudens (self-guided) or Toulouse (guided tour).
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 convient to get to.
The departure is from Toulouse; with flights to the UK and USA and several other European destinations. , it is the largest airport in the region and also has great train connections with the rest of France.
See our flights page for more details of departures and arrivals to the region.
What type of bikes do you hire?
For this tour we recommend road bikes. The amount of climbing and the distances are more suitable for road bikes (which are all fitted with a compact chain set).
However, we can also provide hybrid bikes and electric bikes if you would prefer to do the tour in a more upright position.
Please see our bicycles page for further details.
When can I do this tour?
This tour is available 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 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 d'Azet
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
On this holiday you stay in hotels that reflect the charm and character of the region. These are a combination of small, mountain style chalets and charming boutique cottages with just a handful of
To find out more about how we select our hotels, please see our accommodation page.
To reserve a place on the tour, please follow the link below to continue to our reservation form.
Once we have received the form, we will be in contact to confirm the booking and to arrange for the payment of the deposit.
If you would like to do this tour in a group of more than six people as a guided tour, please contact us and we can arrange a private guided tour.