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Cycling the Pyrenees: The Complete Traverse 44

Cycling the Pyrenees: The Complete Traverse

Overview

This road-cycling itinerary offers the chance to ride the full length of the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The route will take you through legendary cols (famous for their epic Tour de France battles) and lesser-known passes so that you can discover the many facets of the Pyrenees range. Take in the Pyrénées Orientales, the Pyrénées Occidentales, the Mediterranean vegetation of the Albères, the dense forests of the Ariège, the jagged peaks of the Hautes-Pyrénées, and the lush green mountains of the Basque country. All on France’s superb mountain roads.

The tour is supported, meaning that a driver and support vehicle are at hand throughout the day to assist with any physical or mechanical issues, as well as transferring your luggage to the following night’s accommodation. Each day provides two route options: a standard and a challenging one. Generally, both options are designed for advanced cyclists in good shape; still, you can rent an E-bike, which makes the tour accessible for a wider audience as well. There is also an option of being accompanied by non-cycling friends or family (upon request), meeting them each evening at the end of the day’s stage.

  • A legendary route with two different itinerary levels to choose from
  • Cycling the “high Pyrenean passes”
  • Fantastic panoramic views of the entire mountain range
  • A perfect mix of famous cols and lesser-known quiet mountain passes

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Collioure – Prades | 100 – 130 km

You meet our team on day 1 at 9 am at Collioure SNCF railway station. On request, we can book the previous night’s accommodation for you in Collioure.

Beginning the tour, you will explore Collioure’s charming fishing port and its castle and the quiet winding roads of the Albères foothills. You will warm up the legs on small passes such as Col Xatard (752 m) and Col de Palomère (1036 m), amongst the fragrant southern Mediterranean vegetation. Overnight in Prades.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 100 km and 1200 m altitude gain
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 130 km and 2350 m altitude gain
  • Accommodation: small local family hotel

Day 2: Prades – Ax les Thermes | 110 km

The route today will first take you through Mosset, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, then continuing through the forests of the Col de Jau (1506 m). In case you choose Option 2, you will pass through Port de Pailhères (2000 m), one of the best climbs of the week, and enjoy panoramic views of the Ariège Valley from the Col de Chioula (1430 m). Overnight in Ax les Thermes.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 110 km and 1900 m altitude gain
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 110 km and 3300 m altitude gain
  • Accommodation: Hôtel le Grillon or similar

Day 3: Ax les Thermes – Saint Lary | 120 – 140 km

The first pass for the day is Pas de Souloumbrie (910 m). During the ride, you will have the chance to enjoy the breathtaking landscape of the Col de l’Agnes (1570 m) and the Etang de Lers, and beautiful panoramic views on the descent from the Col de la Core. Overnight in Saint Lary.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 120 km and 2000 m altitude gain
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 150 km and 3100 m altitude gain
  • Accommodation: Auberge de l’Isard or similar

Day 4: Saint Lary – Germ | 85 – 110 km

Today you will cycle through some of the legendary Tour de France cols: Col de Portet d’Aspet (1069 m), Col de Menté (1369 m) and Col de Peyresourde (1569 m). If you choose Option 2, you will also go through Col du Portillon. Along the way you will be able to explore the pretty village of Saint Béat, and pass through the monument to Fabio Casartelli at the foot of the Col de Portet d’Aspe. Overnight in Germ.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 72 km; altitude gain: approx. 2400 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 91 km; altitude gain: approx. 3100 m
  • Accommodation: local family hotel

Day 5: Germ – Luz Saint Sauveur | 60 – 130 km

Today you will pass through Col d’Aspin (1489 m) and the legendary Col du Tourmalet (2115 m), revealing views of the surrounding peaks. Option 2 will also take you to the high mountains of Port de Boucharo (2270 m). Overnight in Luz Saint Sauveur.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 78 km; altitude gain: approx. 2200 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 135 km; altitude gain: approx. 3600 m
  • Accommodation: Hôtel Ardiden or similar

Day 6: Luz Saint Sauveur – Oloron Sainte Marie | 110 km

Today you will climb in a side valley up the Col des Bordères (1156 m) and enjoy the road between the Soulor Pass (1474 m) and Col d’Aubisque (1710 m), perhaps the most beautiful road in the Pyrenees. The route will also reveal you breathtaking panoramic views of the Cirque de Gourette from the Col d’Aubsique, and you will also pass by the former spa town of Eaux Bonnes. Another great section is the ascent of the Col de Marie Blanque (1035 m), surrounded by scenic alpine meadows. Overnight in Oloron Sainte Marie.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1 and 2): approx. 113 km; altitude gain: approx. 2500 m
  • Accommodation: Hôtel Alysson**** or similar

Day 7: Oloron Sainte Marie – Esterençuby | 80 – 110 km

The day starts with a very nice warm-up in Haut Béarn before attacking the famous Baguargui pass. The route passes through Col de Bagargui (1320 m), the steepest climb of the week, after which you will be rewarded with the picturesque lake and chalets of Iraty: ideal for a short break. Before plunging into Esterencuby, you will also enjoy breathtaking landscapes and views of the Atlantic. Overnight in Esterençuby.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 80 km; altitude gain: approx. 2000 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 155 km; altitude gain: approx. 4100 m
  • Accommodation: Les Sources de la Nive

Day 8: Esterençuby – Saint Jean de Luz | 80 – 105 km

Before arriving at the Atlantic Ocean, you will be able to explore the ramparts and citadel of Saint-Jean-Pied Port, the ancient capital of Basse-Navarr, and enjoy a less known traverse of the Pays Basque, specifically put together by our local expert.

The tour ends in Saint Jean de Luz at around 2 pm. On request, we can book the following night’s accommodation for you in Saint Jean de Luz or organise a transfer to Toulouse/Biarritz airports, or back to Collioure.

  • Cycling for the day (Option 1): approx. 85 km; altitude gain: approx. 1200 m
  • Cycling for the day (Option 2): approx. 105 km; altitude gain: approx. 1600 m

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this cycling holiday, you will be staying in comfortable 2 and 3-star hotels. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

Hôtel le Grillon, Auberge de l’Isard, Hôtel Ardiden, Hôtel Alysson****, Les Sources de la Nive

Hotels and guesthouses are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates it will be replaced with a hotel of equal value and quality level

Meals

The meal plan is on a full-board basis: 7 breakfasts, 7 picnic lunches and 7 dinners. For the lunches, you have two options: a lunch box to carry along in a small backpack/handlebar bag, or “racing food” for those “allergic” to backpacks (energy bars, dried fruit etc).

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced cyclists practising road cycling all year round. The daily distances vary between 80 and 150 km and daily elevation gains between 2200 m and 3700 m (read more about difficulty grades). There is a support vehicle escorting the group during the cycling stages, so if you need any assistance or break, you can get it at any time.

When to go

Our fixed departures are available in June, July, August and September. Please click the Book Now or See Dates and Prices buttons to see the exact departure days.

Daily Schedule

During the cycling you carry only your day pack (in case you need one). All your luggage is transported each day by the support vehicle.

After breakfast, the support vehicle driver will pack your luggage in the van, distribute cereal/energy bars, and announce the time slot for lunch. The driver can also hand out picnics to any participants who do not wish to stop at the designated picnic lunch stop.

Once all the participants have passed the picnic stop, the driver transports your luggage directly to the following night’s accommodation, before returning to wait at the foot of the last climb of the day. He is then available to help any members of the group in difficulty or who encounter a mechanical problem. You’ll usually meet the van driver several times during the day, offering the opportunity to fill up with water, change clothing, etc.

Each participant is free to ride at their own pace, using the roadbook and GPS tracks to navigate during the day. Still, the driver is equipped with a mobile phone and can be reached at any time during the day if a participant encounters a problem. The driver is also available throughout the trip to provide information and advice.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

The best arrival/departure points are Perpignan AirportBiarritz Airport and Toulouse-Blagnac airport.

By train or bus

Train connection from the UK
Take the Eurostar from London St-Pancras International to Paris (Gard du Nord) and then switch the line to Perpignan. Please check the SNCF website for more details on schedules and prices. The total journey time to Collioure is about 11 hours.

Inclusions

Included

  • Tour leader in a support vehicle
  • 7 nights in guesthouses and 2* to 3* hotels in double rooms with en-suite facilities
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 picnic lunches
  • 7 dinners (3 to 4-course menu)
  • Daily baggage transfers
  • Carefully designed itineraries with two alternative levels of difficulty
  • A navigation app for smartphones, a detailed roadbook including maps (digital format) and GPS tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • International flights
  • Your transfer to the meeting place
  • All services mentioned in extensions
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Drinks at the accommodation
  • Visits to museums, monuments and sites not covered by the programme Additional travel related to changes in the programme due to bad weather
  • All personal expenses
  • Anything not mentioned as ‘included’

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • Bike rental (standard, premium or e-bike)
  • Extra night in Collioure in 2* / 3* hotel
  • Extra night in Saint Jean de Luz in 3* hotel
  • Transfer from Saint Jean de Luz to Collioure on Day 8
  • Massages on riding Days 2 or 5

Bike Rental

In case you would like to rent a bike from us, we can offer you*:

  • Standard Option: carbon frame and fork, rim brakes, Shimano 105 groupset, aluminium wheelset, model Scott Addict or equivalent, roughly 8 kg
  • Premium Option: carbon frame and fork, disc brakes, Shimano Ultegra groupset, aluminium wheelset, model Scott Addict Disk or equivalent, roughly 8 kg
  • E-bike: carbon frame and fork, model Orbea Gain M30 or equivalent, supplied with 1 x 208Wh battery (90 km autonomy, additional battery on request)

Details (apply to all models):

  • Gear range: 11-speed cassette (11×32), compact 34/50 chainset
  • Repair kit included: 2 CO2 cartridges, patches, multi-tool, 1 inner tube, tyre levers
  • 2 bottle holders (except size 47 bicycles on which only one can be placed)
  • Helmets and water bottles: not included
  • Pedals: Our rental bikes come without pedals. Either bring your own pedals or specify your needs (2 weeks before departure at the latest). We can install 3 types of pedals at no extra charge: Look KEO easy, Shimano SPD SL or Shimano SPD.

Please indicate your choice of model and pedals as well as your height (if possible also frame size) when filling out your booking form. You will receive your chosen model from the support vehicle driver on the first day of your tour. He will carry out an inventory of the bike with you, as well as a second inventory at the end of the tour.

*Bike “consumables” (tyres, tubes, brake pads, cables) are included in the rental price. Only parts and components that are broken due to a crash and/or misuse will be charged. In the event of bike loss or theft, a fixed fee will be charged (2200 € for the Standard model, 3590 € for the Premium and Electric models).

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