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Road bike France

A road bike classic that takes in all the great cols of the French Pyrenees from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.Ref CR15

During the famous Tour de France bike race, the riders cross the two biggest mountain ranges in France: The Alps and the Pyrenees. This tour offers the chance to ride the length of the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Our route alternates between mythical cols (famous for their numerous Tour de France battles) and lesser known passes, in order to discover the many facets of the Pyrenees range. Discover the huge variety of vegetation from the Pyrénées Orientales to the Pyrénées Occidentales: the Mediterranean vegetation of the Albères, the dense forests of the Ariège, the jagged peaks of the Hautes-Pyrénées, the lush green mountains of the Basque country... All on France’s superb mountain roads!

Tour with assistance vehicle: from 1255€ - Details Duration : 8 days | Level : Customer satisfaction : - 14 reviews
+33 458 140 435 A dedicated team of travel specialists is available to offer you expert advice Monday to Friday from 9 to 12:30 AM and 13:30 to 6 PM (French time) on the phone, or by email.
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Physical level :   Physical level :  

Highlights

  • A legendary route with two different itinerary levels to choose from.
  • Climbing the "high Pyrenean passes": the Tourmalet,the Aubisque...
  • Fantastic panoramic views of the entire mountain range.
  • A perfect mix of famous cols and lesser known quiet mountain passes.

Description

Comments

  • This trip exists in 2 versions: V2=2 wheels / V3=3 wheels. Each day you can choose between two different itineraries (V2 or V3), with varying distances and profiles.
  • Special offers available for private groups. Please contact us for a quote.

Physical level

Choose each day

Each day you choose one of two different routes with varying distances and altitude gain (2 and 3 wheels).

Day 1: Collioure - Prades

Itinerary start: Rendezvous with the organisation team is on day 1 at 9am at Collioure SNCF railway station. On request we can book the previous nights accommodation for you in Collioure.

The tour starts in Collioure, a small medieval town on the Roussillon coast, nestled in a natural bay by the foothills of the Pyrenees. We leave the historic old town of Collioure over the first steep ramps and then roll into the first kilometres of the crossing. We quickly change from the densely built-up coast to the quieter hinterland. We reach the first difficulty with the climb to the Col de Xatard, which we reach via an idyllic mountain road. A little later, we reach the Col Palomère, the first highlight of this tour, which offers great panoramas of the surrounding massifs of the Canigou and the Serra de l'Albera. Overnight stay in Prades, after a long and fantastic descent.

Optionally, you can warm up by climbing the Col de la Brousse (860 m).

Passes of the day:

  • Col de la Brousse, 860 m (level 3 only)
  • Col Xatard, 752 m
  • Col de Palomère, 1036 m

Highlights:

  • The charming fishing port of Collioure and its castle
  • The quiet winding roads of the Albères foothills
  • Warm up the legs on small passes, amongst the fragrant southern Mediterranean vegetation

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 115 km / approx. 1600 m
  • Level 3: approx. 130 km / approx. 2350 m
Day 2: Prades - Ax les Thermes

Today we say goodbye to the Mediterranean. The landscape becomes more alpine with the first real challenge with the Col de Pailhères. From the hotel, we head straight into the first long climb, up north to the Col de Jau. After the cooling descent in the forest, we quickly find ourselves in a steep ramp of the climb to Col de Garavel, which then quickly recedes. From the Col de Garavel, we descend into the gorge of the river Aude, where the 15 km climb to the Col de Pailhères begins at km 60. Especially in the upper sections, this resembles an alpine pass, over a great combination of hairpin bends we reach the summit and its great panorama at more than 2000 m. Then we descend to our accommodation in Ax-les-Thermes. If you haven't had enough yet, you can make a detour to the Col de Chioula.

Optionally, an easier variant leads you via Col de Marmare.

Passes of the day:

  • Col de Jau, 1506 m
  • Col de Garavel, 1256 m
  • Col de Moulis, 1099 m
  • Port de Pailhères, 2001 m (level 3 only)
  • Col de Chioula, 1431 m (level 3 only)
  • Col des Sept Frères, 1253 m (level 2 only)
  • Col de Marmare, 1361m (level 2 only)

Highlights:

  • Visit of Mosset, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France
  • The forests of the Col de Jau
  • The climb to the Port de Pailhères, one of the best climbs of the week (level 3)
  • Panoramic views of the Ariège Valley from the Col de Chioula (level 3)

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 110 km / approx. 2900 m
  • Level 3: approx. 115 km / approx. 3300 m
Day 3: Ax les Thermes - Saint Lary

Today's long stage (125 km) from Ax-les-Thermes to Saint Lary leads us at the beginning on a side road high above the beautiful valley of the Ariège to Tarascon. There we branch off into the Saurat valley, which leads us up to the Col de Port with its alpine pastures at 1250 m above sea level. From here, it is a total of 35 km downhill to the small town of Saint Girons, along the idyllic river Arac. Massat and Saint Girons invite you to take a break with their beautiful terraces. The day ends with the ascent of the Taul to Saint Lary, along the Lez, on a steadily ascending route. In early evening we reach the beautiful village of Saint Lary and enjoy the tranquillity of the mountains. The famous Col de Portet d'Aspet awaits us the next morning.

More difficult variants are possible via the Port de Lers (1517 m), the Col de l'Agnes (1570 m) and the Col de la Core (1395 m).

Passes of the day:

  • Pas de Souloumbrie, 911 m
  • Col de Port, 1250 m (level 2 only)
  • Col des Caugnous, 947 m (level 2 only)
  • Port de Lers, 1517 m (level 3 only)
  • Col de l'Agnes, 1570 m (level 3 only)
  • Col de la Core, 1395 m (level 3 only)

Highlights:

  • Breathtaking landscape of the Col de l'Agnes and the Etang de Lers
  • Beautiful panoramic views in the descent from the Col de la Core

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 125 km / approx. 2000 m
  • Level 3: approx. 150 km / approx. 3100 m
Day 4: Saint Lary - Germ

Today's shorter stage is packed with difficult passes and climbs. After breakfast, we set out directly from Saint-Lary on the ramps of the south side of the Col de Portet d'Aspet, which we reach after 5 km of climbing. Caution is advised on the descent where Fabio Casartelli had a fatal crash in the 15th stage of the Tour in 1995 (a monument to his memory has been built on the descent). The following climb takes us up to the Col de Menté, through almost alpine-looking mountains and villages. There are a number of ramps to overcome in the 12 km of irregular ascent. After the descent from the Col de Menté, a flat section follows, which leads us after about 20 km to the small town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, at the foot of the famous Col de Peyresourde, and which is the main difficulty of the day (1000 hm and 14 km ascent with a maximum gradient of 11.7 %). The combination of the final turns offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains; at the summit, the mountain world of the High Pyrenees opens up before us. We descend to Loudervieille, where we turn left towards the small mountain village of Germ. There, at an altitude of 1300 m, is our accommodation, which we reach after 3 km of ascent.

More difficult variant possible with inclusion of the Col du Portillon (1293 m).

Passes of the day:

  • Col de Portet d'Aspet, 1069 m
  • Col de Menté, 1369 m
  • Col du Portillon, 1293 m (level 3 only)
  • Col de Peyresourde, 1569 m

Highlights:

  • Three legendary Tour de France cols!
  • The scenery of the Col de Menté
  • The pretty village of Saint Béat
  • The monument to Fabio Casartelli at the foot of the Col de Portet d'Aspet

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 90 km / approx. 2400 m
  • Level 3: approx. 110 km / approx. 3000 m
Day 5: Germ - Luz Saint Sauveur

Today is yet another royal stage. It starts with the descent to the small town of Arreau, which is situated at the foot of the Col d'Aspin. We start its 13 km long climb up to almost 1500 m in the morning freshness. The landscape on the ascent is straight out of a picture book. On the other side of the Col d'Aspin, after the descent, we reach the village of Saint Marie de Campan, where Eugène Christophe repaired his bike, damaged by a car accident, in a blacksmith's shop during the 1913 Tour de France after the descent from the Tourmalet. In Saint-Marie we also start our attack on the famous Col du Tourmalet, the king among Pyrenean passes. 17 km of ascent with an average gradient of 7.4 % are ahead of us. In the second half of the climb, we pass the ski resort of La Mongie. The last part of the climb offers a high-mountain atmosphere. Reaching the summit is a momentum in itself. After enjoying the summit, all that remains is to descend in great mountain scenery to the spa and thermal resort of Luz-Saint-Saveur, where we spend the night.

As an option, after arriving in Luz, you have the possibility of ascending to the rocky basin of Gavarnie and further to Port Boucharo/Col de Tentes at 2270m.

Passes of the day:

  • Col d'Aspin, 1489 m
  • Col du Tourmalet, 2115 m
  • Port de Boucharo, 2270 m (optional level 3)

Highlights:

  • The legendary Col du Tourmalet and the views of the surrounding peaks
  • The Cirque de Gavarnie (level 3)
  • The high mountains of the Port de Boucharo (level 3)

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 75 km / approx. 2100 m
  • Level 3: approx. 130 km / approx. 3600 m
Day 6: Luz Saint Sauveur - Oloron Sainte Marie

The last two full-day stages of our trip are a real challenge. Today we climb 4 more difficult passes. From Luz, we first head down the valley towards Argèles Gazost, which we reach via a side road. Here we start the ascent to the Col de Soulor and the Col d'Aubisque. However, we do not take the main route, but quickly turn into a beautiful side valley, which leads us over lonely roads and with fantastic views up to the Col des Bordères. After the descent to the village of Arrens-Marsous (National Park House), we then find ourselves on the ascent to Soulor. The view of the surrounding mountains is overwhelming. After 8 km we reach the Col de Soulor, and with a bit of luck we can spot griffon vultures circling in the air. This is probably the most beautiful section of the day, if not of the entire tour: the historic Corniche road between the Col de Soulor and the Col d'Aubisque, with the Cirque du Litor. Narrow and exposed in places, it is a real treat to the eye. Then we climb the last metres to the Col d'Aubisque. The descent follows via the villages of Eaux Bonnes and Laruns, and we reach the last difficulty of the day with the climb to the Col de Marie Blanque. After the last descent, we reach the valley of the Gave d'Aspe and thus the Béarn region. We ride out of the valley to the beautiful town of Oloron Sainte Marie, where we spend the night.

Passes of the day:

  • Col des Bordères, 1156 m
  • Col du Soulor, 1474 m
  • Col d'Aubisque, 1709 m
  • Col du Porteigt, 880 m
  • Col de Marie-Blanque, 1035 m

Highlights:

  • The climb in a side valley up the Col des Bordères
  • The road between the Soulor Pass and Aubisque, perhaps the most beautiful road in the Pyrenees!
  • Breathtaking panoramic views of the Cirque de Gourette from the Col d'Aubsique
  • The intriguing former spa town of Eaux Bonnes
  • The alpine meadows during the ascent of the Col de Marie Blanque

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2 and 3: approx. 110 km / approx. 2500 m
Day 7: Oloron Sainte Marie - Esterençuby

From Oloron Saint Marie, the level 2 route takes us slowly through the hilly Pyrenean foothills. The real difficulties of the day only begin on the climb to the village of Larrau after about 35 km. On the level 3 route, on the other hand, the action already starts beforehand: we crank up to the Col de Labbays, which is part of a string of several smaller passes. After some difficult ramps, we reach the top of the Col (beautiful view back to the foothills of the Pyrenees) and continue up towards Col de Soudet / Col de la Pierre St Martin. The dense forest quickly gives way to a barren karstic landscape that offering great views in the distance. A rapid descent follows on a narrow road into a picturesque valley, where we rejoin the level 2 route. After a short descent past Larrau, the road rears up after a bridge and we are on the ascent to the notorious Col Bagargui (watershed Atlantic/Mediterranean). In the middle part of the climb, we can expect average gradients of more than 12% over 3 long kilometres. However, we should not use up all our energy here, because there are still several small passes to go before we reach our accommodation in the Valley of the Nive. The ride over the Plateau d'Iraty and the descent into the valley in the late afternoon light are worth all the effort. Overnight stay at the hotel in Esterençuby.

Passes of the day:

  • Col de Labbays, 1351 m (level 3 only)
  • Col de Soudet, 1540 m (level 3 only)
  • Col de Bagargui, 1319 m
  • Col d'Arthé, 937 m

Highlights:

  • A very nice warm-up in Haut Béarn before attacking the famous Baguargui pass.
  • The ascent of the Lourdios Gorges (level 3 only)
  • The Col de Bagargui, steepest climb of the week!
  • The picturesque lake and chalets of Iraty: ideal for a short break!
  • Breathtaking landscapes and views of the Atlantic before plunging to Esterencuby

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 80 km / approx. 1800 m
  • Level 3: approx. 155 km / approx. 3100 m
Day 8: Esterençuby - Saint Jean de Luz

On to the last, short stage of our French Pyrenees crossing. Today, we reach the Atlantic Ocean around noon. We first descend the Valley of the Nive with anticipation and soon reach the famous pilgrimage town of Saint Jean Pied de Port on the Way of Saint James, old capital of the province of Navarre. After a few flat kilometres through the Basque country opening up before us, we reach Saint Etienne de Baigory, from where we begin the climb to Col d'Ispeguy. From the summit at 672 m we then descend into Spain for a short detour into the province of Navarre. After passing through several small villages, we reach the road that leads us to the second pass of the day, the Puerto de Otxondo. After crossing the border, we reach our destination by the Atlantic, Saint Jean de Luz, via quiet roads with little traffic. The last climb, the Col de Saint Ignace (169 m) guarantees moments of joy on the last kilometres.

Possible Level 3 variant: going around the Montagne de la Rhune, which leads us once again into the Spanish Basque country and has another difficulty with the Col d'Ibardin (370 m).

Passes of the day:

  • Col d'Ispeguy, 672 m
  • Puerto de Otxondo, 570 m
  • Col de Saint Ignace, 169 m
  • Col d'Ibardin, 370 m (optional level 3 only)

Highlights:

  • The ramparts and citadel of Saint-Jean-Pied Port, the ancient capital of Basse-Navarre.
  • A hand-picked traverse of the Pays Basque, put together by a local (thanks Hervé for your recommendations!)
  • Of course, the arrival at the Atlantic Ocean!

Distance and altitude gain:

  • Level 2: approx. 85 km / approx. 1300 m
  • Level 3: approx. 105 km / approx. 1600 m

Itinerary end: 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 airport, or back to Collioure.

Distances and altitude gain are an indication only and may vary.

Average tour rating:

4.9/5 - 14 Reviews
Mike B. | Participant rating:
"The tour was an amazing experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, it was extremely arduous and is a significant undertaking."
Alan D. | Participant rating:
"A great, well organised tour. Pierre Remy was great and made what could have been a difficult 8 days - unknown terrain, our non-existent French and the itinerary that sometimes had us near our limits - enjoyable. Thanks Pierre! "
Alan T. | Participant rating:
"Fantastic value for money, hire bikes were excellent. Great mix of people"
Barbara M. | Participant rating:
"Great tour, very well organised. Our driver was the best that you could desire: always professional, he has payed attention to everyone and everything, he has offered an excellent support in any occasion. "
John T. | Participant rating:
"Julian was fantastic, big group of 20 . So cool and organised. Will be back "
Other reviews: