This road cycling holiday has been carefully crafted to allow you to cycle the best cols and stage endings the Pyrenees have to offer, as well as experience its quiet roads and charming ambience. It is a point to point journey traversing the region from east to west, taking in the infamous climbs that the professional Tour de France cyclists head up every year.
The joy of this holiday, as with all of our Classic Cols style itineraries, is in its flexibility. Using our in-depth knowledge of the Pyrenees, we have devised a Classic Route, which warms us up gently, getting progressively tougher in preparation for your final ascent of the infamous Col du Tourmalet. Taken at a steady pace, this route is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists regardless of experience in the mountains, with the toughest day (on the easiest route) involving 1750m of ascent. It is a great route to open up the Pyrenees to you. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge to those wanting to push themselves further and for longer: each day there are optional extras increasing the possible daily ascent to over 3600m, making this holiday also suitable for those very fit cyclists who are regular cyclosportive entrants and who would consider a Raid.
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Day 0: Travel Out
Included transfers from Toulouse airport to Ax-les-Thermes. Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes. Meet your guides and have a welcome briefing and a great dinner.
Day 1: Day Ride from Ax
Assemble bikes after breakfast before heading off to explore. The Col du Chioula (1431m) has great views over the eastern Pyrenees and pleasant gradients. After lunch you can choose between a leisurely ride up the stunning Orlu valley, to beast yourself up the stage ending of Bonascre (1380m) or the HC climb of the Col de Pailhres (2001m). Easier route: Col du Chioula [38km, 830m ascent]
Classic route: Col du Chioula + Orlu valley [54km, 1030m ascent]
Harder route: Col du Chioula + Plateau de Bonascre [54km, 1500m ascent]
Challenge route: Col du Chioula + Col de Pailhres [76km, 2111m ascent]
Day 2: Ax-les-Thermes to Saint-Girons
From Ax you set off on the Route des Corniches, undulating to the market town of Tarascon along the south facing side of the valley of Ax and enjoying beautiful villages and views. Pause for lunch in Tarascon or those wanting a real challenge can take on the tough Plateau de Beille (1800m) stage ending. After lunch everyone heads over the Col du Port (1250m), a lovely climb with a couple of cheeky sections, before descending (almost) all the way to your hotel in Saint-Girons. Time to relax or you could always take on the mighty Col dAgnes (1570m) with its col top lakeside caf! Easier route: lift to Lordat, Route des Corniches + Col de Port [82km, 950m ascent]
Classic route: Route des Corniches + Col de Port [100km, 1500m ascent]
Challenge route: Plateau de Beille + Col de Port + Col dAgnes [149km, 3000m ascent]
Day 3: Saint-Girons to Luchon
On offer today are two of the most popular cols in the Pyrenees. Climbing gently through ancient farmsteads, you barely notice the incline to the Col de Portet dAspet (1075m). A short descent through mixed forest (past the memorial to Fabio Casartelli) prepares you for the never-ending Col de Ment (1345m), or there is the option of missing it out, taking on instead the beautiful and gentle climbs of the Col de Buret (599m) and the Col des Ares (797m). After a pleasant, winding descent you can stretch your legs with a very gentle (almost flat) finale into the bustling spa town of Luchon. There are two optional extras today, one at the start of the day, taking you over the Col de la Core (1395m) and the other towards the end of the day, where you have the option of making an excursion to Spain taking on the Col du Portillon (1293m). Easier route: Col de Portet dAspet + Col de Buret + Col des Ares [83km, 1300m ascent]
Classic route: Col de Portet dAspet + Col de Ment [78km, 1600m ascent]
Harder route: Col de Portet dAspet + Col de Ment + Col du Portillon [95km, 2270m ascent]
Challenge route: Col de la Core + Portet dAspet + Col de Ment + Col du Portillon (east) [131km, 3050m ascent]
Day 4: Day rides from Luchon or rest day!
If you need a rest from riding, today you have an opportunity to enjoy what else Luchon has to offer from its spa facilities to paragliding or mountain biking! Naturally, Luchon is sourrounded by legendary TdF climbs, so those of you wanting to ride have a number of options: You can take on the stage finish of Superbagnres (1804m) or the ever changing gradients of the Port de Bals (1755m), where Schleck and Contador had the famous chain incident! Another option is to nip up to the Spanish border on the Port du Portillon (1293m), a short but punchy ride. Col du Portillon (west) [22 km, 670m ascent]
Superbagnres [39km, 1200m ascent]
Port de Bals [70km, 1300m ascent]
Challenge route: Port de Bals + Superbagnres [109km, 2500m ascent]
Day 5: Luchon to Bagnres-de-Bigorre
You start your day with the rather steep but very beautiful Col de Peyresourde (1565m). You will be rewarded at the top by a caf serving fabulous crpes! Those who really want to abuse their bodies could take in the Col dAzet (1580m) and the mountain hugging Pla dAdet (1680m). Next on the Classic route is the beautiful Col dAspin (1490m), used more often by the Tour de France than any other Pyrenean climb. A spectacular downhill takes us through the small and quaintly bizarre town of Campan and on to our hotel in Bagnres-de-Bigorre. Classic route: Col de Peyresourde + Col dAspin [70km, 1750m ascent]
Harder route: Col de Peyresourde + Col dAzet + Col dAspin [90km, 2315m ascent]
Challenge route: Col de Peyresourde + Col dAzet + Pla dAdet + Col dAspin [114km, 3215m ascent]
Day 6: Bagnres-de-Bigorre to Argels-Gazost
Today is all about the famous and rather punishing Col du Tourmalet (2115m) make sure you get your photo taken at the top this is a real achievement! From here you can enjoy a 35km downhill, all the way to the picturesque thermal spa town of Argels-Gazost for an afternoon of justifiable relaxation. A few (tempting) optional extras include the TdF stage finishes of Luz Ardiden (1720m) and Hautacam (1534m) or a nice detour up the valley to the village of Gavarnie for a glimpse of the world famous Cirque. Classic route: Col du Tourmalet [64km, 1515m ascent]
Easy optional extra: trip to Gavarnie from Luz-St-Sauveur [adds 38km, 665m ascent]
Harder route: Col du Tourmalet + Hautacam [93km, 2700m ascent]
Challenge route: Col du Tourmalet + Luz Ardiden + Hautacam [123km, 3670m ascent]
Day 7: Travel Back
We offer included transfers from Argels-Gazost to Toulouse airport. Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.
- Climb the legendary Tour de France Pyrenean cols & stage endings: Tourmalet, Portet dAspet, Peyresourde
- Optional Challenge Route: up to 3670m ascent per day!
- Comfortable and friendly 2-3* hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
- Excellent support from 2 customised support vans and 2 experienced, proactive and fun guides, focused on making your holiday the best it can be