The Majestic French Pyrenees | Private Bike Trip 2023

January 11th, 2024

Witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Pyrenees mountain passes, famed for their appearances in the Tour de France and cycling history. This bike trip in the French Pyrenees was an extraordinary blend of cycling, French hospitality, and cuisine, enjoyed with a group of friends from Northern California in the summer of 2023.

Arriving in Cycling Bliss

Upon their arrival at Toulouse airport, we began our full-service support for the riders. After an hour and a half transfer, we reached our destination just outside Saint-Gaudens, located in the flatlands at the entrance to the Pyrenees.

We prepared our Sarto Veneto SL bikes and embarked on a relaxing warmup ride through the tranquil roads amid French farmlands, meadows, and forests. Our guests, especially those cycling in Europe for the first time, marveled at the quality of the country lanes and the respect car drivers showed to cyclists.

Our first hotel, a charming former monastery with a 400-year-old cedar tree, provided a pleasant respite from the hot July sun. The dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, though simple, showcased the finesse of French cuisine.

Every climb is worth the view

Our first official riding day took us from Saint-Gaudens to Bargnes-de-Luchon via Col de Mente, a less-known climb that offered a glimpse of the challenging roads ahead. As we ascended through a light mist, we enjoyed cooler air temperatures and relief from the hot July sun.

The next day, the clouds cleared, bringing back the July heat. The ride to Port de Bales, though seemingly easier on paper, tested us with its length and the heat. Our small group of six stretched out on our way up to the mountain pass at 1755 meters (5758 ft) above sea level. However, the breathtaking views from the top – long, winding roads and cows dotting the valley meadows – made the arduous climb worthwhile. The only downside was the freshly chip-sealed road on our descent, which made it slow and a bit daunting.

Our third day took us from Bargnes-de-Luchon to Arreau via Col de Peyresourde. Though not as famous as other Pyrenees climbs, its frequent inclusion in the Tour de France has made it notable. The ride was relatively easy, and we arrived in Arreau with plenty of time to relax by the pool and rejuvenate before dinner.

Through the clouds to majestic Tourmalet

The following day, ready for a more challenging ride after our recovery, we started with a climb to Col d’Aspin right from Arreau. As we gained altitude, we entered a thick fog, which made the descent trickier due to low visibility and cold temperatures.

Descending from Col d’Aspin, we were greeted with the iconic Col du Tourmalet climb sign. The ascent through increasingly thick cloud cover felt like a journey through a mysterious world. The magic unfolded in the last kilometers as the clouds parted, revealing majestic peaks and a stunning valley below. Reaching the top at 2115 meters was a moment of triumph and awe.

Surrounded by a diverse group of cyclists, we enjoyed a longer rest, sharing stories and capturing the moment. The valley on the descent side, less clouded, promised a safer and more enjoyable ride down to Argelès-Gazost.

Despite the next day being a rest day, some of us couldn’t resist the lure of another Pyrenees climb, the Col de Tramassel a.k.a. Hautacam, right across the valley from our hotel. Another day shrouded in fog made for a mysterious yet satisfying ride.

The spectacular grand challenge 

The final day presented a grand challenge with three mountain passes: Col de Soulor, Col d’Aubisque, and Col des Spandelles. The clear skies and higher altitudes made for a spectacular day. The stream of riders felt like a supportive force, aiding us in our climbs.

After a rest at Col du Solour, we continued towards Col d’Aubisque, traversing roads carved into cliff edges and even passing through a tunnel. The clarity of the day offered expansive views of the Pyrenees’ grandeur. Despite the accumulated fatigue, our group decided to tackle the final climb, Col des Spandelles. It proved to be a demanding ascent, but we all found our rhythm, supported by our van and ride leader, and conquered this last challenge.

The descent to Argelès-Gazost was exhilarating, a well-deserved reward for our efforts. That evening, we gathered in a café to celebrate an incredible tour through the Pyrenees.

The following morning, we transferred our guests to Toulouse and Girona, Spain, marking the end of this all-inclusive, private, and custom 8-day bike tour in the French Pyrenees by HC Bike Tours. The group was already buzzing with ideas for next year’s European bike trip.

All-Inclusive experience and Support

Our 8-day all-inclusive tour provided everything from airport transfers, comfortable accommodations, and gourmet meals to on-road support and guidance. Our dedicated team ensured a seamless experience, allowing our guests to focus solely on their cycling adventure.

This French Pyrenees Bike Trip Included:

  • Airport transfers
  • Ground transportation
  • Accommodation fees
  • All meals
  • On-road picnic lunches & sports nutrition
  • Two HC Bike Tours staff members
  • Mechanic assistance, guidance, concierge services, technical advice, coaching
  • Welcome pack
  • Pre-departure information
  • Tour photos

Join Us for Your Next Cycling Adventure

When your on tour with HC Bike Tours it is not just a bike trip – it’s an exploration of the heart of cycling, a journey through some of the most iconic landscapes Europe has to offer. 

Let us help you plan and experience your next custom and private European cycling adventure whether it’s the magic of the French Pyrenees or any other cycling destination in Europe – with HC Bike Tours everything is possible!

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