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France

Trans Pyrenees Challenge

Guided Road Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

10 days

Prices from

$2,675 P.P.
France

Trans Pyrenees Challenge

Guided Road Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

10 days

Prices from

$2,675 P.P.
BOOK NOW
Our Trans Pyrenees coast-to-coast cycle Challenge has been one of our most popular road cycling tours ever since we started offering it, well over a decade ago. We updated this trip in 2015, and in its latest incarnation the tour is bigger and even better than it was before. In response to popular demand, our carefully researched route now takes in the entire mountain range.
Starting on the shores of the Atlantic and finishing on the warm sands of the Mediterranean, cycling the Pyrenees presents a unique opportunity to combine a coast-to-coast ride with a genuine mountain experience.
This is a challenging trip through one of Europe’s most impressive mountain ranges, and our revised route now spans the entire distance between the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic Coast and the Mediterranean Sea taking in some of the most impressive mountain scenery you could wish for as we make our way along the beautiful natural border between France and Spain.
Home to both the Basques and the Catalans, throughout history the region has seen its share of conflict. Thankfully today the struggle for supremacy in the mountains is mainly fought out on two wheels. Whether it be professional riders battling for points and Tour de France stage wins, or amateur riders battling against the mountains themselves, the challenges presented by the Pyrenees are just as dramatic and just as exciting.
If you’ve always wondered what it feels like to climb the likes of the Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque, Aspin and Peyresourde then this Pyrenees coast-to-coast cycling tour is your chance. These mountains are legendary in the cycling world. The route starts in St Jean de Luz on the Basque coast and covers nearly 800km and 17,000m of climbing before arriving in Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean coast, where we'll celebrate with a paddle in the sea and a bottle of something sparkling. 

 

  

 

 

 

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Highlights

  • Riding the entire length of Europe’s most dramatic mountain range
  • Looking down on the switchbacks ahead from the summits of the Aspin and the Port de Pailhères
  • The breath-taking descent from the top of the Tourmalet
  • Fresh crepes and a coffee at the summit of Col de Peyresourde
  • Bathing tired legs in the outdoor thermal waters in Ax-les-Thermes
  • Fine Spanish food and wine in Bossost
  • Picnic and celebratory drinks on the beach at Banyuls

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Stunning scenery, a great group, perfect weather – this trip will be hard to beat!

Karen, UK

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Biarritz Airport
Non Riding Day

Following your arrival into Biarritz, we’ve plenty of time to transfer to the starting point of this superb tour. We’ll be spending our first night in St Jean de Luz, a fishing port on the Basque coast and now a famous resort, known for its architecture, sandy bay, the quality of the light and the cuisine, all situated just a few km from the Spanish border.

Day 2
St Jean de Luz to Montory
75 Miles / 120 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,850 Metres Approx.

Today is a fine introduction to the Pyrenees, a taster of what to look forward to over the coming days. Riding out of St Jean de Luz, the riding is relatively gentle as we pass through several picturesque Basque villages with their traditional colouring and architecture.

This is the centre of the red pepper world. Our first taste of Pyrenean mountain riding is an excellent warm up for what lies ahead and comes in the shape of 2 minor cols; Col de St Ignace, followed by Col d‘Osquich and then it’s a gentle run into Montory, where we will spend the evening.

Day 3
Montory to Argeles Gazost
62 Miles / 100 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,900 Metres Approx.

A big day lies ahead, big scenery, big distances, big views and a big mountain or two!

Things begin gently enough as we head from Montory toward Escot. Soon afterwards however we face our first real test of our tour when we meet the Col de Marie Blanque. At just 1,073m it isn’t a giant but we‘re taking it on from the toughest of the 2 sides and it will certainly test our legs. The descent of the eastern face is thrilling, picturesque and rewarding and before long grimaces will be replaced by grins!

Next up is a real Pyrenean classic; the ascent of the Aubisque. It begins gently enough and doesn’t really kick in seriously until the mountain spa town of Eaux Bonnes. From here things start to get a little more serious and we rise constantly to the summit at 1,709m. Once over the pass it’s generally downhill (although Col du Soulor does make an appearance to spice things up!) for the next 40km. We then arrive at our destination for today, the bustling town of Argeles Gazost where we can rest up and prepare for tomorrows challenges.

Day 4
Argeles Gazost to St Lary Soulan
56 Miles / 91 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,700 Metres Approx.

After Alpe d‘Huez, Col du Tourmalet is possibly the most famous of all the Tour de France climbs and since first featuring in the Tour in 1910 it has been a firm favourite of both professional and amateur riders. Topping out at 2,115m, the col is the highest point in our journey and one of the highest roads in the Pyrenees. This morning we’ll find out exactly why it has such a reputation. We’ll spend some time at the top of the pass to regroup and to admire the famous Geant du Tourmalet monument that marks the summit. With the highest climb of the week out of the way and a weight off the mind we’ll wrap up for the swooping descent into the village of St Marie de Campan, a tiny but very pretty village, famous for being the place that Eugene Christophe had to weld his broken bike back together in the 1913 Tour de France.

From here we start climbing once more, this time it’s the improbably picturesque Col d‘Aspin, with the tricky descent spitting us out on the outskirts of Arreau. A short flat section brings us to the ski resort of St Lary Soulan where we will spend our evening. The town is overlooked by the Pla d‘Adet mountain top finish where George Hincapie won his stage of the Tour de France in 2005 and which was a stage finish as recently as 2014.

Day 5
St Laury Soulan to Bossost
39 Miles / 62 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,950 Metres Approx.

Today is the shortest day of our tour and is a little easier than the previous few days challenges. Our route today still promises to pack a punch as it includes two beautiful and challenging climbs.

The day begins gently enough as we leave St Lary Soulan, gradually rising as we approach Col de Peyresourde, another Tour de France favourite, having featured in the race dozens of times since its original inclusion in 1910.

The view from the summit and the winding descent which follows are simply breath-taking. Our relatively short day allows us plenty of time to enjoy one of the famous crepes from the cafe at the summit of the Peyresourde or a café au lait in the town of Bagnères de Luchon before we take on our final challenge of the day; the Col du Portillon which summits on the border between France and Spain. The last 10km of the day is a swift descent on smooth sweeping hair-pinned tarmac, which delivers us to the Catalonian town of Bossost where we will spend a Spanish flavoured evening.

Day 6
Bossost to St Girons
70 Miles / 112 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,600 Metres Approx.

Back in the saddle for a full and action packed day on the bikes, we ease in gently as we drop down the Garonne Valley from Bossost to St Beat.

Make the most of the gentle start as the Col de Mente awaits to dish up a rather rude awakening. A sharp forested descent down the other side delivers us at the foot of the infamous Col de Portet d‘Aspet, the scene of the tragic death of Olympic Champion Fabio Casartelli in the 1995 Tour de France. After paying our respects at the Casartelli memorial we’ll continue, steeply upwards at first, before gently descending to Castillon. A few km beyond the village we begin the day’s final test as we haul ourselves over the Col de la Core and into the town of St Girons on the other side.

Day 7
St Girons to Ax-les-Thermes
68 Miles / 110 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,400 Metres Approx.

The ascent out of St Girons is via a very minor and infrequently used road that leads us into one of the prettiest rural areas of the entire tour. Dropping into the village of Massat via similarly minor roads our legs will be warmed up and ready for the Col de Port, the first real climb of the day.

As we all know by now “what goes up…........” and the next 20km or so is spent in a generally downhill direction! We continue beyond the town of Tarascon heading back into the hills via the Route des Corniches, the early stages of which undulate before rising more dramatically onto the cornice road. We end the day with a quick dash up and over Col de Chioula before turning off to the ski resort town of Ax-les-Thermes where, as the name suggests, we might just have time to soothe our tired legs in the thermal waters before dinner.

Day 8
Ax-les-Thermes to Prades
61 Miles / 98 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,500 Metres Approx.

Those spectacular morning ascents have become something of a habit and we‘re not about to break it today! Sitting at around 2,000m above sea level, the Port de Pailheres is the second highest point on our journey and it’s a tough hair-pinned climb which leads us there. It’s more than worth the effort though, if not just for the view; once over the top, the world just seems to drop away and the sweeping descent is spectacular.

A small bump in the road takes us to Escouloubre and one minor col later we’ll be at the foot of Col de Jau, our final climb of the day. We will be riding at over 1,500m at the top of the Col de Jau, before we end our tour with 30km of flowing downhill to Prades, where we’ll spend the evening.

Day 9
Prades to Banyuls-sur-Mer
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 400 Metres Approx.

Alas, this is our final day of riding. We’re approaching the coast and the landscape and the vegetation have become unmistakably Mediterranean. Taking care as we negotiate a brief section of major road out of Prades, we’re soon back on the minor roads as we pick our way across country arriving on the coast at the town of Collioure before a short twisting ride along the coast to Banylus-sur-Mer.

With the mountains behind us, the ride today is, in the main, fast and flat and we should arrive at the coast early to mid afternoon. We will pack up the bikes and have time for a celebratory dip in the Mediterranean before drinks and dinner. Well done you’ve completed the Skedaddle Trans Pyrenean Mountain Challenge!

Day 10
Departure: Perpignan Airport
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

After a short lie in to recover from last night’s celebrations and of course the strains of crossing the Pyrenees on two wheels, we’ll transfer to Perpignan airport in time for the return flights home.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The French Pyrenees includes some of the highest and most challenging mountains passes in European road cycling and our route takes us over a number of the more serious Tour de France cols and as such involves a lot of climbing. Two or more significant climbs a day is not uncommon and many will include steep and challenging sections. Road surfaces are generally good although mountain weather can take its toll. Caution should be exercised, especially when descending as occasional potholes and gravel patches do occur. Descents are as frequent and long as the ascents and many feature numerous tight bends and switchbacks. Competent and confident descenders will undoubtedly enjoy the downhill stages, however all riders will be expected to exercise caution. Traffic is generally light throughout however it can become busier on occasional stages approaching towns and villages.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 4: Challenging

45-80 miles / 80-130 kms per day

For cyclists with stamina & a good level of fitness

Long & challenging days

Multiple tough or high altitude ascents, with steep sections over extended distances

Long & often technically demanding descents

Road riding for experienced riders

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re an enthusiast. It’s probably your main hobby and possibly the only sport you take seriously. You’re in pretty good shape and you ride as often as you possibly can. You might participate in the occasional cyclo-sportive and when you do, you probably opt for the longest distances. You love bikes and fantasise about the latest model or the joy of a new set of wheels. You love challenges and you’re looking for a tour with plenty of climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols or the like. You’re a competent descender, and you’re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you’re comfortable riding in a bunch. You’re happy to do your turn at the front of the pack if the need arises. You know you can ride a century and probably have done a few. It sounds like you are a Grade 4.

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We had a great trip in all respects! Most importantly we had excellent guides – all of them were excellent – probably the best we have had in all of our trips.

Chris, UK

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
20/08/2021
Return Date
29/08/2021
Duration
10 days
Price
$2,675.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Biarritz airport (BIQ)

G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Perpignan airport (PGF)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday. To join the airport transfer on arrival, you’ll need to arrive into Biarritz airport (BIQ) by 17:00, for a 17:30 transfer.

At the end of the tour we will transfer the group to Perpignan airport (PGF), with an estimated arrival time of 13:00 – please consider this when booking your return travel and allow enough time to check in for your chosen flight.

Please contact us for more detailed information on the specific flight schedules available for your holiday. Please check with us before booking any flights, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your flights fit with our scheduled transfers. Please note – If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the above time windows there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will usually be en-suite in 2 and 3 star hotels, chambre d‘hôtes and local auberges. Our accommodation has all been hand-picked and chosen for their room and service quality, as well as their food quality and, of course, French charm.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to hire. These bikes are Scott Addict 20 or alternative brand equivalent, great bikes with good quality components. If you do decide to hire a bike we can include a helmet and all necessary spares for the trip. Please request helmets when booking. The bikes come with flat pedals as standard, so if you prefer to ride with clip-in pedals please bring your own pedals along with you.

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