Flights into Biarritz (France) or Bilbao (Spain) airport, followed by a transfer to the town of Hendaye – the furthest point of south west of France before you get to Spain. You will meet your guides and pie crew, before the evening meal and briefing. Overnight accommodation in a hotel.
Day 1 starts by dipping your wheels in the Atlantic, before setting off from the obelisk and heading along the coast for a short while. We then turn inland and warm up the climbing legs with a few hills, past a mountain railway, and finally pulling into our hotel at Montory. Dinner is taken at the hotel, with the opportunity to soothe any aches and pains in the outdoor pool.
Its only the second day and already we will tackle one of the famous Tour climbs – the Col d’Aubisque. On the way, we pass beautiful mountain lakes and ski resorts, before we finally arrive at the top of the col. There will be an opportunity for photos of the valley below, before a great descent and a short climb up the Col de Soulor. Another long descent into the valley follows, before turning south and climbing up to our overnight stop at Viscos, where the mountain side pool has a great view of tomorrow’s challenge – Tourmalet.
After a well-earned rest and fuelling breakfast, we continue up the valley before turning east, towards Tourmalet. Another iconic climb, it has a sting in the tail at the last km, where the gradient rises to over 10%. Save some energy in the tank though, as there is still the beautiful Col d’Aspin to climb, followed by the Col de Peyresourde. A great descent towards our overnight stop and the Tour town of Bagnères de Luchon finishes off the day. After 3000m climbing, you may feel the need for a celebratory beer (or two!).
One of the shortest days on the event, but don’t be fooled! There is a nice flat section at the start of the day to ease away the aches and pains of the previous three days’ riding. The first Col of the day is the Col des Ares, with a vertical climb of just 330m and average gradient of 3.9%. We move swiftly on to the Col de Portet d’Aspet, passing the monument of Fabio Casartelli, the 1994 Olympic champion who died descending the Col. Soon after this, the gradient ramps up again to around 17% for a short while.
We are soon descending down into Saint Girons, where a dip in the pool awaits, followed by dinner cooked on an open fire. Did we mention that the hotel has its own spa?
A change in scenery today, as we continue our journey eastwards. Only one major Col of note – the Col de Port. At an average of 4.7% and elevation gain of 601m, we have broken the back of the main Pyrenees climbs and the next few days are all about getting to the Med!
Overnight accommodation is provided at the thermal town of Ax-les-Thermes, with some spectacular scenery as we ride in along the valley floor.
The day starts with a climb out of the town and towards the last major climb of the trip, at the Col de Puymorens. With only an average gradient of 4.4%, it’s the length of the climb that most will feel, with a 27km grind from the front door of the hotel. However, the views from the top are well worth it, particularly the road winding its way downhill into the distance.
The landscape changes significantly as we brush shoulders with Andorra, and a magnificent long descent past the walled town of Villefranche-de-Conflent awaits as we make our way down to the town of Prades.
Depending on flight schedules, this could be our last night as a whole group, and so we will take the opportunity to toast our achievements of the past 6 days during a celebratory meal in the town square.
As the shortest day of the ride, we meander through countless vineyards in the knowledge that there is just 233m of ascent throughout the day! The Mediterranean Sea is soon on the horizon, giving a welcome boost to those with tired legs. All that is left to do is dip our wheels into the sea, before having a well-earned rest in the sand.
We can offer transfers for those with a flight to catch (Perpignan or Barcelona), with accommodation provided for those deciding to spend the afternoon recovering by the sea.
Transfer from hotel to airport, if necessary.