PEDAL DANCER BLOG POSTS - Riding a bicycle in France

Much more cycling stories and information at: Tour de France
Much more information on traveling in France at: France Travel

France Cycling
Climbs and Bike Rides in France
Link to map of my favorite climbs in France
Link to map of my favorite climbs in France

List of my favorite top 20 climbs (*top 10) in France: Link to google map of climb locations
  • Alpe d’Huez *
  • Col d'Agnes
  • Col des Aravis *
  • Col d’Aspin
  • Col d’Aubisque *
  • Col de la Columbiére *
  • Col du Galibier *
  • Col d'Ichère
  • Col d'Izoard
  • Col de Marie Blanque *
  • Col de Murs
  • Col de Peyresourde
  • Col d’Portillon
  • Col du Soulor *
  • Col de Tamié
  • Col de Télégraphe
  • Col du Tourmalet *
  • Hautacam
  • La Hourquette d’Ancizan *
  • Mont Ventoux *
Ride Reports and Routes Pyrenees
Pyrenees Cycling
Ride Reports and Routes - Alpes
Ride Reports and Routes - Provence


2014 - Travel in France

2013 - Travel in France
2012 - Travel in France
Tour de France 2010, 2011
Other Races in France
Citizen Rides / Cyclosportifs in France>
Travel in France
Food in France
Photography and Pictures of the Day
Recommended Reading or Viewing
Cycling Word of the Day


2012 - Stories from my travels in France
2010 - Stories from my travels in France

Where is the best cycling in the French Pyrenees?

You have a choice of cycling in France. The most popular areas for cycling in France are Bordeaux, Pyrenees, Massif Central, Provence, Grand Bornand, Alpes, Northern Alpes, and the Loire Valley. Here we help you plan for cycling in the Pyrenees; which is one of our favorite areas to bike in France.

What are the best bike routes in France? The best cycling routes combine the best towns, climbs, descents, roads, hotels, restaurants, areas of interest, and accessibility.

Whether you prefer to stay in large cities, small towns, or rural countryside you can find it all in the Pyrenees. The mountains of the Pyrenees is home to some of the most famous cycling cols and climbs in the world. The roads are well maintained, well signed and the auto drivers quite considerate. You will find a range of comfortable from 4* hotels to rural gites or camping.

Classic Cycling Climbs in the Pyrenees

These climbs and cols located in the Pyrenees are listed among the top 30 in Europe:
  • Port de Pailheres
  • Col du Tourmalet
  • Port de Bales
  • Hautacam
  • Superbagneres
  • Col d’ Aubisque
  • Luz Ardiden
  • Col de Pyresourde
  • Col du Portillon
  • Col d’ Aspin
To experience even one of these climbs on a bicycle will be memorable and well worth your visit. The climbs are distributed across the Pyrenees mountain range and would be difficult to complete in one trip, but we do try to highlight the cycling climbs within each of the Cycling Travels 5 groups (below).

Where to ride in the Pyrenees

For a classic Pyrenees biking experience we recommend starting your first trip to the Pyrenees with Group 3, then Group 2, Group 1, Group 4, and then Group 5.
  • If you have 3-5 days in the area you will get more out of a quick trip to Group 3.
  • If you have 7-10 days you might try to visit both Group 3 and Group 2, and perhaps Group 1.
  • If you have 2 weeks or more you will be able to visit two to three of the Groups.
  • With 3-4 weeks or more you will likely ride three-four groups, and take a side trip to Provence or Paris or fly to Italy or Spain and back.
A description of the cycling areas in the Pyrenees

Valleys of the Pyrenees - Let’s start by dividing the Pyrenees into 5 Ride Groups from West to East.

Included below are the popular Cols within each group (*cols are the Classic Climbs; as mentioned above).
  • Group 1 Pay Basque
  • Group 2 Bearn / Euskadi
  • Group 3 Haut-Adour
  • Group 4 Vallee d'Aure
  • Group 5 Couserans
It is best to divide the bike routes in the Pyrenees into sections (groups). Within each group we target nearby towns, where to stay, where to ride, how to get there, and what else to do while there. For more details please visit the Comparison and How to Decide sections of this website under Where to Ride.

Basque County & the West
Group 1 - Pays Basque
Region: Aquitane
Department: Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Description: Coastal West and the Basque Country
Towns: St Jean de Luz, Biarritz, Hendaye, St Jean Pied de Port, St Etienne, St Palais, Oloron St Marie
Cols: Col Bagarqui, Pic des Escaliers, Col d’ Arnosteguy, Pic de Guilhers, Col Hourcere, Col de la Pierre St Martin, Col Erroymendi, Col de Ignace, Col d' Ispeguy, Col d’ Haltza, Col du Landerre, Puerto (Port) de Larrau, Lescun/L’Aberouat, Col de Soudet.
Route: following the D-618 and the D-918 from Argelès-sur-Mer to St. Jean-de-Luz –
Airport: Bilbao Airport, Biarrits Airport, Pau Airport.
Activities: Hiking: Pic d’Anie

Pau to the Aubisque
Group 2 - Bearn / Euskadi
Region: Aquitane
Department: Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Description: West Central and Basque Mountain Area
Towns: Pau, Oloron Ste Marie, Arudy, Laruns, Bielle.
Cols: Col d’ Ichere, *Col’d Marie Blanc, *Col d’Aubisque, *Col du Solour, Col de Couraduque, Col de Spandelles, Col de Burdincurutcheta, Col d’Irau
Airport: Bilbao Airport, Biarritz Airport, Pau Airport, Tarbes, Toulouse.
Activities: Hiking: Pic du Midi d’ Ossau. Driving: Valle d’Aspe, Valley d’Ossau, River Rafting.

Lourdes to the Tourmalet
Group 3 - Haut-Adour
Region: Midi-Pyrenees
Department: Hautes-Pyrenees
Desciption: Religious Central and the Cols of the Tour de France
Towns: Lourdes, Tarbes, Argeles-Gazost, Cauterets, Luz St Sauveur, Bagneres de Bigorre, La Mongie.
Cols: *Col d’Aubisque, Col du Solour, *Hautacam, Col de Tramassel, Cauterets, *Luz Ardiden, *Col du Tourmalet, *Col d’ Aspin, Col de Palomieres, Col de Coupe, Pont d’Espagne,
Airport: Pau Airport, Toulouse Airport
Activities: Hiking: Cauterets, Lac de Gaube, Pont de Espagne, Cirque de Gavarnie, Pic de Tentes, Cirque de Troumouse, Pic du Midi de Bigorre. Religious Services: Lourdes. Spas:  . Driving: Capvern Valley, Valle du Gavernie,

Arreau and Beyond
Group 4 - Vallee d’ Aure
Region: Midi-Pyrenees
Department: Hautes-Pyrénées/ Haute-Garonne
Description: Eastern Mountains, Valleys and Rolling Hills
Towns: Arreau, Vielle-Aure, St-Lary-Soulon, Loudenvielle, Bagneres-de-Luchon
Cols: *Col d’ Apsin, *Horquette d’ Ancizan, *Col d Pyresourde, *Col de Portet, *Pla-d-Adet, *Superbagneres, *Col du Portillon, Port de Pierrefite, *Port de Bales, Col de Mente, Col de Portet d’ Aspet, Col d’Aret/Col de Val Louron-Azet.
Airport: Pau Airport, Toulouse Airport
Activities: Hiking:____ Driving: Valle d’Aure, Valley du Louron,

Luchon and the edge of Spain / St Girons,  Foix and the green hills
Group 5 - Couserans & Ariege
Region: Midi-Pyrenees
Department: Ariege
Description: (Eastern Wine Country, Castles and the Mediterranean)
Towns: St Beat, St-Girons, Foix, Ax-les-Thermes, St Gaudens, Toulouse,
Cols: Col de Portet d’Aspet, *Port de Pailheres, *Plateau de Bonascre, *Plateau de Beille, Col de la Crozette, Col de la Core, *Col de Port.
Airport: Toulouse Airport, Perpignan, Marseilles, Barcelona


Group 1 - Pays Basque
Region: Aquitane

Group 2 - Bearn / Euskadi
Region: Aquitane

Group 3 - Haut-Adour
Region: Midi-Pyrenees
Ride Group 3 - Warm-up: D26 between Lourdes and Bagneres-de-Bigorre, D920 to the Cauterets for lunch. D26 –D84 loop of Col des Palomieres east of Bagneres-de-Bigorre.
Ride Map 3.1: Luz-Saint-Sauveur D12, D921, D13, Argeles-Gazost side road to Viger(or east side on D13) D26 to D18 to D26 to Pouzac, Bagneres-de-Bigorre (food, water), D935, St-Marie-de-Campan, D918, La Mongie, *Col du Tourmalet, Luz-St-Sauveur (food/water)
Ride Map 3.2: Luz-Saint-Sauveur (water), up *Luz Ardiden down small road, D921, D13, Ayros, up *Hautacam, continue up Col de Tramassel, down to Argeles-Gazost (food/water), D10, St Savin, D13, D921, Luz-St-Sauveur (food/water). Ride Map 3.3: St-Marie-de-Campan(water), D918 up Col d’Aspin, down to Arreau (food/water), D19 to Ancizan, D113 up Horquette d’Ancizan, down D918 to Saint Marie-de-Campan (food/water).
Ride Map 3.4: Argeles-Gazost (water), Gez, Col de Spandelles, Ferrieres, Arbeost, D112, Col du Soulor, D918 Col d’ Aubisque (food/water), (option Eaux-Bonnes to Laruns food/water)) Col d’Aubisque, Col du Soulor, Aucun, Argeles-Gazost (food/water).
Ride Map 3.5: Lestelle-Betharram D937 to Nay, to Bourdelttes, D936 to Rebenacq, N134, D34, Buzy, D920, Arudy(food/water), D918 St Christau, (option: D91 Issor, D241, Lourdios-Ichere, D241 Col d’Ichere, Pont Suzon, N134,) Escot,  D924, col d’ Marie Blanc, Bilheres, D934, Louvie-Juzon (water), D35, D126 to D226 back to Lestelle-Betharram (food/water).
Ride Map 3.6: Bageneres-de-Bigorre (water), D84, Col des Palomiers, to D826 to D26, Col de Coupe, to Heches, D929 to Arreau (food/water) D918 Col d’Aspin, St Marie-de-Campan (water), D8 to Bageneres-de-Bigorre.

Group 4 - Vallee d’ Aure
Region: Midi-Pyrenees
Ride Group 4 - Warm-up: St Lary-Soulan d19 to Vielle-Aure to Cadeac to Arreaua to D125, D115, D25, St Lary Soulon
Ride Map 4.1: Arreau D618 Col de Pyeresourde down to Bagneres-de Luchon, up  D618 Col du Portillon, back down Bagneres-de Luchon, (option up Valle du Lys D46 to Superbagneres and back), Bagneres-de Luchon (food/water), D618 over col de Pyresourde back to Arreau.
Ride Map 4.2: St Lary Soulan D25 to  D 19 to D25 to Borderes-Louron, Clo de Peyresourde, D51 up Vallee d’Ouiel to Port de Bales top, down to St Aventin, to Billiere, to D76 side road to Portet du Luchon, Col de Pyeresourde, to Estarvielle, to Loudenvielle, to Genos, ValLouron, GR10 to Col de Val Louron-Azet/Col d’ Azet, Azet, down to St Lary Soulan, (food/water).
Ride Map 4.3: Arreau D918 Col d’Aspin, St Marie-de-Campan, D8 to Bageneres-de-Bigorre (food/water), D84, Col des Palomiers, to D826 to D26, Col de Coupe, to Heches, D929 to Arreau.
Ride Map 4.4:Arreau D918 to Col d’Aspin (option Horquettes d’ Anicizan), St Marie-de-Campan (water), D918 to La Mongie, to Col du Tourmalet, back down to La Mongie (food/water), back over Col d’ Aspin, (option: Horquette d’Anicizan decent) return to Arreau.
Ride Map 4.5: St Lary Soulon, Vielle-Aure up D125 Pla d’Adet, (water at junction), up to Col de Portet, (option up D929 to Bge de Cap-de-Long, down D929, return to St Lary Soulon.
Ride Map 4.6: Cierp-Gaud D44 across to St Beat, D44 Boutx, D85, Col de Mente, river, turn right on D618 to memorial of Fabio Casartelli, continue to Col de Portet d’Aspet, down to Portet d’Aspet (food/water), return back over Col de Portet d’Aspet, D618 Col du Buret, Juzet d’Izaut (food/water), Cszaunous, Col des Ares, St Pe-d’Aret /Loude (food/water), stay on D618 through Antichan-de-Frontignes, Fronsac, turn right before Chaum(!) across highway to D125, stay on D125 along hillside back into Cierp-Gaud (food/water).

Ride Group 5
Region: Midi-Pyrenee

General online guides for cycling in the Pyrenees

Cycling in France:
List of Bike Shops in the Pyrenees
Cyclo Climbing Guide to the West Pyrenees
Cadogan Guides Gascony & the Pyrenees

Cycling Tips
  • always carry a good map
  • learn road signs
  • white (small) or yellow (medium) roads highlighted with green, are the most scenic routes. Avoid the large roads.

Local Cyclosportifs and Citizen Races

All of France - Complete list on
Pyrenees - Epreuves en Midi Pyrénées

Tours and Events in the Pyrenees on Paddy's Blog

Some Bike Shops in the Pyrenees
  • Argelès-Gazost Sports Loisirs Diffusion 6 Avenue Pyrénées 65400 Argelès-Gazost Tel: 05 62 97 55 78
  • Arreau Anduran Christian 5 Route Jezeau 65240 Arreau Tel: 05 62 98 62 06
  • Bagnères-de-Bigorre Cycles Evasion 4 Rue Maréchal Foch 65200 Bagnères-de-Bigorre Tel: 05 62 95 03 93 Fax : 05 62 91 13 16
  • Bagnères-de-Luchon Au Cycle 82 Avenue Maréchal Foch 31110 Bagnères-de-Luchon Tel: 05 61 79 12 87 Luchon Mountain Bike 4 Place Comminges 31110 Bagnères-de-Luchon Tel: 05 61 79 88 56
  • Jurancon
  • Lamnezan Charre Martial 81 Rue Georges Clémenceau 65300 Lamnezan Tel: 05 62 40 24 72 Segu Patrick 192 Rue Thiers 65300 Lamnezan Tel: 05 62 98 05 81
  • Lourdes Arbes Hubert 51bis Avenue Alexandre Marqui 65100 Lourdes Tel: 05 62 94 05 51 Fax : 05 62 42 12 46
  • Cycles Oliveira 14 Avenue Alexandre Marqui 65100 Lourdes Tel: 05 62 42 24 24
  • Oloron-Saint-Marie

More Information

Please read more travel tips about traveling in France with a bicycle on the FRANCE TRAVEL page on