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FRANCE CYCLING

FRANCE CYCLING

PEDAL DANCER BLOG POSTS - Riding a bicycle in France

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    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



    Planning your rides in the Pyrenees

    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 Cyclosport.com
    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



    Road and Cycling Maps for France - online
     
    Map My Ride There are 16,538 routes on Map My Ride for France. A link to route suggestions or rides listed in the French Pyrenees on Map My Ride, or go to www.MapMyRide.com, select Search for Rides at the top, then Change Search Location under the dropdown box and type in France. Add a keyword like Tourmalet to narrow down your search.
    Bikely.com: Helps cyclists find bike paths recommended by other cyclists. Search for bike routes on Bikely.com
    Velopeloton: Map of Pyrenees Cycling Climbs. A fantastic collection of the climbs in the Pyrenees and links to wonderful photography at: velopeloton.com/cycling/
    Climb By Bike: Climb by bike has helpful climb profiles of mountain passes in France, including start town locations. They also have details for the Tour de France 2010 route, with profiles of the individual climbs in the major climbing stages of the TDF.
    Grenoble Cycling Pages: Grenoble Cycling Pages - description photos, and profiles of the climbs in the French Alpes
    Google Earth: Google Earth is a great resource to view terrain and slope of bike routes in France. It allows you to get a feel for the ascents and descents, the size of the towns, and the general population density of an area. Google Earth highlights restaurants and hotels, not that all would be good, but for the cyclist it is excellent for planning water stops along your route. You must first download the Good Earth Software to your own computer prior to use.
    Google Maps Bike There: Read more information about Google Maps Bike There a tool that may easily be clicked on while using general Google maps for directions from town to town.
    In a Google search box, type in the name of your start city, in the second box type in the name of your destination city, below the boxes click on bicycling to see the alternative bike path route (many options may appear).
    Michelin Maps - online: General map direction service from ViaMichelin

    Road and Cycling Maps of France - paper

    Michelin Road Maps of France on Amazon.com

    Always try and buy "Local" Maps (yellow colored cover with much greater detail) as opposed to "Regional" Maps, or buy the entire Michelin Atlas of France and cut out the pages for the area you will be visiting.

    If you are traveling to these area listed below, the corresponding Michelin map is (buy this map) #:

    • Biarritz, Basque country, Pau, Tarbes, Lourdes: Local Map #342 (Hautes-Pyrenees/Pyrenees Atlantiques)    
    • Central Pyrenees, Toulouse, Foix: Local Map #343 (Ariege, Haute-Garonne)   
    • Eastern Pyrenees, Carcassonne, Perpignon Local Map #344 (Aude, Pyrenees-Orientales)    
    • Bordeaux, wine country of southwest France: Local Map #335 (Gironde, Landes)    
    • Albi and Central Massif: Local Map #338 (Aveyron, Tarn)    
    • Mont Ventoux and Provence: Local Map #332 (Drome, Vaucluse)    
    • Alpe d'Huez, Galibier, Alpes: Local Map #333 (Isere, Savoie)   
    • Frenh Alpes, Grand Bornand, Mont Blanc: Local Map #328 (Ain, Haute-Savoie)




    Driving in France


    • Understanding road signs in France      
    • Understanding Autoroutes and Toll Booths in France 
    • Map of Road Construction at Bison Fute     
    • Frixo Road Traffic Reports for the UK Provide current Road Traffic Reports and weather reports. Frixo is a road travel reporting website, that provides users with the most up-to-date road traffic information. Frixo data is updated every 5 minutes using sensors placed on motorways and common A / B roads. It is a free service aimed at giving you live traffic news and information. If you are driving through the United Kingdom, Frixo is a good resource. The website reports road delays, and live average speeds on roads helping you to plan your travel and avoid delays.  http://www.frixo.com/ 

    Rental Car Models:
    Renault Scenic. I love this car. It easily holds 2 people, 2 bikes, 2 bike cases, and 4 bags. Or 3 people, 3 bikes, bags, but no bike cases. (pesky bike cases). Or a Ford C-Max (similar model). Wolkswagon Golf or the smaller Renault will do fine for 2-3 people with bikes, bags, but NO bike cases.

    Bike cases and racks:
    Bike cases are a pain while traveling, there is no getting around it. I have had friends who have paid bike shops to store their cases for them while they travel. I had a couple friends devote a bunch of time trying to get a bike roof rack for a rental car, the rack remains in a basement in France. I met 3 Irish lads who bought a bike rack at the local sporting good store upon arrival in western France for the rear of their trunk (boot), use it for three weeks, and leave it when they flew out from the eastern side of France. 








    More Information
    Please read more travel tips about traveling in France with a bicycle on the FRANCE TRAVEL page on PedalDancer.com.