Pyrenees trip – Gite Belle Vie, Cols Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde

Gite Belle Vie - Start of Col du Tourmalet
Gite Belle Vie – Start of Col du Tourmalet

Sunday 22nd of March the weather remained very unsettled, but at least I woke with a view of the mountain. In the morning I popped down the road to meet Eric and Angela, the owners of their very interesting and beautiful Gite Belle Vie. The property is set in an idyllic position surrounded by forests, a mountain stream and grazing farmland. It is set back a couple of hundred meters back from the main road but very close to the starting point of both the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin in the village of Saint Marie de Campan.

Three rental Gites have been lovingly created from old stone outhouse with 1, 2 and 3 bedroom. Each can be rented individually, or together with a group of up to 12 people. Eric and Angela can also provide breakfast and or an evening meal, brought right to your Gite. All have modern kitchens and living rooms, complete with wifi throughout, television with TNT satellite plus wood burning stoves if the evenings get a little chilly. Each unit has its own private terrace and other seating is dotted around the grounds, including a one around a specially created fire pit next to the banks of the stream.

What makes this business even more interesting is that their son runs his own cycling guiding and tours, which can be based at the Gites as well as other locations around France. He is able to design and create bespoke cycling holidays or vacations to match each individual clients requirements. Many of these tours involve the participation of ex professional cyclists.

Col d'Aspin
Col d’Aspin

Since the Col du Tourmalet is unfortunately closed at this time of the year, I headed east over the Col d’Aspin and down into Arreau in the reverse direction of what will be part of the stage 11 of the 2015 Tour de France. From here it’s up the Louron Valley and over the Col de Peyresourde and down into the spa town of Bagnères de Luchon, the start of the famous climb to Superbagnères. From Luchon it is possible to pass into Spain via the Col du Portillon.

Bagneres de Luchon
Bagneres de Luchon

Luchon marked the end of my Pyrenees trip as from here it was a short drive back to

Toulouse and my return flight. I shall be back in the summer to see it in its full cycling glory.

For more information on any properties in the area, do take a look at our Col du Tourmalet pages or contact us on enquiries@bikelodging.com

Pyrenees Trip – Vallée de Campan

Bagnères de Bigorre
Bagnères de Bigorre

I spent the afternoon of the 21st March in Bagnères de Bigorre , which is a beautiful market town at the altitude of 550m and located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Campan Valley close to the start of the climb to the Col du Tourmalet. It has had a wealth of history since 28BC, when the Romans  first developed the regions natural thermal hot springs. Over the years plagues, earthquakes and fires have shaped the fortunes of this pretty town.

During the summer the town is famous for its floral displays and the bars and cafes are busy with happy cyclists and mountain bikers. Much of the town center is made up of beautiful historic buildings and classical architecture.

Tour de France passing the chalet
Tour de France passing the chalet

My evening was spent with Carolyn and Stephan who own a catered chalet just after the turning to the Col du Tourmalet at Saint Marie de Campan. This beautiful chalet with 4 very comfortable en-suite bedrooms, is surrounded by lush green fields and the sounds of grazing sheep. The Tour de France almost always passes within 100meters of their door on the way up or down the Col du Tourmalet and on the odd occasion the climb is not used, then they would likely be using the Col d’Aspin, which starts back in their local village. Carolyn and Stephan are fantastic

Chalet Tourmalet
Chalet Tourmalet

hosts, keen Tour de France fans and a wealth of knowledge of the local area.

When I met with them last weekend, they still have a room available for the week of this summers Tour de France. Stage 11 from Pau to Cauterets will once again pass right past their door.

Accommodation in the Col du Tourmalet area