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

Haute Route Pyrenees 2015

Route of the 2015 Haute Route - Pyrenees 15th - 21 August
Route of the 2015 Haute Route – Pyrenees 15th – 21 August

This years edition of the Haute Route Pyrenees, see the riders start on the beautiful Basque Atlantic costal town of Anglet on the 15th August and heading in an easterly direction into the heart of the Pyrenees before finishing in Frances fourth largest city Toulouse on the 21st. This seven stage event will cover 805km with 21’ooo meters of climbing. For the first time the event will stage a pre race, non timed parade around the streets of Anglet.

The Haute Route event is open to most levels of cyclist with a good level of fitness from rookie to expert. Each stage is professionally marshalled with medical crews and mechanical support on hand, rolling road security and even a film crew. All stages are times, so team and individual times can be ranked at the end of the day in to gender and age categories.

Haute Route - PyreneesHaute Route Pyrenees 2015 Stage by Stage 

Prolog Friday 14th August: Grand Village Depart and non-timed parade.
Stage 1 Saturday 15th August: Anglet to Pierre Saint-Martin (137km, 4050m+) Col de Bagarui 1327m, Ascent of La Pierre Saint-Martin.
Stage 2 Sunday 16th August: Pau to Pau ( 159km, 2800m+) Col de Marie-Blanque, 1035m, Col d’Aubisque 1709m, Col du Soulor 1474m.
Stage 3 Monday 17th August: Pau to Hautacam (104km, 3100m+) Col du Doulor, 1474m, Hautacam, 1635m.
Stage 4 Tuesday 18th August: Argelès-Gazost to Saint-Lary Soulan (113km, 3900m+) Col du Tourmalet, 2117m, Col d’Aspin, 1489m, Col d’Azet, 1580m.
Stage 5 Wednesday 19th August: ITT Saint-Lary Soulan to Pla d’Adet (12km, 953m+) Pla d’Adet, 1660m.
Stage 6 Thursday 20th August: Sainte-Lary Soulan to Superbagnères (123km, 4100m+) Col dAzet, 1580m, Col de Peyresourde, 1569m, Port de Balès, 1755m, Superbagnères, 1791m.
Stage 7 Friday 21st August: Bagnères-de-Luchon to Toulouse (157km, 1300m+) Col de Menthé, 1349m.

Other events organised by Haute Route:

5th Edition of the Haute Route Alps 23rd – 29th August Geneva – Nice
2nd Edition of Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps 31st August – 6th September Geneva to Venice.

For more information on the Haute Route Pyrenees or any other even organised by Haute Route, visit www.hauteroute.org

Pyrenees_General_Profile_2015-01-1

Images thanks to www.hauteroute.org

For bike friendly accommodation across the Pyrenees visit BikeLodging/Pyrenees

Tour de France 2015 in the Pyrenees

Col du TourmaletTour de France 2015 – Pyrenees

As usual the Tour de France will be hitting some of the major cols (mountain passes) of the Pyrenees, this time during the second week. With stage departs from Pau, Tarbes and Lannemezan, and passing over the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin, this area will provide the ideal base to experience multiple stages of next summers Tour.

14th July  stage 10 Tarbes / La Pierre-Saint-Martin 167KM

15th July Stage 11 Pau / Cauterets – Vallée de Saint-Savin 188KM

16th July Stage 12 Lannemezan / Plateau de Beille 195KM

houseAllez Pyrenees sits just south of Tarbes, to the east of Lannemezan and well within riding distance of Pau. This location provides the perfect position to ride out and experience the excitement of a large town stage depart, where you have the chance to see many of the riders up close. Or head up and see the riders in the high mountains, with stage finishes at La Pierre St Martin,  Cauterets and the beautiful Plateau de Beille.  The property offers Half-board catering for up to 14 people in 5 en-suite bedroom.

Other bike friendly properties in the Pyrenees

2015 Tour de France to feature Col du Galibier, Alpe d’Huez and Col du Tourmalet

map_route

So as expected the 2015 Tour de France will once again feature the Tour classics of Col du Galibier, Alpe d’Huez and Col du Tourmalet. Starting in Utrecht, the route will spend 3 days in the Netherlands before heading east to west to Bretagne along the northern end of France.

The route then jumps to the Pyrenees region for three stages featuring the Col de Soudet, Col d’Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet.

Stage 11 of the 2015 TDF.
Stage 11 of the 2015 TDF.

After a couple of days in and around the Massif Central, the tour heads to the Alpes for the final week. Those hoping catch multiple stages will do well to base themselves in the Oisans/Alpe d’Huez region.

From here you will be able to watch Stage 18 featuring the Col de La Morte, passing through Allemont and over the Coll du Glandon before finishing in St Jean de Maurienne.

Stage 20 of the 2015 Tour de France from Modane via the col du Telegraph and the Col du Glandon and finishing in Alpe d'Huez
Stage 20 of the 2015 Tour de France from Modane via the col du Telegraph and the Col du Glandon and finishing in Alpe d’Huez

Stage 19 24th July, head up to the Col de la Croix de Fer or the Col du Mollard, before the penultimate stage 20 (25th July) of the Tour from Modane over the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Glandon and finishing in Alpe d’Huez. On the famous 21 bends of the Alpe d’Huez you would be part of one of the largest gatherings of sporting fans in the world.

The Tour ends on Sunday the 26th July on the Champs-Élysées in Paris

Bike Lodging open for business in the French Pyrenees

Col du TourmaletThanks to the success of the popular cycling areas around Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux, Bike Lodging has expanded its service to include a number of fantastic bike friendly properties in the French Pyrenees.

These new properties provide a number of fantastic locations across the region, ideal to explore the fantastic diversity of road cycling and Mountain biking that the Pyrenees offers.

The mountains of the French Pyrenees which span the distance between the Mediterranean in the east and the Bay of Biscay Atlantic in the east, form an impressive natural barrier between the most southern part of the French mainland and the northern Basque region of Spain. The region also completely surrounds the beautiful Principality of Andorra. The mountain range itself is older than the Alpes and is know for beautiful landscapes, littered with huge waterfalls and great vertical cliffs.

With over 50 mountains above 3000meters, the highest of which is Aneto at 3404 meters, the region represents a challenging landscape for all levels of road cyclist or mountain biker.

Many of the towns and villages in the French Pyrénées have been labeled as most beautiful in France thanks to their natural and built heritage and beauty. Specialist and bike friendly vacation accommodation is in abundance, often run by keen cyclists and mountain bikers.

The region also benefits from short transfer times from well serviced airports such as Pau, Tarbes-Lourdes and Perpignan.

The Pyrénées region is know as a heaven for road cyclists and attracts cycling tourists from all over the world. Here the generally quiet roads which sometimes cling precariously to shear cliffs and though tunnels carved from the rock, follow undulating terrain and are both technical and challenging with fast descents.

In July the region almost always features in the 3 week cycling Tour de France, alternating each year with the Alpes for 4 – 5 days just prior to the final stages before heading to Paris, or during the second week prior or heading over to the Alpes.
The equally famous Vuelta España takes place in late August and early September also uses the region, with various stages and time trials to test the riders to their limits prior to the races finale in Madrid.

Cycling in the PyreneesSome of the hundreds of cycling cols or mountain passes found across the region are Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin, Col des Ares, Col de Portillon Superbagneres, Port de Bales, Col de Marie Blanque, Col de Mente, Col de Port, Col d’Aubisque Col de Peyresourde, Portet d’Aspet. Spandalles, Luz Ardiden, Col de Marmare, Hautacam and the Col de Soulor.

Bike Lodging Properties in the Pyrenees

such as Pau, Tarbes-Lourdes and Perpignan.