Pyrenees trip. Lourdes, and the Vallees des Gaves
Today was an early start with a flight from Lyon to Toulouse and then a drive down to the Pyrenees to continue my research and meetings in popular cycling destinations.
The first meeting of the day was with John Kirk, who has owned a hotel in the beautiful village of Saint Savin, just above Argeles Gazost. The hotel sits just up out the summer heat of the valley floor, with spectacular south facing up the Gaves Valley toward the Col du Tormalet. The 15 bedroom, 30 bed hotel is popular with cyclists thanks to its location in the heart of some of the most famous cycling routes in the world. The local tourist office sells a cycling guide, available in various languages with 20 detailed road cycling routes in the area, including the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aubisque, which starts right from the hotels front door. John is a keen chef and former road cycling racer. He is extremely enthusiastic about cycling in his region and always happy to offer a little route advice for the day.
Later in the afternoon I popped up to see the resort of Luz-Saint-Sauveur at the start of the climb to the Col du Tourmalet. Despite being the later end of the winter ski season, it is clear to see that this is a fun family friendly tourist location which will be bustling with cyclists and mountain bikers come the summer. The local bike shop Ardiden Velos, is run by English couple Matthew and Nicolette Collins and they offer some of the best bikes in the area.
My final stop today was at the Hotel in the town or Lourdes at the entrance to the valley. Located right in the heart of the town, this hotel has very comfortable bedrooms, all en-suite and provides a large breakfast buffet. The owner is a keen cycling fan and encourages the cyclists to stay at the hotel. They offer secure bike storage, free transfers from the local airport or train station. They are happy with groups passing through the region, even for just one night and should they wish to, will allow groups to make use of their kitchen to prepare their own meals.
Tomorrow I head to Bagneres de Bigorre on the other side of the Col du Tourmalet and the Valley de Campan.