The weather was perfect, the challenge was superb and the food and company were excellent. So a huge thank you from us.
This road cycling holiday has been carefully crafted to allow you to cycle the best cols and stage endings that the Pyrenees has to offer as well experience its quiet roads and unassuming ambiance. It is a point to point journey traversing the region from east to west, taking in the infamous climbs that the professional Tour de France cyclists head up every year.
The joy of this holiday, and our other Classic Cols itineraries is in its flexibility. Using our in-depth knowledge of the Pyrenees, we have devised a Classic Route which warms us up gently getting progressively tougher in preparation for your final ascent of the infamous Col du Tourmalet. Taken at a steady pace this route is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists regardless of experience in the mountains, with the toughest day involving 1700m of ascent. It is route to open up the Pyrenees to you. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge to those wanting to push themselves further and for longer: each day there are ‘optional extras’ increasing the possible daily ascent to over 3000m, making this holiday also suitable for those very fit cyclists who are regular cyclosportive entrants, and who would consider a Raid.
It is important to us that you book the correct holiday so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel… For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off trip costs (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount.
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount
- Group organisers of 6+ are eligible for a £50 discount voucher
Please note there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Travel Out
Included transfers from Toulouse airport to Ax- les-Thermes.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.
Meet your guides and have a welcome briefing and a great dinner.
Day 1: Round trip from Ax
Assemble bikes after breakfast before heading off to explore. The Col de Chioula (1431m) has great views over the eastern Pyrenees and pleasant gradients. After lunch you can choose a leisurely ride up the stunning Orlu valley or beasting yourself up the stage ending of Bonascre (1380m) or the HC climb of the Col de Pailheres (2001m).
Easier Route: Col de Chioula (38km, 830m ascent)
Classic Route: Col de Chioula + Orlu Valley (52km, 1030m ascent)
Harder Route: Col de Chioula + Plateau du Bonascre (54km, 1500m ascent)
Challenge Route: Col de Chioula + Col du Paiheres (77km, 2111m ascent)
Day 2: Ax les Thermes to Massat
From Ax you set off on the Route des Corniches, undulating to the market town of Tarascon along the south facing side of the valley of Ax. Enjoy the constant views and beautiful villages. Pause for lunch or those wanting a real challenge can take on the tough Plateau de Beille (1800m) stage ending. After lunch everyone heads over the Col de Port (1250m), a lovely climb with a couple of cheeky sections, before descending all the way to your hotel in Massat. Relaxing is a good option, or you could always take on the mighty Col d’Agnes (1570m) with its col top lakeside café!
Classic Route: Route de Corniches + Col du Port (102km, 1410m ascent)
Harder Route: Route de Corniches + Col du Port + Col d’Agnes (108km, 2340m ascent)
Challenge Route: Plateau de Beille + Col de Port + Col d’Agnes (128km, 2980m ascent)
Day 3: Massat to Luchon
On offer today are two of the most popular cols in the Pyrenees. Climbing gently through ancient farmsteads, you barely notice the incline to the Col du Portet d’Aspet (1075m). A short descent through mixed forest (past the memorial to Fabio Casertelli) prepares you for the never-ending Col de Mente (1345m), or there is the option of missing it out, taking on instead the beautiful and gentle climbs of the Col de Burret (599m) and the Col des Ares (797m). After a pleasant winding descent you can stretch your legs with a very gentle (almost flat) finale into the bustling spa town of Luchon. There are two optional extras today, one at the start of the day, taking you over the Col de la Core (1395m) and the other towards the end of the day, where you have the option of making an excursion to Spain taking on the Col de Portillon (1293m).
Easier Route: Col de Portet D’Aspet + Col de Burret + Col des Ares (110km, 1300m ascent)
Classic Route: Col de Porter D’Aspet + Col de Mente (104km, 1600m ascent)
Harder Route: Col de Porte D’Aspet + Col de Mente + Col Du Portillon (122km, 2270m ascent)
CC Challenge: Col de La Core + Porte D’Aspet + Col de Mente + Col de Portillon – East (122km, 3050m ascent)
Day 4: Free Day in Luchon
Enjoy what Luchon has to offer on your ‘free day’; from its spa facilities to paragliding or mountain biking! Those who can’t bear to be separated from their road bike can take in the stage-end of Superbagnères (1804m) or the ever changing gradients of the Port de Bales (1755m), where Schleck and Contador had the famous chain incident!
Col du Portillon – West (1293m) – (22 km, 670m ascent)
Superbagneres – (38.6km, 1200m ascent)
Port de Bales – (70km, 1300m ascent)
Challenge Route: Port de Bales + Superbagneres (108km, 2500m ascent)
Day 5: Luchon to Bagneres de Bigorre
You start your day with the rather steep but very beautiful Col de Peyresourde (1565m). You will be rewarded at the top by a cafe serving fabulous crepes! Those that really want to abuse their bodies could take in the Col D’Azet (1580m) and the mountain hugging Pla D’Adet (1680m). Next on the Classic Route is the beautiful Col d’Aspin (1490m), used more often by the Tour de France than any other Pyrenean climb. A spectacular downhill takes us through the small and quaintly bizarre town of Campan and on to our 3* hotel in Bagneres de Bigorre.
Classic Route: Col de Peyresourde + Col d’ Aspin [68km, 1750m ascent]
Harder Route: Col de Peyresourde + Col D’Azet + Col d’Aspin [88km, 2315m ascent]
CC Challenge: Col du Peyresourde + Col D’Azet + Pla d’Adet + Col’Aspin [112km, 3215m ascent)
Day 6: Bagneres de Bigorre to Argeles Gazost
Today is all about the punishing Col du Tourmalet (2115m) – make sure you get your photo taken at the top – this is a real achievement! From here you can enjoy a 35km downhill all the way to the picturesque thermal spa town of Argelés-Gazost for an afternoon of justifiable relaxation. A few (tempting) optional extras including the TDF stage finishes of Luz Ardidens (1720m) and Hautacam (1616m) or a nice detour ‘up’ the valley to the village of Gavarnie for a glimpse of the world famous cirque.
Classic Route: Col du Tourmalet [60km, 1515m ascent]
Easy optional Extra: Trip to Gavarnie from Luz St Sauveur [adds 38km, 665m ascent]
Harder Route: Col du Tourmalet +Hautacam [96km, 2700m ascent]
Challenge Route: Col du Tourmalet + Luz Ardidens + Hautacam [125km, 3670m ascent]