Pyrenean Foothills (Mediterranean France)

Road Cycling Holidays in the Pyrenees

  • A beautiful and remote part of southern France often visited by le Tour, boasting quiet roads and spectacular scenery
  • Experience gorges, vineyards, moorland and ancient forests
  • See a dozen Cathar castles, including Montségur, Quéribus and Peyrepertuse
  • Enjoy cycling in the warmth of the Mediterranean climate
  • Multiple route choices every day for ultimate flexibility
  • Comfortable and friendly hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
  • Excellent support from two customised support vans and two expert, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the very best it can be
  • Good value flights between Toulouse, Carcassonne, and UK regional airports and beyond

Days on the bike

6 days

This Raid was my 5th holiday with Marmot and as always the booking process and payment process was smooth and efficient.

E Ryan


The landscape between Carcassonne, Foix, and Perpignan is a delightful place to ride a road bike. It’s peppered with deep gorges, vineyards, thick forests, and spectacular medieval castles. The narrow roads that link the pretty, sun-baked villages are quiet and generally well-surfaced, but the countryside here is far from flat! This region is often referred to as Cathar Country (Pays Cathare in French) in recognition of its importance in the conflict between the Catholic Church and those who followed Catharism some 800 years ago.

This Marmot Classic style holiday is the perfect introduction to cycling in the mountains of Europe. Compared to the Alps, Dolomites, or the neighbouring Pyrenees, the climbs are relatively short, and the gradients are generally kind. However, those looking for more of a challenge will not be disappointed, as every day there are longer routes and steeper climbs to get your heart and legs pounding!

Regardless of which route you choose each day, our two Marmot guides with their fully kitted-out support vehicles are there to help you achieve your goals while on the road. You can stop for a breather whenever you choose, with no fear of holding up others in the group. In contrast, if you want to power your way through each day on the Challenge route, you won’t need to wait for slower riders; there are plenty of opportunities to really push yourself. This is your holiday after all, and it’s our mission to help you make it the best it can be!

It is important to us that you book the right road cycling holiday for you, so please download and read the Trip Notes for all you need to know about how this holiday works: food, accommodation, travel, and so on.

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. 

Departure Dates & Prices

Single Room Supplement
2nd Jun - 9th Jun
Single Room Sup. £340.00
13th Sep - 20th Sep
Single Room Sup. £340.00

We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):

  • Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% early bookers discount
  • Get a group of 10+ people together for a 7.5% group discount and, as the group organiser, receive a £150 voucher for your next holiday
  • Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards

Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.



Day 0: Arrival day

We offer transfers from Toulouse (TLS) airport to our hotel in the centre of Foix at specified times. This is a journey of 1hr 15 min. It is also possible to travel to Foix by train.

Those of you on the morning transfers will have time to explore the historic town and wander up to the Château de Foix, your first Cathar castle. 

There are several options for warm-up rides, or those wanting a challenge might be tempted by the climb to the Prat d’Albis (1460m), a climb made famous in the 2019 Tour de France.

Day 1: Day ride from Foix

You begin your cycling adventure by heading west to Mas d’Azil. Here the road follows the river Arize for 0.5km through an impressive cave, complete with stalagmites. Not surprisingly, this unique bit of road has been included in quite a few Tour de France routes. This takes us to the Chapel of Saint Roch (577m), where you’ll get your first spectacular view of the Pyrenees. Nicely warmed up, you then take on the day’s main climb, through the forest to the Col des Marrous (990m). From here, it’s all downhill back to our hotel.

As always on a Marmot Classic style holiday, there are options for those wanting more, and the vast view from the Col de Péguère (1362m) makes it the obvious extension. This col is now well-known as the place where a disgruntled spectator sprinkled tacks during the 2012 Tour de France. You’ll be pleased to hear that we take on the gentle side, but if you really want a challenge, there is the option of descending to the Col des Caougnous (957m) and taking on the 18% gradients of the Mur de Péguère (translates as Wall of Péguère).

Classic route: 82km with 1330m ascent [ride profile]
Easier route: 67km with 1000m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 99km with 1720m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 106km with 2140m ascent [ride profile]

Day 2: Foix to Limoux

Today’s destination is the historic and pretty town of Limoux on the river Aude. It is famous for its carnival and for being the birthplace of sparkling wine (known as Blanquette de Limoux).

To get there, we head east on a series of delightful roads past Lac de Montbel to Chalabre. We then start ticking off our (so-called) Cathar castles with a detour to the Château de Puivert. This leads us into your main climb of the day, over the Col de Festes (678m) and down through the vineyards to our town centre hotel.

As always, there are options to extend your ride, and a loop over the Col du Bac (620m) from Chalabre makes for a delightful ride through rural France.

Whatever route you take, sampling the local Limoux bubbly is recommended this evening!

Classic route: 81km with 900m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 120km with 1250m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 139km with 1850m ascent [ride profile]

Day 3: Limoux to Rivesaltes

A delightful landscape of deep ravines, vineyards, and holm oak forests dominate today’s ride. We continue our journey through the Corbières towards the Mediterranean on a network of quiet lanes. All of today’s route options take us via the remote and spectacular Château de Termes. This was the scene of a 4-month battle during the first Albigensian Crusade in 1210, and it’s a famous regional landmark.

The Classic route takes us over the Col de la Loubière (599m), whilst the other options head to Arques (detour to the Château) over the Col de Valmigère (700m). The Harder route then heads over the appropriately named Col du Paradis (627m), whilst the Challenge route embarks on a spectacular loop over the Col de La Fage (731m) via Rennes-Les-Bains.

From Termes, you’ll undulate between remote villages with some views of the Mediterranean to our resort hotel (with a swimming pool) on the outskirts of Rivesaltes. Despite being a long-distance day, the gradients are generally kind, making it a really pleasurable ride.

Classic route: 107km with 1550m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 128km with 1800m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 149km with 2100m ascent [ride profile]

Day 4: Rivesaltes to Quillan

As cyclists, we’re used to the idea of bagging cols, but today we become Château spotters! Nearly every rocky outcrop is adorned with a semi-ruined castle balancing precariously on the clifftop. Once inaccessible, they now have narrow roads snaking their way up to their gates. All of these climbs are optional and make up our Challenge route.

We start by heading to Tuchan, where you have the option of detouring up the Château d’Aguilar (261m). This leads you through the vineyards into the gorge of the Grau de Padern and to Cucugnan at the base of the Château de Quéribus (612m). You’ll then head to Duilhac which is overlooked by the Château de Peyrepertuse (699m). This is truly wonderful riding through rural, unspoiled France.

A short climb over the Col d’en Guilhem (498m) lines you up for a spectacular descent into the Gorge De Galamus. You’ll ride on a narrow road that’s been hewn into the cliffs of this deep canyon – this is a real highlight of the week. Our final (optional) climb to the Col de Saint-Louis (696m) is another remarkable bit of road building, gaining altitude with loop-the-loops and some challenging gradients. From here it’s downhill to our hotel in Quillan, where we spend the next two nights.

Easier route: 96km with 1150m ascent
Classic route: 102km with 1500m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 123km with 2300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 5: Day ride from Quillan

Being based in Quillan affords us many options, both on and off the bike. The town is charming, and there are some lovely walks into the surrounding countryside. Those wanting to enjoy the full Cathar experience could take the bus to the medieval citadel of Carcassonne. There’s also the option of white water rafting down the river Aude!

However, this is a road cycling holiday after all, and we’ve crafted three delightful, circular routes in the foothills of the Pyrenees today. All routes take in the Gorges de la Pierre-Lys, the beautiful Rebenty valley, climb over the Col d’Aunat (960m) and descend through the Gorges de Saint Georges. The Challenge route takes you past the Château d’Usson and then on a beautiful road over the Col des Moulis (1099m) and Col du Garavel (1256m).

Alternatively, or in addition, cycling over the Col du Campérié (514m) to see the Château de Puilaurens (610m) atop the mountain is well worth the effort.

Classic route: 67km with 800m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 86km with 1250m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 116km with 2050m ascent [ride profile]

Day 6: Quillan to Foix

Today you’ll climb straight from the hotel to the Col de Portel (601m), where you’ll descend gently over a beautiful high plateau to Château de Puivert and then over the Col de Babourade (658m) to Bélesta. This is a good place for refreshments before taking on the Col de Montségur (1056m). The col is at the base of a ‘pog’ (local dialect for a massive rock formation) dominated by the Château de Montségur, which is famous for being the final stronghold of the Cathars in 1244. The siege lasted for 10 months and ended with 200 Cathars being burned alive, having refused to renounce their faith.

You’ll be pleased to hear that there’s no road going all the way up to the castle, but there’s still a bit more climbing to the base of the Château de Roquefixade (756m). This beautiful balcony road with spectacular views takes us all the way back to our town centre hotel in Foix. We’d recommend making time for a much-deserved beer at the fantastic riverside microbrewery!

Those wanting a longer ride have the option of climbing over the Col de Coudons (883m) and the Col de la Croix des Morts (898m) first thing. Alternatively, you could challenge yourself up the Prat d’Albis (1460m) – a climb made famous in the 2019 Tour de France.

Classic route: 72km with 1400m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 83km with 1700m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 117km with 2780m ascent [ride profile]

Day 7: Departure day

Sadly, it’s home time and the end of your week’s cycling with us. We offer transfers back to Toulouse (TLS) airport in the morning (journey of 1hr 15min).