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Pyrenees Coast to Coast Cycle

France Cycle EXTREME
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About the Challenge

This prestigious and extremely tough cycling challenge sees us riding the length of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Our adventure starts with superb views of the Atlantic coast before heading inland – and up! The foothills provide us with a useful warm-up before we move on to the mighty, spectacular giants of the Pyrenees – including the legendary climbs of the Col d’Aubisque and the Col du Tourmalet.  Conquering these mountains will earn you a fantastic sense of achievement and give you something in common with the most elite cyclists in the past 100 years!

This is a very strenuous challenge taking in at least two mountain climbs each day - you will need to train extremely hard to succeed.

Pyrenees Coast to Coast Cycle

  • On arrival in Biarritz, you will meet our transfer to the seaside resort of Hendaye (approx 30 mins’ drive). The most southwesterly town in France, Hendaye sits on the Atlantic Coast, overlooking the Bay of Biscay. On arrival at our hotel, we’ll spend some time assembling and checking our bikes for tomorrow’s ride. Any free time can be spent exploring the town, before we gather together for dinner and a trip briefing. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)


  • Our exciting ride starts on the seafront and, after posing for a group photo, we cycle along the Basque Coast to the lovely old port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. We then head inland, saying goodbye to the Atlantic. It’s not long before we are among the foothills of the Pyrenees – within 20km we reach our first climb, the Col de Saint Ignace (169m). This is a relatively gentle climb, but it stretches our legs nicely. Cruising downhill into Sare, a typical Basque village with its painted half-timbered houses, we enjoy the mountain views which are opening up around us. Our route rolls along until we reach the colourful fortified village of Ainhoa, where we begin our 5km ascent of the Col de Pinodiéta (176m). Our road continues to undulate as we pass through Louhossoa and Irissarry en-route to our last climb of the day, and the most demanding – the Col d’Osquich (500m). From Larceveau, the first part of the climb is relatively gentle and even has downhill sections, but the last half is steeper and a good practice for the more demanding climbs to come. We then ride along lovely quiet mountain roads – mostly undulating, though with a couple of steeper sections – to our night’s stop at the old town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, situated at the confluence of two rivers. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 138 km (86 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 1.png
  • A shorter day, though this is little consolation when looking at the route profile! We tackle our first major cols today, and are in real Tour de France country! Heading south, we follow the course of the Aspe River for a few miles before we reach Escot and head west into the mountains. Our road takes us to the Col de Marie Blanque (1035m), which has featured regularly in the Tour de France since its first inclusion in 1978, and winds steeply up to its summit in a relatively short distance. The achievement you will feel at the top is worth the effort, as is the long descent to Bielle! We cycle along the green valley floor towards the small town of Laruns: this is the last flat stretch of road we’ll see today, as we tackle the start of the Col d’Aubisque (1709m). A true Tour legend, the Aubisque has featured in the race regularly since it was first used in 1910. The first few kilometres are relatively moderate, lulling us into false confidence, but as we reach the village of Eaux-Bonnes the gradient never lets up – and it’s a long way to the top! The road affords plentiful views of the surrounding peaks and takes us through short sections of tunnels; the clearing of this road was paid for by the early Tour de France organisation. You may end up wishing they had left well alone – until you reach the summit, when you’ll feel amazing! Our descent is steep initially, but levels out and climbs slightly as we reach the Col du Soulor (1474m), another legendary climb but one which sits on the shoulder of the Aubisque and is therefore part of our descent. The Soulor is the easiest col you’ll encounter this week! We continue downhill though small villages and beautiful green pastures, all the way down to the lovely small town of Argelès-Gazost in the valley below. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 89km (55 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 2.png
  • Today is the most demanding of them all – three infamous tour climbs all in quick succession. We’ll be feeling the effects of yesterday’s efforts so it’s important to take it steady and pace ourselves! Our day starts with a lovely flat scenic ride from Argelès, surrounded by granite peaks with picturesque castles and churches perched on the green slopes above us. This is the perfect warm-up to get our bodies pedalling smoothly again! The road starts to climb slightly as we ride alongside the river to Luz-Saint-Sauveur; once through the town we reach the official start of the climb of the Col du Tourmalet (2115m). First used in the Tour de France in 1910, it was an unpaved road which was in terrible condition. Many of the cyclists were nervous of riding because of the bears that frequented the area. Nowadays the road surface is smooth and the wildlife much tamer, but the length and gradient that make this climb so renowned are unchanged. Leaving Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the gradient ramps up immediately. A small sign marks every kilometre as you ascend, counting you down to the summit – you may find yourself welcoming and cursing them in equal measures! We pedal on through small villages and forest, until the vistas start to open up around us. The twisty hair-pin bends start in earnest halfway up; we wind our way up this steep and increasingly barren mountain until we finally reach the top. Unsurpassed views of glaciers and other mountain peaks await us, but our real reward is getting to the top of a climb which has inspired cyclists for generations. Congratulations: you have just joined the elite!

    After enjoying the views and posing for photos in front of the famous ‘silver cyclist’, the statue commemorating the first Tour cyclist to gain the summit, it’s time to get back on our bikes. A long, twisting descent takes us past the ski station of La Mongie all the way down to the valley below. At the tiny village of Saint-Marie-de-Campan we turn back into the mountains, heading up to the next climb, the Col d’Aspin (1489m).
    This climb is shorter and less steep than the Tourmalet, and we ride up through shady woodland; the last 5km of the climb are the steepest. A twisting descent – thisside is steeper than the side we ascended – takes us down to the pretty village of Arreau. It’s not far along the valley to Avanjan, where we start our last climb of theday. The Col de Peyresourde (1569m) is another legendary climb – also first climbed
    in the Tour in 1910 – and although we are climbing its shorter side, we’ll probably be feeling the strain of the day. The gradient soon ramps up and stays fairly steady, though it eases off a little as we get higher up. The road takes us through open pasture, which allows us to see the spectacular views all around. However tough you may find this last climb, it’s the last uphill of the day – after time at the summit, we
    have an exhilarating 15km descent into the lovely mountain spa town of Bagnèresde-Luchon. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 113km (70 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 3.png
  • Today’s route, though mountainous, is far less strenuous than yesterday’s epic ride. We start with a smooth 20km downhill ride through the valley from Luchon, passing through small villages and farms. At Fronsac we start our first climb, the Col des Ares (797m); relatively short and with moderate gradients, it’s a good climb to stretch our legs. After a wonderful descent with lovely views of the peaks and valleys around us,
    we start our ascent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet (1069m). Another Tour legend – again first featured in 1910 – it is a relatively moderate climb until the last 4km, which are particularly steep with tight hair-pin bends. This is the section which saw the tragic death of young Italian rider Fabio Casartelli, who in 1995 crashed while descending on a stage of the Tour. We pay our respects at his memorial on the mountain, and continue to the summit. From here we have wonderful views to the east, which is where we are headed. Our descent is steep to start with, but then becomes a lovely rolling downhill through villages and green pastures, all the way down to the small town of Saint-Girons. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 82km (51 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 4.png
  • Today’s route starts with a picturesque ride along the Gorges de Ribaouto, taking us south to Oust. Lovely green valley views accompany us as we climb gradually towards the spa village of Aulus-les-Bains, its hot springs used as treatment since the early 19th century. Here we start the climb to the Col d’Agnes (1570m), a fairly steep climb which eases off a little towards the top, from where there are fabulous vistas of the surrounding mountains. The descent, after a few steep sections and a slight rise, becomes a long sweeping downhill towards Massat. Our road takes us through shady woodland as we start the climb of the Col de Port (1249m) – although fairly long, it never gets really steep. The descent is steeper in places, and takes us almost all the way to Tarascon-sur-Ariège, famous for its prehistoric cave paintings nearby. Here we take one of the most scenic roads of the whole trip, a route des corniches which contours the valley, affording wonderful views as we ride to Ax-les-Thermes, another spa town. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 127km (78 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 5.png
  • The weighty challenge of the Port de Pailhères awaits us, but we end the day feeling as though we’ve crossed the mountains! Leaving Ax-les-Thermes, we immediately start the ascent of the Port de Pailhères (2001m) – our second-highest col after the Tourmalet. It’s a long climb, and the gradient gets more demanding in the second half; it’s also barren and exposed. This mountain has been used a number of times since its first Tour appearance in 2003 and is quickly becoming a classic climb. The descent to Mijane features tight hair-pin bends on narrow roads and requires your concentration! Having successfully descended to the valley bottom, our route continues over remote mountain roads, crossing the minor Col de Moulis (1099m) and Col de Garavel (1256m) on undulating roads though beautiful scenery. The Col de Jau (1506m), our last main climb, is quite demanding, especially in the middle section; the gradient gets a little more moderate towards the top. From our last summit we can enjoy the views of the Pyrenees behind us and the distant Mediterranean Sea before us – we’re nearly there! It’s now downhill all the way to Prades; the villages and castles that we pass have a distinct Mediterranean feel to them, and even the air is warmer and drier. We check into our hotel and relax! Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 87km (55 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 6.png
  • From Prades our route starts out descending gently as we ride through lovely countryside dotted with peach and apricot orchards. After a short section on a wide main road, we head off on quiet roads for our last climb, a gradual ascent over 9km to 567m; after the last week this shouldn’t pose too many problems! It’s then downhill and a flat run-in to the coast, where we ride through Argelès-sur-Mer to our finishing
    point at the lovely small town of Collioure. We have the afternoon free to relax on the beach or explore the town, before meeting up in the evening for a slap-up dinner to celebrate our week’s huge achievements. Night hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included).

    Cycle approx 77km (48 miles)

    Route Profile

    Day 7.png
  • After a leisurely breakfast we transfer to Perpignan (approx 30 mins’ drive) in time for your flights home. (A transfer to Toulouse airport can be arranged at extra cost.)

Prices may vary depending on date.

  • Available pricing options

    Fundraising Option
    Registration Fee £199 Fundraising target £2,600 Tour Cost - Airline Taxes - Book now
    Part - Payment Option
    Registration Fee £199 Fundraising target £2,100 Tour Cost £250.00 Airline Taxes - Book now
    Full Payment Option
    Registration Fee £199 Fundraising target - Tour Cost £1,300 Airline Taxes - Book now

    Pricing Explained

    Registration Fee (i)
    Payable on booking

    Fundraising Target (i)
    Paid 10 or 6 weeks prior to trip departure

    Trip Cost (i)
    Payable 8 or 4 weeks prior to trip departure

    Download Challenge Details

Detailed Information

  • Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels convenient to our route. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller.

    There may be a limited number of single rooms subject to request, on a first-come first-served basis, after you have booked. Extra charges will apply.

  • We usually stay in hotels or lodges of a 2-3* standard or equivalent. Standards may vary between the hotels but they are generally comfortable and convenient for our route. Hotels are often on the outskirts of towns to minimise unnecessary extra mileage and avoid traffic.

  • The food provided is plentiful and will give you plenty of energy. Lunches are generally buffet-style while dinners are usually eaten at the hotel. Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.

  • Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support crew, including mechanics. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary.

    The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. Support vehicles are with the group all of the time, and carry all luggage and spares.

  • Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the Challenge

  • We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

  • This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace. Inadequate training is likely to have an impact not just on your chances of completing the challenge, but enjoying it too - and we want you to have the time of your life!

    Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners may find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

  • Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check requirements on our website; please ensure you allow plenty of time.

    Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

Cycle Training Weekends


£160 Special Offer - Only when you book at the same time as registering for your main challenge

Discover Adventure Cycle Training Weekends take place in and around the valleys and ridges of the chalk downs around Salisbury. They are designed to gauge your fitness so that you can be confident you are well prepared for the challenge ahead!


GRADE | extreme (5)

Trip grades range from Challenging (1) to Extreme (5).

EXTREME trips involve very taxing terrain and conditions, often with extremes of temperature, at altitude. They will test your stamina and perseverance to the max.

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