Cycling

  cycling in the pyrenees biking in Bear mountain biking in the Pyrenees  

 Indeed le 64, surname given to les Pyrénées Atlantiques, ie this French department made of the Atlantic coast, Pyrénées mountains and lush rolling country side of  Béarn, is a paradise for cyclists of various biking ability and experience levels. It is THE destination for Tour de France followers and expert cyclists.  Read more below if you fit that profile or want to bring a group of riders who share the same passion. For the avid cyclist travelling with family or friends not sharing the same passion, le 64 offers an easy-to-fit in escape to indulge one’s passion while ensuring the rest of the travel party keeps on doing what they enjoy best.

The region is also a place to experience a quieter and authentic France where it feels real, not overrun by commercial development, with real life interactions with locals, and great food.  In this case, aim to bike the inland of the Basque Country and Béarn regions as described below.  A biking vacation can provide a nice contrast after a vacation stay on the trendy Basque coast.

The Pyrénées passes: find your own summit(s)!

Imagine riding the famous Tour de France passes such as Tourmalet, Aubisque, Aspin, Peyresourde. Those passes and many other ones in this mountain range are not for beginners or visitors keen to explore France on a bike for the 1st time. Committed athletes, experienced club riders and racers, this region is for you. Also, with the proper local support, the Pyrénées can be the first time experience for a fit biking aficionado keen and ready to bite into a major mountain range.

 Various options to choose from proposed by bilingual and local service providers, options I qualify & select based on clients’ needs. They are geared at individuals as well as groups.

  •  B&Bs catering to cyclists, with in-house bike repair shops, all in strategically located places in the valleys with the Pyrénées passes nearby. Use the B&B as a home base for as many days as you want. Confort is typically equivalent to a 2 star hotel, with optional home cooked meals, massages, airport/train station transfers. You can opt to hire value-add services such as guided rides, a support vehicle, high-end bicycle rentals, supply of consumable spare parts etc…  Expect to receive advice on route planning and maps from biking experts who know the region intimately.
  • Fully guided trips with the guest lodge as a home base, possibly a support vehicle, typically a minimum of 2 nights up to 5 nights, between 500 to 900 euros/person,  with at least 4 people registered,  including accommodation, main meals, and other bundled support services.
  • Fully guided coast to coast traverses of the Pyrénées, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, with a support vehicle, and a range of 2 or 3 star rated accommodations. Plan for 7 to 9 days, at about 1,200 to 1,500 euros/person for accommodation, main meals, and other bundled support services.
  • Assemble a group of 10 to 25 riders, and former Tour de France cycling pros will treat you to a week of intense biking, on the road coaching, full logistic support as you conquer mythical passes. Some touring and spa relaxation for après-cycling  is on the menu. Plan for 7 days and about 1,300  to 1,500 euros per person for the guiding by former pros, accommodations, transfers, meals and excursions.
  •  Cyclists  staying on the Basque coast, can do half day outings and challenge themselves with passes close to St Jean de Luz & Biarritz on both the French and Spanish sides. The Basque country is not flat so there is plenty of terrain to push oneself. It is also possible to arrange  overnight outings into the higher passes with the appropriate logistical support to bike one of the most well known Tour de France Pyrénées passes. So if you are a cyclist travelling with family or friends not sharing the same passion, le 64 will give you  that easy-to-fit in escape to indulge one’s passion while ensuring the rest of the travel party keeps on doing what they enjoy best.
  • For mountain bikers, the Pyrénées offer a challenging mix of cross-country, some stiff climbs and exhilarating descents. There are a number of areas dedicated to the practice of the sport . 

Slow down and bike the hills of Béarn and Pays-Basque

Le 64  is not flat like the Loire Valley,  the rolling hills will provide a fitness challenge but remains accessible to fit bodies without lots of biking experience .  Children should be at least 10 year old and keen to cycle 40 to 50 km a day to fully explore the region on a bike. The region is a treat to nature lovers who also want the charm of an old world culture, off the beaten tracks. There are different possibilities. 

  • Stay put in one place, Navarrenx or Mauléon are good strategic cities to use as a base with detailed bike routes in hands and bike rental shops nearby. Mountain bike fans have 300 km of terrain around Navarrenx with 8km to 50 km loops to choose from geared for different abilities.
  • Opt for a self-guided bike trip through Béarn with an 8 day-7 night loop going through Orthez, Salies de Béarn, Sauveterre de Béarn, Navarrenx back to Orthez with just 3 changes in accommodation and each time an opportunity to enjoy a day off. Budget about 1,000euros per person with half board, accommodation in 2 or 3 star hotels, bike rental,  luggage transfer, and a detailed route planning package
  • Opt for a self-guided bike trip through the Soule province, the most pristine of all and the most isolated in the French side  of the Basque country,  with a 4 day-3night loop ( Mauléon, Barcus, Tardets, Mauléon) at 600 euros or a more in-depth loop but also more challenging with a 6 night-7 days ( Mauleon, Barcus, Ste Engrâce, Larrau, Tardets, Aussurucq, Mauléon) at about 1000 euros per person. A new hotel every night. Budget typically includes half-board, accommodation in 2 or 3 star hotels, bike rental,  luggage transfer, and a detailed route planning package