The classic ride in the Pyrenees. A three night tour from Pau to Luchon taking in the classic climbs in the region including the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin & Peyresourde. The hardest route in the Pyrenees each Tour de France is named the Circle of Death, but the original route was this one - from Pau over the four classic climbs finishing in Bagneres de Luchon. We split this beast of a stage over two days and throw in one optional extra climb at the end of each day - Luz Ardiden on day one and Superbagneres on day two. For anyone wanting to experience the best climbs in the Pyrenees in a short time, this is the trip for you.
One of the most famous climbs in cycling, we ride this classic climb first up on day two.
So often the warm up for the Tourmalet, the Aspin is a stunning climb giving amazing views of the Pyrenees from the top.
An optional final climb on day two, one of our favourite mountains in Europe. Free of traffic and some world class scenery.
Christian will be at arrivals to collect you and your fellow riders for the 2hr drive to Pau and then again on Sunday for the 2hr drive from Luchon.
Transfers will leave from Toulouse (TLS) on Thursday at 5.30pm so please book a flight that arrives before 5pm.
The return transfer will arrive at Toulouse on Sunday at 3.30pm leaving Luz Saint Sauveur at 1.30pm so please book a flight that departs after 5pm.
Arrival day. Fly into either Toulouse (TLS) where our guide will meet you in arrivals for the transfer to Pau. Check out the Tour de France park and the old town centre before building your bikes or getting your rental fitted ahead of two big days in the saddle.
Our local guide will be with you over breakfast to run through today's route. You will roll out of Pau after breakfast and head south into the foothills of the Pyrenees before hitting the climbs proper. The main challenge today is the long, at times steep and very beautiful Col d'Aubisque. After this summit there is a long false flat to our finish town, Luz Saint Sauveur. For anyone wanting more climbing, the amazing Luz Ardiden climb starts just out of town and makes a great end to the day.
A classic day in the Pyrenees. Straight from the hotel you are onto the Col du Tourmalet, the main climb in the region. This takes you over 2,000m and acts as a leg softener for climbs to come. Over this and you are onto the Aspin, a shorter climb but with tricky parts and then quickly you reach the Peyresourde. The pros normally finish in Luchon but we have added one extra climb, Superbagneres and you finish with vast views over the whole of the Pyrenees.
Departure day. If you have time, there are plenty of climbs from Luchon to try including the Col du Portillon, Hospice de France & Port de Bales. Or, relax in town, grab a coffee and eat outside before packing up your bikes and jump in the transfer back to the airport.
For your bike we suggest getting a service from your local bike shop a couple of weeks before you leave. The routes include a mix of long, gentle climbs and the occasional steep section. Most of the rental bikes here have a 28 or even 32 on the back.
The weather can change quickly so expect anything from extreme heat to storms. The rides by their nature will feature long climbs and then long descents so layering is important - gilets, arm warmers and wind/water proof jackets are essentials.
All our riders must wear a helmet at all times. We will provide nutrition including gels, bars and hydration tabs (but feel free to bring your own if you want). Remember to remove any gas canisters before you pack your bikes - these will not be allowed on the flight.
We can accommodate non-riders but this is a point to point trip which will lead to long days in the van. The Pyrenees offer a range of opportunities. Pau old town is a nice place for a wonder and to eat outside on the old cobbled streets. In Luchon, there is a world famous thermal spa. People come from all over the world to visit this - included in your tour is one entry to the spa.
There are some great hikes from both Luchon and Luz Saint Sauveur. One highlight is the Cirque de Gavarnie (pictured) which you can get to from our last town. If you are coming on the tour and not riding, please get in touch and Christian can suggest some great activities for you.
The Best Western Continental is a beautifully furnished hotel, located in town center and commercial area. The hotel is close to the casino, art museum and the Henri IV Castle.
Located at Luz-Saint-Sauveur in the heart of the Vallée des Graves in the Hautes-Pyrénées, we here at Hotel and Restaurant Le Montaigu welcome you for sweet escapes year round.
Located in a spa and ski resort at the foot of the Pyrenees, this hotel ALTI offers luxurious accommodation with views of the mountains or the aisles of Etigny’s.
From Pau to Luz Saint Sauveur
The first day of the classic Pyrenees route from Pau to Luchon. This ride starts in the main town in the area, old town Pau is a nice place for a coffee and you start off on the old F1 track in town. The first section is a nice light start with big views of the Pyrenees in front of you. As you hit Laruns the real riding starts with the long climb of the Col d'Aubisque. This is an ascent that gets prettier and more remote the higher you get, the final section with the road forged out of the rock and views of the mountains is a real highlight. The descent to Argeles Gazost is quick and technical at the top. From here, you hit the valley road for a long drag up to the finish town of Luz Saint Sauveur. If you want more, the fantastic climb of Luz Ardiden starts out of town and is a lot of fun. There is a great bar in town with riders from all over the world celebrating after a great ride.
From Luz Saint Sauveur to Luchon
The second part of the Circle of Death is one of the best days in the mountains you can have. Straight from the gun you hit the biggest climb of the day, the Col du Tourmalet. This ride starts following the valley up through small mountain villages until you hit the first hairpins of the day and from here the climb is stunning. This ride is all up and down and from the top of the Tourmalet you descend all the way to the start of the Aspin. Grab a coffee and cake before the climb kicks up and ride the short but quite steep slopes of the Aspin. From Arreau there is a drag to the bottom of the Peyresourde, a cat 1 climb with some steep hairpins and then gentle long sections before a quick descent into Luchon. You can finish here or tack on Superbagneres, a beautiful out and back climb starting in Luchon.
One of the true legends of the Tour de France, the Aubisque is the first climb of the Circle of Death riding into the remote high mountains of the Pyrenees. Gradients are steady at 7-8% and the climb gets more beautiful the higher you go.
One of the most famous climbs in the world and the mountain used the most in the Tour de France. The climb itself starts with a fairly mundane long section in the valley passed smaller and smaller villages until you approach the ski lifts and the beauty increases massively. From here, you ride past sheep, lovely meadows, huge mountain vistas and into the high mountains. The mile markers that are such a loyal friend abandon you in the last 4km so when you finally hit the summit the feeling is part euphoria and part relief.
The Aspin is so often the Tourmalet's little brother but it is a great climb on its own. From the easier side, this climb is an 8km drag followed by a sharp 4km ascent in the pine forest until you come out near the top with stunning views of the mountains all around. A really fun climb and quick descent.
From this side, this is normally the last climb in a tough stage. The climb starts with gentle gradients before hitting some steeper stuff as the road winds up. The top section is full of long straights and sweeping views as you get to the summit and a great descent into Luchon.