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Foothills of the Pyrenees

If you only ever have one chance to take a cycling holiday tour in France, make this it! This road biking tour visits the foothills of the Pyrenees, the mountain range separating France and Spain.

A beautiful land steeped in history and with a people still following the traditional way of life. The views and scenery are gorgeous and the historical sites stunning.

You arrive in the town of Carcassonne, world-renowned for being the most complete medieval town in Europe. You'll have the options to visit the Cathar castles of Puivert, Peyrepertuse, Queribus and for the energetic, Montsegur – the last bastion of the Cathar people.

We cycle through one of the best gorges in France - the narrow, deep Gorge de Galamus. We spend time in Mirepoix, famous for the medieval houses that overhang the central square and the market town of Quillan.

The regional food is legendary and the local wine superb. The cycle tour route passes many vineyards offering free wine-tasting sessions. This is a place that, once visited, you will never forget.

Itinerary (8 Days / 7 Nights)

DayDescription
1The group will meet our tour leader at our hotel in Carcassonne, France. The rest of the day is free to explore the medieval fortress of la Cité, with its double ramparts and narrow cobbled streets. There are numerous good restaurants and café bars in which to get to know your fellow riders.
2After an introductory talk, we cycle on quiet roads over the undulating Razes region to the medieval town of Mirepoix. (35 miles)
3 A choice of bike routes as we pass the charming village and lake at Chalabre. For the energetic there is the option of a challenging climb to the castle of Montsegur. We then visit the Cathar castle at Puivert. Our route now climbs onto the Plateau de Sault before descending to the Aude valley and the sleepy market town of Quillan. (32 or 40 miles)
4Today’s route takes us over the remote pass of the Col de St. Louis before joining the Fenouilledes valley and on to the heart of the Corbières wine region. After a steady climb we come to the fantastic castle at Queribus with views of the high Pyrenean mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. Our hotel for the evening is at the small village of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, shadowed by its own castle. (40 miles)
5After a short ride along the valley bottom, we visit the magnificent limestone gorge of the Gorge de Galamus. Then we bike along small country lanes to the village of Sougraigne. The magnificent Pech de Bugarach (the highest peak of the region) will be in our sights for much of the day. A warm welcome and superb food awaits! For those wanting a longer day, there are several longer options. (25-45 miles)
6After passing through the spa town of Rennes les Bains, there’s an optional climb to the village of Rennes Le Chateau, famous for its legend of hidden treasure and intrigue. We then pass the castle at Arques and take tiny, winding roads to our hotel at Limoux, home of the ‘original’ Champagne-style Blanquette de Limoux. (30-40 miles)
7On our last day, there is a choice of an easy valley route or a longer, more challenging visit to the abbey and cloisters at St. Hilaire. We finish on quiet, flat back roads at the hotel in Carcassonne, tired, relaxed and very satisfied. (20-40 miles)
8Departure day. Maybe time to explore more of Carcassonne or just relax before leaving for the airport or rail station.

General

6 days road cycling tour with leader. Vehicle support carries your bags, meets you along the route and can also help you up the hills!

This cycle tour is not guided due to the varying pace of riders but we hold daily briefings. Maps and route notes are provided.

7 nights en-suite B&B in small family-run hotels, on a twin-share basis. Single rooms are available for a supplement. Picnic lunches are included. 5 evening meals are included (not the first and last nights). Drinks are not included.

Food

Regional dishes include hearty country meals like cassoulet and pot-au-feu and also, being less than an hour from the Mediterranean, a surprising range of superb fresh fish.

Accommodation

All accommodation is in small family-run hotels on a twin-share basis, usually with en-suite rooms.

Terrain

The tour, although often hilly, keeps to the foothills and avoids the longer, hard climbs of the high French Pyrenees. There are always longer options for those seeking more of a challenge!

Daily distances 20-40 miles at a pace to suit you. There are longer options available each day for those requiring more of a challenge. A support vehicle will accompany you, with water and snacks, offering the chance of a lift to those who would like shorter days or to take things more easily.

Getting there

Flights with Ryanair from London Stansted to Carcassonne from around £85.

Alternatively, fly to Toulouse with British Airways, Air France, Flybe or other low cost airline. The train from Toulouse to Carcassonne costs around €12 and take around an hour. A taxi from the rail station to the airport costs about €10 while the regular bus service is under €2.

Prices

Tour cost: £545
Bike hire: £95
Helmet hire: £15
Insurance: £32

Dates