Southern France - The Pyrénées
Explore the fusion of cultures on the French and Spanish Border
This region of Southern France, referred to as Catalogne Nord, was ceded by Spain through the Treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659. Today it lies within the French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales. It is a perfect blend of French and Spanish cultures, their histories and cuisines, with great roads for biking and scenery sure to meet anyone's expectations of a great cycling destination.
Our tours are centered 60 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea and bordering the stunningly beautiful and majestic Parc Naturel Régional des Pyrénées Catalanes. The geography and landscape is vast and beautiful, with sweeping vistas east to the Mediterranean and west to the Pyrénées Mountain massif. The architecture and villages we bike through often seem untouched by modern times, where rural country life proceeds at a slower pace. In the midst, the village of Belesta sits nestled in a lofty valley allowing immediate access to great riding for all intensity levels. One can challenge themselves on some of the famed climbs of the Tour de France, such as the Col de Jau, while also cycling less aggressive terrain in the river valleys as you wend your way through rocky gorges and farmland.
The Languedoc-Roussillon area is home to numerous grape varieties such Carignan, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. The traditional Rhône grapes of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier are also cultivated. The region was developed in the late 40’s for grape cultivation and juice export to more renowned and prosperous French wine locales. It has now come into its own with many young and creative winemakers producing remarkable wines. Blending an amazing cycling vacation in France with tours of its vineyards is an unforgettable experience.
Riding and Routes are seemingly endless on excellently maintained paved roads with very limited car presence. The region frequently hosts the Tour de France as it makes its counterclockwise procession through France – road care and quality is exemplary. The varied terrain of lush mountain valleys, arid canyons, and minor climbs and passes afford us the ability to create interesting and diverse routes and circuit rides for you without transiting major thoroughfares. The aerial map traces a long circuit route that can be altered to provide shorter distances with no degradation in ride and experience quality.
This ride begins in Belesta and passes through pastoral high vineyard land and beautiful villages to the gradual climb of the Col de Roque Jalère. After summitting the climb there is a long, open and winding 15 kilometer descent into the Tèt River Valley and the thermal waters town of Molitg-Les-Bains and its renowned resort and spa. From here we traverse west and begin the climb of the Col de Jau – 14 km at 7%. The route passes through stunning, verdant farm and forest land as it ascends to open grazing pastures and the pass at 1506 meters. The descent into the Maury River Valley is spectacular, passing through minute gorges and vineyard strewn plateaus as we cycle back home to Belesta.
The region’s off-the-bike activities include vineyard and cave visits, the ruins and reconstructions of dwellings and castles of the Cathar presence here between the 12th and 14th centuries. There are numerous archaeological sites such as the village of Tautavel, home to the European Center for Prehistoric Research. It is here that some of the oldest human remains in Europe were found. The city of Perpignan is close by for acquisitive and cultural pursuits.
For equipment, we can provide any level of bike from an ultra light and stiff carbon fiber Pinarello Dogma to state-of-the art electric bikes, allowing you the opportunity to cover great distances in comfort and relative ease, and the ability to keep pace with a diverse group. We often have groups that consist of seriously devoted road cyclists interested in completing a long itinerary and their friends or spouses who would like to join in the day's activities. The e-bike allows one to accomplish this expending considerably less energy - one thing you don't have to worry about as you plan your trip with us. We provide vehicle support throughout the tour as well as drinks, food, and mechanical support. For repairs and maintenance, there is an excellent bike shop staffed with knowledgeable mechanics 20 minutes from our lodging.
We offer additional travel planning such as airfare, rail connections and lodging outside of your time with us. We work with a US based travel agent who can provide seamless itinerary planning as well as travel insurance, bike shipping, and luggage transfers.