By Chris Smith

Thursday 5th March 2018

Lourdes, Pyrenees, France

Lourdes is a small market town in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Most famous for being a Catholic site of pilgrimage, it is also an ideal place for a cycling holiday. With easy access to the Hautacam, the Tourmalet and Aubisque, the best the Pyrenees has to offer is on your doorstep. With a short transfer, drive, or strong legs, you can also reach the Cirque de Gavarnie, and the Col de Peyresourde

The Tour de France first went to the Pyrenees in 1903 and since the inclusion of the Tourmalet in 1910 has visited nearly every year since. It is often the key battle ground for the race for the yellow and the polka dot jersey. 

As writer and poet Christian Laborde once famously said; ‎”God did not create the Pyrenees to separate France and Spain, but to set the border between non-climbers and climbers”

Where to Ride?

Head a short way west towards Argeles-Gazost along the quieter roads in the valley and the Pyrenees opens up. Take almost any road out of this little town and the riding is great. Climbing at its best. 

Where to Stay?

We highly recomend staying in the Hotel Alba. A bike-specific hotel with all the facilities you could need (including your own bike bike garage and use of an air compressor for your tyres), and great local knowledge. The hotel is your classic modern hotel - don't expect roaring log fires and Alpine features but the comfy rooms come with en suite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel offers exceptional value for money, friendly staff and you are a 10-minute walk to the centre.

Where to Eat?

Eat in O Piment Rouge or L'Epi d'Or, both offer a great French menu. 

What to do, other than ride?

Lourdes is a quiet town based around the Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes and the pilgrimages to it. Therefore we would recommend you need a car to make the most of your non-ride days. Other than cycling, try;

The Château Fort de Lourdes is a historic castle located in Lourdes - it is strategically placed at the entrance to the seven valleys of the Lavedan;

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a destination for pilgrimage; sick pilgrims are reputed to be miraculously healed by Lourdes water. The ground is owned and administrated by the Roman Catholic Church.

When not riding there are plenty of guided outdoor activities around Argeles Gazost that run frequently during the summer, including hiking and watersports;

South of Argeles Gazost near the Spanish border is the Cirque de Gavarnie. The UNESCO world heritage site is a spectacular backdrop and a must visit in the region.

What Climb not to miss?

Don't miss climbing the Tourmalet. The most used climb in the Tour de France is a classic!

What you didn't know about Lourdes?

It is famous for its Roman Catholic shrine where Our Lady of Lourdes is believed to have repeatedly appeared to St. Bernadette. Millions of people make the pilgrimage to Lourdes each year, drawn by their faith in the miraculous cures attributed to the waters of the shrine.

It also has the most hotel beds in France, outside of Paris!


Lourdes (TLS)
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