THE 3 COUNTRIES ROAD CYCLING TOUR - FRANCE-SPAIN-ANDORRA-SPAIN-FRANCE
Join AQR Holidays on an exciting ‘NEW’ tour of the Pyrenees that passes through the 3 countries – France-Spain-Andorra before returning to the AQR Pyrenees Bike Centre in Luchon for a celebratory drink and meal.
The 3 Countries Road Cycling Tour will include some of the most breath taking and challenging climbs in the Pyrenees including well known Tour de France cols such as – Col du Portillon, Port de la Bonaigua, Port de Paillères and Col de Mente. Guests will also have the opportunity to ride the highest man made paved road in the Pyrenees, The Port d'Envalira. AQR have also included some easier options along the way too so that we can cater for different fitness levels and abilities and to show you all the natural beauty the Pyrenees has to offer.
AQR Holidays have carefully chosen 3-4 star accommodation suitable for cyclists and a variety of unique dining opportunities at night that will ensure your energy levels remain high and taste buds satisfied.
DAY 1: Luchon-Sort (approximately 105km)
The first col of the tour is the 9km ascent of the Col du Portillon where we will cross the border into Spain. A relaxed stretch of undulating road along the River Garonne will take us to Vielha where we will stop for a drink and snack at a Spanish cafetaria. Once we have refuelled we will make our way towards Baquira-Beret Spain’s most popular ski resort in the winter and where the Spanish royal family spend their winter holidays. The main climb of the afternoon is the Port de la Bonaigua (2072m), 23km in length with an average gradient of 4.8%. This climb first appeared in the 2016 Tour de France and 2008 Vuelta Espana. The Port de la Bonaigua is a spectacular route for cyclists due to the unspoilt landscape and beautiful mountain scenery. We will have lunch at the top of the col and a recovery break before making our way mostly down-hill to the town of Sort which means ‘Luck’ in the local Catalan language.
DAY 2: Sort-Andorra (approximately 80-100km)
Today we will be heading to Andorra and finishing with what many consider to be the toughest col in Andorra, if not all the Pyrenees called the Col de la Gallina. This col has been a popular addition to the Vuelta Espana in the past, but will test both legs and spirit with numerous sections of the col road over 15%. However you will have options to rest in the local restaurant if you don't feel ready to take on this col so early in the week. AQR will then be transferring you to your accommodation in Andorra so as to avoid the busy roads that attract thousands of visitors every day who want to take advantage of the tax free shopping. AQR have selected accommodation that offers a special cyclist’s package where you will have access to a wellness and recovery spa to rest weary muscles. For those of you who would prefer less climbing then we can shorten the route for you.
DAY 3: Andorra-Llivia (approximately 85km)
Today we will be riding 3 cols, crossing 3 borders and experiencing 3 countries on our cycling tour. As we head out of Andorra into France we will be cycling close to the Spanish border before making our way into Llivia, a small Spanish town surrounded by France only 1.6km wide. There’s only 2km separating Llivia from the Spanish and French border. Llivia was never returned to France following the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees which ended the 30 years war between France and Spain. The Spanish King returned 33 villages to France, but due to a technicality Llivia was considered a villa rather than a village and so remained part of Spain. There’s no strict border
control, but you can enjoy the best of both Spanish and French cultures in close walking distance from each other.
DAY 4: Llivia–Tarascon-sur-Ariege (approximately 90-120km)
Today we leave Spain and make our way back into France where we will be climbing one of the most beautiful cols in the Pyrenees, a personal favourite of AQR’s called the Port de Pailheres (2001m). A challenging climb of just under 11km, with an average gradient of 8.2%. This col has been used in 5 stages of the Tour de France. There’s no pressure to be at the top first as you may want to stop to take photos and make the most of the stunning
scenery that surrounds you. Our last col descent of the day will take us to the town of Ax-les-Thermes, famous for its thermal springs and a popular town for curists. Following a café break we will offer a transfer to your accommodation or an extra 30km loop back into the mountains that will descend into Tarascon-sur-Ariege. Our accommodation for the night over looks the Ariege River. There will be time to explore the many alley ways and paths that display remnants of what was once an ancient fortified city.
DAY 5: Tarascon-sur-Ariege-Saint Girons (approximately 94km)
The morning ride has two fabulous climbs to test our weary legs on. Our first col of the day is 17km as we head towards the Col de Port (1249m), another well known Tour de France col first used in the 1910 Tour de France and since 1947 has been used 10 times. We will then head towards the Col d’Agnus (1570m), almost 18km long and also used several times in the Tour de France. Following the final descent of the day we will ride a flat country road, following the river Baup where we can spin weary legs and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Ariege region.
DAY 6: Saint Girons-Luchon (90-125km)
The final stretch home to our base in Luchon includes a gentle rolling start to warm your legs up before the first col of the day of 14.3km, the Col de Portet d’Aspet (1069m) used in the 2018 Tour de France. This is a popular col in the Pyrenees and was first used in the Tour de France way back in 1910. Since then it has been included in the Tour de France over 30 times. Towards the bottom of the descent we will encourage you to stop to see the memorial stone created for Fabio Casartelli who tragically lost his life in the 1995 Tour de Fance after a fatal crash. We will then discuss your preferred route back to Luchon as we will be offering two options. The longer and more challenging route if your legs are up to it will include the Col de Mente(1349m). If you would prefer less climbing and a more relaxed ride back to Luchon then we have an alternative option which includes the Col des Ares (797m). Tonight we will hold a farewell meal at one of our favourite local restaurants and celebrate your successful completion of the 3 Countries Tour!