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Gascon Cycling Tours will take you cycling every day to suit your requirements, perhaps a farmer’s market in a 10th century bastide with coffee and croissant, or perhaps a trip into the Pyrenees where the great Tour de France has traversed for a hundred years. Your itinerary is Gascon Cycling Tours’ itinerary as well, and they will be there to guide and follow you.
You will be provided seven nights of accommodation in a 19th century farmhouse with en-suite facilities and all mod cons. The house has three gites accommodating up to 16 people in a variety of double and twin rooms. Room types for your party will be agreed upon booking. There is Sky TV and free Wi-Fi throughout the houses.
Each day is as different as you wish, and you will be setting the itinerary to suit yourself. From the rolling hills and exceptional rustic beauty of Les Gers (who gave Armagnac to the world) with her empty roads, stunning scenery, secluded lakes, and historic ancient villages to the splendor of the Pyrenees, Gascon Cycling Tours proudly offer you a bespoke service to cater for all your cycling and holiday needs.
Gascon Cycling Tours welcome everyone from the complete novice to the experienced, and from those who just wish to meander through the gently undulating countryside and relax into the tranquil history to those who wish to retrace the exploits of "Cannibal" Eddy Merckx, Miguel Induran, Stephen Roche, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome et al. up the famed cols.
Gascon Cycling Tours are here to deliver the most inclusive cycling holiday imaginable, promising you the holiday of a lifetime. You will stay in a traditional farmhouse complete with swimming pool, and you will be treated to the famous Gascon cuisine. The unique beauty of a single center cycling holiday is the infinite variety of routes on offer.
Every group that comes here is different, and Gascon Cycling Tours tailor each day's cycling to suit everyone's requirements. You have the option to go as you please, you can go long or go short, by yourself or with a group, and if you just want to spend the day chilling by the pool, that is OK too.
In fact, Gascon Cycling Tours can arrange any number of alternative activities for you, the luxury of one of the local thermal spas, a massage, horse-riding, golf, farmer’s markets, and brocantes.
Here are just a tiny sample of the routes they offer:
As an easy introduction to the local area, you will head to Bassous on Day 1, leaving Laas in the direction of Montclar sur Losse, taking you past the majestic Chateau Montclar sur Losse. It is a flat run to Montclar, but you can stop for coffee and the Crossways Bar at Montclar if this first eight kilometers is a tad exacting for you.
From there, you will head to Bassoues, a magnificent village with parts over 600 years old including the main street and covered market. The feature of Bassoues is the 14th century Bastide which is fabled as the final battle of the 100 years war when the French eventually defeated Les Anglais and a highly recommended stop for lunch in a historic setting.
Cycling gets a little tougher now as you head south to St. Christaud which lies on the ancient pilrimage route from Arles in the north southwards to St. Jacques de Compestella in Galicia, northern Spain. The route then takes you through Bars and down into Tillac with its superbly preserved 16th century main street used in the making of films about the Three Musketeers.
From Tillac, you will head back to base and a welcome swim. Total distance is at 40 kilometers and with lunch and coffee. You will have about four hours of cycling over medium terrain with some climbs, but not too long.
You will leave Laas and head for Tillac. And then, it is a cross country to Maubourguet, a starting point for a stage of the 2013 Tour which finished in Pau. You will cross several ridges which make for a lot of small climbs and easy descents while passing through wonderful countryside with an almost total absence of road traffic.
The normal travel time to Maubourguet is about two hours and 15 minutes. You will then continue south to Segalas, with a swing eastwards to Malabat, and on through Troncens and home to Laas via Tillac, which is always worth a stop to walk through this perfectly preserved 16th century village linked to the making of several Three Musketeers movies. The total trip is 70 kilometers in about four hours, not including stops.
Upon leaving the farmhouse, you will head north through the village of Laas and swing south for Mielan and Forcets, turning west to Estampes and leaving the main road to avoid possible traffic. Again, you will find these empty roads a pleasure to cycle and be amazed at the quality of the road surfaces.
The route will take you along a ridge providing an easy and relaxing pace. This route would be considered a flat cycle with only a few simple climbs. You will cross the main Tarbes road near Luby Betmont and swing west again in a gentle climb to Goudon and on to the Lac de l'Arret Darre, one of the biggest manmade lakes in the area.
This route is best done on a clear day as the view of the Pic du Midi, highest mountain in the area, is breathtaking at the southern end of the lac. It is here that you will lay on a special picnic lunch in a beautiful setting. This part of your cycle should have taken about 2.5 hours (40 kilometers).
On the return journey, you will head east to Cabanac and the north to Chelle Debat. Crossing again on the main road to Tarbes, you will head for St. Sever de Rustan, and if time permits, you should visit its famous World War museum. A coffee stop is also a welcome break here, too.
The final leg of this route will take you east to Castex, on to Mielan, and then back to the farmhouse. The total trip is 80 kilometers in about 4.5 hours, not including stops.
To do a day of cycling in the Pyrenees, it is recommended that you start in the center of Lourdes (you will be transported there) and then head out to Argeles Gazost, proceeding onto Luz St. Sauveur and Bareqes before the climb to the famous Col du Tourmalet. The first 30 kilometers from Lourdes is gently uphill and the 20 kilometers from Bareqes to Col du Tourmalet is slightly less gentle.
At this stage, you are about 4.5 hours in the saddle, and a stop at the ski resort La Mongie for coffee will be most welcome. It is then onto Col du Aspin which, though not as high as the Tourmalet, is a very tough cycle at this stage of the day. A mostly downhill ride into Arreau is a beautiful finish to a tough day.
The trip is 80 kilometers and approximately nine hours of cycling. If you want to complete the full Tour de France stage, which starts in Pau (always) and can finish in either Bagneres de Luchon or Cauterets (the 2015 finish), this can be easily organized.
The single-center guided tours run from May to October, Saturday to Saturday. Gascon Cycling Tours meet arrivals from 03:00 p.m, show you to your room, and give you plenty of time for a swim in the pool and relax before they host the evening meal and a detailed briefing for the week ahead.
At this time, you will be provided with local maps and suggested routes. On Sunday, unless otherwise agreed, you will be taken you on a leisurely two-hour ride around the local area to get your bearings for cycling in France. Depending on your own level of expertise, the following days will take you riding through the history of the area.
Typically, you will cycle about four or five hours, either in a group or individually. Each day is totally flexible, you can cycle with the group, or you can head off in a different direction. If you wish to take a day off from the cycling, perhaps you would like to experience the decadence of one of the local spas, visit a farmer’s market, or even play a round of golf (this can all be arranged).
Gascon Cycling Tours have a range of road bikes which are of very good quality, so it is up to you. It is also suggested that you bring your own saddle and pedals. Gascon Cycling Tours will supply water bottles.
Gascon Cycling Tours use Shimano pedal systems suitable for both flat and SPD studs. Remember when deciding on your footwear that there will probably be quite a bit of off-the-bike walking, so any protruding studs will be both awkward and uncomfortable.
This cycling holiday will be held in France. It will cover place including Bassoues, Laas, Montclar sur Losse, Montclar, St. Christaud, Arles, Bars, Tillac, Maubourguet, Segalas, Troncens, Mielan, Forcets, Estampes, Goudon, Lac de l'Arret Darre, Pic du Midi, Cabanac, Chelle Debat, St. Sever de Rustan, Castex, Lourdes, Argeles Gazost, Luz St. Sauveur, Bareqes, Col du Tourmalet, Col du Aspin, and Arreau.
Gascon Cycling Tours will take you to the historic towns and villages of Gascony, now known as Ocitania.
Bassoues, or, to give its full name, La Bastide de Bassoues d'Armagnac, is one of the more dynamic local villages. With an incredible 43-meter-high donjon, or keep, overlooking the surrounding countryside, a beautiful timbered covered market and a couple of restaurants this village is always worth visiting, especially on a Sunday morning for the farmer's market.
In addition, you have the legend of Saint Fris with the 11th century basilica and miraculous spring that has been attracting pilgrims throughout the ages.
Tillac is a stones-throw from Gascon Cycling Tours’ base in Miélan, an 11th century village that was fortified by Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac in the 14th century. Presented as a quadrilateral with each angle facing one of the cardinal points, it was built around a castle.
This one, belonging to the Counts of Pardiac, no longer exists, but its remains are still visible in the northeast corner of the village. The defensive system of Tillac has two towers, the Tower of Mirande in the east, and the tower of Rabastens to the west.
The existing houses in the village date from the late seventeenth century and, on the pillars of the presbytery, you can see a stone grain measure, sealed to meet a royal decree of 1613. It requires that the Tillacois “take weights bronze or stone so that the public will measure his grain".
Barran remains one of the most intact and charming. Situated along the route South to St Jacques de Compostela, you can still see its tower gate, walls, and market. The Collegiate Church of St. John the Baptist dating from the twelfth century, was rebuilt in 1569, and then underwent further changes in the nineteenth century. It has the distinction of having a helical tower.
The act of paréage sealing the foundation of the Marciac was signed in Toulouse on August 15th, 1298 by the Earl of Monlezun-Pardiac representative of the abbot of the local monastery, and the King of France Philip IV, who was eager to consolidate his power over a region recently acquired by the crown.
At the end of the Gascon wars, Guichard Marciac, Seneschal of Toulouse and representing the king, gave his name to the Bastide. Just one month later, 14 September 1298, the town customs were finalised establishing the rules of life for the inhabitants.
La Bastide de Marciac can therefore be called "Bastide Royale," and his town design was representative of the regular Gascon model 600 meters long by 400 meters wide. The town was later fortified with a two-meter thick wall and a surrounding moat with eight entrance gates. Place de la Bastide de Marciac is the largest in Midi-Pyrenees with dimensions of 130 by 75 meters.
In 1345, a vast Halle was built on 35 carved stone pillars to house shops schools and the council offices. The halle was destroyed in 1871, and from the 1960s, many plans have been completed to rehabilitate both the town plus the adjacent countryside and lake. In 1978, a group of friends and enthusiasts created what would become one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe with worldwide recognition.
The festival, which traditionally runs for the first two weeks of August, completely takes over the town and surrounds, but throughout the year, Marciac is a thriving community with all amenities.
Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner is included in the cost of the packages. You will be served a large continental breakfast to fuel your day, a packed lunch to take cycling, and an evening meal with wine every night. On the evenings Gascon Cycling Tours do not serve a meal, they will give you details of all the local restaurants and, of course, you are free to use the kitchens and BBQs in each gite.
During the tour, you can stop at famous historical attractions, visit farmer’s markets, and Roman ruins, cycle for miles, or stop for a picnic by a lake. When you are not cycling, there is a myriad of other things to do in this most spectacular place.