The Bearn region in the Pyrenees is a real gem to visit. Whilst in the heart of the mountains, this side of the Pyrenean range is just a short distance from both the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Spanish border directly to the south. Pau is the largest city in the area and if it sounds familiar to you it may be because it has played host to the Tour de France many times. Most recently in 2019 where it was the location for the stage 13 Individual Time Trial. This page is full of practical information if you plan to be cycling in the Bearn Pyrnees and take a holiday there.
There are many great route options to explore when cycling in the Bearn Pyrenees. From here you can take on the legendary Col d’Aubisque or Col de Marie Blanque both Hors Categorie climbs which have featured in numerous editions of the Tour de France. Both the Col du Portalet and Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin will see you riding right up to the Spanish border. Then there is the ride to Lac de Bious Artiques – a beautiful man made lake nestled between huge mountain peaks.
We have mapped out a series of routes and linked to them below. Each route includes the ability to download files to a range of devices and includes other helpful information. Some of the routes are a loop so can be ridden in either direction. One thing is certain – each route generally ends with a long downhill return – a great reward for reaching those alpine summits. Click below to see the riding options in greater detail.
Pau is the largest city and the natural gateway to the Bearn region. It is well connected by air as well as regular rail services with onwards connections to smaller towns in the area. Rome2rio.com is an excellent site to help plan your trip to this region of the Pyrenees. Simply enter your start and end points and it will tell you the different options available, cost range and timetable. We have outlined different travel options to Pau below so you can see what will work best for your trip.
Cycling friendly accommodation in the Bearn Pyrenees region
The Bearn region of the Pyrenees is popular with cycle tourists and as such you will find most accommodation providers are welcoming to cyclists. Below we have listed establishments which specifically have facilities catering for cyclists. In the main this includes secure bike storage facilities as well as tailored meal options.
There are plenty of other options available to you if this style of accommodation is not what you are after. To help you plan we have provided links to a number of booking sites so you can see what is available. Have a look at our page on French accommodation types if you are not sure what is available.
There are no shortage of places to eat and drink in the area and we generally turn to tripadvisor.com to look at options for restaurants and cafés or just take a punt on a place that looks nice and busy and is open and serving food. We have yet to be disappointed.
Every region in France has is culinary specialities and the Bearn region in the Hautes Pyrenees is no different. The food is greatly influenced by Basque culture which is no surprise given its proximity to Spain. It is also the second highest producer of Foie Gras. Bayonne Ham and Armagnac also originate from this region. Listed below are some of the famous dishes to look out for.
There are many options for cycle hire in and around the Bearn region of the Pyrenees. Largely this is owing to the popularity of cycle tourism in this area. In the table below you will find an outline of cycling stores as well as places which offer rental bikes.
The Bearn region of the Pyrenees offers up a few great options of places to use as a cycling base. We have listed each city/town below. When compiling this list we have taken into account ease of access to each of the rides, accommodation available as well as other services such as bike hire and eating establishments.
There are of course smaller villages dotted throughout this region which would still make a sensational base for your cycling holiday. We have not listed them below purely as we want to highlight those areas which cater for a broad range of budgets and boast a large number of services by way of accommodation as well as dining options.
Whether you want to spend some time off the bikes or have family members that are not keen cyclists, there are plenty of things to do around this area. Included below are just some of our suggestions.
1. A day at the beach
This region of the Pyrenees is just a short distance from the Atlantic Coast. Popular cities such as Biarritz are well connected with public transport making a day trip to the beach an option. Definitely worth considering if you want a fix of salt air, sand and surf.
When staying in this region you really are in the heart of the mountains. As such there are numerous hikes available to explore. The Ossau valley which is accessible from Laruns is particularly scenic. You can even choose a hike which incorporates a trip to the Pic du Midi d’Ossau Learn more here.
The Château de Pau is one of the main attractions in the city. Built during the middle ages and the birthplace of France’s King Henry IV; the Château is the most visited site in the Bearn region. Guided Tours are run throughout the day beginning at 10:30am and it is well worth a visit. More information about the Château de Pau click here.
If you like activities of a vertical nature than perhaps you’d like to book on a zip line adventure through the spectacular Gorges du Hourat. With over 1000m of zip-lining on offer, this one will get your heart thumping. Find out more here.
A fantastic way to appreciate the mountain scenery the Artouste train is a popular tourist attraction. To access the train you first take a gondola from Fabrègas lake which will transport you to an elevation of 1950m. From there the open carriage Artouste Train journey will wind its way along the side of the mountains for 10kms and 55mins later eventually arrives at its destination near Lake Artouste. From there you can enjoy a hike up in the high country before catching the train and gondola back. This is certainly a unique experience. Find out more here.
A great experience on offer is to visit some of the many local artisans from the region. Whether it is a visit to the Beret factory, or a trip to the producer of Bayonne ham, these type of activities really leave you with an understanding of what goes into making the goods which the region is famous for. It is also a great way to support the local producers from the area as well. Discover more here.
As with other regions in the Pyrenees, the Bearn is also renowned for its thermal waters. As such it is no surprise that day spas are in operation. If a day of relaxation is what you are after then perhaps you could enjoy a session at the day spa at Eaux Bonnes. The thermal waters here have been exploited for their health benefits since the 16th Century. To see what is on offer click here.
We have included some useful web sites to help you see what is on offer and plan your trip.
Viator.com – book a range of tours and attractions before you leave home
Bearn Pyrenees Tourism – More information about the Bearn region
Pau tourism – includes lots of information about the city of Pau and surrounding region.
and receive our monthly newsletter keeping you up to date with all things cycling in France and more.
Subscribe To Our Monthly Newsletter.