Saint Lary-Soulan Region
The ski town of Saint Lary-Soulan sits in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains. In winter it is full of skiers heading to the surrounding resorts while in summer it is full of people cycling, hiking, and enjoying the mountains.
Cycling in the Saint Lary Soulan region
This area has plenty to offer in terms of riding. We based ourselves here for 3 days and could easily have stayed longer and not run out of options. We have put together a list of routes to help with your planning. Each route includes the ability to download files to a range of devices and includes other helpful information. The majority of the routes start and finish in Saint Lary Soulan but can be easily ridden from any of the villages up and down the valley.
Traveling to Saint Lary Soulan
The town of Lannemezan is the natural hub for land-based public transport to Saint Lary Soulan and is located approximately 40km away. The closest airport is Lourdes, but Pau and Toulouse are options also. Rome2rio.com is an excellent site to help plan your trip to the Pyrenees. Simply enter your start and endpoints and it will tell you the different options available, cost range, and timetable.
The main Autoroute to the area is the A64 which runs between Toulouse and Bayonne. It is located 37km north of Saint Lary. From Saint Lary, Toulouse airport is 1hr 55min, Bordeaux airport 3hrs 5mins and Paris Charles de Gaulle airport 8hrs.
The closest train station is Lannemezan which is 40km away. From here you can travel to Lourdes to access the TGV network or in the other direction to Toulouse and connections there. Our page about the French rail network has more information on the French train network and booking tickets.
If you are flying internationally to the Pyrenees both Bordeaux and Toulouse are the closest international airports to this area. Depending on the airline you fly, you may have to fly to Paris and then make your way down by car, train, or air. There are two airports to choose from in the Pyrenees, one in Lourdes and one in Pau that offer a range of European services. From Pau, you can connect to Lourdes and then Lannemezan via train. See our airports page for further details on these airports.
A bus service runs from Lannemezan to Saint Lary on a regular basis.
Accommodation options in Saint Lary Soulan
While cycling is popular across the Pyrenees this area does not have the range of cycling-specific accommodation that the Lourdes region does. But, no matter where you stay you will be well looked after and being a ski town there are plenty of options to choose from. The hotel we stayed at had a lock-up garage for our bikes and bike bag and plenty of information about riding in the area.
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.
B & B
Where to base yourself
We have focused on the larger towns and villages in the region where there is a good range of accommodation, restaurants, and services. It is not to say these are the only options and there are plenty of smaller villages in the area you may wish to consider.
A winter ski town Saint Lary-Soulan sits in the valley with towering mountains all around. It has a great atmosphere in the summer months with people visiting to enjoy the mountains. There are plenty of accommodation options on offer and the town is well served with supermarkets and restaurants.
Located 13km down the valley from Saint Lary-Soulan, Arreau is a beautiful village on the banks of the La Neste river. It sits at the base of the Col d’Aspin and is only a few kilometers from the start of Hourquette d’Ancizan. There is a range of accommodation types for you to choose from.
Located approximately 43km from Saint Lary-Soulan, Lannemezan is the largest town in the region. Here you will find the train station, various supermarkets, general shopping and places to stay and eat. The town is situated close to the A64 autoroute.
Eating and drinking
There is 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.
Discover the Farmers markets of the Saint Lary Soulan region
There are a number of weekly farmers’ markets in the region that are worth checking out if you have the time. Here you will find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local cheeses, small goods, seafood, and meats. Times for the markets are:
Saint Lary Soulan – Saturday
Arreau – Thursday
Sarrancolin – Tuesday and Saturday
La Barthe de Nest – Sunday
Lannemezan – Wednesday
The markets will typically start between 7 am and 8 am and run through to lunchtime or until sold out. The markets are held in town squares and are easy to spot.
Pyrenees Regional specialties
Every region in France has is culinary specialties and the Pyrenees is no different. Some things to try include:
Gâteau à la Broche – a spit-fired cake traditionally cooked over an open fire.
Brebis cheese – a cheese traditionally made from sheep’s milk. There can be many variations in flavor and texture from village to village so try a few different ones.
Porc Noir de Bigorre – pork meat from the Gascon Noir De Bigorre pigs, the oldest breed of pig in France. It has been granted Appellation d’origine côntrolée (AOC) status meaning only meat from these specific pigs in the Pyrenees can be called Porc Noir de Bigorre.
Barege-Gavarnie Lamb – meat from sheep that roam the high pastures in the mountains it has also been granted AOC status.
Like the southwest of France expect to see plenty of duck and goose on the menu including confit and other dishes as well as plenty of fresh local fruit and vegetables.
Bike shops and hire
The table below lists all bike hire options available to you in the Pyrenees. You can sort the table via location to find the one most suitable for you. Be sure to double-check that the store you select is not too far from where you are staying.
If you are looking to hire a bike for your cycling holiday we would recommend getting in touch directly with the hire shop and arranging this in advance of your holiday. This will avoid the disappointment of missing out on a rental due to popular demand.
Another tip is to make sure the bike you hire is equipped with gearing which will allow you to climb the mountains with a greater level of comfort. Most road bikes for hire will now come with compact gearing to allow for this, but it is best to be certain!
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 some of our suggestions.
The Maison de l’ours (bear house) documents the history of the Pyrenean bears and gives you the opportunity to meet one face to face.
Top Attractions in Saint Lary Soulan
There are two separate cave systems to explore in this region. The Gouffe d’esparros is famous for the amazing stalactites and stalagmites while the Grottes de Gargas is renowned for the prehistoric cave art. From Saint Lary, you can take the cable car up to the ski station high up in the mountains and experience the high mountains.
There are plenty of other activities in the mountains for your consideration. Whether it be mountain biking, paragliding, white water rafting, or rock climbing you will find something to suit your needs.
We have included some useful websites 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
Saint Lary Soulan – the official tourism website for the town and region