France Grand Cycle Tour - Grand Départ Florence & Emilia-Romagna Experience

  • Location

    Basque Country + Pyrenées

  • Duration

    8 days / 7 nights / 6 days riding

  • Length

    370 to 480 km

  • Climb

    5,070 to 8,200 m

**2024 tour information available after TDF Official presentation** The three stages of the Grand Depart are found in both the Spanish and French Basque Country. Starting in Bilbao and finishing in Bayonne then east before heading into the rugged French Pyrenées.

The Basque Country occupies a corner of both Spain and France and the inhabitants and are renowned for their fierce pride and independence. Despite centuries of suppression and persecution by feudal rulers as well as modern governments, Spain and France, the Basque people have managed to retain their identity and their ancient language.

The most Basque famous cities will host the Grand Boucle - Bilbao with a backdrop of the Guggenheim Museum, the brutal industrial landscape and the rugged hills surrounding the city; the dynamic capital city of the Basque Autonomous Community, Vitoria-Gasteiz; the vibrant beach resort town of Donostia-San Sebastian; and finally the charming old French city of Bayonne on the banks of the Adour and Nive rivers.

Leaving the coast, the tour heads inland to Dax and Nogara, largely flat and a diversion to Mont-de-Marsan (the Stage 7 depart), before diverting south to attempt the Col de Soudet on the way to Laruns.

The perfect start, warm weather, cultural experiences, Basque, Spanish and French cuisines and viticulture, a dose of historic places plus the unforgettable experience of riding along portions of France’s premier cycle race route.

Total price: From €4,290

  • Level of fitness: MEDIUM - fit enough to ride 2 to 4 hours or 50 to 100 km per day
  • Watch the world's best cyclists fight for the yellow jersey
  • Ride of the race routes before the pros
  • Ride bucket list climbs like Col de Soudet and Col du Tourmalet
  • Enjoy Basque, Spanish and French cuisine
  • Expert planning and support from our team (guides, mechanics, drivers)
  • Max group size of 14 (Max client to guide ratio 7:1)
  • Bike rental (carbon frame and Shimano Ultegra Di2 or equivalent) available
  • Day 1 - Friday 30 June


    Ongi etorri Euskal Herrira! Welcome to Basque Country and as you can see, the language is nothing like the romance languages of Spanish and French. We will meet you at Bilbao Airport and take you to your hotel in Bilbao. After check in, we will help assemble your bike or fit you to your rental bike and then ride a route to test the bikes and see some of the Bilbao sites. Back at the hotel we will meet for pre-dinner drinks to present the GTP musettes and discuss the logistics for the coming week. Finally, our first Basque dinner together.

    Hotel Bilbao
  • Day 2 - Saturday 1 July

    Bilbao - Guernica - Bilbao

    50 km / 810 m or 86 km / 1,500 m

    We’ll transfer to Sopelana and ride rolling countryside before heading north to seaside Bakio. A coffee and a etxeko biskotxoa stop here before continuing through pine and eucalyptus forests overlooking the coast. At Guernica, we’ll stop for lunch and maybe visit the Gernika Peace Museum. On 26 April 1937, Guernica was subjected to intensive bombing by German warplanes in support of Spain’s Franco Government. Pablo Picasso on hearing of this atrocity, painted his world famous Guernica painting. The longer ride option will continue along the race route directly to Côte de Pike, a 2 km climb of 10 percent to watch the pros grind up the climb and then return to our hotel.

    Hotel Bilbao
  • Day 3 - Sunday 2 July

    Bay of Biscay ride to Donostia-San Sebastian

    90 km / 1,350 m

    After breakfast, we’ll transfer to our start at Ibarrangelu on the Bay of Biscay and then follow the stunning coast road, above cliffs and past sandy beach resorts, all the way to the finish of Stage 2 in Donostia-San Sebastian. Along the route, our team will find a perfect seaside restaurant for lunch. At Orio, for the riders seeking a little bit more of a challenge, we’ll ride the range west of Donostia-San Sebastian. Either route, we’ll end up on Donostia-San Sebastian in time to join the local fans to cheer on the riders as they arrive at the finish.

    Hotel Donostia-San Sebastian
  • Day 4 - Monday 3 July

    Donostia-San Sebastian to Bayonne in France

    70 km / 440 m

    After breakfast, we will ride from Donostia-San Sebastian along the race route to Bayonne in the French Basque country. At Irun, we’ll cross into France and from there it looks like a flattish ride until Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle where there is a very short climb. From Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, it is a quick 20 odd kilometres ride into Bayonne and where we can watch the sprinters arrive along the streets. When the stage is completed, we will transfer to our hotel in Dax.

    Hotel near Dax
  • Day 5 - Tuesday 4 July

    DAX to Nogaro

    70 km / 220 m or 100 km / 450 km

    We have 2 options today - 70 km or 100 km and both options are flattish to hilly. We need to start early because we believe the pros will be riding fast and furious today. The longer option riders will start from Dax and those wishing to ride the shorter route will start in Mugron. Both routes will pass through farm lands, towns and small rivers before following the Adour river from Toulouzette to Cazères-sur-l'Adour. Leaving the river, we will ride about 30 kilometres to reach the finish in Nogaro and we are banking on a loop and finish on the car racing Circuit Paul Armagnac.

    After the race we will transfer to our hotel near Tarbes.

    Hotel near Tarbes
  • Day 6 - Wednesday 5 July

    Into the Pyrenées

    44 km / 913 m or 53 km / 1,430 m or 76 km / 2,322 m

    A mountain stage today and decisions need to be decided the night before as the French gendarmes are notoriously strict with route access for vehicles…and cyclists! If you aim to ride a HC category climb, then Col de Soudet is it. Starting from Sainte Engrace near the border with Spain, it is an unrelenting climb to Col de Soudet (at 1,540 m) followed by a short cut to Escot, where we will rejoin the Stage 5 route and climb to Col de Marie Blanque. The 17 km ride to Laruns is downhill and then flat.

    The less challenging ride starts from either Oloron-Sainte-Marie or Arette and include the Col de Marie Blanque. The vertical gains range from 913 m, 1,430 m and 1,550 m…so still a challenging mountain day.

    After Laruns, the team will transfer you to your hotel near Tarbes .

    Hotel near Tarbes
  • Day 7 - Thursday 6 July

    Col d'Aspin & Col du Tourmalet

    47 km / 1,336 m or 56 km / 2,130 m

    Another epic mountain stage day in the Pyrenées. Did you know that Col du Tourmalet has featured in the Tour de France more than any other col? As such, it is a bucket list climb for many riders. Is this you? Two options today - riding from Arreau to Col d’Aspin then down to Sainte-Marie-de-Campan before grinding up 17 km to the col at 2,115 m.. Or start from Col d’Aspin and enjoy a free descent before tackling Col du Tourmalet. Like yesterday, today is still a big mountain challenge on either route.

    Depending on the time, we can wait at the col to watch the pros arrive and then enjoy a 19 km descent to Luz-Saint-Sauveur. Here we will jump into the van and transfer to your hotel near Toulouse.

    Hotel Toulouse
  • Day 8 - Friday 7 July

    Au revoir

    What a week! Basque country, coastlines and beaches, countryside and towns and 2 days of Pyrenean mountain climbing…and descents. Six days of riding and yet to be determined metres of climbing. The GTP team hope that this week has not failed to give you a taste and experience of riding during a Grand Tour.

    We will assist you in checking out and take you to Toulouse Airport for your flight home or to your next destination. As always, ride safe and see you on the road again soon.