9 days cycling. 1626 km.

Cycle all the way from Bilbao to Clermont Ferrand via the Pyrenees, the Atlantic and the beautiful Massif Central, and experience the magic of the Tour

This Loop sets off from Bilbao with three culturally fascinating Basque stages and a daily presence of the sparkling Atlantic ocean. They’re followed by a fun, flatter stage and a blast up into the Pyrenees for two stunning days’ riding in the high jagged mountains. The next three days are spent cycling into the centre of France, enjoying the chat and camaraderie of the peloton through an incredible variety of scenery before finishing in exhausted delight next to the Puy de Dome in the spectacular Massif Central.

The Tour de France doesn’t often concentrate so much time on the south west, making this a unique opportunity to discover the region; from both a scenic and cycling-challenge point of view, this Loop pretty much has it all.

Arrival & Departure:

Friday 23rd June: Arrive to Bilbao under by 7pm (travel under own arrangements) for arrival briefing.

Mon 3rd July: Depart from Clermont Ferrand hotel under own arrangements.

Friday 23rd June: Arrival day

Arrive to Bilbao under by 7pm (travel under own arrangements) for arrival briefing.

Saturday 24th June 2023.
Stage 1 – Bilbao to Bilbao – 185km

Starting off with a bang, this punchy stage explores the magnificent hilly countryside around Bilbao. It has 3,300m of climbing and five classified ascents, three of them within the last 45km. Our first hour’s riding takes us straight up into the wooded hills that surround the city, before heading north to the spectacular jagged coastline of the Bay of Biscay. Expect a scenic and windswept ride as we approach Guernica (famous for the 1937 aerial bombardment that inspired Picasso’s painting of the same name). From here we set out on a 35km loop back towards the coast, past the picturesque Laga Beach, and up (vertically) to the village of Nabaniz, before passing through Guernica for a second time. The route back to Bilbao takes us through green countryside, scattered with red-rooved houses. There’s a final steep climb up Pike Bidea (look out for the 15% section), panoramic views of the city on the descent, and a 5% uphill drag to finish your legs off at the end.

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Bilbao hotel
Finish: Bilbao hotel

Sunday 25th June 2023.
Stage 2 – Vitoria-Gastiez to San Sebastián – 209km

Departing from the medieval city of Vitoria-Gastiez, this stage explores the forested plateau that surrounds the Basque region’s high-altitude capital. We skirt the Zadorra reservoir system, which provides most locals with drinking water, and then after passing our highest point so far (just short of 700m), we descend quickly to the town of Arrasate, nestling among the peaks of the Alavese mountains. Then we go back up into the remote green landscape of the Basque interior and enjoy some switchbacks as we tackle the first two classified climbs of the day. This is the longest stage of the 2023 Tour, and the route is another punchy one, with around 3,000m of climbing but gradients rarely above 6% should make it feel manageable. After crossing the Gipuzkoa region on quiet winding mountain roads, we’ll reach the true showpiece of today’s ride – Jaizkibel. This prominent peak, just outside the city where we finish, features annually in the Clásica de San Sebastián, and offers breathtaking ocean views as we ready ourselves for the final descent.

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Vitoria-Gastiez
Finish: San Sebastian hotel

Monday 26th June 2023.
Stage 3 – Amorebieta-Etxano to Bayonne – 185km

This is a contender for most spectacular stage of the Tour with over 60km of coastal views… We start inland, crossing the leafy Côte de Trabakua and descending among forested hills to the sandy beaches of Lekeitio with spectacular views of the Bay of Biscay along undulating roads with such good scenery that it’s joy filled cycling. We ride along a winding balcony road overlooking the blue Atlantic, occasionally turning inland to tackle the formidably steep Côte d’Itziar, and the similarly challenging Côte de Benta. We pass through San Sebastián once more and gaze up at yesterday’s Jaizkibel as we head for Irun (passing by its historic port with boats and restaurants looking out to see) and cycle over the border into France. Crossing into the French Basque country, we enjoy a few more kilometres of quiet coastal roads, then turn inland for a few disruptive hilly kilometres before we approach Bayonne, a gorgeous, relaxing town, famous for its ham and its laid back vibe.

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Amorebieta-Etxano
Finish: Bayonne hotel

Tuesday 27th June 2023.
Stage 4 – Dax to Nogaro – 182km

 Proving once again that there is no such thing as a flat Tour de France stage, today’s ride will take us from the former bullfighting capital of Dax through the shady pine forests that fringe the nearby coast and into the rolling hills of the thinly populated Gers department. Expect undulating fields of corn and sunflowers and distant views of the Pyrenees hovering over the vineyards. We may even have a tailwind as we ride away from the coast – though we turn west again in the final kilometres on our way to a stage finish at Nogaro’s motor-racing circuit. This stage won’t be as hard on the legs as what lies ahead, so this is a good opportunity to warm up, enjoy the scenery, get to know your fellow riders and get ready to support each other in the mountains that lie ahead.

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Dax
Finish: Transfer to Pau hotel

Wednesday 28th June 2023.
Stage 5 – Pau to Laruns – 165km

 The first few hours of this stage will feel like a French cycling holiday (oh, hang on, it is!); a pleasant roll through the fertile countryside south of Pau, as the mountains draw ominously closer and the landscape gradually tightens around us. The uphill drag begins with the magnificent karst gorge of the river Uhaïtxa, which leads us to our first pass of the day – the 1,540m Col de Soudet (15km at just over 7%). This  climb, which steepens as it gains height, will take us out of the leafy valleys we’ve enjoyed thus far and up above the treeline where we’ll be treated to views of distant mountain tops, stretching away towards the Spanish border. From here it’s a rock-lined descent, a brief climb over the quiet, pastoral Col d’Ichère, and then our final ascent of the day: the Col de Marie Blanque (7.7km at 8.6%). From here it’s a relatively easy roll downhill and around 7km up the next valley to Laruns. The total altitude gain today is 3400m; a tough day without anyone needing to worry about being late for dinner.

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Pau hotel
Finish: Transfer to Tarbes hotel

Thursday 29th June 2023. Stage 6 – Tarbes – Cauterets-Cambasque 145km

 Leaving the popular Tour city of Tarbes, we gain height steadily during the morning, following the pretty river Neste to the charming village of Arreau where we swing right off the main road and head straight up the Col d’Aspin, a 12km ascent whose summit is in sight from quite far down, so you can see what you’re aiming for (and how quickly you’re gaining ground). From here we descend, through a lovely remote valley, to Sainte-Marie de Campan, universally known as base camp for the Tourmalet. Then it’s the famous 17km climb, up through the trees to the 70s-feel ski resort of La Mongie, and then past the ski lifts and the llamas, to one of this year’s only cols above 2,000m. The Tourmalet! You’ve ticked off a bucket list climb!

Our reward is a full 30km of downhill before the relatively sedate but absolutely stunning climb to the Plateau du Cambasque, which averages 5.4% over 16km, features some spectacular switchbacks and gives us the opportunity to explore a road less travelled after the big names we’ve visited earlier in the stage.

Believe it or not, this stage manages to pack 3750m of climbing into 145km; we’ll get you there but it will hurt!

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Tarbes hotel
Finish: Cauterets hotel 

Friday 30th June 2023.
Stage 7 – Mont-de-Marsan to Bordeaux – 170km

 This stage takes us from woodlands to vineyards along some fast, often straight roads that are made for group riding. We spend the first few hours enjoying the shade of Europe’s largest man-made forest before emerging into the fertile wine country that surrounds Bordeaux, then following the Garonne Valley towards the city. If you haven’t experienced the joy of cycling through French vinyards before, get ready to be wowed – it looks like holidays, feels like holidays and with the sun shining, there’s nowhere you’d rather be. There aren’t any big climbs to trouble us on this stage and the forest offers shelter from the coastal sidewinds, leaving us to enjoy the flawless French tarmac and the company of our fellow riders.

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Mont de Marsan
Finish: Bordeaux hotel

Saturday 1st July 2023.
Stage 8 – Libourne to Limoges – 201km

 This is French cycling paradise, starting with vineyards and chateaux, giving way to medieval villages and flower-filled market squares and finishing with wooded hillsides and agricultural splendour as we ride north east through the Gironde and then Dordogne regions; history is rich here and you sense that as you ride. The Dordogne is home to more of France’s 160 “Most Beautiful Villages” than any other region and today you cycle through the spectacular landscape, villages and views that draw tourists from afar.

However, despite a flattish looking stage profile which only goes above 400m once, this is described by the Tour as ‘hilly’ which is a warning to look further into the detail; after a long morning of constantly undulating roads with occasionally uncomfortable gradients we hit a 40km section with 600m of climbing and almost no downhill. Christian Prudhomme, the Tour Director has also spoken of “a short but difficult climb” towards the end which, added to the overall distance will make for a surprisingly leg-sapping day out (good job the views are incredible).

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Libourne or cycle from Bordeaux hotel (TBC)
Finish: Limoges hotel

Sunday 2nd July 2023.
Stage 9 – Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat to Puy de Dôme – 184km

 We’re in the remote heartlands of France for most of today, leaving the beautiful medieval town of Saint-Léonard and climbing up to the Plateau de Millevaches, which is populated mainly by cows and beach trees. Quiet roads, and a couple of degrees’ drop in temperature (since we’ll be higher up) make this an extremely pleasurable ride despite over 3000m elevation gain that we’ve been promised. Heading east, we move into the dramatic landscape of the Auvergne, towards the Chaîne des Puys – a line of ancient volcanoes, which you may recognise from the packaging of Volvic mineral water. We first cross the chain at the northern end, climbing up to almost 1,000m and passing between two of the lesser pimples. Then we double back, skirt Clermont Ferrand, and approach the imposing Puy de Dôme, from the east. We’re not allowed to cycle up to the very top – the last 4km are closed to anything on wheels – but summit or no summit, it will be a (replacement) finish line to remember as we take a road to the south of the Puy de Dome up to the Col de Seyssat (and for those with time and inclination today or tomorrow, there’s a walking trail to the top). It drops the day from 3600m of climbing to 3200m – you won’t feel like it was too easy!

Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to St Leonard de Noblat or cycle from Limoges hotel (TBC)
Finish: Clermont Ferrand hotel

Monday 3rd July 2023: Departure Day

Depart from Clermont Ferrand hotel under own arrangements.


Stage profiles: All available stage profiles are displayed on our Route page. The Tour de France publish maps and profiles for every stage in June. Until then we have profiles for the mountain stages and the most significant climbs only.

Deposit Second Payment
Due end Jan
Final Payment
Due end Mar
Fundraising Target 80% Fundraising
due end April
£1750 £250 £800 £700 £1500 £1200

The price of this Loop is based on a nightly cost of £175 


What’s included:
  • Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy in January)
  • All food (3 meals and the best feedstops you’ve ever seen)
  • Fully signed route, the stuff of legend
  • Mechanical, medical and moral support
  • Luggage Transfers
  • Coach transfers to the next stage start when the stages aren’t contiguous
What’s not included:
  • Travel to and from France (but we’ll give you advice on the best travel routes)
  • Bike Transport (£30 each way if you want us to drive your bike there and back)
  • Evening massage (£10 or €10 per massage if you’d like one – highly recommended)
  • Beer/wine/drinks at dinner