Accommodation is in recently renovated, 250 year old Catalan stone houses complete without extensive outside areas and swimming pools. Each room is furnished to the highest standard and is equipped with a modern ensuite bathroom. Meals are taken both at the lodge and in local restaurants and offer a superb taste of local French cuisine. Local French wine and other drinks are included with the meals. Being so far south the season is long and the micro climate offers an abundance of sunshine with over 300 days of sun recorded each year.
Day 1: Arrival. Welcome, drinks at Sanglier lodge, briefing and orientation, settling in, bike fitting; short test ride, dinner. Includes: (D).
Day 2: A mountain ride today! This’ll be a good long ride this morning, with the vehicle backing up, of course, for those who don’t want to do all the climbs! Early breakfast, then on the bikes from the lodge down the Vallespir Valley, over the Col d’en Xatard on a tiny, traffic free road towards the Prades valley to the north, with fabulous views of the eastern face of Mount Canigou and clear sight of the sea in many places. Then down we go into the Prades valley, finishing our ride in a great little picnic spot.
After lunch we’ll explore (by vehicle, you won’t be in a mood for riding) some of the many attractions on that side of the mountain; We may visit St Michel de Cuxa, considered the most important religious monument in the South of France, or St Martin de Canigou, an ancient monastery perched high in the mountains, or the Grottes des Grandes Caudettes, caves with marvelous stalactites and stag mites, or the medieval city of Villefranch de confluent. Then back by road to a delicious home cooked dinner at the lodge and a good night’s sleep! Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: A Costa Brava day! Laze in bed this morning, then gently arise to a terrific ‘brunch’ in the late morning, but don’t overdo the "buck’s fizz" as you’ve got some exercise to do later this evening. Spend the early afternoon loafing around the swimming pool and perhaps having a siesta, then we’ll embark on a vehicle with your bikes securely attached to the roof or a trailer and down to the coast we go.
The ride starts on Argeles beach, south of Perpignan, and we spin gently along the coast road to the ancient cities of Collioure and Port Vendres, and then follow the twisty coastal road into Spain to Lloro and Cadaques, home of Salvador Dali, a ride of about 56 km with some refreshments on the way. You might like to swim in the sea and have a shower and change before being left to your own devices to explore the charming old Spanish port. We’ll dine in a lovely little waterfront restaurant and then drive home (about 75 minutes) after dinner. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Rest day and dinner with the greatest chef in the Vallespir. After breakfast, Jan, Tim or Marko will take a ride of an hour or 90 minutes for those in the mood, but otherwise the day is yours. There’s plenty to do; a great library at the lodge, darts, badminton, table tennis, boules, tennis, fly fishing in the river, or a visit to the nearby "Gorges de la Fou" the narrowest gorge in the world, where a tributary of the Tech river has cut a swathe through the soft limestone several hundred meters deep and often no more than a meter wide. Dinner is a special treat today; Ian Kewley, chef extraordinaire, will do one of his "specials" at his home in Montferrer, a short drive from Sanglier lodge. You won’t be disappointed! Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Cathar castles day. An early start as we’ve got a fascinating day ahead, exploring an area two valleys to the north of the Vallespir. The Cathars were a highly advanced people who ran afoul of the early Roman Catholic Church (we’ll tell you a lot more about them) and who built fabulous castles perched on pinnacles of rock high above the plains below. We travel first by vehicle to the eastern side of the valley and commence at Tautavel, where one of the earliest European hominids was found, carbon dated at 450 000 years old. After hearing about him and the Cathars, we start peddling to the west, passing through vineyards, with towering chalk cliffs to our left.
Presently the first of the Cathar castles will come into view, and we will pause in our ride to take a close up look at it, followed by one or two more, as the mood takes us. There are six on our route; we won’t have time to look at them all. Finally we reach the breathtaking Gorges Calmus, where the road cuts through a mountainside with a sheer drop to the gorge on our right. If feeling a bit nervous we’ll dismount and walk some of this, but it’s perfectly safe if one is cautious and a sight not to be missed. We’ll picnic if the weather remains fine and then perhaps do a little wine tasting in the afternoon before heading back to dinner and bed at the lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: We had a great time at the coast on Day 3 and today we do another section of it? We start the day off in a similar manner to Day 3, and then head down to Lloret in Spain, South of Girona, then spin along the lovely coastal road south to Calella de Palafrunell for a couple of hours, followed by a swim in the pretty bay there, with it’s white sand and crystal clear water and dinner in a delightful restaurant on the shore. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: A bit of a lie in, breakfast around 0930, set off from lodge about 1030, up Col de Sous, a small road behind the lodge with spectacular views towards Mount Canigou and into the Haut Vallespir valley. On reaching the col we freewheel into Prats de Mollo and then climb the Col d’Ares towards Spain. At around 1230 we’ll reach La Costa Da Dalt, a famous restaurant perched high in the mountains with fabulous views into Spain with the Mediterranean shimmering to the East. After a quick shower and a change of clothes we settle down for the feast. One delicious course follows another and the wine and laughter flow freely… a great finale to your trip. We eventually stagger out of there at around 1800 and your (sober) driver takes you home. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Departure day. You are utterly relaxed and in no mood to go back to the office, but c’est la vie. All good things come to an end. There’s always next year. Includes: (B).
We have indicated a likely itinerary for the week, however we are continually improving and adding to our tours and will also make changes based on weather conditions to ensure maximum enjoyment from the trip.
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