Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cycling to Tarbes and Le RexHotel

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
The weary cyclist at Le RexHotel, Tarbes
As part of our super cycling holiday to the Pays Basque (see here) Adrian and I escaped the family holiday for a rather special night away. We packed the bikes, the bike panniers and lots of wet weather gear (the clouds had rolled in over the mountains) and set off for a small village on the flat below Cauterets.

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
Voie Verte Des Gaves, Pierrefitte
The plan (or so I’d been led to believe) was to leave the car in Pierrefitte and hop on the Voie Verte Des Gaves cycle way, another old railway line with little or no incline, now a cycle friendly route that would deposit us with little effort in Tarbes, 56km away. To begin with though, it was a coffee we were looking for and sadly Pierrefitte looked to be lacking, but after a friendly encounter with a local lady, who seemed rather keen to give us a guided tour of the churches and old town (before our caffeine fix), we found ourselves sheltering in the boulangerie. While the rain poured outside we cheered ourselves up with a chocolate patisserie and a cup of coffee.

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
Voie Verte Des Gaves

As our mood brightened, so did the weather and we were soon gliding along the voie verte at almost 30km an hour and I was sure I had found my mountain cycling nirvana. There were a few dog walkers, runners and cyclists using the path and everyone smiled and ‘bonjoured’ each other. It was happy cycling and I was a happy cyclist.

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
Climbing up to Arrodets-ez-Angles
Just before Lourdes we turned off the voie verte and took the road to St Créac, following a river and rather alarming looking like it was to be all up hill for a while. As Adrian got further and further in front of me I took to muttering to myself. I couldn’t quite believe anyone in their right mind would actively search out a hilly route when there was a flat voie verte offering easy passage to our destination. I feared for my husband’s sanity. Up and up we climbed, but the road was free of traffic, the verge alive with wild flowers and the only sounds were the cattle bells; a soft and gentle sound in the distance. I now understood why he had been so keen for me to join him climbing the Col d’Ispeguy the day before. I was a real climber now.

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
Lunch in Arrodets-ez-Angles

By lunchtime we were on top of the world in Arrodets-ez-Angles, looking across to huge snow capped peaks and greedily scoffing down baguettes filled with tinned fish. Adrian assured me it was all downhill from here to Tarbes, but as the rain arrived I began to fret about safely manoeuvring my bike downhill on wet roads. At least the rain would help to stop my brakes overheating as I can be a little heavy on them (think gripping them tightly as though my life depended on them).

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
Le RexHotel, Tarbes

Slowly and steadily I made my way downhill and the rooftops of Tarbes came into view, before disappearing as I rounded another bend. By following the river we arrived in the city having encountered very little traffic and although tired, I was pleased to have made it and couldn’t wait to discover our special four star hotel, Le RexHotel. The red carpet was out, in our honour I’m sure and the bikes were welcomed into reception and locked safely away for the night.

French Village Diaries Le RexHotel Tarbes Voie Verte Des Gaves
Public seating area at Le RexHotel, Tarbes


You can read my full review of The RexHotel on Freewheeling France here, but it was a real wow experience. A huge bed, a glass bathroom, bath big enough for two, outside terrace and the king of all breakfast buffets the following morning. I would have liked to explore more of Tarbes, but almost as soon as we arrived the rain did too and it poured all evening. We dashed out to grab an apero and got wet, dashed out to dinner and got wet and then decided enough was enough for what had been a great day out. Even I had to admit, had we stuck to the cycle path we would have missed some lovely scenery and mountain vistas. Maybe climbing mountains isn’t total madness after all.

This post has been linked to Paulita's Dreaming of France blog link up. Click here to read more.