A country loved by painters
Collioure – Llança – Cadaques – Sant Pere Pescador – Estartit – Begur – Calella de Palafrugell
This cycling tour along an intriguing Mediterranean coast, from France to Spain offers stunning sea views and a typical landscape with rock formations alternated with hills covered with vineyards and woods. You are always companied by the view of the impressive mountain Canigou (2784m). At the French border starts the Costa Brava, the wild coast. Beaches invite you to take refreshing dives and enjoy the sun. You pass small typical fishing villages, like Sant Pere Pescador, where you can enjoy fish delicacies, a cool beer or taste the local wines. Not to be missed are the Paella, grilled sardines, and tasty Catalan sausages. It is also the region of famous artists like Picasso and Dali, whose paintings, you can admire at the museum of Port Lligat. Matisse was very impressed by the picturesque harbor of Collioure and stayed here many summers.
The daily program of the 8-day tour
Individual arrival at Collioure, a picturesque old fishing village with a colourful harbour, where the boats of the anchovy fishermen are docked . The village is positioned on the Côte Vermeille (Vermillion coast), where the red rocks of the Pyrenees meet the sea. The 13th century castle is proudly overlooking the village. It was once the summer residence of the kings of Majorca. Very particular is the 17th century church Notre-Dame-des-Anges, which has a former lighthouse as bell tower. Many artist, such as Matisse, Picasso and Dali, where attracted by the light and colours of this charming village, that they tried to catch in there paintings.
After breakfast and bike fitting, in the saddle to start a pleasant ride along the coast and through the hills passing first the small village Port-Vendres and then you come to Banyuls-sul-Mer, a wine area. You should try to drink the wine with the Porró, a glass carafe, which looks t like a watering can. A panoramic road brings you to Cerbere, the last French town before climbing up to the Spanish border. The Cols del Balistres brings you over the border, an old smuggler pass. You have stunning views over coves and creeks. A nice relaxing descent brings you to Port Bou and before reaching Llança, two beaches will invite you to enjoy the sun and refreshing seawater-
Distance: 42 km /26 miles
Ascent/descent: + 1200m -1216m
The town of Llança is during the years modified, but the narrow alleys surrounding the church and the Palace-Castle of the Abbot of Sant Pere de Rodes give still an idea of how the town once has been. There are many small coves with unspoiled seawater and nice views on the rocky coastline. Continuing your ride you arrive at the horseshoe bay of El Port de la Selva, a medieval village that for centuries had as most important economic activity, fishing. After visiting La Selva, you can choose to go directly to Cadaques or make a detour and visit the wild and unspoilt Caps Creus, with its impressive lighthouse. Cap de Creus is a peninsula in which there are two nature reserves and three areas of great underwater wealth: Cap Gros, the tip of Cap de Creus and Cap Norfeu. The rocks that emerge from the water have spectacular shapes, shaped over millions of years by the wind and the sea; popular imagination has attributed names to them such as lion, dragon, camel, and cat.
In Cadaques, one of the prettiest towns of the Costa Brava with is tiny alleys and white houses. Salvador Dali lived on the outskirts of Portlligat, where you can still visit his house. On top of the village of Cadaques is the Santa Maria church, where you can admire a chapel painted by Dali.
Distance: 22 or 36 km / 13,7 or 22,4 mi
Ascent/descent: + 452m -414m or +680m -610m
This day starts with a climb to arrive above Cadaques. You will be rewarded with fantastic views. A well-deserved descent brings you to Roses, because its natural harbour, it is already been inhabited since Greek times. Famous is the castle Castell de la Trinitat with its characteristic five-pointed shape, built in the 16th century. A mostly flat road will bring you to the end of today’s route, Sant Pere Pescador
Distance: 35 km / 25 miles
Ascent/descent: +430m -467m
Today you follow a panoramic route with not too much up-and-downhill cycling. The sea and beaches are your companions first to Sant’Marti d’Empuries, inhabited since the arrival of Greeks and there are still the Roman and Phoenician ruins of Empúries or Empòrion to see dating back to 580 BC. Then you continue to L’Escala, an important fishing port with a festival dedicated to the anchovies. The town is positioned on a large bay of blue and calm sea waters. The name derives from Scala, which indicates the natural harbor that was a good shelter for fishing boats. There are many museums to visit. Do try the delicious anchovies in one of the cosy restaurants. A short ride will bring you to L’Estartit.
Distance: 23 km / 14,3 miles
Ascent/ descent: +264m – 266m
Today a climbing route on the Montgri massif brings you to Toroella, positioned on the North bank of the river Ter. It was the Royal Port for the Kings of Aragon before the river started silting up and the new port was built at L’Estartit. Following small country roads, the route passes the medieval village of Pals, an enchanting and well-kept fortified village. The name derives from Palus, which means swamp. The town, in fact, stands on a hill overlooking a once marshy valley where now you find rice fields. The Torre de las Horas, a remain of a castle and now a bell tower, (Tower of the Hours) attract attention. There are many art galleries and inviting shops. The route returns to the coast and you reach Begur. The town is dominated by the imposing silhouette of the medieval castle. Although the silhouette of Begur at first glance may seem like an indefinite collection of houses in different styles and materials, the streets have their particular charm.
Distance: 30 km / 18,6 miles
Ascent / Descent: + 750m – 550m
Today a short ride, but with some hills to conquer. The landscape offers again coves and creeks with a pine-clad backdrop. You can swim and visit the scenic fishing village Tamariu with its narrow streets and whitewashed houses. You pedal up to the San Sebastian lighthouse at 169m above sea level. Passing Llafranc with its small harbour and sea resort where famous artists such as Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Ernest Hemmingway’s enjoyed the sea and beaches. This tour ends in Calella de Palafrugell. You could make an extra ride to visit the beautiful Botanical gardens with many cacti, succulent plants, tropical plants, and herb gardens. Enjoy the last dinner in one of the excellent fish restaurants. Calella de Palafrugell is also famous for its July Music Festival – the Cap Roig Garden Festival.
Distance: 16 km / 9,9 miles
Ascent/descent: + 540m – 690m
Departure after breakfast
Impressions of an intriguing Mediterranean coast
The daily distances are short, but on some days, there is a significant difference in level. Even with E-bikes cycle experience is needed. Cycling mostly on asphalted roads.
Daily distances between 16 and 42 km / 9,9 – 26 miles.
Total km: 168 – 182 km / 104- 113 miles
From 01/02 until 30/06 and from 01/09 until 30/11. The best period is from May to the end of June and from the end of August until October.
1 or more people.
START / FINISH:
Collioure / Calella de Palafrugell
Cycling in the French Basque Country
A cycle journey including the best of the French Basque country: amazing coasts, country villages and vineyards, red cliffs and green valleys, traditional villages and great resorts, authentic hotels, and genuine cuisine.