THE PYRENEES 1000
SEPTEMBER 29 TO OCTOBER 3 2021
Pamplona – Benasque – Pau – Pamplona
The Bespoke Pyrenees Rally hits the road in late September setting off through the wild frontier-land of Northern Spain and Southern France. This majestic mountain range – straddling the border from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean – was until modern times unpassable for several months of the year. The roads that now snake their way over its snow-capped ridge are famous for their steep climbs, hairpin bends and breath-taking views. It all adds up to an iconic driving experience.
Starting in the historic Spanish town of Pamplona, home to the annual running of the bulls, we will head eastwards into the Pyrenean foothills. The route passes through lush green valleys dotted with sleepy villages, distinctive churches and sacred pilgrimage sites. Gaining altitude with every twist and turn, we pass Alpine lakes and rushing waterfalls and enter a wilder landscape that reveals the full majesty of the Pyrenean peaks.
Day two sees us passing through the famous Vielha tunnel before winding around a series of switchback bends that take us across the border into the French Pyrenees. Here we will trace the route of some of the Tour de France’s most punishing mountain stages, threading our way through historic spa towns and ski resorts en route to our overnight stop in the ancient city of Pau.
On our final day we meander south through forests and moorland before climbing our way up and across the Spanish border. These majestic peaks provide summer grazing land for cattle and sheep as well as hosting rare species like the bearded vulture, chamois, and even wild bears.
Arguably home to the most beautiful mountain scenery in Europe, the Pyrenees provide a stunning backdrop to three days of unforgettable and exciting driving.
Our adventure begins to the East of Pamplona in the Hotel Castillo Gorriaz. Check in and enjoy the 4-star facilities – luxuriate in the hotel’s spa, or take in a round of golf and enjoy dinner in its Veranda restaurant, with spectacular views across to the mountains.
There will also be time to visit the walled city of Pamplona, onetime capital city of the ancient kingdom of Navarre, with its cobbled streets, tranquil parks, and historic monuments and churches.
Rally Day 1
After breakfast we hit the tarmac, heading off through the foothills of Navarre, tracing the line of the mountains, their snow-capped peaks appearing on the horizon to the north. The terrain starts to close in as the mountains rise and we meander our way through dramatic gorges on steep and twisting roads. In these undisturbed landscapes, the silence and solitude make it feel like we have stepped back in time. We pass alongside the ancient church of San Juan de la Peña, perhaps the oldest Catholic shrine in Spain, hunkered down under a great cliff that overhangs it hundreds of feet above, before joining the route of the ancient pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The numerous shrines, monasteries and small Romanesque churches in these valleys make for a particularly rich architectural landscape.
At Sabiñánigo we take the legendary N260, the most famous Spanish road in the Pyrenees, known as the Eje Pirenaico (Pyrenaean Axis), which snakes its way through the Ordesa National Park before heading off into the Benasque Valley, home to the highest peaks in the whole Pyrenean range.
The day ends in the shadow of the Pica Aneto, the highest of all, towering some 3,400m above the 4-star Sommos Hotel Aneto. Check in, unwind and recharge your batteries after a hard day of driving.
Rally Day 2
It is on our second day of our journey that the sheer scale of the Pyrenean range reveals itself – the roads steepen and the switchback hairpin bends take us northwards towards the crest of the Pyrenean mountain range. The higher you go, the more spectacular the passes, none more so than on the approach to the famous Tunèl de Vielha: when this feat of engineering was constructed in 1948, it was the longest road tunnel in the world.
After 5km through the mountain, we emerge into a zigzag of hairpin bends, climbing up and across the French border before heading westwards along the Vallée du Larboust, tracing a route that has featured many times in the annual Tour de France bicycle race. As we pass by the Pic du Midi – the iconic peak with a world-famous observatory at its summit – and head up through the ski station of Mongie we reach the most famous of TDF climbs, the Col du Tourmalet at an elevation of 2,115m.
In the afternoon, the rally passes through historic spa towns like Luz Saint-Sauveur with its fortified medieval church and single arch stone bridge, before ending the day in the fairytale city of Pau. Renowned for its glorious parks, exotic villas and the palm-tree lined Boulevard des Pyrénées, the city provides panoramic views across snow-dusted mountains to the south.
Check in to the 5-star Hotel Parc Beaumont, take some well-earned time out its very own wellness spa, and enjoy the fine regional delicacies on offer in its contemporary restaurant.
Rally Day 3
Setting off from Pau on our final day, we head due south through the historic Béarn region of France. This pristine rural landscape of gently undulating hills and storybook towns is sparsely populated, and the deeply traditional life that is led by its inhabitants has changed little over the years.
At Louvie Juzon the rolling forests and moorland give way to dramatic mountains that rise up steeply from the lower lying foothills, with the most distinctive of all the Pyrenean peaks, the Pic du midi D’Ossau standing majestically on the horizon. Heading west along low altitude passes we climb higher through a never-ending series of switchbacks and sweepers before reaching the Spanish border and beginning the decent. The quiet hillside pastures on the Spanish side are home to grazing sheep and goats – who occasionally wander onto the roads.
Before long we are back at the Hotel Castillo Gorriaz, where events will culminate in a prize giving ceremony and celebratory dinner.
• An entry for two people and their car
• Bed and breakfast in a twin or double room for four nights
• Evening meals included
• Tulip roadbook and Maps
• Our experienced team
• The Stunning Pyrenees Mountains
• Roads less travelled
• Rally Awards
• Mechanical assistance
• Photobook of the event
• Film of the event
• Event regalia
• Our Virtual Marshal timing system
V1 1920 to 1939, V2 1940 to 1949
C1 1950 to 1959
C1A Up to 1300cc, C1B 1300cc to 2000cc, C1C Over 2000cc
C2 1960 to 1969
C2A Up to 1300cc, C2B 1300cc to 2000cc, C2C Over 2000cc
C3 1970 to 1979
C3A Up to 1300cc, C3B 1300cc to 2000cc, C3C Over 2000cc
C4 1980 to 1989
C4A Up to 1300cc, C4B 1300cc to 2000cc, C4C Over 2000cc
* Classes may be combined as necessary
* * Please note: route and timings may be changed without notice
• A well prepared classic car
• Halda/Trip-Master or similar
• A car that fits into one of our classes
• A co-driver/driver
Entry Fee: £3,250. Entry fee includes: Bed and breakfast in a twin or double room for four nights for two people in one room (single room available for supplement), detailed tulip book, maps, stunning route, briefing, evening meals, mechanical assistance, event regalia, competition, prizes.