Dream roads: loop of the PyreneesDanilo Trovato
Every biker has dreamed to ride the Pyrenees on his motorcycle at least once in his life. A unique, special and unforgetable ride capable of make you feel strong emotions. We are talking about 1.503 km (934 miles) of fascinating curves and hairpin turns that will make you fall in love with the most incredible Mountain Range in the world.
The tour starts in: Perpignan
This Pyrenees tour starts in Perpignan, France. Getting there from Italy (where we are based) is a piece of cake. Riders need to get to Ventimilia, pass the border and then pass by Mentone, Montercarlo, Nizza, Cannes, Aix-en-Provence, Nimes, Montpellier, Narbonne and finally Perpignan (after 500km – 310 miles once crossed the border). This from Italy, if you come from other parts of Europe, it is going to be easy as well, France is so beautiful and nice to ride through. If you come from overseas, you will have to book a flight and then rent a motorcycle.
Perpignan, which is the last big city before the Spanish border, is considered the capital of the Eastern Pyrenees. Because of its strategic position, it is seen as a privileged link between Barcelona and southern France. Perpignan is a crossroads of people and contrasting sensations: with a heart that beats in French and Spanish, it is located at a stone’s throw from the Pyrenees, and a few miles away from the sea.
The shore is an idyllic scenery that moves between mountains, vineyards, and the orchards of the Roussillon. The city, on the other hand, is a mix of art and history capable of fascinating you at every corner. Its architecture is mostly medieval (tiny roads, palm trees), and the atmosphere is that of a unique and special place that for centuries has been shelter and locus amoenus for travellers and adventure seekers. Perpignan is also full of world-famous monuments like the Palais des Rois de Majorque, which is a XIV Century fortress that served as a Castle, city entrance, and as a jail. Today is Perpignan’s symbol. A special mention goes to the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Le-Baptiste and the Campo Santo, the largest cemetery in France.
Let’s hop on our motorcycle and go
Leaving Perpignan, we enter the D117, direction: Maury and Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet. That’s where the scenery starts to change, and riders start to see mountain peeks at the horizon while forests and creeks lead to a new, paradisiac world. On the D7, riding on a road curved in the rocks, there are the Gorges de Galamus, one of the many entrances of the Pyrenees.
The Gorges e Galamus are a straodinary natural site with limestone walls curved overtime by the Agly river; a sight that must be seen at least once in a lifetime. Prie of this area is an abbey that overlooks the river, the hermitage of Saint-Antoine de Galamus.
Once out the Gorges, heading toward Ax-les-Thermes it is time to ride the first mountain pass, the Port de Pailhères (2001m). Once out Tarascon-sur-Ariege, riders are finally riding into the Pyrenees Ariengoises Natural Park. This area is filled of joy rides: the Col de Port (1249m), the Col de Portel (1432m), the Col de Portet d’Aspet (1069m) and the Col de Menté (1349m). Last but not least, at the peek, we find the Port de Balès (1755m) and then the Col de Peyresourde at 1569 meters above sea.
The view is breathtaking and the hart revs. The charm of the Pyrenees overwhelms you with all its beauty and gives you the idea that nature is not just an abstract thing but a real and impetuous physical presence. The riding continues and curve after curve the road climbs up the incredible Col du Tourmalet (2115m), the Col du Soulor (1474m), the Col de Marie-Blanque (1035m), and the Col de la Pierre St Martin (1760m) right before arriving in Pamplona.
Breathtaking sights of Pamplona
It is now time to go back to Perpignan. The road back has almost nothing to envy to the first part of the journey. The directions point Jaca first, then Cadanchù heading towards Col du Somport (1632m), Col de Marie-Blanque and Col du Pourtalet(1794m). From Sabinanigo on, the Spanish Pyrenees show all their beauty. Andorra is a must, you wouldn’t want to miss out on visiting the smallest nation in Europe.
Moving on toward El Pas de la Casa the road gets to Ripoli first, then climbs the Col d’Ares (1513m). This is the last mountain pass of this incredible tour of the Pyrenees and there is a tough choice to make: get directly back to Perpignan or visiting Cadaques, the village that inspired Salvador Dalì
Proseguendo per El Pas de la Casa si raggiunge Ripoli, poi si risale in cima al Col d’Ares (1.513m s.l.m). Questo è l’ultimo passo di questa stupenda traversata dei Pirenei in moto e da qui abbiamo due scelte: ritornare a Perpignan oppure proseguire verso Cadaques, il borgo che ha ispirato la vena artistica di Salvador Dalì.