Published by Andrew on 1 May 2017
If you're looking for a base in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Jacqui Brown says Le RexHotel in Tarbes could be a good option.
Le RexHotel was once an old cinema in the heart of Tarbes that has now been converted into a four-star hotel that is happy to offer the cyclist a night or two of luxury while touring in the Pyrenees.
The staff speak English, have a good attitude to bikes and are very proud of the fact a Tour de France team stay with them every year. We may not have been professional cyclists, but we were given a warm welcome.
Five things we loved
Le RexHotel is centrally located, easy to find and perfect for exploring Tarbes on foot, by bike or using the free navette bus that stops outside the hotel. We arrived by bike, approaching by the river from the south east along a quiet and pretty towpath, not realising until the last few kilometres we were in middle of big city. Once we were on the roads, the traffic lights allowed cyclists the priority and although there were not as many dedicated cycle lanes as we have found in cities like La Rochelle or Bordeaux, it is still a great gateway to the Pyrenees by bike.
2. Flexible bike storage
The staff at the hotel are friendly, helpful and are keen to welcome cyclists, whether individuals or whole Tour de France teams. They have no issues with muddy bikes on their red carpet and our bikes were allowed in via reception, like real guests, and provided with secure storage in a back room. A larger room will be made available for those arriving in a group.
3. The wow-factor
The room we were given was huge and had plenty of space and storage for our bike bits, but the real wow moment was seeing the glass bathroom. A double ended bath and separate wet room shower were enclosed in glass with views to the private terrace. I appreciate this may not be ideal if you are just friends sharing accommodation, but we loved it. The attention to detail can’t be faulted throughout the hotel and the lighting and seating in the public areas is quirky and interesting, and would be ideal for groups in the evenings.
As well as the luxurious bedrooms, the hotel has a gym, which we didn’t use (having been on the bikes all day), but I was quite tempted by the selection of massages and treatments that can be booked at an extra cost. Prices for a 30-minute leg massage start at 45€. For those not wanting to walk too far at the end of a day on the bikes, there's a highly regarded restaurant on site.
A copious buffet breakfast is offered but with a few luxury extras like freshly squeezed orange juice and smoked salmon. I defy anyone (even the hungry cyclist) to get through everything on offer, but I know the orange juice, coffee, scrambled egg, sausages, bread, cheese, smoked salmon, croissant and yoghurt certainly set me up well for our day on the bikes.
We visited Le Rex as part of a cycling holiday where we experienced our first Pyrenean cols, which weren’t quite as scary as I thought, but the cycling directly around Tarbes is flat and achievable for all levels. It's an easy bike ride from Tarbes to Lourdes and from there a well-surfaced voie verte takes you to Cauterets, where the Pyrenees and then the Tourmalet and Aubisque are ready and waiting for you and your bike. With the airport and station at Tarbes, Le RexHotel would be the perfect start or end point to your Pyrenean cycling holiday.
ABOUT OUR REVIEWER
Our guest reviewer Jacqui Brown writes French Village Diaries, a blog about life in Poitou-Charentes, cycling, French food, travel, and books.
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