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The Grand Départ 2023 - Prices from £1899.00pp

The Grand Départ 2023

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The Grand Départ of the 110th edition of the Tour de France will take place in Bilbao. Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country. The Tour will also visit Vitoria-Gasteiz which is the administrative capital of the Basque Country and Donostia-San Sebastián which is the best-known tourist destination.

The race for yellow will start with two days in the cycling mecca of the Basque Country in northern Spain. The first takes place on Saturday 1 July 2023 and will be a hilly loop around Bilbao. Stage 2 starts in Vitoria-Gasteiz and finishes in San Sebastian. Stage 3 starts near Bilbao and will finish in France at a yet to be announced location in the French part of the Basque Country (rumoured to be Bayonne).

Our tour starts on Thursday so we can enjoy the team presentation. Our hotels are located in great locations for all 3 stages, and you will see all of them live. We will stay in both Bilbao and San Sebastian. Experience the passion of cycling from the Basque people and the amazing culinary experiences and landscape the region has to offer.

Our Tour runs from Thursday to Tuesday starting off with a stay in Bilbao and we finish with a stay in San Sebastian. If you are flying, arrive and depart from Bilbao airport and we offer airport transfers. Bike rental is also available. We offer daily, guided bike rides plus a daily itinerary for non-cycling guests.

  • Premium 4* accommodation in the heart of Bilbao and San Sebastian including breakfast and dinner daily
  • Witness the excitement of the Official opening team’s presentation and 3 stages LIVE!
  • Take a step inside the Tour de France inner sanctum with prime viewing for every stage, including: The Stage 1 start/finish, the Stage 2 start for non-riders, roadside viewing for the riding group and at a pinnacle point along the Stage 3 race route
  • Explore the incredible bike friendly Basque region and indulge in its amazing cuisine
  • Spectator and rider friendly
  • Local cultural and culinary experiences
  • Welcome dinner with special guest speaker

What’s included

  • 3 nights in premium 4-star accommodation in the heart of Bilbao
  • 2 nights in premium 4-star accommodation in the heart of San Sebastian
  • 5 x Daily breakfast
  • 5 x Daily dinners
  • Return airport to hotel Transfers 
  • Transportation throughout
  • See 3 Tour de France stages live from prime viewing locations
  • Watch the Official opening team’s presentation
  • Air-conditioned vehicles with on-course accreditation
  • Daily ride options taking in the amazing Basque region
  • Non-Rider options
  • COVID-Safe protocols
  • Professional staff and mechanical support
  • Support vehicles on all rides
  • ABTA protected
Your Itinerary

Day 1: Thursday 29 June Arrive Bilbao & Team Presentations

Arrive Bilbao, transfer to hotel, meet and greet in the afternoon at hotel, from the hotel we will depart on foot as a group for a walking tour of Bilbao's Old Town followed by watching the Team Presentations live.

For the walking tour you will meet with a top local guide who will take you on a two hour tour of the Old Quarter. The narrow streets of Bilbao's Old Town or Casco Viejo give off an age-old atmosphere. This historical corner, which keeps intact its buildings from the beginning of the centuary, rebuilt after the 1983 floods, is one of the most alive and dearly loved areas of a city which is full of contrasts. 

The walking tour will depart from the hotel at 1400 (2pm), so if you want to take the tour, please aim to arrive at the hotel by midday / 1300 (1pm)

Hotel:  Mercure Bilbao on Half Board basis

Meals: Dinner at Hotel

Daily Highlights:

  • Transfer from Bilbao Airport to Hotel
  • Watch live the Team Presentations in Bilbao

Today's Cycling Activity: Bike fitting at hotel

Day 2: Friday 30 June 

Following breakfast we will depart the hotel by bike to ride sections of Stage 1. This will be a great chance to get familiar with your rental bike and roll out the legs. 

In the afternoon we will enjoy a guided city bike tour and Guggenheim Museum visit.

Today we are lucky enough to enjoy the company of Phil Liggett as our special guest for dinner. 

Hotel: Mercure Bilbao on half board basis

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner at Hotel

Daily Highlights:

  • AM - Ride the final section of stage 1
  • Group dinner with special guest speaker Phil Leggit
  • PM - Half day tour (Bike tour & Guggenheim Museum) max 4 hours

Today's Ride: Ride some of Stage 1 race route including the final section. Approx 30- 40km

Day 3: Saturday 1 July - Stage 1 (Bilbao to Bilbao)

Today the 2023 Tour de France will commence with a stage starting and finishing in Bilbao. We’ll enjoy a leisurely morning before we regroup at the hotel and walk to the start area. Once the race has departed we will walk to the finish line area. 

After the race, we will join our local guide for a unique walking Bilbao Pintxos tour. Your expert guide will take you to some of Bilbao's finest establishments and introduce you to the unique art of miniture haute cuisine. 

Hotel: Mercure Bilbao on half board basis

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner at Hotel

Daily Highlights:

  • Watch Stage 1 live including Start and Finish
  • Bilbao Pintxos tour – 2 hours (includes 6 pintxos + 2 drinks in total, in 2 different bars + guide service)

No ride option today 

Day 4: Sunday 2 July - Stage 2 (Vitoria-Gasteiz to San Sebastian)

We depart Bilbao early by coach and head to Tolosa. The riding group will quickly prepare and head off by bike to ride the final section of today's stage 2 which will take us through Irun and the final climb of the day before we descend into San Sebastian.

Non-riders will have a chance to spend a short amount of time to explore the town of Tolosa before being transferred by our tour vehicle to San Sebastian

Once we arrive in San Sebastian we will watch the finish of the race live 

Hotel: Mercure Igueldo San Sebastián on half board basis

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner at Hotel

Daily Highlights:

  • Ride the final section of today's Stage 2
  • Watch Stage 2 live, finish area in San Sebastian

Today's Ride: 80km | 1300m Climbing  View today's ride in Strava

Day 5: Monday 3 July - Stage 3 (Amorebieta-Etxano to Bayonne)

We depart the hotel by bike to the ride today's stage in reverse direction. Along the way we will see local towns setting up for the race to come through later in the day. We will stop at coastal town of Zarautz to watch the race pass through.  Once the riders and support vehicles have passed we hop back on the bikes and make our way back to San Sebastian via an inland route.

Once we arrive back at the hotel you’ll have time to refresh before our San Sebastian Pintxos tour. You will enjoy traditional products of Basque cuisine in the Old Quarter followed by a farewell group dinner. 

Hotel: Mercure Igueldo San Sebastián on half board basis

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner at Hotel

Daily Highlights:

  • Ride a section of today's Stage 3
  • Watch Stage 3 live
  • San Sebastian Pintxos tour – 2 hours (includes 6 pintxos + 2 drinks in total, in 2 different bars + guide service)

Todays Ride: Approx 70km | about 1100m Climbing View today's ride in Strava

Day 6: Tuesday 4 July - Departure Day

After breakfast we say goodbye, your transfer will take you to San Sebastian Airport 

Meals: Breakfast


By Plane

Bilbao’s airport (BIO) is located 12 km north of the city centre. As the largest airport in the Basque Country, it is the easiest way to arrive not only to Bilbao, but to the whole region.

From Bilbao’s airport there are direct flights to 18 destinations within Spain. There are also direct flights to over 20 destinations in the rest of Europe:

To get from the airport to downtown, there are several options:

  • The bus line A3247 from Bizkaibus is the most affordable option (3€)
  • Taking a taxi or private transfer is a very convenient way of travelling. You will be downtown in about 15 minutes. Expect to pay around 20 - 25 €.

By Car

Bilbao is located of the road A-8 (AP-8). This is a toll road between Bilbao and Irun. The toll road AP-68 connects Bilbao with the east and south of Spain, going all the way to Zaragoza. The road A-1 or AP-1 connects Bilbao with Madrid. Here are some average travel times by car:

  • Vitoria-Gasteiz - 45 min
  • San Sebastian - 1 h 15 min
  • Biarritz - 1 h 45 min
  • Pamplona - 1 h 45 min
  • Madrid - 4 h
  • Barcelona - 6 h

By Bus

Bilbao’s new bus station was just inaugurated at the end of 2019. Formerly known as Termibus, its new official name is Estación de Bilbao Intermodal. It is a modern underground station located next to the San Mamés football stadium.

The metro, tram and train stops with the same name (San Mamés) are also located right next to the bus station.

All of the long distance buses leave from this station. Some of the regional buses within the Biscay province run by Bizkaibus, also leave from here. The bus to/from the airport also stops here.

From Bilbao, there are daily buses to:

  • Vitoria in under 1 hour. The company La Union offers at least one bus every hour during the day (from 6 am til 10:15 pm). Price: 6.55€.
  • San Sebastian in 1 h 20 min. The company PESA offers at least one bus every hour during the day (from 6:30 am til 10 pm). Price: 12.60€.
  • Pamplona in 2 h. The company La Burundesa (part of La Union) offers 6 daily buses. Price: 15.45€.
  • Biarritz in little over 2 h. The company PESA offers one bus per day. Price: 19.45€. The same bus continues to Bayonne (total trip duration: 3h / price: 20.50€).
  • Madrid in 4 h 30 min. The company Alsa offers at least one bus every 2 hours. There are buses from 7 am til 2 am. In Madrid, while all of the buses stop at the Intercambiador Av. América, some of them also stop at the airport. Price: from 32.21€.
  • Barcelona in 7 h 30 min. The company Alsa offers 4 daily buses. In Barcelona, while all of the buses stop at the Estación Nord, some also stop at the Estación Sants. Price: from 36.66€.

By Train

The main train station of Bilbao is called Abando Indalecio Prieto, but is known by the locals as Estación del norte (“North station”). It is located in the center of the city, right on the river across from the old town.

Spain's national train service is RENFE and France's is SNCF. From Bilbao, there are daily connections to:

  • Madrid in little over 5 h. There are two high speed trains (ALVIA) per day as well as 2 slower options that require changing trains in Zaragoza. Price: 20 - 65€.
  • Barcelona in under 7 h. There are two high speed trains (ALVIA) per day. Price: 26 - 67€.
  • Paris in little over 14 h. There is one train per day which actually requires changing trains in Barcelona. Price: around 200€. The plane is a much faster way (and probably also cheaper) to travel between Bilbao and Paris.

For short distance trips within the Basque Country there is also the Basque train called EuskoTren. Generally, it runs pretty frequently and is cheap. It also offers lovely views of the countryside. However, the downside is that it is quite slow. Trips take on average twice as long as by bus or car.

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