Distance: 38km. Difficulty: Intermediate Type: All paved roads. Starting Point: Figueres, Spain
Description: It is only 38 km, but this day ride takes you from Spain to France AND over a Pyrenean mountain pass! Starting in Salvador Dali’s hometown of Figueres, Spain, you ride quickly into the Catalan countryside, climbing over the Banyuls pass (in the footsteps of Hannibal on his way to Rome over 2000 years ago, by the way), then switchbacking down through impossibly steep vineyards, to the seaside resort town of Bayuls-sur-Mer, France.
View Figueres to Banyuls-sur-mer in a larger map
Directions: From the center of Figueres take the C-252 out of town. If it is the weekend, and if you are lost, just follow the cyclists – they are probably going where you are. This quiet, country road takes you to Peralada, where you turn left onto the GIP-6021. Enjoy this section of your ride because it is the only flat part. Once you hit Espolla the road rises in steps for a ways till the long, steady climb that brings you to the Banyuls pass.
The road towards the pass runs through pristine nature, following the course of a lovely river for a good part of the way, before climbing into pastureland. It is quite wild and stunning scenery on the Spanish side, and you feel much higher than the 357 meters you will actually be when you reach the pass.
From the pass you have a very steep series of switchbacks down into France. Once they are finished though, it is a nice, gentle descent through vineyards and small hamlets, till you reach the Mediterranean, and Banyuls-sur-Mer.
Note: the road from Espolla to the border of France (also the pass) does not exist on Google Maps, nor Michelin maps. It certainly exists though, and just make sure you follow the signs for ‘Col de Banyuls’ or ask a local.
If you’d like an independent adventure with a little more organization, check out our self-guided tours.