Cycling B&B review: The Free Range Chalet, Bagnères-de-Luchon, Pyrenees

Published by Lyn on 3 May 2019

Looking to tackle Tour de France climbs like the Portillon, PeyresourdePort de Bales or Superbagneres? Then The Free Range Chalet is the perfect base.

The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet
Villa Gracieuse, 14 Avenue du Docteur Lambron, 
31110 Bagnères-de-Luchon (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie)
Phone: +33 (0)5 61 79 36 94 / +33 (0)7 89 98 29 83
Email: hi@thefreerangechalet.com
Book direct

We've stayed at many places over the years in France, with and without our bikes, with and without the mini-cyclists.

The ideal place to stay, for me, is somewhere you'd go back to, without hesitation, regardless of your style of travel or how many little people or bikes you have to unpack.

The Free Range Chalet in Bagnères-de-Luchon more than fits the bill – and in fact more than once I've used this place as an example in conversations with prospective B&B owners of the perfect template for cyclists.

5 things we like about The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet

1. The owners

You can usually stay at an exceptional hotel and have average owners or average staff and, while annoying, they probably won't ruin your holiday. You can still enjoy the facilities in relative peace, ponce around your room in the bath robe and enjoy the views. The same can't be said about B&Bs. At a B&B, you simply can't avoid the owners. Not that it matters with Geoff and Victoria. They go above and beyond and – as cyclists themselves – they have all the bases covered. They know the area well (they've ridden all the roads and climbed all the cols), so they know exactly what cyclists want.

Once, when a cyclist who shall remain nameless decided to continue an afternoon ride up Superbagneres without gloves or a jacket and with icy rain on the way, Geoff turned up like shiny knight in his van and rescued her just as her fingertips started freezing to the handlebars on the descent. (In my defence, I never thought we'd be out long enough to experience the onset of hyperthermia or to make it anywhere near the top). In any case, Vic was back at base with the kettle on and the log fire roaring when our frozen little group sheepishly shivered in. I owe my fingertips to Geoff and Vic. And I can say with confidence that if ever your fingertips needed saving, they'd be there for you, too.

Superbagneres

The Free Range Chalet

2. The location

The B&B is in the centre of town and walkable to bike hire outlets, shops, bars and restaurants – not to mention the town's thermal spa. The ski lift also operates in summer for mountain bikers and hikers.

Bagnères-de-Luchon is an excellent base for a bunch of big-ticket climbs: the Portillon, PeyresourdePort de Bales and Superbagneres are all on the doorstep – i.e rideable from town; there is a swathe of other famous cols to conquer slightly farther afield. More years than not, the Tour de France passes through (or very, very close to) Luchon. That makes this an ideal base for bucketlist rides. There's also the gentler Parcours cyclable de la Garonne voie verte (a converted railway line) not far from the town centre and ideal for families and leisurely rides.

The nearest airports are Tarbes and Toulouse (ask Geoff if you need a pickup). There's ample local bike hire also available – again ask for contacts. Just say the word and Geoff and Victoria will pull out their (impressive) map collection and share their favourite routes with you as well.

Parcours cyclable de la Garonne

Parcours cyclable de la Garonne

3. B&B layout

The Free Range Chalet is a B&B and you're in Geoff and Victoria's house, but it doesn't feel it.

They've cleverly designed the layout to ensure they have their own space, which also gifts their guests the luxury of extra privacy. There's a guest lounge area – complete with honesty bar and snacks plus puzzles and games. It's also where Geoff does his famous welcome speech over a glass of bubbles.

Outside, there's outdoor seating, as well as a locked bike store.

The kitchen-dining room is open and friendly and the ideal place to have a chat, plan the day's rides or share a meal to chew over the day that's drawing to a close. There's a communal bathroom at the lower end of the stairs, meaning you don't need to go back up to your room to visit the loo.

The building is beautifully renovated throughout, preserving the original wooden floorboards and the character of what is a lovely, traditional French building.

The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet

4. The food

Victoria and Geoff offer a table d'hotes service, whereby you can enjoy home-cooked meals with them six out of seven nights for less than you'd pay at most restaurants in town. The meals are healthy and hearty, and made using fresh local ingredients. Mini-cyclists are taken into account during menu planning, with home-made chicken dippers making a very popuar appearance during our visit.

Table d'hotes is a great way to meet other riders staying at the B&B, offering the chance to share a glass of wine and compare route notes.

Here are some of the tasty treats we enjoyed, though I've had to steal the cake from the B&B website because my gateau didn't last long enough to photograph.

The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet

Breakfast was no less impressive with the full range of local French treats on offer, alongside yoghurts of all flavours, cereals for all tastebuds and Vic's homemade pancakes. (They were eclipsed only by her even tastier French toast, which we scoffed down with little regard for our waistlines).

Teas, coffee, fruit and juices are all there, so there's enough breakfast goodness to keep legs pumping well and truly through until lunchtime.

The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet

5. The rooms

On our most recent visit with our mini-cyclists we stayed in the excellent top-floor family room, which sleeps 5 (it can be configured for families or groups of friends). With views of the mountains and a curtain dividing our bed from the kids, it was as good as any hotel room we've stayed in lately.

There are five rooms in total – all can be adapted for double beds or singles, with two of the rooms (like ours) having extra beds for kids or additional friends/family. All rooms are en suite and beautifully decorated.

Bathrooms are spotless, the towels and linen are excellent, and the wifi is just as we like it: fast and free.

The Free Range Chalet

The Free Range Chalet

All in all, The Free Range Chalet is a popular and well-established specialist cycling B&B – and for good reason: it ticks each and every box.

Beware though that the reputation of this place means you should book ahead during summer (and especially during the Tour de France) to secure a slice of Free Range living

The Free Range Chalet
Villa Gracieuse, 14 Avenue du Docteur Lambron, 
31110 Bagnères-de-Luchon (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie)
Phone: +33 (0)5 61 79 36 94 / +33 (0)7 89 98 29 83
Email: hi@thefreerangechalet.com
Book direct
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