A good route over the Pyranees, leave Pamplona, then use the N135 toward the hills. The road has a few places where it is easy to get lost, keep using the signs to France. The route goes through quite an easy pass, but the road is interesting and fairly quiet, even in summer, although there are a few of the obligatory mad cyclists. There are a few shops selling food, but these open infrequently, there are no petrol stations! Join the D933 toward St Jean Pied de Port, you seem to be quite suddenly in town. Stop at one of the cafes, no greasy meals, but very good coffee.
The N121a begins its journey at the impressive Navarre
region capital of Pamplona and casually wanders the
70 kilometres north to the border city of Irún in
the Basque country. It winds along the Río Ultzama
and Mediano before joining with the Río Bidasoa,
which for its last 10km creates the border separating
Spain from France. It's a very green area with trees and
wildlife in abundance, along with many 'Granjas' or farms.
There are lots of traditional small Spanish villages
just off this route and you can always find a good
'Posada' for something to eat. Try the local dish of beef
cooked on coals, delicioso!
The road:- It's a fast route out of Pamplona and is typical of many routes in Spain. But the further north you go, the twistier and prettier it becomes. The surface is good from start to finish with nothing to really worry you and is ideally suited to sports and sports tourers. It's quite a busy route and you'll not have the road to yourself for long periods, but that's to be expected when you consider the geography. There is still lots of fun to be found and a rapid pace can be set if you 'feel the need for speed'. We took it relatively easy and enjoyed the scenery that you. There's not much in the way of elevation changes but if you want that sort of thing you're never far away from the mountains. There were loads of bikes travelling this road when we visited and to see other bikers enjoying the same road as me always makes me smile. Car drivers just don't get it do they?
Accommodation:- We stopped on this road at the Etxalar Hotel which is the stone building in the photos and is also shown on the map. It's a great hotel and has to be one of the best places we stayed on our trip. The staff were friendly, the rooms excellent, and the food was to die for (not literally you understand) It's right by the roadside so you can sit and listen to the bikes riding past whilst enjoying an ice cold lager. There was a traditional Spanish wedding reception taking place during our stay which was nice. The staff apologised for the noise but they needn't have. We enjoyed watching the Spanish partying as only the Spanish know how. You can have a much closer look at the Etxelar here It's their official web-site with details of activities in the area, photos, prices etc. Would I stop there again? A definite yes. Place of interest?:- Pamplona of course. You could spend a few days taking in its history and if you're there from 6th July you could join in the week long festival of San Fermin. Why not join in the Encierro The running of the bulls? If you're really lucky you could get yourself gored or trampled. How nice. I think i'll take my chances on a bike. P.s. A big Hello to Kev, the owner of the Beemer in the photos. We saw him the previous evening in Ainsa, some 250 kilometres away, and somehow ended up in the same place the following night. It was a pleasure to meet you and we'll share a few beers next time i'm in Barcelona. Hasta pronto.
Cannes - Grasse - Castellane section: Done this route a few times now on the way to the Grand Canyon. Excellent ride, with good visibilty on fast corners, made for Blades and R1's. Also known as Route Napoleon.
San Remo, Taggia,Triora, Pigna, Ventimiglia, San Remo
Varying road surface, totally unsealed for small sections. Many large potholes and deformities. Some good corners and nice scenery.