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Driving to Larrun (La Rhune) Spain

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Oct 6th, 2015, 09:30 AM
  #1
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Driving to Larrun (La Rhune) Spain

Hi all,

Really hoping for some insight here -- I can't find the answer to this question anywhere. It has to do with seeing the top of the mountain Larrun (or in French La Rhune) on the border between France and Spain in the Basque country.

I know that there is a train you can take from near Sare, France to get to the top of the mountain. It gets mixed reviews: not well organized, long waits, very touristy, etc.

We are actually more interested in driving to the top of the mountain, which it appears you can do from the Spanish side (we will be in Spain so it is not an issue for us). My question is: does anyone know if driving to the top is possible and if there is a car park up there? Any reason not to do this?

Thanks for your help!
lonetoe is offline  
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Oct 6th, 2015, 03:32 PM
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There is a secondary farm road outside of Bera (Navarra) that leads to several farms on the way to the top the mountain. This was one of the smuggling routes between Spain and France that have been around for hundreds of years. I guess you can take it if you want, but I would think twice. There's no parking and the access is restricted once you reach the top. Besides, the road (more like a goat trail) into Ascain has not been maintained for car traffic.

You can always walk up, but most people ride the train and walk back down. Takes a couple of hours.

As far as the train being "touristy", what would you expect?

>Any reason not to do this?< I guess it's not what you'd want to do if you don't like things that are "touristy", but there is only one La Rhune.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 12:02 AM
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Given the above post saying it is a track you will find your rental agreement saying that the car cannot be taken onto unsurfaced roads. So it sounds like a no go area.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 05:01 AM
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Thanks for both replies. Very helpful. I'm surprised that Spain doesn't have better access to this important natural wonder that is so important to Basque culture and straddles the border between France and Spain.

To explain the touristy comment I think it is too bad that your only options are a 6 hour round trip hike or a not very well run, kitschy sounding petite train. For example I recently visited Mount Baker and Cadillac Mountain. In both cases there are a couple of options for getting to the top, which are well organized, involve little or no queueing, and which are understated ways of allowing people who are not interested/able to undertake hiking up to appreciate these natural wonders without detracting from the experience and making it other than what it is -- a chance to see panoramic views from the top of a beautiful mountain. I'm sure the petite train has some nice aspects to it, but -- if for no other -- waiting in line for an hour or more in either direction (as some report) definitely make La Rhune less appealing to us.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 05:12 AM
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Some places should be kept a wilderness difficult access stops developments and tourists destroying the natural beauty.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 06:54 AM
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Exactly. See Mount Baker. Much more of a wilderness than La Rhune clearly.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 09:25 AM
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Different cultures, different cultural experiences, and concepts. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in the North Cascades, is a wilderness by design. And there are no three-flower villages or great restaurants anywhere near by.

La Rhune, on the other hand, is the highest point of land in the center of thriving agricutural community in the western end of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques that has outstanding views, where you can be in Navarra, the País Vasco and Pays Basque without moving two feet. And there are a number of great restaurants within 20 minutes drive of the mountain.

Besides, no one wants an endless stream of cars blocking the road during the summer, or even the winter. The area just isn't that large.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 12:04 PM
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Robert yes I do understand and agree to a point although I would note that the Les Baux summit/fort (French but not Basque culture I suppose) where I was a few years ago is handled closer to Mt Baker than to La Rhune. I guess we are just not into the train, although the idea of riding up and hiking down does sound like a decent compromise.

Thanks again for the info -- it is most helpful.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 12:12 PM
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I know several locations, along the North of Spain, where tourism has just got too much and they have had to restrict entry by cars. That also becomes a pain in the whatnot. But to preserve these areas we need it.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 01:06 PM
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If you do decide to go, then arrive early so that you can park in the lot close to the train.

If you want to do something a little more interesting, then head to Grotte de La Verna in the mountains above Sainte-Engrâce (www.laverna.fr/), on the border with Navarra. It's the largest cave in the world you can visit. It's so large that they were able to ride in a hot air balloon.

Wear something warm because it is cool inside the cave, and good shoes.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 04:26 PM
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Robert thanks so much on the Grotte de la Verna suggestion. It is actually perfect because we were thinking seriously about going to see Crevasse d'Holcarté - would you recommend that as well?

Thanks!
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Oct 7th, 2015, 05:00 PM
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Since you will be that close, then yes! But it will be difficult to do both on the same day. It's a good 40-minute drive between Sainte-Engrâce and Larrau.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 05:33 PM
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Okay thanks again for all your help.
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