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Pyrenees villages sth of Lourdes

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I am putting together an Itinerary for later next year with the intention of staying 5 nights near Cauterets.
I will be hiking Cirque Gavarnie and driving a few of the Cols while staying here. The rest of the time will be visiting villages in the region. I had a look at villages on the way to the vallee d'aspe but viamichellin route planner indicates more than 2 hours between Cauterets to Sarrance and would think this would be two much to return back to my accommodation on the same day. If anyone has any recommendation of villages near Cauterets or the to west of Cauterets it would be appreciated.


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    Saint Savin is, I think, in the wrong direction if the aim id Sarrance.

    Your problem is that lots of these routes don't link with each other, so to have to do a lot of toing and froing.

    Is this just to find a pretty place to stay in the mountains, or does it need to be near Sarrance? Or is it for hiking?

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    This is from my Pays Basque itinerary:

    Into the Haute Pyrenees, with an overnight in "one of those lovely, picturesque little villages".

    I would only do this "overnight" on a clear day - with as few clouds as possible. Perhaps wake up early in the morning, gauge the weather, and if it is clear - call one of the hotels mentioned below to reserve a room. Then "head out" on this lovely trip through the Pyrenees. Get an early start (see below comment) so the sun will be at your back for the most scenic part of the drive.

    It is our experience that there are fewer clouds in the mornings than in the afternoons when clouds seem to gather in the mountains. So try to drive over the following mountain passes (cols) as early as possible. If you get to the Col du Tourmalet and it is cloudy - drive back over the col again the next morning.

    A portion of this drive follows the same route as #12 above. So if you decide to follow this overnight trip into the Haute Pyrenees - don't do #12.

    This drive consists of a 2 hr 20 min drive on the A64 Autoroute, then a 2 1/2 hr extremely scenic/picturesque drive over two of the most famous mountain passes in the Pyrenees to a lovely village with a "quaint" hotel/restaurant. Then a 2 hr walking/ski lift exploration to the Pont d'Espagne*** - one of our favorite spots in the Pyrenees. The Pont d'Espagne could be visited the afternoon you arrive in the region, or the next morning. Then it is a scenic 5 hr drive back to Sare along some of the roads described in #12.

    My wife & I stayed in the Haute Pyrenees for 2 weeks in 2012 & loved the area. We never got tired of just driving around in the mountains and admiring them at different times in the day - in full sunlight and in clouds. We stayed in the little village of Gaillagos at the eastern foot of the fabulous Col d'Aubisque**.

    Leave Sare and get on the A63 at Exit #3, and then take the A64 east. Get off the A64 at Exit #16 and take the D924A to the interesting village of Arreau. It should take you about 2 hrs 50 mins to get to Arreau from Sare. Explore Arreau, and if it is time for lunch - have lunch there by the river (but remember about the clouds in the afternoon). Next, drive west on the D918 over the Col d'Aspin***. At the Col (highest point on the road), get out of the car and wander around & admire the scenery and grazing horses, cattle, and sheep. Remember - much of the Pyrenees is "free-grazing" and the animals have the right-of-way. You might encounter a cow sleeping on the road you are trying to drive on, or even a troupeau (herd) of sheep "blocking" the entire road. You'll have to be patient until the troupeaux travel off the road, before you can get by The horses can get a little rambunctious - so don't approach them. We saw a tourist trying to get close to a horse, and the horse clearly didn't like it at all!!!

    At Ste Marie de Campan in the summer you'll see displays of hay-stuffed costumed life-size "dolls" portraying "daily life" - a potter, two people sitting at a cafe, and other similar scenes. Drive through Ste Marie slowly. Then take the D918 west over the famous Col du Tourmalet**. If you follow the Tour de France at all - you will be familiar with this col. When you actually reach the col, get out of the car, admire the views, cows, sheep & horses. Have your picture taken under the statue of the bike rider "huffing & puffing" his way up the col. There will probably be many other people/bikers hanging around the col. Perhaps ask one of them if you can borrow their bike & have them take a picture of you under the statue. We did this (corny as it sounds).

    Now descend the Col du Tourmalet and drive north on the D921 through the scenic Gorge de Luz to your hotel.

    We dined at two very nice restaurants, which are also hotels in the Vercos mountain region in the Pyrenees. They are close to each other - both just south of Argeles Gazost. The first one is La Grange aux Marmottes in Viscos (population 44). . The second one is Les Viscos in St Savin (population 372). .

    On this day or the next morning, visit the fabulous Pont d'Espagne*** - which is a short drive from your hotel. It is just south of Cauterets* - which is a charming "Belle Epoque" alpine town. Though Cauterets is less of a tourist mecca than it was in times past, you can still see and appreciate its "glory days" and many of the grand old hotels have been converted into apartments. Get to the Pont d'Espagne by driving through the Val de Jeret**. You can read about the Pont d'Espagne in the Michelin Green Guide for the Languedoc - but there really is no "trick" to visiting this spot. Just drive there, wander around and admire the scenery, the convergence of two rivers, and the rushing waters. The force of the raging waters is remarkable - quite deafening when you are close by. Go up the ski lift to the mountain lake, and perhaps have lunch or a drink at the restaurant by the lake. The Pont d'Espagne is a "don't miss" in this region. Between Cauterets and the Pont d'Espagne, you'll pass one of our favorite restaurants in the region - L'Abri du Benques. There is a magnificent water cascade next to the restaurant - you'll hear it before you spot it.

    To drive back to Sare, head towards Argeles-Gazost and then take the D918 over the Col du Soulor and then over the fabulous Col d'Aubisque**. We drove over this col 4-5 times while we stayed in a gite in Gaillagos. It is very scenic - perhaps our favorite. At the end of the col, you will arrive in Eaux-Bonnes. My wife loved the "old" hotels in this spa town. Continue on to Laruns.

    Now, check your watch. It is about a 3 3/4 hr scenic drive back to Sare from Laruns. If you did not visit the Pont d'Espagne today and you got an early start this morning - perhaps you have 4 hours available to take a gondola trip, then a tiny train up higher into the Pyrenees with lovely views of snow-covered mountain peaks. From Laruns, take the D934 south. When you get to the smaller D431, take it north to the Gondola starting place. Take the Gondola, and then the very scenic train to La Sagette. The most scenic views are from the left side of the train going up. At the termination of the train trip, you have the option of walking to Lac d’Ayous, but we did not take this trek – most people on the train did not either. This entire gondola/train trip will probably consume 3-4 hours, but it is well worth it.

    From Laruns, head north on the D934, If you want to stretch your legs - Bielle* is a nice visit. Then head west on the very pretty D294. If you have an extra 1 1/2 hrs to spare, take the N134 south toward Lescun* for a visit. There is a marvelous walking path above town (look for the dirt road before you get to town). This path has restful, magnificent views. We took a break along this path, sat on a bench, & simply "took in" the scenery.

    If you don't have the 1 1/2 extra hours to visit Lescun, at the N134 drive north to the D918 and take the D918 (you've been on the D918 quite a bit these last 2 days) all the way towards Tardets-Sorholus. Just before Tardets, take the D26 south to Larrau, then the D19 west over the scenic Col Bagargui*, then the pretty D18 to St Jean Pied de Port. Then back to Sare.

    Stu Dudley

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    Will add Saint Savin to the list, Thanks


    I will be picking up a car in Bordeaux and arrive in the Pyrenees most likely on the same day. The main attractions on the list are Gavarnie with a full day hiking, drives taking in col du tourmalat and col d'aubisque, Pont d'Espagne, and another days walking. I usually add an extra day when visiting an area to account for a bad day of rain. The preceding info would account for at least 4 full days and some driving time heading back towards Bordeaux.
    You hit the nail on the head with your info about roads not linking directly between the places I mentioned, hence my question.
    I was looking at staying at a nice place in the mountains, but is not a must if the itinerary is altered to encompass a wider area of site seeing.
    I could add an extra night before Cauterets to give time in the Vallee d'Aspe. There are some quite nice villages around there I believe. Cauterets area accommodation was chosen initially as it seemed central to my initial plans.

    Muchly appreciated for the detailed itinerary and will be reading this in detail. Any chance of emailing yourself for the full Pays Basque Itinerary?
    With regards to the weather, can I ask what time of year you visited?

    Thanks in advance

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    >>Any chance of emailing yourself for the full Pays Basque Itinerary?<<

    Sure - [email protected]

    >>With regards to the weather, can I ask what time of year you visited?<<

    Several visits;

    Pays Basque first 2 weeks in September. Several very rainy days.

    Sauternes 4 nights, Pays Basque 2 weeks, Cauterets area 2 weeks, Foix area 1 week - late June & early July. It was quite cloudy/overcast for about 60% of the days. Some rain too. This was in 2012.

    Eastern Pyrenees near Foix for 3 nights, then 2 weeks near Ceret in early June. Beautiful weather.

    Stu Dudley

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    I was going to suggest Arreau- see Stu's trip report. There's not much about Campan except the manouques- it's pretty enough, but basically ribbon development along the road.

    I quite like Saint Lary Soulan, although it is full of tourist tat shops. There's a town whose name is escaping me- I'm going to have to look it up when I get home...

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    HelloStu Dudley
    Re; the weather , Sounds like more of a chance of rain than the Provence region. My trip will be late August early Sept
    I have popped you an email regarding the itinerary
    Thanks again

    Hello sheila
    Arreau looks really nice. Hopefully my altered Itinerary includes Saint Lary Soulan aswell.
    Thanks again

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