Up until last year one of my favourite areas of France was the Alps, however last year we spent four nights at a b&b at Beaucens close to Lourdes in the Haute Pyrenees and my views changed! Often we go somewhere and say that we hope to go back – last year we said we must go back and so booked seven nights at the same b&b this year. It is without question one of the very best places we have stayed over the years. The house is lovely and the rooms (only 3) are very well done. The location is ideal for exploring the area. The view from the windows and from the terrace where breakfast is taken, is stunning. However the jewels here are Henri & Ione. Ione bakes each morning for the breakfast and has great home made jams on the table. Henri (whose family has lived in the small hamlet for literally centuries) is extremely knowledgeable about the area and very happy to share his knowledge (& maps). They are both charming and good company. Last year and this year we were fortunate to have very good company in the shape of the other guests around – this year a Scottish couple and a French couple both of whom were interesting and entertaining. The conversations around the table on the terrace with these people and Henri and Ione could not have been planned and were a great part of the holiday. It is a place that we would be sad if we were not able to return to soon.
Having said that it is well placed for the area we explored some of the major sites last year with the help of Henri & Ione. In particular the Cirque de Gavarnie is a remarkable site and geographic feature. Equally Lac de Gaube and Pont d’Espagne are rightly major tourist attractions. This year we looked at the Cirque de Troumouse, Gavarnie’s less well known neighbour. The scale of the cirque is remarkable – the edge is 11km long. Standing in it you see a dot in the distance and then realise it is actually a person. The valley surrounded by the cirque is surprisingly high with much of it over 2000m high. There were a few people there but walking a little way meant we saw few people at all close for the whole day. Alpine choughs & Izards were just a couple of the interesting species we saw together with some nice alpine flowers even at this time of year.
The Marcadau valley is known as one of the most beautiful in the Pyrenees and we spent a day walking in it. After the first 15 minutes or so we hardly saw anyone at all. It was a lovely alpine valley, at times quite wide and at other times the valley narrowed & the stream went over quite large waterfalls (although nothing like those at Pont d’Espagne lower down the valley). We watched marmots there for a while too – it really was lovely.
By way of a complete contrast we took the téléphérique up the Pic du Midi to a height of 2883m. The day was clear and bright and the views were quite simply stunning.
There is plenty more to do and see in the area and I have a lot of other pictures of the area.