All year round activities

 

 

Spring, Summer and Autumn

 

 

Hiking / walking

Cycling

Caving / potholing

Climbing/canyoning

Fishing

Horseriding

Places to visit

Winter

 

Skiing / snowboarding

Gourette

Formigal

Ski touring

Snowshoeing

Other winter activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gourette

Set in a sheltered cirque, surrounded by 6 peaks, Gourette has ample skiing for every level below expert.Revamped for the 2004/5 season, Gourette has long sweeping runs alongside rock faces, perfect for practising those huge carving turns on skis or snowboard. There is a superb new dedicated beginners' area a gondola ride up the mountain, and protected from all other pistes. For more experienced skiers there are two main areas, accessed by chairlifts and gondolas, with long pisted runs and also possibilities for off-piste skiing. Both ski hire and ski pass prices are very affordable, and in Gourette you will not waste valuable time and money waiting in endless lift queues. Off-season (any time outside Christmas/New Year and February) the slopes can be superbly uncrowded.

Resort statistics: 27 pistes - 5 green, 9 blue, 12 red, 1 black 16 lifts 100 snow cannons 1 snowpark 2 ski schools (ESF and Ecole de ski international) 2 mountain restaurants (south facing with terrace- reasonably priced). Numerous restaurants and bars in the town of Gourette.

 

 

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Artouste

Artouste is located in the high Ossau valley, on the road to the Col de Pourtalet, and Spanish border. The resort overlooks the Pyrenees National Park with truly stunning views of the Pic de Midi d'Ossau (the unusually shaped high peak of the valley, often compared to a molar tooth!) from its position high above the Artouste lake and dam.

Resort statistics 15 pistes - 1 green, 8 blues, 5 reds, 1 black 10 lifts Snow cannons Snow Park, half pipe and snowcross (Artouste holds snowboard competitions regularly throughout the season) A mountain restaurant with incredible view.

Formigal

Formigal , just over the border in Spain , within 40 minutes' drive of Aas, is an extensive resort spread over three main skiing areas, and is certainly worth a visit during your stay in the Ossau valley. Particularly as, at the border crossing, you can benefit from the cheap Spanish cigarette and alcohol prices at one of th many sales outlets. Resort statistics: 54 pistes - 4 green, 13 blue, 25 red, 12 black 22 lifts

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  Ski touring : circuits from the top of Gourette around the Pic de Ger and down into Artouste. Also around the Pic de Midi d'Ossau. Guides can be booked at the mountain guide office in Laruns.

 

 

 

 

Snowshoeing :

Escape the crowds and discover the wilderness.On your own or with a guide. Accessible for all the family- you just need a pair of walking boots or trainers.Snowshoes and poles can be hired for the day for around 6 euros. There are many trails around, ranging from flat and easy to steep and a good workout.

In the fresh snow you can make virgin tracks where nobody else has been.

A local mountain guide also organises a raquette/raclette evening - a group trip under the starlight snowshoeing up near the Spanish border followed by a traditional raclette meal in a mountain chalet. Please ask for further information.

 

 

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Other winter activities

 

Via Ferrata - ten minutes from the house

La foret suspendue (the Hanging Forest) - an assault course, high in the trees in the Gourzy forest above Eaux Bonnes.

 

Old Casino in Eaux Bonnes - tourist-office organised cultural activities

Thermal baths in Eaux Bonnes - open for swimming in mountain source waters as well as for relaxing jacuzzis and steam baths.

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Hiking / Walking

The locals hold that it would take at least a year to do all the walks in the valley. From the valley floor, meandering along the "gaves" (mountain rivers) to hiking in the high mountains and even staying overnight in the high altitude mountain huts, there is something for everyone.

A number of well-known hiking routes pass through the Ossau valley: GR10 - the trans- Pyrenean route HRP - the high trans-Pyrenean route GR65 - one of the routes on the St James' Way, leading to Santiago de Compostela.

Each season is different - from carpets of spring flowers : gentianes, azaleas and Pyrenean lilies, to the reds , yellows and russets of the fabulous autumn colours. In the summer, you can hike up to visit the local shepherds and spend a few hours learning about the age old pastoral and cheese making activities, still practised in the traditional way today. In the winter, you can use snowshoes to hike into the unspoiled mountain areas. Guides are available to accompany you, or with a local IGN map you can go it alone. Trails are all well-signposted.

 

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Cycling

On road The area is a cyclist's paradise : 11km from Aas is the Col d'Aubisque - the mythical Tour de France mountain pass. It is one of the many nearby cols to test yourself against - the Col de Marie Blanque, Col de Pourtalet, and a little further afield the Cols de Somport, Aspin , Peyresoude and Tourmalet.

Off road There are numerous circuits in the local area, and in nearby valleys. A few kilometres from Aas,there is a climb from Laruns up to the Col de Louvie, which forms part of a trans-Pyrenean mountain bike route; also in the valley towards the Pourtalet there is a breathtaking descent from the top of the Sagette cable car in Artouste to the Fabreges Lake. In the summer months, the Gourette lifts are open to carry your bike up and enjoy the downhills. The owner is a keen cyclist and would be pleased to advise you on some of the routes.

 

 

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Caving/Potholing

The area around Arudy and Laruns up to Eaux Chaudes have extensive cave systems , and this part of the Pyrenees in general is rich in cave systems, including the famous Gouffre de Pierre St Martin not too far away. Whether it is for sport or exploratory caving (geological systems or bats) the area has plenty to offer. The owner has contacts with a local caving club who would be able to provide further information, and they also sometimes organise trips for both adults and children.

 

 

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Climbing

The Ossau valley is one of the areas in the Pyrenees known for its climbing routes. The office of the bureau de guides in Laruns can provide information.

 

 

 

 

Canyoning

If you have never tried canyoning there are plenty of opportunities to do so here. Magical trips through the river beds in the valleys await you. Accessible to all levels canyons can be a pleasant walk / swim through tranquil rivers to abseiling down into faster flowing waters and jumping from rocks into the water below.

There are canyons locally in the Ossau Valley, but also just over the border in Spain there exists a canyoning wonderland of the Sierra de Guara.Recognised as one of the top canyoning destinations in Europe there is plenty to thrill everyone.

You can book guides at the bureau de Guides, or locally in Spain and hire wetsuits and any equipment from the local hireshops.

 

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Fishing

In the rivers and "gaves" of the Bearn area the waters are pure and for fly, floatless line and cast fishing, there are possibilities here that are unique in France - there are seasons for fishing, fario trout, eel, salmon, carp and many other species. Guides are available to take you to the best water courses. The Bearn tourist authorities, in association with the Regional Fishing Federation also publish a free map indicating the best fishing spots. Fish farming There are three fish farms in the valley, at Rebenacq, Castet and Laruns - you can catch, or just pick out, fario and rainbow trout and spring salmon.

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Horseriding

Pau has a famous horse racing course holding international competitions each year. There is also the opportunity for leisure horse riding, with trips available on the Benou plateau and around the lake at Bious Artigues.

 

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Places to visit

Gastronomy

Wine : the Ossau valley is the home of Jurancon wine, You can visit the vineyards and , at Gan, there are guided tours around the co-operative wine cellars, taking in the bottling lines, and offering free wine tasting.

Cheese :cheese is produced in the Ossau valley by local shepherds using traditional methods. Suggested activities : follow a cheese trail around the valleys and sample all the different varieties; see the shepherds in their summer pastures and mountain huts in the summer, and watch how they make the cheese. In Gere-Belesten, visit the Fromagerie Pardou, where they make use of an old railway tunnel to store up to 20,000 maturing cheeses. The Ossau variety of cheese is now exported to the UK and sold in Waitrose!!

Honey: Five minutes from the house, on the side of the Green Mountain, a local beekeeper produces a number of different varieties of honey : same bees, different flowers. Enjoy a free guided visit to his honey farm and see how it is produced. Free honey tasting included!

 

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