A gorgeous region providing the greatest possible contrasts and a superb location for a memorable holiday in the South of France. Biarritz, Labenne, Messanges and Biscarrosse all offer the majestic surf of the Atlantic coast; while beautiful Luz St Sauveur, just a couple of hours away by car, enjoys a location right up in the splendid Pyrénées mountain range and nestled on the edge of the Pyrénées National Park, which offers wonderful views and splendid hiking and cycling country.
Yet whether you visit the Atlantique Pyrénées or Haute Pyrénées, there is no escaping the fact that this is Basque country, and you will find many reminders of the language and culture here, particularly in Biarritz and Labenne, where Basque strongman events and high speed games of Pelota or Grande Chistera are often to be found.
The coastal resorts here, while busy in high season, all offer a considerable level of refinement. Biarritz in particular, which was transformed from a fishing village to a seaside resort by Napoleon in honour of the Empress Eugenie, offers a faded grandeur that is hard to match elsewhere. The entire coast also benefits from superb Atlantic waves, making this a favourite haunt of surfers, as well as chic Parisians escaping city life.
Airotel Pyrénées in Luz St Saveur, on the other hand, offers clear mountain air, splendid walking, and the magnificent backdrop of the high Pyrénées themselves. It also offers you traditional french mountain fare, with good beef and Brébis cheese much to the fore.
While out on the coast, the style is very much a la Basquaise, with plenty of seafood, often served in a rich tomato and pepper sauce and washed down with the excellent local rosé.
For more holiday locations in France take a look at our campsites in France section for further information.
It goes without saying that camping in the French Pyrénées puts a great deal of beautiful scenery on your doorstep; but there’s more to enjoy here than simply picture postcard views:
Famous for a simple peasant girl’s visions of the Virgin Mary, today’s Lourdes is a major site of pilgrimage. However, whether you are one of the faithful or not, the Chateau Fort de Lourdes and Basilica of the Rosary are very much worth seeing.
Grottes de Betharram
Some 15km from Lourdes at Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre, you will find the wonderful Grottes de Betharram. Considered some of the most interesting caves in Europe, the guided tour includes short boat and train rides.
Some 20km from Lourdes, Cauterets is a small ski and spa town offering good access to the Pyrénées National Park. It is also home to several very good Thermes, where you can enjoy the warm, sulphurated waters and a number of spa treatments.
Lac du Gaube
Accessible from both Cauterets and the Pont d’Espagne, a hilly trail takes you through lovely scenery to the gorgeous Lake Gaube, which nestles in between the mountains of this famous hiking and skiing area.
Pic du Midi Observatory
Whether you wish to try a little star-gazing or simply watch the sun go down over the mighty Pyrénées before enjoying dinner here, it is worth taking the cable car to the top of the Pic du Midi. At almost 10,000ft, the views are spectacular.
Luz St Saveur
A popular ski resort in Winter, Luz St Saveur is also well worth visiting in Summer, as besides the spectacular views, it offers a host of facilities including a cinema, theatre, shops, bars and restaurants.
If you’re happy to travel a little further afield, Biarritz makes for a splendid day trip. In addition to the attractive lighthouse and lovely church of St Eugenie, Biarritz offers good beaches and excellent seafood restaurants, especially by the old port.
Parc Animalier des Pyrénées
Situated in Argeles Gazost, the park is home to a host of animals in their natural habitats, including bears, wolves, chamois, marmots, lynx, roe-deer, otters, foxes and squirrels. A delight, especially for younger campers
Asson lies between Pau and Lourdes, and the zoo here is home to more than 500 animals, many of which get to roam around this lovely 5 hectare site. As with many zoos today, kids will also get to learn all about conservation here.
La Foret Suspendue
The Hanging Forest in Eaux Bonnes is a high ropes course through the trees of the Gourzy Forest. There is a mini course for those of four years and above, but the real thrills are reserved for the over-14s.
Walking & Hiking
Snow-covered in Winter, the Pyrénées are a walker’s paradise in the summer months, with pleasant walks from most ski areas, and the GR10 trail and HRP (High Pyrenean Route) for more ambitious walkers.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
It goes without saying that this is a hilly area and serious touring by bike requires a good level of fitness. However, mountain bikes are available for hire across the area, and there are several Tour de France cols for keen road cyclists.
White Water Rafting
With so much snow-melt and rainwater coming off the mountains, there are plenty of places to try out white water rafting here, including Cauterets, Luz St Saveur and Gavarnie.
The Pyrénées offers fishing in tranquil rivers such as the Ourse, while the Gave d’Oloron is a famous salmon river. Just make sure that you have acquired your permit or Carte de Peche from the local tackle shop or tourist office first.
Jazz a Luz
For more than 20 years, the high level town of Luz St Saveur has enjoyed a few days of Jazz every July, with a variety of styles from across Europe on display amidst these lovely mountains.
Jazz in Marciac
Held on the rugby pitch of the little bastide town of Marciac, the two- week festival, which is held annually in mid-August now enjoys international renown and attracts some of the biggest names in world Jazz.
Tour de France
The Pyrénées area is home to several mountain stages on the Tour de France, and while dates change from year to year, you will find action in the Luz-Ardiden, Lourdes and Plateau de Belle areas in mid July.
In common with most mountainous areas, the cuisine of the Pyrénées tends towards the hearty side, though you will also find a number of Basque dishes on the menu here:
A paradise for nature lovers, this is the perfect place from which to discover the wonders of the Pyrénées, enjoying the lovely local town of Luz St Sauveur and many walks nearby.
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