Press Info: 7 May 2013
Summer 2013 in the Hautes-Pyrénées- France
What not to miss!
The Hautes-Pyrénées, between France and Spain, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, perfect for a summer holiday, from city and spa, to outdoor adventure, cultural and spiritual breaks.
Pilgrims for hundreds of years have visited Lourdes in search of spirituality. Each year, almost 6 million visitors from over 140 countries come to share stories and hopes of cure, in this small mountain town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, where in 1858 a young girl named Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary appear eighteen times in a cave near the river. Now the second most visited town in France, after Paris, Lourdes manages to retain peaceful corners and offers stunning historical sights such as the Notre Dame du Rosaire – a Romano-Byzantine masterpiece, adorned with beautiful Venetian mosaics.
NEW 9- 12 May 2013FrenchMountain biking championships hit Lourdes on the Pic du Jer above the town. Heavily contested, one of four main French mountain biking events (also Oz en Oisans, Les Menuires and Méribel).
Cauterets & Pont d’Espagne
One of the most visited sites in the Pyrénées, of great natural beauty. From the village of Cauterets take footpaths into the middle of a remarkable natural world – dense forests, waterfalls, rushing streams, mountain lakes, flower filled meadows. There is much flora and fauna to be observed, including the heavily protected chamois. Despite its distance from the Spanish border, Pont d’Espagne owes its name to the fact that it is on an ancient mule route across the border. The end of the valley is marked by the highest peak in the French Pyrénées – the Vignemale, at 3298m.
50 million years ago in the Pyrénées, water and glacial erosion created a number of natural ‘cirques’ with remarkable perfection. Gavarnie is the most famous and the most spectacular with 16 summits of over 3000 metres and the highest waterfall in Europe, a magnificent beauty.
This once hidden area «resembles nothing that is found anywhere else» wrote Victor Hugo. Adjoining the great canyons of Aragon in Spain it is part of the ‘Gavarnie – Mont Perdu’ World Heritage site.
NEW – the road between the Col des Tents and Col de Boucharo which has been closed to traffic for fifteen years will now be transformed into a walking trail accessible for all. The 2200 m long trail will reach the Spanish border and the site of Mont Perdu, a registered World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
At 2877 metres above sea-level, the Pic du Midi is the most exceptional place to view the complete panorama of the Pyrénées and the plains of SW France. The highest observatory in Europe, the Pic du Midi, founded in 1880 offers fantastic opportunities to astronomers, stargazers and scientists alike.
Sleep the night in the Observatory and mountain bike down at sunrise. 1800m descent.
NEW – for 2013 Pic du Midi will be awarded the RICE label –“Internationale de Ciel Etoilé” for its clean air and stability of atmosphere. This has been a four year project to reduce night pollution in the Pyrenees National Park, the nature reserve and at Pic du Midi. Nature reserve wardens have been appointed ‘guardians of the stars’.
Road Biking Events
7 July 2013 – 100th Tour de France– the 9th stage takes cyclists from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, 165km. 13 passes are regularly used by the Tour de France, the Hautes-Pyrénées is famous for its cycling, great roads, big climbs. The Col du Tourmalet is the most climbed of all the cols in the Tour de France.
7 September 2013 – The Spanish bike race the Vuelta comes to the Hautes-Pyrenees for the first time in 10 years. As a tribute to the Tour de France the 15th stage ends at Peyragudes after 164km of racing.
Mountain Biking –the slopes of the Hautes- Pyrénées in winter turn into a mountain bike playground in summer. Trails, parks, courses for all levels and ages, from the beginner park at St Lary with its chairlift access to ten runs, to the Pic du Jer mountain above the town of Lourdes.
Ride Tourmalet by mountain bike – 200km loop, 5650m vertical through the Val d’Azun valley, via the Col du Tourmalet – a sports loop through the valleys. 3- 6 days as preferrred.
3 nights/4 days, maps, trail and book from £380pp
Hiking – it is unlimited! 300Km of Pyrenean peaks, the Great South Plains and the foothills of the Pyrénées include the well known GR10 past stunning waterfalls and lakes; the Ordesa-Mont, A UNESCO sight of canyons and peaks; or spend a week traversing the French Spanish boarder between the Pyrénées National Park and the Aragonese Teva Valley.
Paragliding & Festival – the Hautes- Pyrénées provide the perfect backdrop for paragliding. Between 23 and 29 June, 125 of the best paragliders in the world will fly between St Lary Soulan and Bagneres-de Luchon in a week long paragliding festival. www.pyreneesopen.ffvl.fr
Mountain Climbing – Gavarnie offers some of the best climbing in the World. A UNESCO site offering the most natural climbing arena. Incredibly sculpted limestone walls, more than 3000m summits and huge waterfalls, this site is recognized as a mecca for climbing in the Hautes- Pyrénées.
Trail Running & Event
22-25 August 2013 – Founded in 2008 with 200 runners, now ‘Le Grand Raid’ anticipates 1000+ runners for 2013 from 22 different countries. 10,000ft of elevation gain, 10 cols to cross with some of the biggest names in ultra running taking part.
NEW – for 2013, three different levels, Le Raid 240km, The Ultra – 160km and Le Grand – 80km
Plus Canyoning, Bungee jumping at Luz Saint Saveur, hot air ballooning and via ferrata at Gavarnie
Our Food and Wine:
A Day at Chateau Montus – one of the best Madiran wine producers of the Pyrénées, frequently in the World’s top 20 wines. Elegant and modern wine produced by one of the best winemakers in the world, Alain Brumont. Wine tours and wine tasting sessions with viewing points from treehouses around his vineyards towards the Pyrenean peaks. Wine tourism at its best!
NEW – for 2013, enjoy a day of wine tasting, to include lunch with three wines and a experts from the vineyard to discuss each wine. Overnight at the renovated ‘Priory’. From £104pp
The Hautes- Pyrénées have a strong culinary identity, three of its best known products are:
Porc Noir de Bigorre
Noir de Bigorre pork almost disappeared but a return to authentic values in food means it is present today on all the best tables and in fine grocery stores. The pigs are raised in complete freedom for a minimum of a year, and matured over 18 months, the meat has an incredible subtlety and a superb taste. The cured ham is finely marbled with a surprising sheen: www.noirdebigorre.com
The Haricot Tarbais, originally from the new world, this little ivory coloured bean was introduced from Mexico by Christopher Columbus and by the end of the nineteenth century more than 3000 tons
were being produced. More recently its production declined dramatically but its existence was saved by a handful of devotees leading to the attribution of Label Rouge status in 1997 and IGP in 2000. It is eaten in salads, in ‘garbure’, a Pyrenean soup/broth and in the cassoulet! www.haricot-tarbais.com
Bareges – Gavarnie Lamb (AOC)
The rustic and hardy Barégeoise race, once near extinction, has been saved due to the passionate work of a few local farmers. The finely marbled meat preserves all the flavours of the mountains especially liquorice and thyme, the very localised production area of the Pays Toy means a only limited quantity can be produced: www.aoc-bareges-gavarnie.com
NEW-2013 – The reintroduction of the Ibex to the Hautes- Pyrénées. Known since the middle ages but last seen in the French Pyrénées in 1910, the Ibex was hunted for their horns and for their meat.
The Hautes-Pyrénées offers the largest number of thermal spas more than any other region in France and are a must for visitors to the region.
NEW At Aquensis – “footprints of the Pyrénées” – full body treatment massage echoing the movements of animals, birds and fish found in the mountains
NEW At Balnea – ‘The Big Blue’ Experience. A new sensory experience for the Balnea spa, listen via sound transmitted via your mouth and teeth (not ears) to the soundtrack from the film ‘The Big Blue’.
NEW at Jardin des Bains – Five new treatment rooms open with special products in a new ‘garden range’ plus new ‘Monsoon’ treatments including rice scrubs, rose water rinses and jasmine and ylang ylang massage.
Experience ‘7 spas in 7 days’ with the ‘grand spa’ pas incl. seven night hotel stays from £495pp
Our Culture, a taste of events:
Piano au Pic Festival & Grand Tourmalet– 16-26 July 2013
The city of Bagneres-de-Bigorre is the centre of a week of music with the highlight being a grand piano transported by helicopter playing on 23 July 2013 at the top of the Pic du Midi at 2877m by pianist Pierre Reach in a truly astonishing setting. www.piano-pic.com
Équestria – Tarbes 23-28 July 2013
300 horses and 500 artists gather in Tarbes, in the Hautes- Pyrénées, for the international festival, Équestria. With performances during the day and night, horses create magical shows, almost like dance.
The finest of the European equestrian scene including Lucien Gruss, Luis Valencia, Lorenzo, the Centaur Theatre, Magali Delgado gather at the stunning venue surrounded by century old trees and architecture from the colonial era. www.festivalequestria.com
Tarbes en tango – 17-25 August 2013
The International Festival ‘Tarbes en Tango’ offers nine days of dance and music for all, beginners or experts. Showcasing internationally renowned Maestros – Argentine tango shows specially created for Tarbes, orchestras with international reputations all creating lots and lots of possibilities to dance –from milongas (dance nights) to apero-tango on the terraces of the local cafes into the early hours!
How and Where
The Hautes-Pyrénées are extremely easy to get to
By train to Tarbes (TGV) from Paris.
By car on the A64, 10-11 hours from Calais.
By plane – three airports – Lourdes – Ryanair, Pau –Cityjet, Toulouse – British Airways
London to Lourdes in just 1.5hrs and all the key ‘sites’ less than an hour from Lourdes.
All holiday offers and full details on www.pyrenees-holiday.com
For further information, images or press visits this summerto the Hautes-Pyrénées please contact:
Travel & Outdoor PR Consultant
00 44 7957 618525