Béarn and Bigorre have the most beautiful passes of the Pyrenees: Tourmalet, Soulor, Aspin, Aubisque, Peyresourde … Names that Tour de France fans will know well.
This tour offers the chance to discover the most beautiful passes of the Pyrenees but also the gorges, cirques and pretty towns where life is good: Bagnères-de-Luchon and Lourdes.
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Your tour begins in Pau, the historic capital of the province. In order to prepare your day’s itinerary, be sure you to walk the Boulevard des Pyrénées. Built on a terrace above the valley, it offers a magnificent view of the Pyrenees, from the Pic du Midi de Bigorre to the Pic d’Anie, with the Pic du Midi d’Ossau as the star of the show. The plaques affixed to the terrace railings describe the summits opposite with details of their respective altitudes. The other obligatory stop is the Château de Pau, built by Gaston Phébus in the 14th century.
Leave the town by taking the road south, on the N134, towards Oloron-Ste-Marie and Saragosse. At the Larruns exit, turn right to explore the first pass of the day: the Col d’Aubisque followed by the Col du Soulor , before the descent to Argelès-Gazost.
After the pass, the corniche carved into the cliff provides beautiful views across the Ferrieres Valley and Bearn plain. Dominating for several hundred metres, the Cirque du Litor is a cornice of the Pyrenees, and one of the most daring road achievements of the 19th century!
Next, is the descent to Argeles-Gazost, a small spa town overlooking the valley of the Gave de Pau with a great view from the Terrasse des Etrangers.
Follow in the direction of Luz-St-Sauveur. At the Pierrefitte-Nestalas exit the road leads into the sombre Gorge de Luz and then steers you towards the Col du Tourmalet and its remarkable panorama before continuing on to the Col d’Aspin.
Head down to the spa town of Bagneres, where you can spend the night
MyTripTailor Advice: take note, the col d’Aubisque is generally closed to snow between November and June
Leave Bagneres early in the morning for a short detour to Saint-Beat and the road to the Col du Portet-d’Aspet.
Once in Montrejeau, take the small departementale road to Saint-Laurent-de-Neste: the D938 will take you to Bagneres-de-Bigorre.
After a few kilometers on small mountain roads, more fun than the main valley roads, you arrive in Lourdes where you can eat.
Spend the afternoon exploring the sites of Betharram, another lesser-known pilgrimage location. On one side is a sanctuary and, on the other, caves containing five levels of phantasmagorically decorated settings formed by concretions of an underground river.
Towards the end of the day, head to Nay, a bastide founded in 1302 which now houses a Beret Museum (the original Bearnaise version, not the Basque!) Then return at the end of the day to Pau.
MyTripTailor Tip : Always check the weather forecast the day before heading out to the mountains and always plan on warm clothing, even in summer.
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