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Anything we shouldn't miss south of Pau?

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Well, we are taking a sortie down from the Charente and have booked our gite in the Ossau valley south of Pau for a week in September.

Obviously there is lots of walking, chilling out, a visit to Pau, Tarbes and, maybe, Lourdes, but is there anywhere that we, as four middle aged active adults, really should see and do in the area?
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Take a cable car up to the Pic du Midi and look at the eagles flying below from your cable car where James Bond and Jaws had a punch up. 

 Forget Lourdes unless you will get something spiritual from the bassilica apart from that it really is full of tasteless tack and over priced coffee shops and pollution. 

What do you call middle aged?  I am 41 I considered that middle aged when I was in my teens but I am not quite sure now.  Anyway what about a bit of paragliding off a mountain higher that Ben Nevis?  Great fun if you are a young middle aged.  White water rafting which will be very gentle this time of year if you are on the wrong side of middle aged.

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Thanks for that KKK, will do the cable car and definitely the white- water rafting, as long as it is gentle. I fell off an inflatable raft in Greece not so long ago!

Yes, it's the first time I've admitted in print that I'm middle-aged. I'm sure I am now!
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I would recommend Lourdes for the evening procession - it's quite moving/memorable.  Of course it has its tacky souvenir shops but those have their interest too.

Personally I would do things in the mountains rather than spending too much time in the big towns, which aren't that special.

The Gorges de Kakuetta are a great little 2-hour walk. Best late morning before the crowds, though if you go midweek and not in the holidays, it should be fine any time. Nice little cafe for post-walk refreshments.

There's a great walk up from Lescun - along GR10, up to the high mountains, down again. It's in the little book Les Sentiers d'Emilie (Bearn). In fact there are lots of fantastic walks if you're into that kind of thing.

Have flexible plans - head for the mountains in good weather, but do something else if it's raining.

Spain would be a good day trip - quite different atmosphere. Go for a late lunch - maybe somewhere like Jaca - there are also interesting monsteries.

The sea (Biarritz, St Jean de Luz) is also not too far away - a couple of hours.

Travel in the mountains can be a bit slow - it usually takes an hour or so to get anywhere.

Good local sheep's cheese!




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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the delay - you can get the book either locally in bookshops or big supermarkets (Auchan in Pau, Leclerc in Oloron) or Amazon - it's called Emilie en Bearn on their website (I think it's the same book) and is around 7 euros. Other titles in the series cover other areas of France. The series is actually for kids but we didn't find many of the walks too easy... must be getting old. It's written in rather flowery French - longer on poetic appreciation, sometimes shorter on directions, but we found our way in the end. A useful feature is that as well as showing times of the walks it shows gradient, which is good if you don't feel like overdoing it.

I mentioned Gorges de Kakuetta before but in fact that may be too far west. I don't have my maps/books to hand so I'm relying on my memory. I think there are some 'Emilie' walks in the high mountains at the top of the Ossau valley which will be more convenient for you - I'm sure they are spectacular (on a clear day).

If the Emilie walks are too easy for you, you should be able to find lots of information on walks in that area on the web or in books.

Have a great time!

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  • 2 months later...
Hi - I brought this up to the top again as I'm now getting very excited. I always love our annual gite holiday and thanks to your imput this one sounds as if it will be great. I've got less than three weeks to get fit!

Katie - are the cable cars enclosed and, where is the white water rafting??

I think we have the days nicely covered depending on the weather, but are there any good restaurants (not too expensive) around which are open most evenings?
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sorry it doesnt work but if you type in the property reference 101549 into french connections website you will get the details.

£35.00 per night for the room which will sleep up to 6.  Cant be bad.  Also centre of a very pretty village.  It was nice laying in bed listening to the babbling brook, church bells and cow bells.


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Zeb - have you heard about le petit train d'artouste?  It is the

highest railway in Europe, originally built to take men and 

materials to construct a dam,  and the trip is fantastic. 

You start with a cable car ride (enclosed cars, seating four) from

Fabrèges village, by the lake (near Gabas on the D934).  Then you

take the little train, through a short tunnel and then along the side

of the mountain with great views down into the valley; it takes about

an hour and then there is a 20-minute walk uphill to the Lac

d'Artouste.  Coming back is the same in reverse.  Best to

arrive at Fabrèges in good time for lunch (picnic? though there are

snack bars etc) so you can make the most of the trip.  I think it

costs around €18 for an adult and €14 for a child but I am not

absolutely sure.  All our visitors have rated it their best outing

of the holiday.


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  • 4 weeks later...
Well I have just joined this site and could not resist replying. We moved to France on 01/08/06 living in a little village south west of Pau, just outside the town of Oloron Sainte Marie, which is worth a visit with its old and new parts of the town and a fabulous tourist information office where you can find everything you want to know about the area. There is also Navarrenx, only a small town but the oldest walled town in France (so I have been told) which is steeped in history. If you are not already on your holidays, I really hope you have a great time.[:D]
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Thanks everyone - we had a fantastic time and managed to fit in many of the trips you recommended.

The gite (3 epi GdF in Asson) was lovely - the furniture must have been worth a fortune and we were very careful with it!

Now to start house hunting!!
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