Pyrenees Attractions

The Pyrenees, which separate France from Spain, extend for a distance of some 450km/280mi between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Roughly a third of their area lies within France, with the French-Spanish frontier generally following the crest of the range. With peaks rising to over 3,000 m/9,800ft, the Pyrenees fall little short of the Alps in grandeur.

Gavarnie, France

GavarnieGavarnie
This little mountain village - Gavarnie - (alt. 1,357 m/4,452ft; pop. 164), a good base for walks and climbs in the mountains, is popular with visitors in summer who are attracted particularly by the imposing Cirque de Gavarnie. This is reached by taking the path which runs past the Hôtel du Cirque and follows the stream to the head of the valley; the walk takes about an hour. The Cirque is surrounded by sheer rock walls rising to over 3,000 m/9,800ft and by numerous waterfalls. The Grande Cascade, which has its source in Spanish territory, is the highest waterfall in Europe, with a drop of 422 m/1,385ft. Nearby, at a height of 2,804 m/,9200ft, is the Brèche de Roland, a 100 m/330ft deep gash in the rocks which legend claims was hewn by Roland with his sword Durandal.
The village church dates from the 14th C.

La Mongie

La MongieLa Mongie
La Mongie (alt. 1,800 m/5,900ft), 4km/2.5mi below the Col du Tourmalet and 25km/15mi from Bagnères-de-Bigorre, is one of the leading Pyrenean winter sports resorts, well equipped with lifts and cableways.
Northwest of La Mongie is the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2,865m/9,400ft), which commands magnificent views.

St Bertrand de Comminges

St Bertrand de CommingesSt Bertrand de Comminges

On a hill above the Garonne lies St-Bertrand-de-Comminges (alt. 446 m/1,465ft; pop. 248), a half deserted village with an interesting past. It was the site of the Roman town of Lugdunum Convenarum, which at one time had a population of 60,000 and was the place of banishment of Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias, who feature in the story of Christ's Passion.

Excavations have brought to light the forum, a temple, baths, a theater, an amphitheater and many other buildings. The Galerie du Trophée, housed in a former Benedictine abbey, displays statues of the first and second century A.D. The Romanesque church of Notre-Dame, begun in 1120, was completed in Gothic style in 1350; it has 16th C. choir-stalls and a fine organ (restored). In the little Romanesque cloister (on right) is a famous pillar with figures of the four Evangelists.

The Musée de Comminges contains Gallo-Roman antiquities.

In the neighboring village of Valcabrère is the little church of St-Just-et-St-Pasteur (11th-12th C.).

Nearby are the Grottes de Gargas, with prehistoric rock paintings and hand impressions.

Comminges Festival

This annual six-week festival runs from mid-July to early September and includes over 20 performances. Events range from symphonic and chamber concerts to piano and organ recitals, while the repertoire also varies from classical to contemporary.
Numerous young composers are invited to perform at Comminges, and often their works include the use of the 1774 Kroll harpsichord or the 400-year-old organ in the Cathedral of St Marie.
Other venues include St Bertrand Cathedral, the St Gaudens Collegiale and the St Just of Valcabrère Basilica.

Font Romeu, France

Font RomeuFont Romeu
The climatic and winter sports resort of Font Romeu (alt. 1,800 m/5,900ft), renowned for its sunny situation, was established in 1920, and now has a population of 3,200. The skiing area offers a varied range of terrain, and the resort is surrounded by extensive forests, making it a good center for walkers and climbers. Between the neighboring villages of Odeillo and Via is a solar power station run by the Conseil National de la Recherche Scientifique which came into operation in 1969. In the Ermitage is a miracle-working figure of the Virgin, the Vierge de l'Invention (pilgrimages on third Sunday after Whitsun, Aug. 15 and Sept. 8). Near the Ermitage is a beautiful Calvary from the top of which there is a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains.
From Belvédère 2000, a viewpoint 6km/4mi from Font-Romeu, there are (in clear weather) breathtaking views.

Mas d'Azil Cave

The little river Arize and the road run through the cave of Mas d'Azil, 410m/450yd long and up to 50m/165ft wide, situated at an altitude of 310m/1,015ft. Visitors can see prehistoric rock drawings and various objects discovered in the cave. The Musée de la Préhistoire is informative on the history of the area.
The cave was inhabited during the last ice age by animals including bears, mammoths and woolly rhinoceros. According to weapons, tools and artwork found in the cave, man lived there during the Magdalenian and Azilian periods. The cave has also been used for refuge by the Christians during the first centuries, by the Cathars during the Abligensian Crusade and the Protestants during the siege of 1625.
Visitors can drive right through the cave.

Moissac, France

MoissacMoissac
Moissac (pop. 12,326) lies on a lateral canal of the Garonne and on the Tarn, which flows into the Garonne 4km/2.5mii below the town. In the north of the town is the church of St-Pierre (12th and 15th C.), which belonged to a Benedictine abbey founded in the seventh C. and dissolved in 1790. On its south side is a magnificent Romanesque doorway (12th C.), with rich sculptural decoration - the finest in southern France. On the north side of the church is a cloister (11th-13th C.), which also ranks as one of the finest in France. The former Abbot's Lodging now houses the Musée Moissagais (folk art). From the tower there are fine views of the picturesque old town and the surrounding area.

Pau, France

PauPau
Pau (alt. 207 m/680ft; pop. 82,300), chief town of the département of Pyrénées- Atlantiques, is magnificently situated on a plateau above the valley of the Gave de Pau. It is a climatic resort popular in both summer and winter as well as an important economic center.
Originally a village which grew up round a hunting lodge of the Counts of Béarn, it developed into a town which became the capital of Béarn in 1464. It was the residence of Jeanne d'Albret, queen of Navarre and a convert to Protestantism, whose son became king of France as Henry IV. The town, which had barely 8,000 inhabitants at the end of the 18th C., was "discovered" by British visitors in the 1820s and thereafter developed rapidly.
The Bernadotte Museum is devoted to Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, later king of Sweden, who was a native of Pau.

Château

Between the Château in Pau and the Parc Beaumont runs the Boulevard des Pyrénées, just under 2km/1.5mi long, which was laid out on the orders of Napoleon and affords magnificent views of the Pyrenees.
The Château, originally a fortified castle of the 14th C., was rebuilt in the 16th C. as a Renaissance palace. There have been many subsequent additions; the entrance hall is modern.
The main features of the Château are its fine tapestries and the apartments of Jeanne d'Albret and Henry IV. It contains two museums, the Musée National du Château (interior decoration, tapestries, works of art of the time of Henry IV) and the Musée Béarnais (crafts, history, folk art).
Address: 2 Rue du Château, F-64000 Pau, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts

The Pau Musée des Beaux-Arts is of more than regional importance, with pictures by Tintoretto, El Greco, Rubens and Degas.
Address: Rue Mathieu-Lalanne, F-64000 Pau, France

Montauban, France

MontaubanMontauban

Montauban (pop. 52,600), chief town of the département of Tarn-et-Garonne, is beautifully situated on the river Tarn. It was a Protestant stronghold during the 16th C. wars of religion. From the fortified bridge (1304-1348) there is a good view of the town.

Other features of interest are the arcaded Place Nationale (18th C.), the church of St-Jacques (14th-15th C.), with a fine Gothic tower, and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (1732), which contains a painting by Ingres, "Louis XIII's Vow".

Ingres Museum

At the east end of the bridge, in the former Bishop's Palace (17th C.), is the Ingres Museum, with an important collection of pictures, including in particular over 4,000 drawings by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), and sculpture by Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1921).
Address: 13, rue de I'hôtel-de-ville, F-82000 Montauban, France

Tarascon sur Ariege, France

Tarascon sur AriegeTarascon sur Ariege
This little town of Tarascon (alt. 480 m/1575ft; pop. 3,429) lies on the Ariège. The Tour St-Michel dates from the 14th C., and the Gothic church has a fine 14th C. doorway.
4km/2.5mi southwest is the Grotte de Niaux, with rock paintings of the Magdalenian period (14,000-10,000 B.C.). The village of Niaux has an interesting Country Museum.
Other caves in the area include the Grotte de Bédeilhac, the Grotte de Lombrives and the Grotte de la Vache.

La Vache Prehistoric Cave

The cave is one of the most famous in the world. It is the only one in Europe where visitors can see major archeological excavations. Digs in the Monique room revealed numerous remains from the late Magdalenian period, including the outline of a fireplace and animal bones.
The main gallery has subterranean karstic, geological and sedimentary collections of artwork, such as carved bone and reindeer antlers, weapons, tools, flints and body ornaments.
Address: Lacombe, F-09400 Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France

Bedeilhac Prehistoric Cave

Many of the rooms in this cave is over one kilometer long and over 100 meters wide. The cave was used by man at least 14,000 years ago, during the Magdalenian period, although it was later converted into an aircraft factory by the Germans during WWII. There are still several enormous stalagmites, as well as numerous cave paintings, wall and clay engravings, hand prints and other examples of prehistoric art.
Address: Lacombe, F-09400 Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France

Lombrives Caves

Bones found in the caves are evidence that the site was inhabited by prehistoric man. It was also used by the Romans 2,000 years ago to worship the goddess Pyrène. The caves include a gallery with over 1,000 pillars, as well as other rooms full of giant cauldrons, shafts, chimneys, diaclases, cave pearls, gypsum and aragonite crystals and soda straws.
Address: Ussat-les-Bains, F-09400 Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France

Ariège - Niaux Cave

The Niaux cave is famous for its prehistoric caves, which date back to 10,500 BC. It is part of the Niaux-Lombrives-Sabart karstic network. The Black Room includes high quality paintings of bison, horses, stags, and ibexes. Visits are limited, to insure conservation of drawings.

Bagneres de Bigorre, France

This spa in the Adour valley (alt. 550 m/1,805ft; pop. 8,048) has a picturesque old town, with the 15th C. Tour des Jacobins and remains of the cloister of St-Jean and the church of St-Vincent (15th-16th C.). In and around the extensive spa gardens are the thermal springs and the Musée Salies (natural history, Flemish and French paintings, drawings, ceramics).

Museums

The old village windmill now houses the Musée du Vieux Moulin, a museum of folk-art. Southwest of the town is the Mont du Bédat (881m/2,891ft with information boards), which commands wide views.

Aste - Médous Cave

About 2km/1.25mi from Bagnères de Bigorre is the Grotte de Médous, discovered in 1948, with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. It is 760 m/836 yds long, 160 m/175 yds being navigable.
Swiss speleologist F. Herzog ranked the caves as the third most beautiful in the world. The caves also include waterfalls, organ chests, draperies and other weird structures.
Address: 60 Route des Cols, F-65200 Aste, France

Cauterets, France

CauteretsCauterets Adam Baker
This spa, climatic resort and winter sports center (alt. 932 m/3,060ft), surrounded by the peaks of the High Pyrenees, has 24 springs of sulfurous water. The skiing area on the Lys plateau (1,850-2,300 m/6,070-7,550ft) can be reached by cableway.
Cauterets is also a good base for a trip to the Lac de Gaube (10km/6mi) by way of the Pont d'Espagne (waterfall) and for mountain walks and climbs.

St Matin-du-Canigou, Casteil, France

St Matin-du-CanigouSt Matin-du-Canigou
Le Canigou (2,785m/9,138ft) is one of the highest peaks in the Eastern Pyrenees, commanding extensive views.
Near the little village of Casteil, picturesquely situated on a crag at an altitude of 1,094m/3,590ft, is the abbey of St-Martin-du-Canigou (11th C; restored), with a beautiful cloister.

Foix, France

FoixFoix

Foix (alt. 400 m/1,300ft; pop. 9,708), once capital of the old County of Foix, was independent from 1001 to 1290, when it passed under the control of Béarn. Of its formidable castle, on a crag above the town, there remain three imposing towers; the free-standing round tower now houses the Musée de l'Ariège. The former monastic church of St-Volusien (12th and 15th C.) has a beautiful choir, fine choir-stalls (15th C.) and an unfinished square tower. Nearby are a number of old half-timbered houses and the curious Goose Fountain.

There are many Romanesque churches of the 11th and 12th centuries in the surrounding area, including Bénac, Loubens, Mercus, St-Jean-de-Verges, Serres-sur-Arget and Vernajoul.

Foix Caves

Around Foix are a number of caves with prehistoric rock drawings, notably the Grotte de Niaux and the Grotte du Portel. 6km/4mi from Foix is the underground river of Labouiche (boat trips).

Foix Cedex - Labouiche Underground River

Labouiche is the longest navigable underground river in Europe. It was discovered in the early 1900s and opened to the public in 1938. Much research has been carried out on remains found in the river, including Gallo-Roman remains and Magdalenian artifacts.
Guides take groups in boats upstream for about 1,500 meters, where visitors can see incredible stalagmites and chalk formations.

Prades

At the foot of Le Canigou, in the valley of the Têt, is the little town of Prades (alt. 350m/1,150ft; pop. 6,000), where the famous cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973) lived in exile. The Gothic church of St-Pierre has a Romanesque tower and contains a fine 17th C. reredos by a Catalan artist.

7km/4.5mi away, in the Gorge de Castillane, is the spa of Molitg-les-Bains, which is recommended for the treatment of skin diseases and metabolic disorders.

3km/2mi south is the abbey of St-Michel-de-Cuxa, once the religious center of Roussillon. Its decline began with the French Revolution, and a hundred years later, in 1889, one of its two towers collapsed. The Metropolitan Museum of New York acquired numerous fragments of the building, which were incorporated in a reproduction now to be seen in New York's Cloisters Museum. Since then half of the cloister has been rebuilt from the surviving remains and fragments found in the area. The beautiful four-story tower is Romanesque, and pre-Romanesque work and 11th C. features can be detected in the church. The Pablo Casals Musical Festival is held here every year.

Chamber Music Festival

This annual three-week festival runs from mid-July to early August in honor of the renowned cellist who spent the last 23 years of his life in the town. The festival is not restricted to the work of Casals, although it is usually the main feature. All types of classical music, as well as contemporary works can be heard throughout the festival period in the Abbey of Saint Michel de Cuxa.
Address: 33, rue de l'Hospice, F-66502 Prades, France

Bagnères de Luchon

This fashionable spa - Bagnères du Luchon - (alt. 630 m/2,065ft; pop. 2,900) is beautifully situated at the junction of the rivers Pique and One, under the highest Pyrenean peaks, with the winter sports resort of Superbagnères (1,800 m/5,900ft) 19km/ 12mi away. The springs were frequented in Roman times, and three Roman baths have been excavated. In the 17th C. the spa was made fashionable by Cardinal Richelieu, the springs having one of the highest sulfur contents and one of the highest degrees of radioactivity in the world. The Musée du Pays de Luchon is informative on local history. Near the town is the important Romanesque church of St-Aventin (11th C.), with two square towers and a doorway with figured capitals.

Luchon is a good base for an excursion to the Vallée du Lys.

Amélie les Bains

Amélie les Bains (alt. 243 m/797ft; pop. 3,644), in the valley of the Tech, is a popular spa, named after Louis-Philippe's queen. Its mineral springs were already being used in Roman times, and remains of Roman baths are to be seen in the modern spa establishment. The local festivals - the traditional masquerade on Shrove Tuesday and the blessing of the mules on June 25 - attract many visitors. Above Amélie lies the little Catalan town of Palalda. Parts of its church date from the 10th C.

Amélie les Bains is also a good base for a trip into the Mondony valley (8km/5mi southeast). The Roc de France near Montalba will prove a rewarding climb; it is 1,450 m/4,760ft high and the climb takes about three hours.

Amélie-les-Bains - International Folk Festival

This annual week-long festival takes place in early August. Events include folk music and choir concerts, dance performances and expositions.
Address: St Quentin-les-Troo, F-41800 Montoire-sur-le-Loire, France

Arles sur Tech

Arles sur Tech lies 3km/2mi southwest of Amélie-les-Bains, with the Puig de l'Estelle (1,778 m/5,834ft) rearing above the little town.
In the center of the town are the remains of an abbey founded around 900.
To the left of the main entrance to the well preserved church are two ancient sarcophagi, one of which dates from the fourth C. A.D. The Late Romanesque/Early Gothic cloister is entered from the north aisle of the church.
Near the abbey is the little aisleless church of St-Sauveur (Early Gothic), with a massive tower.
Upstream are the Gorges de la Fou, first completely explored in 1926. A stretch 1,400 m/1,500yd long is open to visitors. At some points the gorge is no more than a meter wide.

Oloron Ste Marie, France

The busy little town of Oloron Ste Marie (alt. 250 m/820ft; pop. 11,740) lies at the junction of the Aspe and the Ossau. In the southwest of the town is the former cathedral of Ste-Marie (11th-14th century), with a beautiful richly sculptured Romanesque doorway. On the arch is depicted the taking of Jerusalem by the Count of Béarn.
On the hill between the Gave d'Aspe and the Gave d'Ossau, once occupied by the Roman settlement of Iluro, is the church of Ste-Croix (c. 1080), with a Moorish-style dome of the 13th century. From the terrace at the west end of the church there are fine views. In the old town are a number of handsome old houses of the 15th and 17th centuries.

Oloron Sainte Marie - Festival of the Pyrenees

This annual grand festival, Festival de Pyrenees, runs from late July to early August and usually includes thousands of performers from around the world. National folk dance troupes and accompanying bands showcase ethnic traditions in numerous daily performances.
Address: 11 place de la Marie, BP 95, F-64403 Oloron-Ste-Marie, France

Villefranche de Conflent, France

The old fortified town of Villefranche (alt. 435 m/1,425ft; pop. 600), once an important staging-point on the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela, lies at the junction of the rivers Cady and Têt. Above the town is a massive citadel which could be reached on an underground staircase. The fortifications were rebuilt by Vauban in the 17th C. Other features of interest are the church of St-Jacques (12th-13th C.), with a richly decorated interior, and some elegant old houses of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

South of Villefranche, at the foot of Le Canigou, is Corneilla, with the church of Notre Dame, which is thought to have been built in the early 11th C., and was later incorporated in a monastery. Over the doorway is a finely carved tympanum; the interior is richly decorated.

Cerdagne

Villefranche is a good center from which to visit the district of Cerdagne, a high valley with beautiful and varied scenery.

Cave of a Dozen Rooms

Cave of a Dozen Rooms, also known as "the Cavity," was opened in 1983. It is more than a cave, however, with rooms having been converted into casemates for cannon and as a tunnel between Fort Liberia and the town. There is also a natural cave, an archeological site and a powder magazine, all of which are open for viewing.
Address: 33 rue Saint-Jean, F-66500 Villefranche-de-Conflent, France

Canalettes Cave

The cave has numerous sheer-like draperies, calcite flowstones, a pink marble mountain, soda straws and helictites. One of the main features of the cave is a large mass of floating calcite, called the "Giant's Table".
Address: 2 rue Saint-Jacques, F-66500 Villefranche-de-Conflent, France

Grandes Canalettes Grotto

This magnificent grotto was only opened in 1984. It includes 1.2 kilometers of tunnels, filled with speleothems, draperies, organ chests, soda straws, pillars, helictites, and aragonite flowers, as well as many other natural wonders.
Address: 2 rue St Jacques, F-66500 Villefranche-de-Conflent, France

Tarbes

Tarbes (alt. 320 m/1,050ft; pop. 49,343), originally a Roman town, later the capital of the County of Bigorre and now chief town of the département of Hautes-Pyrénées and a busy industrial and commercial center, lies on the Adour in a fertile plain. In the west of the town is the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Sède (12th-14th C.), with a massive dome. In the north of the town is the beautiful Jardin Massey, with a layout designed by a director of the gardens of Versailles and a 40 m/130ft high lookout tower. In the gardens are a cloister from the abbey of St-Sever-de-Rustan (15th-16th C.) and a museum (pictures, folk art and traditions, history of horse-breeding in Tarbes).
Tarbes was the birthplace of Marshal Foch, and the house in which he was born is now a small museum.

Maison du Maréchal Foch

The birthplace of Marshal Foch, a French World War I military officer and national hero contains many souvenirs of his life. Among them are those from his 1921 voyage to the United States, including two pieces of native American art.
Address: 2 rue de la Victoire, F-65000 Tarbes, France

Montsegur, France

Northwest of Quillan, on a sheer crag between Bélesta and Lavelanet, are the massive ruins of Montségur, which was the scene of horrifying events during the Albigensian wars. After a siege of the castle in 1244 200 Albigensians were burned alive in a field at the foot of the hill which became known as the Prat dels Cremats (Meadow of the Burned). There are those who believe that Montségur is the fabled Montsalvat where the Holy Grail, the vessel containing Christ's blood, is hidden. It is now the symbolic center of the movement which seeks independence for "Occitania", the old langue d'oc-speaking region.

Orthez, France

Orthez (alt. 62 m/205ft; pop. 10,936), beautifully situated on the Gave de Pau, was capital of the County of Béarn from 1194 to 1460, and later became a Protestant stronghold with a Calvinist university. The Pont Vieux with its imposing tower dates from the 13th C. Other old buildings are the Tour Moncade (13th-14th C.), a relic of the castle of the Counts of Béarn, the Maison de Jeanne d'Albret (1500), the 14th C. Hôtel de la Lune, once the guest-house of the Counts of Foix, and many burghers' houses. The medieval church of St-Pierre, which was incorporated in the town's defenses, was restored after the wars of religion.

St Jean Pied de Port, France

The picturesque little town of St Jean Pied de Port (alt. 160 m/525ft; pop. 1,417), once a staging-point on the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela, lies on the river Nive under a 17th C. citadel. In the old upper town, still surrounded by 15th C. walls and entered through a gate under the tower of the church of Notre-Dame-du-Pont, are many 16th and 17th C. houses. From the Citadel, which was rebuilt by Vauban in 1688, there are wide views.

The nearby caves of Oxocelhaya and Isturits have prehistoric rock drawings as well as fine stalactites.

The Forêt d'Iraty is one of the finest in the Basque country.

St Martin-d'Arberoue - Grottes d'Isturitz et d'Oxocelhaya

The two caves of Grottes d'Isturitz et Oxocelhaya make up part of a prehistoric site in the heart of Basque country. A third cave is reserved for scientific research and is closed to the public.
Isturitz was inhabited from the Mousterian to the Magdalenian period (50,000 BC). There are over 70,00o paintings, objects and engravings including a herd of reindeer. The Oxocelhaya cave is made up of rooms of limestone formations.

Ax-les-Thermes, France

Ax-les-Thermes (alt. 720 m/2,360ft; pop. 1,441), in the valley of the Ariège 15km/9mi from the Spanish frontier, is an old-established spa, with springs which were frequented in Roman times. The "Bassin des Ladres" was used in the Middle Ages for the treatment of Crusaders suffering from leprosy. There are altogether 60 springs, serving three spa establishments. Ax is a good center for mountain walking and climbing in summer. Near the town are the skiing areas of Ax 1,400 and Ax 2,300, both reached by cableways.

Lafage Shaft, France

The 25-meter-deep shaft comes out in the Causse de Martel, between Limousin and Quercy, near the village of La Fage, in the commune of Noailles. It was opened to tourists in 1960, but it was explored as far back as 1891. The shaft has two galleries that branch off at its depth. One has a high ceiling, with a colony of approximately 10,000 bats. A chamber of impressive stalactites makes up the second gallery.
Outside the shaft is a paleontological site operated by the Lyons Natural History Museum.

Argeles Gazost, France

Argelès Gazost (pop. 3,241) lies at an altitude of 457 m/1,500ft in the High Pyrenees, between Lourdes and Cauterets. It is a popular spa (sulfurous springs) with beautiful spa gardens. From the Tour Mendaigne (17th C.) in the upper town there are fine views (orientation table).
South of the town is the church of the former Benedictine abbey of St Savin (11th-12th and 14th C.), once the religious center of Bigorre, with a Romanesque doorway and a fine church treasury.

Foissac Prehistoric Cave, Capdenac, France

Capdenac is the location of a fascinating cave, Foissac Prehistoric, which has only been opened to the public since 1973. The cave contains numerous mineral forms, pillars, porches, draperies and pendants, all of which have been formed over a period of thousands of years. The colors are equally fascinating, ranging from white to ochre to pink.
For those more interested in archeology, the Foissac cave includes skeletal remains from the Copper Age (2,000 BC).

Luz St Sauver

The climatically favored spa and holiday resort of Lux St Sauver lies on the Gave de Pau at an altitude of 685m/2,245ft. The fortified church (12th and 14th C) has a beautiful Romanesque doorway. In the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Pitié is a small museum of religious art. The resort became fashionable in the 19th C, when it was frequented by the imperial court. South of the town is the Pont Napoléon, built in 1860, with a span of 47m/155ft.

Aventignan - Gargas Prehistoric Caves

Gargas Prehistoric Caves have been very popular among archeologists and prehistorians, who have discovered numerous engravings from the Aurignacian and Gravettian periods, as well as evidence of human occupation from the Acheulean period (100,000 BC) to the Perigordian period (20,000 BC). There are also over 230 handprints, some more than 25,000-years-old.

Cambo les Bains

The climatic resort of Cambo-les-Bains (alt. 65m/215ft; pop. 4,416) lies above the valley of the Nive, in the Basque country. The lower part of the town, Bas-Cambo, has preserved its typically Basque character. The Villa Arnaga, 1.5km/1mi west, was the home of the playwright Edmond Rostand (1868-1918); it now contains a small museum. There is a monument to Rostand in the center of the town.

Jardins d'Arnaga

The manor house, Ville Arbaga, was once the home of Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac. The home features an original collection of artifacts and works of art.
Jardins d'Arnaga can be seen from the manor as it overlooks a series of formal pools, fountains and yew topiary in a formal tree-covered bluff.

St-Lizier

St-Lizier (alt. 380 m/1,245ft; pop. 1,592), the Gallo-Roman town of Lugdunum Consoranorum, now partly ruined, is picturesquely situated on a hill above the river Salat and still preserves remains of its Roman walls. Its other main features of interest are the former cathedral (11th-14th C.), which has Romanesque frescoes, a beautiful cloister and a valuable treasury, and the old Bishop's Palace (17th C.).

Aulus les Bains

This little spa (alt. 762 m/2,500ft), also a winter sports resort, lies below the Col de Latrape (1,336 m/4,383ft). It has four springs of water containing sulfur, calcium and iron salts. There are a number of waterfalls in the area, including the Cascade d'Arse.

Les Eaux Bonnes

There are 22 downhill runs with hills set up for various skill levels.
This little spa of Les Eaux Bonnes lies in a forest setting at an altitude of 750 m/2,460ft. 8km/ 5mi east is Gourette (1,385 m/4,545ft), the oldest winter sports resort in the Pyrenees.

Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux, Prudhomat, France

A fortress from the middles ages built by the barons of Castelnau in 1100. Château de Castelnau-Bretenoux was made more attractive in the 17th century adding decorative drawing rooms with high windows, porticoes and balustrade balconies. In 1896 restoration began after years of neglect.

Les Eaux Chaudes

The spa of Les Eaux-Chaudes (alt. 656 m/,2150ft) lies in a steep-sided wooded gorge 4km/2-1/2mi south of Laruns. From here there is an attractive excursion to the Lac d'Artouste.

Mont Louis, France

Mont Louis (alt. 1,600 m/5,250ft), now a summer holiday resort and winter sports center, has a Citadel built by Vauban in 1681 and remains of its town walls. The church (1736) contains a 16th C. crucifix.

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