Into the Pyrenees from Lleida
Leave Lérida on C 1313 and in 27km/17mi turn left into C 148, which crosses the Río Segre to enter Balaguer, chief town of the Noguera district. The monastery of Santo Domingo (Catalan Sant Domenec) is a fine example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Also of interest are the large Plaça del Mercadal and remains of the town walls.
From Balaguer there are alternative routes to Tremp: either an attractive secondary road by way of Avellanes and the Puerto de Ager (fine views) which joins C 147 above the Embalse de Camarasa or on C 147 all the way, along the left bank of the Río Segre past the artificial lakes. The secondary road runs northwest from Balaguer through the Sierra de Montroig to Avellanes. On a hill to the right of the road is the Premonstratensian monastery of Bellpuig de les Avellanes, founded in 1166, once the place of burial of the Counts of Urgel, with a Romanesque cloister.
After passing through Font de Pou (Catalan Fontdepou) the road climbs to the Puerto de Ager (912m/2992ft) and then goes down to Ager, an old town with some remains of Roman walls and the ruins of the 12th century collegiate church of San Pedro (Catalan Sant Pere).
Embalse de Camarasa
The road follows the slopes of the Sierra de Montsech (1677m/5502ft) and descends into the valley of the Río Noguera Pallaresa. Below this point the river is enlarged into an artificial lake, the Embalse de Camarasa, by a dam 151m/165yd long and 92m/302ft high some kilometers downstream. The water of the lake supplies a hydro-electric station with an output of 700,000 kW.
The road crosses the river and joins C 147, the direct road from Balaguer. This passes through the tunnels of the Portell dels Terradets, between the hills of the Sierra de Montsech, and along the Embalse de Terradets to Tremp (alt. 507m/1663ft), situated on a hill above the right bank of the Río Noguera Pallaresa, which still preserves remains of its old walls.
Embalse des Talarn
To the north of Tremp is the Embalse des Talarn, formed by a dam 206m/225yd long and 82m/269ft high which supplies a hydro-electric station with an output of 300,000 kW.
Pobla de Segur
From Tremp C 144 continues north, passes through the medieval village of Talarn and comes to a road junction at Pobla de Segur (alt. 540m/1,772ft), where the Río Flamisell flows into the Río Noguera. Pobla de Segur, a timber-working and dairy-farming town, is a good base for walkers and climbers as well as for excursions into the Pyrenees by car. The local rivers and streams, well stocked with fish, are a paradise for anglers.
To the Valle de Arán via Pont de Suert
Puerto de Perves
From the road junction at Pobla de Segur the left-hand road runs north to Senterada and then climbs northwest, with many bends, to the Puerto de Perves (1350m/4429ft). Above the pass on the left is the summit of the Sierra de San Gervás (1839m/6034ft).
Pont de Suert
The road then crosses the Puerto de Viu (1,325m/4,347ft), runs down into the valley of the Río Noguera Ribagorzana, here dammed to form the 8km/ 5mi long Embalse de Escalas, and reaches the modern little town of Pont de Suert, where C 144 joins N 230, coming from Lérida.
N 230 continues up the valley to Vilaller, below the east side of Maladeta (Pico de Aneto, 3,404m/11,169ft), the highest peak in the Pyrenees.
Valle de Arán (Vall d'Arán)
The Valle de Arán, in which the source streams of the Garonne (Spanish Garona) rise, is a valley of great natural beauty, with endless scope for walks and climbs in magnificent scenery, good fishing in the mountain streams and two skiing resorts, Vaqueira-Beret and Tuca-Betrén. The people of the valley still speak Aranese, a Romance dialect related to Gascon - demonstrating the valley's racial and geographical affinity with France and also its many Centuries of isolation, which came to an end only with the construction of a road over the pass in 1925 and the Viella tunnel in 1948. The valley has been part of Spain since 1308.
After passing through the Tunel de Viella the road comes to Viella (alt. 975m/3,200ft), chief town of the Valle de Arán. The 13th century church of San Miguel (Catalan Sant Miquel), with a 16th century tower, has a Romanesque figure of Christ, the "Crist del Mig Arán".
Güells de Joeu
From Viella a detour can be made (N 230 to Les Bordes, then a minor road on the left) to the wooded Güells de Joeu area, where the Garona de Joeu rises.
N 230 continues up the Garona valley to Bosost (alt. 765m/2510ft), which has a well preserved Romanesque church (12th C.), notable particularly for the black marble figures on the north doorway.
Into France, Pont de Rey
From Bosost the road continues by way of the little spa of Lés (alt. 635m/2083ft; Spanish frontier control) to the Pont de Rey (alt. 580m/1903ft) spanning the Garona on the Spanish-French frontier.
Through the Bohí Valley
Just beyond Pont de Suert a side road branches off N 230 on the right into the valley of the Río Noguera de Tor (the Bohí valley), in which can be found some of the finest Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees.
After passing through Bohí (Catalan Boí) the road comes to the village of Tahull (Catalan Taüll), with the churches of Sant Climent and Santa María (12th C.). These are very typical of the Romanesque churches of the Pyrenees, with a large nave, three apses and a free-standing bell-tower. Both churches had very fine wall paintings, the originals of which are now in the Museum of Catalan Art in Barcelona ; the paintings to be seen in Taüll are copies.
To the Valle de Arán over the Puerto de la Bonaigua
Desfiladero de Collegats
At the road junction at Pobla de Segur take the road to the right. This runs up the valley of the Río Noguera Pallaresa, which here receives many tributaries tumbling down over waterfalls, and through a wild limestone gorge, the Desfiladero de Collegats, with the Bou Mort (2082m/6831ft) on the right.
Gerri de la Sal
Just beyond the Desfiladero de Collegats is Gerrí de la Sal, which takes its name from the salt-pans on the banks of the river. In the village is a former Benedictine monastery (12th C.).
12km/7.5mi northwest of Sort is the winter sports resort of Llesuí (alt. 1,400m/4,600ft).
After a defile past the village of sort the Río Cardós comes in on the right. A narrow road runs up its beautiful green valley.
6km/4mi off the C 147 from Escaló, to the left, is the winter sports resort of Espot (alt. 1,340m/4,400ft), with a chair lift and ski lifts to the skiing center of Super Espot.
C 147 continues to Escaló, with the ruined 10th century monastery of Sant Pere del Burgal, which preserves some Romanesque wall paintings.
Espot is the eastern entrance to the Parque Nacional de Aigües Tortes. Its particular charm lies in its numerous glacier lakes, among them the Llac de Sant Maurici. Ibexes can still be encountered in the National Park. Information about walks and climbs can be obtained in Espot and Caldes de Boí.
Puerto de la Bonaigua
Beyond Esterrí de Aneu (alt. 1,000m/3,300ft) C 147 enters the valley of the Río Bonaigua and then climbs, passing the parador of Farga de los Abetos and the Santuario de los Ares (alt. 1,728m/5,670ft), to the Puerto de la Bonaigua (2,072m/6,798ft), on the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
The road winds its way down from Puerto de la Bonaigua, with many sharp bends, into the Valle de Arán and comes to Tredós (alt. 1,295m/4,249ft), lying off the road to the left, which has an old Templar church (12th C.) with a Gothic altarpiece.
C 147 continues from Tredós to Salardú (alt. 1,265m/4,150ft), where it enters the valley of the Río Garona, and then runs down, passing the spa of Artiés (sulfurous springs) on the left of the road, to the winter sports resort of Betrén, from which there is a chair-lift to the skiing center of La Tuca (alt. 1,560m/5,118ft). Soon after this, at Viella, C 147 joins N 230, coming from Lérida.
Developed by Spanish champion ski racer Luis Arias, Baqueira Beret in the Aran Valley in the Pyrenees region of Spain, features a wide range of terrain, most of it above the tree line. The Spanish royal family skis, drawn by slopes that range from the easiest beginner hills to the some of the steepest in the country. Three main ski areas (and a fourth that is now being developed) offer 46 runs offering 77km of skiing with a vertical drop of 1,006 meters. The apres-ski is also excellent as many of the trendy people from Madrid and Barcelona show off their techniques here.
Inside Solsona, there are nine towers and three gateways. The cathedral houses a beautiful black stone Virgin. The Museu Diocesà i Comarcal contains Romanesque paintings and local archeological finds.The Fiestas de Carnaval of Solsona is held in late-February.
Misterio de la Passio, Cervera, Spain
In the village of Cervera the Passion of Christ is performed several times throughout Spring. The performances are all in Spanish.
La Molina, Spain
Numerous ski resorts and remote turn of the century mansions are trademarks to the area surrounding the town La Molina.
A train from Lleida runs to the town of Nuria, from where visitors can make use of the abundant skiing, hiking and ice hockey facilities.
St Gil of Nîmes
The church of St Gil of Nîmes is known for a legend surrounding its bell and pot. The legend goes that any barren women who place their heads in the pot, will bear a number of children equal to the number of times that bell tolls.