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The Area and Things to Do

mapHalfway in between Pau and Toulouse, we are situated in ‘Le Magnoac’, which is one of the 5 ancient cantons that were put together to form the modern-day departement of Hautes-Pyrenees. We are on the lea-side of one of the many hilly ‘fingers’ that stretch out from the famous delta of the Lannemezan plateau.

The countryside itself is fabulous with many hills, pastureland and deciduous wood (mainly oak and chestnut), crossed with plenty of interesting rivers both large and small: and a myriad of caves, grottos and places of historic interest.

If you love France because it’s France, then you’ll love it here. It is very French still and there has been little tourism until recently. The flavour is a fascinating mix of Gascon with a bit of Basque and the mountains thrown in.

Things are still slow here in terms of pace of life and two – hour lunches are still sacrosanct (the ‘Shopi’ supermarket in Boulogne-sur-Gesse actually closes for 3 hours at lunchtime!).

Nonetheless, it’s not backward, just yet to be polluted by the mad pace of the C21st (which is why we came to live here!)

 

There is beautiful flora and fauna to have a look at if you’re so inclined, and I’m told that ornithologists would have a field day – I’m not one myself, but I love seeing the Honey Buzzards and the Red Kites that fly about the house. If you’re not into stars, you will be by the time you leave here – on a clear night the stars are breathtaking and it makes you realise how much light pollution has blocked one’s view further north.

Failing all of that, there is only 30 minutes away, a rather large natural attraction called the Pyrenees – summer or winter, they are the ultimate backdrop and dictate the whole area and its available activities – there’s plenty to do there to fill a dozen holidays we should think –

whether that’s skiing, cycling, walking, climbing, canoeing or rafting!

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the main local interests you might like to pursue are:

Lannemezan market – every Wednesday morning - the biggest in the whole departement. Attracts over 2000 people every week and has stalls selling everything you can think of and quite a few of which you can’t.

The Gorges de la Save – a beautiful unspoilt wooded passage through a natural rock gorge with a river running through it (trout fishing available). A brilliant place to rock climb, stroll, picnic or dip your toes.

Montmaurin Roman ruins – impressive remains of a Roman villa, which includes a beautiful mosaic. Written guides are available but it’s refreshingly untouristy.

Chateau de Mauvezin – a classic example of French fortified lookouts. An interesting place to visit, but with the added bonus of stunning views towards Tarbes and the Pyrenees, plus traditional medieval festivals in the Summer.

 

Grottes de Gargas – prehistoric caves with world-renowned 27,000 year-old hand paintings.

Boulogne-sur-Gesse – fabulous open air pools in the summer with slides etc.

Lac de la Gimone – a man-made reservoir but with a proper beach, life guard and ice cream hut!! – No need for the seaside or salty water

Spain – is less than an hour away. Pop over the border for lunch with a difference and stock up on excellent ceramics and VERY cheap booze!

Skiing – there are dozens of ski resorts and spa towns near by, with many under an hour’s drive away – great for a mix and match winter holiday where you can do a bit of skiing and a bit of sight seeing rather than just being stuck in a boring concrete resort!

Wine and cheese tours – excellent Red and white producing châteaux in the Madihran, Armanac distilleries near Condom and the famous Pyrenees ‘brebis’ cheeses are all near by. Given that some of the best places are only available by request, we can call for you to make an appointment, or even accompany you if required.