The Madiran / Ardour Valley Area
There is a beautiful lake with sandy beach and water slides at Aignon. The caves of Bethram with their stalagmites and stalactites are worth a visit, so too is Lourdes.
Marciac is a fully cloistered square and very pretty, a perfect place for coffee or try the Petit Auberge for lunch. Bassous must not be missed and the Cafe de Centre lunch is 4 courses for E11 including wine!
Take the children to the Maison des Chameaux at the foot of the village, a petting zoo with lots to see and do.
Drive to Point d'Espagne and take the cable car to Lac de Gaube, a lake high in the Pyrenees where you can enjoy lunch in front of the water with the mountains towering above you.
Just over the border into the Gers, 7kms, Plaisance boasts a pool, crazy golf a lake with slides, another good day out.
The Midi Pyrenees & Hautes Pyrenees Region
The climate of the South West of France has long hot summers, mild autumns and short sharp winters
Experience the national parks of the Pyrenees. Maybe take lunch by the lake high in the mountains in the summer or for the more active try some white water rafting. Ski and snowboard at La Mongie in the winter or just head up to the mountains and cross into northern Spain for the day. The Atlantic coast and stylish Biarritz are less than 2 hours away.
The area is rich in history, follow the Bastide route, visit Pau and learn about the real D’Artagnan at the local museum celebrating the life of Dumas’s character or head down to Carcasonne , Toulouse or Bordeaux, all within easy reach.
Of course, the whole area is wonderful to explore on foot, bicycle or horseback. The fishing is great with fish abundant within the 2 beautiful rivers in the valleys. There are also some substantial lakes, some with their own beach, water slides and café restaurant makes for a lazy day of swimming and sun. The elegant beach resort of Biarritz is about a 2 hour drive and well worth a visit.
Much of the area is given to vineyards and the famous Madiran wine is produced all around the area, Madiran being the next village along and if that is not to your taste there are many other large producers, including St Mont and Jurancon. Armagnac is a nearby village and many locals produce this ‘digestif’. Local delicacies include foie gras, confit du canard, haricot tarbais and many of the local restaurants offer 4 courses of delicious food and include a carafe of wine for around 12 euros!
There are strong links with adjacent Spain and many villages boast their own bull ring. Apart from traditional Corrida in this region Courses Landaise is a spectacle where fit young men summersault over the bulls rather than harming them.
The Marciac jazz festival is an annual international event and is only 20minutes away. Each village hosts its own fete and they are always worth visiting as are the vineyard open days and wine tastings. Try a vide grenier one Sunday – a very French alternative to a car boot sale – there will be many items you have never encountered before.
Shop ’til you drop in the stylish shops in Pau or Tarbes or discover the culinary delights in the many large supermarkets and independent epiceries. Although there is no need to travel far a town with all facilities is just 7km away.