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France & Spain 2007

This was our first trip together through France & Spain. The idea being to show my wife the beauty of the Pyrenees and the area surrounding them. I had visited them previously on a few occasions on walking/climbing holidays and really loved them. We had been looking at a few properties online in the Midi Pyrenees so decided to go and explore.

Unfortunately for Lorraine it wasn't the most relaxing holiday as we were always on the move. I think we only stopped for more than 1 night at 2 places. However the upside was that she got a pretty good idea of what the area looked and felt like and I must admit it is really beautiful.

The general route was south to Tarbes then zig zagging around the French Pyrenees, crossing over to Spain to see the Anisclo Gorge, onto the Ordessa canyon then back and recross the border near Vielha. A further wander around the French Pyrenees then up through Clermont Ferrand and onto Calais.


The lovely old medieval walled town of Monflanquin where we stopped to have a look around and a cooling drink. The imposing walls.


As it was a Sunday the streets were fairly empty but pleasant to stroll around. Chabanais is an exceptionally pretty town and one we will return to at some point.

The Poitou Charentes area is stunning with a lovely ambience, I can see why so many British have decided to settle there.

Just north east of Tarbes in the village of Trie sur Baise we came across the annual Pig Squeeling Competition, it's a definite must to see. Have a look at a sample of the following videos.

1st This sounds like a very hungry pig or a terrified one

2nd Here we have a bit of piggy dancing culminating in the birth a quite a few piglets

Not only was the competition hysterical but there were many other stalls selling saucisson, baguettes, cheeses etc.


South of Tarbes on the way to La Mongie and the pass. A view southwards from the pass.


A busy place with lots of outdoor pursuits shops.

What a place to have lunch perched on a rock beside the water!


This Auberge was wonderful, I just stepped in and thought to myself, "she's going to like this", the food looked exceptional and the ambience was phenomenal, we just had to eat here. There was a lovely little town just a few kilometeres from there that had most things you needed including a very good selection of wines and cheeses of which we sampled our fair share.


Our favourite Auberge, we spent 2 nights here and the food was superb as was the atmosphere. Not too far from the Auberge.


The local inhabitants having a snooze. The Pyrenees just through the clouds.


A lovely little town that was split by 2 rivers. Leaving Arreau this is what we saw not long afterwards The Spanish side is definitely drier and more barren than the French side.


A really beautiful valley I had come across before when I was walking, however, when I first saw it, I was the only person as it was in April and there wasn't a car to be seen. This gorge was awesome but not somewhere I would take a camper, it's narrow with lots of overhangs.


Personally I thought this was better than the well known Ordessa Canyon. It was definitely a wild place with sheer faces all around and tracks up cliff faces that you wouldn't believe are there. We decided to have a look at Fanlo which was a hamlet not far from the Anisclo Gorge. Definitely a "different" place but it had a nice cafe at the top of a hill with superb views but a very slow service.


We came across this deserted village and decided to stop and have a look. Boy did the hairs on the back of our necks stand up, we don't know why but we left pretty quickly. Bad Vibes!!! The route back to France was great apart from Vielha which looked like a tourist trap with huge queues. I wouldn't go this way again.


Our last campsite which I thought was great but my wife didn't. She couldn't get used to the temperature change of a drop of 30C overnight and it did have one of the smallest showers I have ever encountered. However it did provide a small bar and restaurant and the lovely cooling waters of a glacier outfall!!!!    


All in all it was a great trip but a wee bit hectic and I think another time we would either have a longer period to do it in, or cut short the distance we travelled. I think we covered around 3200 miles in 2 weeks which is a fair bit but there are definitely some places we would love to return to.