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A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

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A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

Hi,

We're looking at spending a week/10-days in the region in the summer. We'd love to do a mix of walking in the high mountains, plus cultural visit, enjoying food & wine, just generally chilling out! We were thinking where might be a good base to maybe rent a gite?

Thoughts were:

Lourdes

Bagneres de Luchon

Bagneres de Bigorre

but I don't have a real feel for the area. Is Lourdes too big a place? We're not religious, so that aspect of it is not of interest, but it sounds a convenient/nice place. Bagneres de Bigorre sounds good, what with the baths etc, and I get the impression this is a quieter provincial town. Luchon is maybe too touristy?

Any advice welcome!

Thanks,

Dan

1. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

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Brooklyn, New York
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2. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

I will be going this summer so I don't have good advice yet. Are you planning to drive or use public transportation? I am considering renting a car, however I am concerned about the expense and also if there are one-way only roads that I will have to back up to let someone pass. Does anyone know if this is a concern?

Regarding Lourdes as a base, I would think the congestion there might be annoying with so many visitors, parking being difficult (if driving), etc.

3. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

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Removed on: 21 November 2015, 15:49
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4. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

Diz,

"If we went back, I'd look for a gite somewhere with reasonable road links to anywhere I was planning to visit"

Yes, that's basically the aim! Partly also because that gives you the option of bussing into the mountains, spending a couple of days up high, then dropping into not necessarily the same valley and still be able to bus back to your base. Thanks for your tips, will look into the various places. I guess I'm really looking for the magic combination of good transport and attractive town.

bosphorus104 - this is worth bearing in mind if you go and go walking, I've pulled similar tricks in the Alps/Dolomites. Haven't yet decided on the car thing, I think we will probably rent a car for a few days at least - driving in the mountains in Europe is not generally a problem, this would be the least of my concerns though, clearly, alpine passes aren't freeways!

Thanks!

Edited: 26 March 2012, 23:30
Brooklyn, New York
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5. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

Thanks. This is really helpful. I appreciate the transportation web sites. I wish the SNCF provided more info about their bus lines online. (If they do, I can't find it.) I will be staying at a farm near Arreau. Any idea how good the local bus transport is?

I am also hoping to see the Tour de France when it goes through that area. I have a feeling that driving won't be easy during that time, although bus transport may not either. I should search the forum for this but advice would be appreciated.

6. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

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Removed on: 21 November 2015, 15:51
Edited: 21 November 2015, 15:51
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7. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

Diz - Thank you so much! I have spent a lot of time looking for the bus schedule. I even sent out a few emails about it to places in the area today. This is very helpful. I do plan to study the bus schedule to see more how I could get around without a car. I also want to practice French, so I will probably talk to locals more that way. Thanks again!

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8. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

bosphorus104,

In addition to the extremely helpful links Diz has provided, it's also worth bearing in mind that France is an extremely easy country to hitch lifts in, particularly in the mountains (where there is only one road up and down a valley), particularly if you look like you've been engaged in climbing/walking/cycling, but also more generally in the country. Something about the national psyche, people just stop and give lifts (unlike e.g. Spain, where hitchhikers are stared at and ignored)! E.g. if you stand at the bottom of a valley in a cycling jersey with your thumb out, you'll soon get a lift to the top of the pass. You also get to practice your french! Obviously take safety considerations into mind, but my approach would be to rock up somewhere, look and see if there's a bus, and if not, hitch. Have been doing this for years in the alps. (PS generally only feasible if there is one or two of you, not suitable to bigger groups for obvious reasons!)

Diz, yes, thanks! Hence wanting to get access to e.g. Luz. I've spent quite a bit of time on the Spanish side of things (Benasque, Aiguestortes), but this is my first venture on the French side. We're a mixed group, so this won't be an out-and-out mountain trip, but a few days up high (no problem with refuges - they're great, btw, you should try them, gives you a totally different experience, because you get to stay up high rather than having to drop back down to valley level every night) should work well for us. We're looking for places around Luchon & Bagneres de Bigorre at the minute, Lourdes sounds too Catholic for us!

Thanks again,

Edited: 28 March 2012, 10:07
9. Re: A week in the Midi-Pyrénées - Best base?

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