Local Area

Local Area


Sauveterre is a charming historic town set above a bend in the ‘Gave d’Oloron’, a fast flowing river, with spectacular views over the valley and the peaks of the Pyrenees beyond.

In the central square is a small but very helpful tourist office from where you can book accommodation locally, organise a full or half day rafting trip on the river, purchase a fishing permit or discover more about the local area.

A small market is held in the main square every Saturday morning with stalls selling local produce such as Brebis cheese (made from Ewes milk), goats cheese, fruit and veg as well as handmade soap.

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Salies de Bearn

The name of this small town comes from its naturally occurring saline water and the town has developed around the local salt industry as well as its thermal baths which were established in the 19th Century and are still open to the public today. The water, said to be 10 times saltier than the sea and at a naturally occurring temperature of 50ºC, are recommended for various gynaecological and rheumatic ailments.

The pretty town centre of Salies is made up of narrow streets lined with small boutiques, bars and restaurants but the town really comes to life on a Thursday morning when market stalls fill the main square and nearby streets selling a wide range of local produce.

On the outskirts of the town is a picturesque 9 hole Golf Course with a nearby hotel/bar/restaurant overlooking the fairways.

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St Palais

The small market town of St Palais is located in the Lower Navarre province of the French Basque region between Biarritz and Pau. The town originally developed due to its location on the pilgrimage route to Compostela in Spain but now hosts many small businesses, shops and restaurants.

Friday is the busiest day of the week when small producers set up stalls in and around the market hall selling all kinds of local produce ranging from cheeses, honey, vegetables and meat to plants and live chickens.

Accommodation and activities can be organised from the tourist office in the town which is also a great source of local information and advice if you wish to explore the surrounding area either on foot, by bike or on horseback.

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Mauléon Licharre

Mauléon is the capital of the Soule province of the Basque region and is a town that dates from the middle ages but expanded rapidly in the 19th Century due to the production and popularity of Espadrille shoes which are still manufactured in the town today. The whole town is overlooked by the impressive Chateau Fort which has been undergoing restoration for a number of years. The views from the fort are spectacular across the surrounding countryside and beyond to the mountain peaks in the distance.

A small market is held in the upper town on Tuesday mornings with a larger one on Saturday mornings in the lower main square.

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Navarrenx is a fortified ‘bastide’ town built on the banks of the Gave d’Oloron, a fast flowing river well known for its Salmon fishing and water activities such as rafting and canoeing. The town has recently been added to the list of ‘the most beautiful villages in France’ and is certainly very attractive with many historical buildings to admire and ramparts to explore. The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain passes through the town.

Wednesday is market day when the town comes to life around the main central square in front of the church.

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Peyrehorade is a small town east of Bayonne in the Landes region, an area particularly noted for its pine tree forests and coastline but also the cultivation of Kiwis, Asparagus and Strawberries. The town really comes to life on Wednesdays as it hosts a large market with a wide variety of stalls.

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Oloron has an active industry, including Llindt chocolate, woven textiles and berets but is best known as the main starting point for exploring the beautiful and dramatic Vallée d’Aspe. However, it is worth a visit on Fridays as it hosts a large market with a wide variety of stalls, including an indoor fish and meat hall, locally grown fruit and vegetables and much more.

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Artouste is a ski station at the head of the Vallée d’Ossau, situated about 55km south of Pau near the village of Fabreges, very close to the Spanish border. In the summer months a narrow gauge tourist railway operates, known as ‘The Petit Train d’Artouste’. At 2000m it is the highest railway in Europe, from which visitors can experience breathtaking views over the mountain peaks and lakes of the Pyrenees.

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This is a lively and attractive spa town south of Lourdes, popular for skiing in the winter and used as a base for walking and other outdoor pursuits in the summer months.

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A small ski resort near the town of Eaux-Bonnes, well known for it’s proximity to the Col d’Aubisque, an arduous test for cyclists in the warmer months.

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Although situated just to the east of the Pyrenees Atlantiques region, the town of Lourdes must be mentioned as it is the most visited shrine in Europe, attracting around five million visitors every year. The town itself has developed over the years since the vision of the Virgin appeared to 14yr old Bernadette in 1858 and, as well as the large Church and Chapel that were built near the site of the apparition, the streets are now full of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. However, Masses and blessings of the sick are held daily and the faithful can take part as they want or just sit quietly in front of the holy grotte.

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The Ossau Valley

Due south of Pau are a number of beautiful, sparcely populated and remote valleys surrounded by high mountainous peaks, the most well known being the Vallee d’Ossau due to its production and exportation of cheese made from ewes milk (‘Brebis’), but at its end the road climbs steeply giving access to the spa town of Eaux- Bonnes and further on to the small ski resort of Gourette.

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Bayonne, the capital of the Basque country, is a port located close to the border with Spain at the confluence of two rivers, the Adour and the Nive. The old city is dominated by the Gothic Cathedral with its distinctive twin spires whereas the newer part of the city is a regular grid of streets with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops. The city has a lively, authentic atmosphere with a fine arts museum and great for shopping or eating out.

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Biarritz is the biggest resort on the French Atlantique coast and located close to Bayonne and the border with Spain. It is renown for its beaches, surfing, restaurants and shops but also has a number of museums, including a recently refurbished Aquarium.

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St Jean-de-Luz

South of Biarritz is the ‘Cote Basque’ with the chic little fishing port of St Jean-de-Luz, full of excellent resaurants serving basque specialities, great for lunch or to celebrate a special occasion. A few kilometeres inland from St Jean is the most Western peak of the Pyrenees called ‘La Rhune’. The summit can be reached by hiking but there is a small train called ‘La Petit Train de la Rhune’for those less able or adventurous.

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Further south still from St Jean-de-Luz, right on the Spanish border, is the town of Hendaye, very popular in the summer with surfers and holiday makers. From Hendaye it is very easy to take a 40 minute train ride to visit St Sebastian for the day.

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St Jean-Pied-de-Port

This pretty town is most well known for being on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. For centuries pilgrims have assembled here before passing over the Pyrenees into Spain but it is also a popular tourist destination in the summer so is packed with bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The gothic church has recently been restored and from there you can walk up the main cobbled street to a citadel to admire the views over the surrounding foothills of the mountains.

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The City of Pau

Pau is the capital of the Pyrénées – Atlantiques Department and is located about 100km inland from the Atlantic Ocean and 50km north of the Spanish border. It has an airport with scheduled flights to other European cities, including London. It is a small city, about 80,000 inhabitants, but with a large student population. Pau has a long standing British connection, partly due to its location and mild climate, and the city is now host to many cultural events, particularly sporting. In fact, its Golf course was the first in France, opened in 1856 and is still very popular with locals and visitors alike.

The town is full of charm, the most dominant building being the Chateau de Pau which is open to the public, and leads onto the renown Boulevard des Pyrenees, extending for nearly 2km with breathtaking views over the mountains on a clear day.

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