The Haute Pyrenees’s is where we have been house sitting for the last month. Situated along the French border with Spain its a vast area with mountains in the south whilst the north is a much flatter landscape making them quite different in character.
We have seen beautiful villages, stunning views and tried some delicious food.
It would be very challenging to explore all of this area so here are the places we visited during our stay.
This is the nearest town to where we are staying it is situated on the border of the Gers and the Hautes-Pyrenees, to me it seems more of a village than a town. It’s a charming town that has many street cafe’s, boutiques and a 15th Century church. Every Wednesday a market is held in the centre which is extremely popular with the locals who are all friendly and helpful.
Surrounded by large wooded areas and the lake Boulogne sur Gimone on the outskirts which provides water sports and picnics areas.
In the opposite direction from Boulogne-sur-Gesse is Castelnau Magnoac. A little rougher around the edges compared to Boulogne it’s still busy town which as a market on Saturday morning, several shops and bar which is always busy with locals, there is also a strong English contingent in this area. We go in search of the second-hand shop to see if they have any English books.
On the outskirts of the town is an English run tea room it literally is as its name states ’The Blue Teapot’. They serve Yorkshire tea and homemade cake, it’s amazing.
On a clear day we can see the Pyrenees so today we take a drive into the mountains and cross the border into Spain it takes just under an hour. It’s a clear day and as we zig-zag our way up the mountains the views are stunning, if not a little scary at times.
Just over the mountain from us, we find the Gorges de la save with a pretty creek. Great prehistoric discoveries have been made there. Skeletons of extinct animals and the famous Lespugue venus, a figurine sculpted in mammoth ivory was apparently found inside one of the caves at the gorge. Safety barriers have been put up so we can only walk so far, from what we can see it looks impressive. Shame we can’t walk any further.
Auch is a large town with fantastic views of the Gers Valley. Steeped in history with lots to see and do we decide to visit the cathedral and the staircase.
Sainte – Marie’s cathedral is a magnificent building apparently it is considered to be the last gothic cathedral built in France. It has 18 stained glass windows and 113 choir stalls sculpted in oak it is quite something. We had to use a side door due to the path being repaved which was a shame we didn’t get to see the main entrance.
The monumental staircase which saw floods in 1977 Is a split staircase that has 374 steps linking the top and lower parts of the town. Due to the use of poor quality materials when begin built, it has had to be refurbished over the years. You get a great view from the top across the river.
Just a short drive from us is the pretty village of St Blancard which has the most amazing Chateau. Sadly it has as been abandoned by its English owner who is unwell. We are told by the locals how wonderful it was inside and they hope for it to reopen again one day. The French authorities have set up a foundation to hopefully restore it. I really like it here and if I were ever to live in France it would probably be somewhere like this. It has all the amenities you need and great views.
We go along to the Fete being held here it’s very similar to a farmers market back home but goes on until late in the evening. The locals soon realise we are English so for the next half an hour we become the centre of attention! We get to try brioche, honey, caramelised onion pasta and aperitifs they are all very tasty. For such a small village there’s quite a good turn out.
A busy town with a large market that was starting to pack away when we arrived. I’m not sure whether I like it here it seems a little run down to me. Anyway, we decide to have a ‘plat de jour’ for lunch at Le Saint Gille. Once again we struggle with the menu and the young waitress doesn’t speak any English, we can’t get a signal to use the translator. A lovely French couple Olivier and Florence sitting next to us come to our rescue, we hope they enjoyed the rest of their holiday.