In March 2022, as part of our van life travels around France, we spent some time in the French Pyrenees. This was one of the places that we were most excited to explore, after carrying out research it seemed there were so many stunning places to see and some amazing things to do, and we were not wrong!
This blog post is all about what we got up to in the French Pyrenees in our motorhome, and our favourite places that we visited.
Saint Jean Pied De Port
Saint Jean Pied De Port is a small commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France in the Pyrenean foothills.
This quaint little commune is home to a Citadel which stands on top of stands on top of Mendiguren Hill. A Citadel is a fortress, typically one on high ground above a city. It was built around 1625-1627. The Citadel is now home to a school.
We thought that Saint Jean Pied De Port was a great place to visit. It was our first stop in the French Pyrenees and we really enjoyed walking around and taking in the magnificent panoramic views of the mountains from the Citadel.
We found road side parking on Park4night which was quiet and a really convenient parking spot close to everything – http://www.park4night.com/lieu/54229/
Lac De Castet
Lac De Castet is in the heart of the Ossau valley. We visited in the winter so everything was closed, but it does seem in the summer season that there are lots of activities to do at the Lake, such as SUP pilates which we thought sounded great fun!
We did struggle to find parking around the Lac De Castet. The car park at the lake has height restrictions which meant we couldn’t park there so we had to park a bit further out, but it was a quiet car park with plenty of space for our motorhome, and it was free.
Lourdes is a town in southwestern France, in the foothills of the French Pyrenees mountains. It is a very holy and religious place.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is an area of ground surrounding the Catholic shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. The sanctuary is truly beautiful. Dogs are not allowed in the grounds, so I (Kirsty) went in alone whilst Ryan waited with Lottie. I didn’t actually go into the sanctuary, only took photos from the outside but you can see below how much of a truly stunning building it is. The detail and the colours are just amazing. You can spend a really long time just looking at the outside of the building!
A lot of the hotels, cafes, restaurants etc were still closed, we assume for the winter, when we visited at the beginning of March.
We found roadside parking a short walk from the sanctuary, but it was a Sunday afternoon in winter when we visited, so not too busy at all.
Cauterets is a spa town, a lively ski resort and a commune. Cauterets is right in the heart of the French Pyrenees national park and there are lots and lots of amazing things to hike and see.
We had planned to hike to the Gaube Lake, The Bridge of Spain and some waterfalls, but unfortunately we found that dogs are not actually allowed right into the Pyrenees National Park, due to rules about protected flowers and wildlife. This was really disappointing for us, but saying that, there are still plenty of places that you can walk your dog and still see some absolutely amazing views.
We found this walk on All Trails, which gave fantastic panoramic views over Cauterets and the beautiful snowy mountains – https://www.alltrails.com/trail/france/hautes-pyrenees/cauterets-haut-de-catarrabes-cambasque
We didn’t ski, because we were with our dog, but the skiing was really busy and popular so if you are a fan of skiing it seems that Cauterets is a great place for it!
Saint Bertrand De Comminges
Saint Bertrand De Comminges is a remarkable archaeological site from the middle ages. It is a historic site in Haute-Garonne in the heart of the central Pyrenees. It was originally a Roman city. Tourists and pilgrims come in large numbers each year, although it was very quiet when we visited on a Sunday afternoon in winter.
There is a large car park just below the town which we could recommend parking in, as the roads are very very narrow if you were to try and drive up to the town. It is only a very short walk from the car park up to the town.
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437