French Pyrenees Van Life – Best things to do in the French Pyrenees

Updated:

DSC 10541 scaled e1646765891712

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.

Located on the French side of the Pyrenees, it is close to Spain and serves as an important stopover point for hikers taking the traditional Camino de Santiago route across the Pyrenees.

The old quarter is particularly charming with its narrow cobbled streets, fortified city walls and 16th-century houses. There is also a beautiful Romanesque church in the centre of town built in the 12th century.

Visitors can enjoy the picturesque views of mountains and valleys from Pont Napoleon bridge or take part in one of the many activities such as horse riding, mountain biking or rock climbing.

Saint Jean Pied De Port is also a great base for exploring the Basque region and its delicious cuisine.

This quaint little commune is home to a Citadel, built around 1625-1627, which stands on top of Mendiguren Hill. A Citadel is a fortress, typically one on high ground above a city. 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 is a lake located just outside of Saint Jean Pied De Port in the heart of the Ossau valley.

It is the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The lake is surrounded by majestic mountains and lush green fields, providing visitors with stunning views while they enjoy a leisurely stroll or have a picnic.

The area is also ideal for those looking to take part in water sports, fishing and camping. For those who want to explore the lake a little further, there are several boats available for hire from the nearby village of La Bizkarra.

Lac De Castet is also noted for its rich wildlife, with many species of birds, fish and plants found in the area. It’s easy to see why Lac De Castet is such a popular destination for those seeking a relaxed and peaceful break.

The lake also provides an important source of water to the local population, ensuring it remains an integral part of the beautiful Basque landscape.

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 stand up paddle boarding and 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.

french pyrenees
DSC 10831

TIP – If you would like to check out any of our other France blog posts then you can find them here – France – Three As A Bird – Van Life Travels

Lourdes

Lourdes is a town in southwestern France, nestled in the foothills of the French Pyrenees mountains. It is best known for its religious significance.

The area has been a popular pilgrimage destination since 1858 when the Virgin Mary appeared to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Lourdes remains an important centre of Catholic faith and attracts millions of pilgrims each year.

The town centre is dominated by the imposing Notre Dame de Lourdes basilica and Grotto of Massabielle, where a number of miraculous healing stories have been reported. Visitors can explore the area’s other attractions such as the Château Fort de Lourdes or take part in a boat tour along the Gave de Pau river.

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 taking in the detail 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.

With its spiritual atmosphere and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder why so many visitors flock to Lourdes each year.

DSC 11021
DSC 10951
Travel Influencer Pinterest Pin 27 1
Save this Pin to your Van Life Pinterest board for later

Cauterets

Cauterets is a picturesque mountain village, 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 do and see.

Known for its thermal springs, Cauterets is one of Europe’s oldest spa towns and an ideal spot to relax and unwind. Visitors can soak in the hot springs in the town centre or take part in more active pursuits such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and hiking.

Cauterets is also home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in France, with lush valleys, steep mountains, waterfalls and rivers all within easy reach. Its unique setting makes it a great base for exploring the Pyrenees National Park as well as other nearby attractions such as Gavarnie Falls or the Cirque de Gavarnie.

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 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!

DSC 11401
Cream And Brown Aesthetic Ask Me A Question Facebook Post 1
Join Our Facebook Community Here!

Saint Bertrand De Comminges

Saint Bertrand De Comminges is an ancient hilltop city and a remarkable archaeological site from the middle ages. It is a historic site in Haute-Garonne in the heart of the central Pyrenees. Tourists and pilgrims come in large numbers each year, although it was very quiet when we visited on a Sunday afternoon in winter.

It has a long history dating back to Roman times, and is most renowned for its stunning 11th century cathedral, which is considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. The city also boasts a variety of other attractions such as the 12th century Saint-Just church, the ruins of a 13th century castle and a historic cemetery.

Saint Bertrand De Comminges is also home to some excellent restaurants serving traditional French cuisine, as well as many quaint cafes, bars and shops to browse.

There is a large car park just below the town which we would recommend parking in, as the roads are 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.

St Bertrand de Commminges J.Estrade

Keep up with our full time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel  – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube

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

Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! –https://pin.it/770Cq1Q

adaf5dcb 5077 4328 84a3 8fa875f177a0 e1673114899974

I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.

 

Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.

 

There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.

After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.

It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • The 10 Best Road Trips in Europe to Inspire and Amaze You

    The 10 Best Road Trips in Europe to Inspire and Amaze You

    Are you wanting to have one of the best road trips but can’t decide where to go? Europe is the perfect answer. The continent is home to some of the most beautiful and inspiring places, from historical landmarks to natural wonders. A road trip in Europe will allow you to discover its hidden gems, breath-taking […]

    Read more

  • Can You Use the Toilet Whilst Driving in Your Campervan?

    Can You Use the Toilet Whilst Driving in Your Campervan?

    Are you wondering if you can use the toilet whilst driving in your campervan? Well, you’re not alone. With the popularity of campervans in recent years, many people are curious about the feasibility of using their campervan or motorhome toilet whilst on the road. In this blog, we’ll discuss the legal aspects of using the […]

    Read more

  • Van Life in Croatia – The Ultimate Guide

    Van Life in Croatia – The Ultimate Guide

    Van life in Croatia is becoming increasingly popular, and we recently spent 5 weeks exploring all over and experiencing the best of what this country has to offer. Croatia is known for its stunning coastline, national parks, and mountain ranges, making it the perfect place to explore in a van. With so much to see […]

    Read more

  • 5 Best TV Brackets for Motorhomes and Campervans

    5 Best TV Brackets for Motorhomes and Campervans

    On rainy days or in the evenings after a busy day exploring, its great to get cosy, chill out and unwind in your motorhome or campervan and watch your favourite TV shows. Once you have taken the time to find your perfect TV, you want to make sure that your TV bracket is strong and […]

    Read more