Between the Col d'Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet
72 km/1 h 46
This circuit takes you away from the Grand Route of the Cols to enter a secret world, a land of rolling hills and valleys sprinkled with tiny villages, a land of chasms and caves, of mystery and legend - the Baronnies. Situated slightly back from the main mountain range the views back into the mountains are exceptional and frequent.
Combine with the itineraries :
In Sainte Marie de Campan leave the D918 which leads to the Col du Tourmalet and head towards Campan then Bagneres de Bigorre.
Once you have reached Bagneres turn right onto the D84, continue for 3 to 4 kms to the Col des Palomieres. Keep following this raod to pass through successively : Banios, La Serre Bulan, Laborde, Esparros, Labastide. Leave Labastide towards Capvern then Mauvezin.
Leave Mauvezin towards Bonnemazon (Abbaye de l’Escaladieu). Leave Bonnemazon towards Bagnères-de-Bigorre.
The Col des Palomieres
It is the entry point into the secret world of the Baronnies, with a superb view.
Walk to the Gourge d'Asque
A fascinating easy walk through luxuriant vegetation, with gigantic trees covered in moss and lichens, an unusual flora. This is the Gourge d'Asque, one could believe oneself in a tropical jungle, it is often called 'the little Amazon'.
Easy walk of 1 hour 15 mins. From the Col des Palomieres follow the Asque direction. The walk starts 5 kms from the vilage towards Bulan.
The Gouffre d'Esparros
The natural abyss of Esparros is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The secretion of Aragonite are fine and delicate and form a beautiful mineral garden.
Guided visit 1 hour. Departure every 15 mins. From Bulan take the D26 and follow 'toutes directions' to Tilhouse. After the village of Laborde follow the sign showing 'toutes directions / Esparros'. 5.7 kms / 12 mins.
The Labastide caves
Just as you get back into daylight it is time to plunge into pre-history. The Labastide caves offer a visit like no other. You will discover the story of stone age man through interactive displays. You will learn how to make fire, to make light with a lamp fuelled by animal fat to then penetrate into a mysterious cave where sound, light and images will help you understand stone age man, his cultures and rituals... Then it is off hunting with a lesson on pre-historic bows, to finish by making your very own cave painting...
Guided visit 1 h 30. From the Gouffre d’Esparros, follow the D77, direction A64, then follow the direction « Hèches » and « Labastide » (6 kms / 11 mins).
The Chateau of Mauvezin
"What about meeting one of the most important figures of the Middle Ages?"
And now what about meeting one of the most important figures of the Middle Ages? The famous Gaston Phebus, Count of Foix and Viscount of Bearn, warrior prince, hunter, and the architect of the magnificent Chateau de Mauvezin, which he transformed into an impenetrable fortress.
As you leave the village of Labastide, take the D217 then the D17 heading towards Capvern. At Avezac-Prat-Lahitte, turn left, on to D938 towards the A64 (Tarbes) and Capvern. Pass through Capvern, then follow the signs « Château de G. Phébus » (13.8 kms / 17 mins).
The Abbey of Escaladieu
On the edge of the forest a bell tower appears, it announces the discrete presence of the Escaladieu abbey. It was fonded in 1140 by Cistercian monks, the building is in perfect harmony with the beliefs of the order : simple and sober. The gardens with their century old trees are peaceful and pleasant. There is a new multi-media area which recreates the missing parts of the abbey, destroyed by the passage of time. This area also reveals the secrets, the history, the legends and also the links with the surrounding area, and everything you need to know about the Cistercian way of life. In summer there are regular concerts. Look out for the programme.
Upon coming back from Mauvezin, turn right in front of the church to follow the D938, then follow signs for the Abbaye d'Escaladieu (3.8 kms / 6 mins)
Bagneres de Bigorre
A famous spa town, you will love the architecture, the casino, the walks through the gardens, the richness of the museums... and its spa baths Aquensis. Before leaving tomorrow find the time to take a short stroll around the old town and replenish your stocks at the market.
The Aquensis Spa
"There are hot baths and lagoons beneath a magnificent wodden structure with all the allure of a cathedral."
With its azure blue facade the thermal spa of Aquensis is an architectural jewel. There are hot baths and lagoons beneath a magnificent wodden structure with all the allure of a cathedral. On the upper floor is a wonderful steam room and 19th century salons, a refined and elegant setting for a massage or other treatments.
2 hour pass. Massages by reservation. Rue du Pont d'Arras, Bagneres de Bigorre.
Worth a detour
The Esponne valley
It is 12 kilometres in length, this secret valley is a veritable nature sanctuary.
Life in the summer pastures, meet the shepherds
Yan and Cedric are shepherds in the Campan valley. Come and join them for a walk to their summer pastures and meet their flocks. Cuddle a lamb, help feed them, then share a picnic whilst they explain their work. These are two passionate farmers who like to talk about their lives, this meeting will not leave you indifferent!
Quartier Côte Esquiou - 65200 Bagnères-de-Bigorre. In Bagnères-de-Bigorre follow the direction of Campan. In Beaudéan, enter village and follow the arrows with the logo « Vie d’Estive ». +336 42 99 85 44
A great idea
- The 'Petits Fruits' shop in Campan
Whether as a jam, a jelly or an accompanying sauce, an aperitif, a liqueur or a cream... ther are over 40 varieties of fruit on offer, to satisfy the most discerning of gourmets. The visit to the workshop is free and tastings are obligatory!
6842 Route du Layris - 65710 Campan +335 62 95 49 50
- The Auberge des Trois Pics "Chez Germaine" in Payolle
A typical mountain auberge, no frills, famous for its grills over an oak fire, its garbure and its myrtille tart.
Near lake of Payolle - 65710 Campan +335 62 91 82 16
- The Refuge des Chasseurs at the Col des Palomieres, Gerde.
One bit of advice, make sure you are hungry as Loulou is very serious about quality and quantity. An ancient mountain auberge.
Quartier Lacoste - 65200 Gerde +335 62 95 26 41
- The Jardin Des Brouches in Bagneres de Bigorre
Local produce, a superb balance of flavours, great attention to each dish, this restaurant richly desrves its 'toque' in the Gault Millau guide.
1 boulevard de l’Hypéron 65200 Bagnères-de-Bigorre +335 62 91 07 95