activities and sightseeing in the region
Béarn des Gaves
where cottage "La Fontaine" is situated
1) Fishing and white water activities
Fishing on the Southern Atlantic Coast and Pyrénées Atlantiques (Béarn and Pays Basque)The southern part of the Atlantic Coast and the Landes department down to the Béarn and Adour River offer a wide range of fishing. Trout, salmon and grayling fishing is concentrated largely in the Béarn and Pays Basque, in the rivers flowing down from the western Pyrenees. Remember you'll need a fishing permit and that seasons vary from department to department so check the fishing seasons before you go.
From Peyrehorade to the sea the river forms the border between the department of Les Landes and the Pyrenées Atlantiques. It contains a wide range of fish: mullet, trout, shad, sea trout, carp, eels, pike, the European cat fish, and lampreys.
The Gave d´Oloron is recommended for trout, sea trout and grayling on a fly. It is also the site of the world salmon fishing championships held in May. The Gave de Pau is a confluence of the mountain streams flowing down the valleys to the south of Lourdes. From Lourdes both Gaves flow northwest to join the Adour as Les Gaves Réunis.
Fishing Seasons in Pyrénées Atlantiques (Pays Basque and Béarn)Please follow this link for latest update on fishing seasons (in French):"http://www.unpf.fr/64/departement.php?page=1023"
The Gave d'Oloron is one of France's main salmon rivers. Years ago they were so plentiful that farmers insisted on a limit of three times a week for lunch. Today they are not so easy to find, partly due to estuarial netting. However efforts are being made to resolve this problem. In 1996, for the first time, netting rights were bought out - for three days a week- and last year for the whole month of July. The declared take last year was 120 fish, the real take probably three times as high and people said they had not seen so many salmon in the river for years. And while the fishing is improving it is still some of the cheapest to be had in the world. The villages of Navarrenx and Sauveterre de Béarn put on each year the World Salmon Fishing Championships.
There is excellent sea trout to be had and in those rivers classified for sea trout fishing is allowed for two hours after dark. The rivers are teeming with wild trout. It is a natural population of fish and a real challenge for the expert fly fisherman - they seem to recognize foreign flies for the bait they are.
A fine and somewhat unrecognized sporting fish is the Shad, a delicacy of the area; and there is also a good range of coarse fish from barbel to pike.
Regulations and licences
The regulations are complex and it is always advisable to check when you get there. Most rivers and streams, and many lakes, are open to the public for fishing. Once you have bought your license you can fish almost anywhere in the department. Two areas insist on their own licenses and a very few riverside owners keep the rights to themselves. For a small extra fee your license will also allow you to fish in neighbouring departments. So for a small sum you get access to thousands of kilometers of fine fishing. There are limits to the numbers and size of fish you can take and there is one stretch of river declared NO KILL.
Rivers are classified first or second class. Fishing in the first category rivers is generally allowed between 14 March and 20 September, or July 31 for salmon and sea trout. Fishing in Second category rivers is allowed throughout the year except where they are classified salmon or sea trout. The quality of the fishing in Spring and early Summer depends on the snow melt. When the thaw is in progress the waters become too swift and cold for the best fishing. Rivers are not all affected the same: the Nivelle and Nive rise in maritime hills that seldom see snow. The Saison sees rather more while the Gave d'Oloron rises at 3,000 meters.
Salmon fishing in the Pyrenees
The Béarn region of the Pyrenees offers a great diversity of fishing landscapes From the high peak of Ohry to the low valley of the Gave d'Oloron all kind of torrents, mountain streams and salmon rivers can be found. The "Gave" is an impressive emerald green powerful wide river with the snowy Pyrenees making the background decor. Until the early 50's the region was visited by international salmon anglers like Iceland or Russia today. The salmon runs are no longer what they were but a few specialists make nice catches every year. A challenging experience for the visitor...There is still a sort of "world championship" organized every year in Navarrenx and Sauveterre de Béarn.
White water activities
Flow along with the current on the "Gave d'Oloron" mountain stream.By raft, by kayak... from Navarrenx to Sauveterre-de-Béarn, experience an adventure on the most beautiful river in the Pyrenees (class 2) up to the edge of the Pays-Basque.
For sharing among friends, as a family or in a group, with professional supervision. For a day or a weekend... from Spring to Autumn... Live through some unforgettable moments by defying the Gave d'Oloron's currents and experience a maximum of sensations amidst the magnificent and wild countryside. All of this with total safety and in a convivial atmosphere ! Based on rafting technology each canoe raft (often known as ‘hot-dog’) can carry 2 or 3 people.
The Canoe raft is light and easy to handle which enables fast movement and wave jumping.
A single paddle for each member as well as a life jacket, a helmet and wet suit (depending on the water temperature) are provided.
The two activities of canoe raft and rafting can be run together. Up to 11 people can be accommodated in each raft, which is wide and stable ensuring safe navigation throughout the season with the variation of flow of the Pyrenean rivers.
Characteristics & equipment
To ensure your safety each raft has a guide who travels with it throughout the journey. Meeting point at ‘Booste’ headquarters in the village of Sauveterre de Béarn where you will be provided with the necessary equipment (changing rooms available). Then departure to the embarkation point in Navarrenx by minibus for the 23km course. The activity finishes at approx. 17.30 hrs.
Half way down the course we stop for lunch, you can bring your own picnic or join in for a BBQ on the riverside including potato salad, bacon, lamb chop, home made desert, bread, wine and coffee.
There is also a half-day excursion of either the morning or the afternoon.
You will need to bring swimming costume, towel and shoes suitable for use in the water. Characteristics & equipment Lying on a float you will slide on the water. A wet suit, life jacket, helmet, a pair of flippers to propel and steer yourself and stay afloat are provided.
A guide will accompany you all the way.
The mild climate of Salies-de-Béarn enables you to play all year round in favorable conditions. The diversity of relief and landscapes allowed to develop a varied, mostly technical course.
From the banks of the river Saleys to the centennial oaks on the Pain du Sucre, the course makes use of the natural terrain to create Scottish-style links.
Beginners and experts will enjoy the daily green-fee.
12 holes par 68 on a 18-holes basis 5035 m.
Skill level required : Leisure - green fee or handicap : 54
A CONCENTRATE OF THE PYRENEES…At an altitude of 1400 m from the resort facing due south, the ski resort Gourette offers you a Pyrenean skiing paradise where the mountains are as they should be – grandiose ! SKIING, SNOWBOARDING, HIKING… AN AFICIONADOS PARADISE
Gourette with « high-powered » ski runs dropping over 1000 m, « fast and spacious » runs, an area of 7 hectares devoted to beginners, with a snowpark and boardercross is ready for every kind of skier and is improving its facilities every season. A village atmosphere, service included. Restaurants, bars, a wide range of shops and accommodation, cinema, entertainment and a host of services on top (crèche and day care centre in the resort, fitness centre in the spa at Les Eaux-Bonnes).
Issarbe-1400-1500 meters altitude.
Situated among panoramic ridges opposite the Pic d'Anie, Issarbe offers a gorgeous natural environment with a fabulously charming hospitality. Activities include: sledding, trekking, skiing, motor vehicle excursions as well as dog sledding! For 9 runs there are 31km. Beginners & professionals alike will enjoy these powdery rides & surrounding beauty
Iraty 1200-1400 meters
Placed in one of the most beautiful and vast forestlands of France (5000 hectars), Iraty offers breathtaking views of the magnificent Haute Soule mountains and the Ossau and Aspe valleys. Only a two hour drive from the Basque coast the station is filled with charming chalets and a positively marvelous ambiance. Plenty of nordic activities are proposed along with the more common ski and snowboard options. There are 35 km for 4 runs. There is also a sledding area for the children and adults alike!
Web cams and weather reports may be found on the websites.
4) Cycling etc.
4) Cycling etc.
"La Fontaine" cottage near Sauveterre de Béarn
Lost of cycling tracks and trails can be found in the vicinity of cottage " La Fontaine". They are numbered and graded like ski runs: green for very easy, blue for easy, red for difficult and black, very difficult. There are over 100 kms of marked tracks around Sauveterre de Béarn, Salies de Béarn and Navarrenx and the other nearby villages.
"La Fontaine" cottage also offers other leisure activities nearby; Horse riding, golf, tennis, walking, thermal spa, casino and wine tasting arrangements.
5) Local Area Discovery
5) Local Area Discovery
Other less strenuous activities are also available including wine and cheese tasting on the famous wine and cheese routes that cross the region. Guided tours of local towns and villages and heritage sites are also available throughout the year.
Spring is an exciting time the year heralded by the early flowers and blossoms. The farmers start to move the cattle and horses back up to the mountains "La transhumance" and the hikers and pilgrims begin to appear on the path to Saint James de Compostella. Fisherman also make an appearance as March sees the trout and salmon appearing. There are plenty of nearby rivers to choose from such as " Le Saison, Le Gave d'Oloron, Le Gave d'Aspe" and " Le Gave d'Ossau". At this time cycling also increases as the weather improves There is still enough snow on the peaks to give photos that perfect finish. Pau and Lourdes are also well worth a visit and events begin in March.
In summer now that the sheep are back in the mountains the village fetes have begun in earnest and the jazz festivals are in full swing. This is the busiest time of the year for the Béarn and amongst all the activities there is of course the "Brocante" season. The Tour de France usually passes within close distance of the Aubisque. Le Petit Train D'Artouste is a must and you spend an enjoyable day in the mountains with spectacular views. Horse trekking and donkey hire are also available in the mountains and what better way to relax than with hydrotherapy and salt water spa treatments in the thermal spa of Salies de Béarn. onsidered the Venice of the Béarn, Salies is a beautiful traditional village with an old medieval quarter and a charming old-fashioned 19th century area. The Place du Bayaa is the heart of the town and the start of the market that is held every Thursday morning where you can buy fresh local produce, clothes and gifts. There are excellent shops, bars and restaurants along with a supermarket, banks, a cinema, a golf course and a casino at the famous Hotel du Parc. During the summer each village or town in the area holds its own fete which takes places over one weekend. The two main festivals in Salies are "La Piperadère" a kind of outdoor Masterchef cooking event and "La fête du sel" the spectacular annual salt feastOn average temperatures will still be around 25°C and make walking and cycling very pleasant.
This quieter autumn period is an ideal time to visit the historically and architecturally interesting towns of Béarn like Pau, Orthez, Salies de Béarn, Sauveterre de Béarn and Navarrenx as the bulk of the holiday makers have left and the remaining attractions are that bit less busy. Flights are also cheaper as well as accommodation whilst most of the activities are still available.
Salies de Béarn has become most famous because of its salt - legend has it that this was discovered when an injured boar fell into a swamp and was discovered later covered in salt and thus perfectly preserved. Salies-de-Béarn has been the envy of man because of the availability of its salt water sources. Firstly for extraction of the salt and, later, for its therapeutic properties.Spa therapy in its present form began in 1857 during the reign of Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie. The spa waters are strongly salted, rich in Magnesium and ten times more concentrated than seawater! The waters are used for their relaxing and stimulating properties especially useful for the following treatments : Rheumatology, Gynaecology and Paediatrics and more recently, Health, Fitness and Wellness!
The spa treatments are numerous and varied, for external applications.
Relax at the Thermal Spa in water at 32°C and take advantage of the water jets, geysers, swimming against a current of water, bubbling baths, waterfalls, a fountain (length of the pool: 17 m - depth: 1.30 m) for a beneficial and relaxing treatment. Access to the hammam (steam bath) and heated terrace. Outside fresh water pool (May to September) or pamper yourself with one of the many beauty treatments on offer.Lourdes the celebrated holy shrine of St. Bernadette is visited by many thousands of pilgrims each year and is just one hour's drive away,
Saint Jean Pied de Port is the last stop before the mountain pass of Roncevaux (Roncesvalles) on the pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Pilgrims have been making the trek ever since the 10th Century, their routes intersecting in the medieval village of Sauveterre de Béarn.
You can reach Spain in just one hour where you can sample local tapas, enjoy some sangria and take advantage of the shopping. The cosmopolitan city of San Sebastian is highly recommended ! Bilbao within 2 hours' drive offers the world famous Guggenheim museum.
The historic town of Pau which is the capital of Béarn is only 40 mins away. It's not only famous for its first golf course on the European mainland but it also offers vast shopping possibilities, galleries, chateau of Henry IV, boulevard des Pyrénées lined with palm trees offering a stunning panoramic view on the Pyrenees. Leisure Activities The Atlantic Ocean Aquitaine is bathed in a mild oceanic climate with the influence of the Gulf Stream and has the longest stretch of sandy coastline and the largest pinewood forest throughout Europe. The Pyrenees Atlantiques in particular is a combination of beautiful rolling landscapes, a deeply rooted culture and a history it can be proud of as well as flavoursome gastronomy.
Biarritz has some of the best surf in the world and great beaches such as La Grande Plage which is dotted with striped bathing tents as well as a lively atmosphere and a wide selection of bars and restaurants.
On the southern reaches of the Silver Coast, Hossegor is Europe’s surf Mecca and a world famous spot for the annual Quiksilver World Pro Surfing Competition. Hossegor has what is arguably Europe’s most consistent waves.
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