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Summer activities

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Lac du Suyen

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Walking towards Lac de Gaube

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Egyptian Vulture in the grounds of Les Artigaux

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Booted Eagle overhead Les Artigaux

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Cycling the Etape du Tour

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The 2010 Tour climbs past Les Artigaux

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The spectacle of the Tour de France

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Mountain biking Col de Bazes

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White water rafting

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Paragliding

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Canyoning near Gedre

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The ropes course

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The hot tub after a long day out

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Experience paragliding... 

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with a tandem flight

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Preparing for take off

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Airborne!

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Flying like a bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located in the heart of the Pyrénées, the area around Les Artigaux is pure paradise for walkers and cyclists of all abilities. Other activities available locally include horse riding, white-water rafting, paragliding and fishing. For nature lovers, the unspoilt natural environment is bursting with mountain flora and fauna, including marmots, eagles, vultures and chamois.


Walking

Throughout the surrounding countryside, there are numerous marked paths for walkers - some of which are accessible from the grounds of Les Artigaux. There are fairly gentle circuits suitable for families, or more challenging routes such as the GR10 which passes through Arrens (the GR10 runs along the Pyrénées from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean). Locally-based guides also offer escorted walks into the mountains.

Bird watching

The Val d'Azun and the surrounding area are excellent for bird watching. Griffon Vultures, Black and Red Kites and Buzzards are seen overhead on virtually a daily basis. Egyptian Vultures, Golden Eagles, Booted Eagles, Short-Toed Eagles are regularly sighted and even the rare Lammergeier is seen fairly often. In the autumn, large flocks of Cranes fly over during their migration, along with smaller numbers of White and Black Storks.

Road Cycling

For two or three days in July each year, the Pyrénées are centre stage for the Tour-de-France. Climbs such as the Tourmalet or the Aubisque, and the mountain-top finishes at Lourdes-Hautacam or Luz-Ardiden, are some of the most challenging climbs in the entire race. For cycling enthusiasts, following in the tyre tracks of the Tour is the ultimate challenge and there are many routes from Les Artigaux, which incorporate the most famous climbs.


Tour de France

The Tour de France always comes close by, sometimes right past the end of the drive. In 2013 the nearest the race will be is on Sunday 7th July when stage 9 finishes in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. The Etape du Tour is regularly run over the local stages, although not in 2013. However, there are other opportunites to ride the famous climbs.

Cyclosportives

For some the Etape du Tour is the ultimate challenge, but due to it's popularity it is sometimes difficult to get an entry. There are smaller events which include major climbs such as the Tourmalet and are well organised with proper marshals and feed stations. The most local of these to Les Artigaux is:

La Pyrénéenne. The start and finish rotates between Argelès-Gazost, Bagnères-de-Bigorre and Saint-Lary-Soulan. In 2013 it will take place on July 14th with the start and finish in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. There will be two courses of 120km and 180km. Details are not yet available, but the Tourmalet is bound to feature.

If you would like to participate in this event we can provide further information and help with entry. 


Mountain Biking

The stunning Val-d’Azun has over 450km of marked trails for mountain bike enthusiasts, but tackling the cols and longer trails will require a reasonable level of fitness. For those needing to build up to these challenges, there are a number of relatively gentle mountain bike routes to start off with. For those wishing for a more relaxing experience, there is a virtually flat paved cycleway along an old railway track between Lourdes and Argelès.


Paragliding (Parapente)

Val d’Azun is the ideal location for paragliding. There are two schools in Aucun which offer flights in a dual harness with an instructor. They also run courses (up to a week) to teach participants to fly solo. A number of our guests have tried paragliding and thoroughly recommend the experience. We can recommend the Comme un Oiseau school in Aucun and can make bookings on your behalf if you wish. The price for a dual flight is around 50€.


White-water rafting

White-water rafting is available at several locations along the Gave-de-Pau (near Argelès-Gazost). Some of the routes are suitable for young children; others are more challenging and exciting. Kayak and canyoning trips are also offered locally. A white-water rafting trip costs around 20€ per person.

 

Ropes course

The Chlorofil ropes course in Argelès-Gazost has a variety of courses graded green, blue, red and black according to difficulty. The blacks will test even the fittest. There are also 4 courses suitable for younger children - there is a minimum height limit of 1.40m for the main courses. 

Learning to paraglide

Our friend Vince writes about his experience of learning to paraglide in the Val d'Azun:

"From my very first visit to the area I have gazed upwards in awe at the paragliders soaring above this magnificent landscape. So much so that I just had to have a go.  Initially I took a tandem flight with Comme Un Oiseau based in Aucun to experience the sensation of flying and see the panorama unfold. I greatly enjoyed this experience as did my wife and two sons. 

After that I decided that I just had to go solo.  So I enrolled on a ‘beginners' course last May with a friend, Simon, who shared my interest in learning to paraglide.  We enrolled on a 5 day course with Comme Un Oiseau. We joined a course of 4 and managed to learn and make ourselves understood in a combination of poor French and equally poor English.

The weather wasn't kind to us and we managed three days of training that week which got us through the theory, familiarised us with the equipment, taught us to lay out and inflate the glider and how to take off and land.  The best day was sitting up in our ‘classroom' high up on the slopes of Hautacam having a meteorology lesson as we watched the clouds roll by.  This was where we had our first short hop flights practising our take off and landing drill. 

As we were about to come down after a tiring day we were asked whether we were ready for ‘Le Grand Vol' - our first solo flight.  In reality we had more to learn before our first flight such as how to plan the flight, how to approach the landing strip and to familiarise ourselves with the landing area.

This we did over the course of the next day.  Thursday dawned and we headed off up the Couraduque for our first solo flight.  The cloud base was low at 1200m, about the same height as the lower take off point.  So we sat on the mountainside stomachs churning waiting for the clouds to lift.  Eventually we had to call it a day and with a mixture of relief and disappointment drove back down the mountain. And the weather closed in and that was that.

At the end of the course we were asked for any points for improvement.  By and large we were all very pleased with the course.  However our fellow French pupils did make reference to the lack of in flight catering! 

Not to be deterred we planned a return trip for August.  The appointed day was perfect and we picked up our gear and went straight up to the top launch site on the Couraduque and off we went.  No qualms, pure adrenaline and a fantastic experience.  I shouted with sheer exhilaration as I took off and made my first successful solo flight.

We have just completed our second ‘intermediate' course, working on our take off and landings, ground handling skills and starting to plan for longer flights. The best experience was a tandem flight of over an hour, taking the controls and learning to fly in our first thermal and handling flying in more challenging conditions.  The learning curve has been steep but very enjoyable.

The set up works well. From our apartment at Les Artigaux we can check out the conditions and be at the rendezvous in Aucun within 10 minutes.  This gives us great flexibility to be able to maximise flying time when conditions are good.  After a strenuous day's flying we find the best way to unwind is a soak in the hot tub and a cold beer, reflecting on what we have learned and watching the clouds roll by.

I can thoroughly recommend the Val d'Azun as a great place to learn to paraglide, to hone your flying skills or simply to come and watch."