Click on the map for larger maps of the Departments
and on the names of the Mini Regions
Note: All the following are worth visiting (plus hundreds of other smaller routes).
A WORD TO THE WISE: Take a map, a can of petrol, binoculars (the wild life is fabulous up there, but remember its wild, your not all Davy Crocket or Tarzan), be aware of all domestic animals roaming free on the roads; sheep, cows, horses, mountain goats etc., use the gearbox on the car to slow you down on steep declines not just your brakes (or you will find you have none) and please tell someone where your going!
Stop and watch the local mountain Bergers (shepherds) milk 300 to 400 head of sheep (yes
sheep! 4 squirts and they're done, slight exaggeration! but not far off the truth) to make the local
"Brebis" cheese (very good cheese, consistancy somewhat like a Cheddar).
In Winter a 4 x 4 is advisable or at least carry chains for the car your driving. The Valleys and Towns below the Mountains have plenty of Hotels, Hostels & Campsites (hopefully we can get some of them on this site, later). Have a Great time, it's worth it!
Key: (1) In text N°.1 on Map: (64) Department Number: The colour of Cols, Valleys etc is shown on map, the direction as described is shown by arrow:
(1) The Col d'Aspin (65): From Bagneres de Bigorre through to Arreau. Visit in summer, impassable in the Winter.
(2)The Col d'Aubisque (65) (Pass road at 1500m altitude with drop down one side): From Argeles Gazost through Aucun on to Gourette (Ski Resort in Winter) and Laruns. Visit in summer, impassable in the Winter. "Man of the Pyrenees Mountains stage" route in the famous "Tour de France" cycle race every year.
(3) The Col de Lizuniaga (64, Basque): From Sare through to Vera de Bidasoa (in Spain) and back to the Col d'Ibardin and on to Ciboure & St, Jean de Luz. Visit any time of year, different in all seasons.
(4) The Col du Tourmalet (65): From Luz St. Sauveur through Bareges to La Mongie (passing the South face of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre and back to Bagnères-de-Bigorre down the Campan Valley. Visit in summer, impassable in the Winter. Route used on some occasions on the famous "Tour de France" cycle race.
(5) Ainhoa (64, Basque) - Village on entrance to valley and pass to Spain. Visit any time of year, different in all seasons.
(6) Mauleon (64, Basque) Town on entrance to a pass near to the Gorges de Kakouetta and up to Pierre Saint Martin and on to Spain. Visit any time of year, different in all seasons.
(7) Oloron (64, Bearn) Town on entrance to Two passes (1. See Valley d'Aspe below) and the other through to Pierre Saint Martin and on to Spain. Visit any time of year, different in all seasons (pic-nic on Pierres late on a Summers evening, as it takes longer for the sun to go down at 1800m - 2200m altitude. Another benifit to Pierres is there are no other mountains in the view to the plains below and cities like Pau are just small dots. Pick the day because at this altitude low clouds or heat haze can spoil the view).
(8) The Valley des Aldudes (64, Basque): From Saint Etienne-de-Baigorry - Town on entrance to wide valley (des Aldudes) and passes in two directions to Spain, Col d'Ispeguy 5 kms and Collado de Urquiaga in Spain 35 kms. Visit in summer, impassable sometimes in the Winter.
(9) The Valley d'Aspe (64, Bearn) : From Oloron through to Col du Somport and on to Spain. Visit any time of year, different in all seasons.
(10) The Valley d'Aure (65) : From Lannemezan through to Saint Lary-Soulon - Village on entrance to another 2 valleys (1 throught to tunnel and Spain). Visit any time of year, different in all seasons.
(11) The Valley Capvern(65): From Lannemezan through to Capvern les Bains (Thermes here), down to Mauvezin, the castle and monastery and on to Bagneres de Bigorre Visit any time of year, different in all seasons, superb unobstructed views across the valley to the mountains and the Pic de Midi Observatory (2865m alt (10,000ft above sea level)).
(12) The Valley de Gavarnie (65) : From Argeles Gazost through to Luz St. Sauveur and on up to Gavarnie Visit any time of year, different in all seasons
(13) The Valley du Louron (65) : From Lannemezan through to Arreau - Village on entrance to 2 valleys (continue up the Valley d'Aure to St. Lary) or through to - Bagneres de Luchon Visit any time of year, different in all seasons.
(14) The Valley d'Ossau (64, Bearn) : From Jurançon through to Laruns - Near the Gorges of Hourat and of Bitet and on from there to: Gourette or on to Spain through Artouste. Visit any time of year, different in all seasons
(15) The Valley de la Petite Nive (64, Basque) : From Saint Jean Pied de Port - Town on entrance to narrow valley to the small Village of Arneguy (8 kms) along the river Petite Nive and to Spain with cheaper shopping (Worth noting, Arneguy is French on one side of the river and Spanish on the other). Visit Arneguy in any season, to pass further into Spain, may be impassable at sometime during the Winter.