Activities within the Lesponne Valley
There are lots of activities to be found within the Lesponne Valley that are fun for all the family to enjoy.
L’Aya Parc Acrobatique
L’Aya parc provides aerial adventure trails in the trees and is only a couple of kilometres from River Cottage on the way up to Chirolet.
Donkey and Horse Riding
During the Summer Season a riding stable sets up shop in the valley opposite the hotel. You can also get donkey rides from Chirolet that carry you up to some of the lakes.
Also see section on horse riding for stables further afield.
Fishing can be arranged in the trout farm which you will see as soon as you turn into the valley. Fishing can also be arranged up at Payolle along with lessons.
See the fishing section for info on fishing licences.
There are countless opportunities to try out hundreds of ‘mountain activities’ that you can either organise yourselves or through an agent. Aneto Sport is conveniently based at the bottom of the valley in Beaudean just before you turn up towards Lesponne. Besides arranging things like white water rafting, paragliding, canoeing, canyoning, via ferrata and just about any other mountain activity you can think of, they also hire out bikes and ski equipment of all description. Many of the activities can be done by both children and adults. They also cater for disabled skiers. See their website www.aneto-sports.com .
Payolle is a great place to look for things to do for smaller children. At the lake there is a water activity centre and lead pony rides. There is also another arboreal trail centre.
A visit up Hautacam will give you the opportunity to try out the mountain luge (individual carts on a track). I know this was probably designed and built with children in mind but I have to admit that I had a huge amount of fun doing this one day in March!
Another unusual activity to try out is Cani rando (hiking with dogs). The minimum age is 8 years old however, little children can get towed along in a ‘sulky’. There is a company based in the Louron Valley close to Peyragude. They also do something called Cani-Kart which is dog sledding with a cart. There is a company that do similar activities based closer to home, at Payolle. See www.attelagealtitude.com and www.sherpa-chien-traineau.fr
Lac de Génos- Loudenvielle situated in the magnificent Louron Valley is worth a visit. The Ludéo waterpark is on the edge of this beautiful lake and it is open through July and August. It has 25m swimming pool, paddling pool with water chute, 5 parallel soft water slides a spa along with a snack bar and also a picnic area.
At the lake, paddle boats can be rented in Génos. It is open in summer and, weather permitting, on September weekends. For canoeing and stand up paddle boarding get information from the wooden hut behind Ludéo.
Les Ôcybelles is an eco-friendly pool and embraces the concept of biological swimming. It is a natural pool basin whose water is completely purified by a biological process without the need for chlorine or other chemicals. It is purified by hygrophytes plants and oxygen provided by water jets and bubbling.
It is located in the heart of a wooded nature area, on the border between the villages of Saint Laurent de Neste and Nestier, on 1.5 hectares of land dedicated to leisure: outdoor games area, fitness trail, boardwalk and picnic area. www.ocybelles.fr .
Centre Aquatique Lau Folies is in the heart of the Valley of Gaves in Lau-Balagnas. Unlike the previously mentioned water parks, it is open all year as it also has an indoor pool. Outside there is another pool and a wading pool along with water slides. It has lots of grassy areas for picnicking and many shaded areas too. Check out their website for activities and timetables. www.laufolies.com .
Castles, Caves and Bird displays
There are things to do and places to visit that don’t require bags of energy.
The Medieval Castle in Lourdes is classed as an historical monument and it houses the Pyrenean Museum. See the website for opening times and prices www.chateaufort-lourdes .
You can buy a combined ticket which will allow you to visit the Pic du Jer on the hundred year old funicular. See www.picdujer.fr for what to expect at the top.
Another impressive castle in the area can be found at Mauvezin. The address is 10 Rue du Chateau Mauvezin. 65130. Web address: www.chateaudemauvezin.com .
You can find the Grottes de Betharram at Saint-Pe-de-Bigorre. It is reputed to be the most beautiful cave in Europe. The entrance to the cavity is located in the town of Asson (Pyrenees-Atlantiques) and the exit is 2.5km away at Saint-Pe-de-Bigorre (Hautes Pyrenees). Visitors should park their car at the exit site and take the free connection bus to the cave entrance. The tour inside the caves incorporates a boat trip and a ride on a train before coming back to the surface at the carpark.
Gouffre d’Esparros (translated as the Chasm of Esparros) is a garden of crystals. It is in the heart of the unspoilt Baronnies Valley. Limited numbers of people are allowed to visit the caves in order to preserve them. It is very busy throughout the year but especially in June, July and August when booking ahead is essential.
Les Grottes de Gargas are prehistoric caves. The caves of Gargas and Nestploria are located between the villages of Aventignan and Tibiran at 261 provincial road. Again, these are very popular and you are encouraged to book your visit as the numbers of daily visitors are limited. Book by phone: 05.62.98.81.50 or
The closest caves are between Beaudéan and Bagnères-de-Bigorre, the Grottes de Médous. The dilapidated appearance of the place from the road should not put you off as it is also worth a visit.
An absolute ‘must see’ is Donjon des Aigles, the medieval castle in the village of Beaucens near Argeles-Gazost. It houses one of the most prestigious collections of raptors including Kites, Vultures, Eagles, Falcons and Hawks and have a fantastic display that should not be missed. It is open from spring until late September. www.donjon-des-aigles.com .
The Pic du Midi
One of the many attractions of the area is the Pic du Midi accessed from the ski resort of La Mangie via cable car. Besides being an astronomical observatory, it is now home to the highest planetarium in Europe, a viewing pontoon with a glass floor, restaurant, museum and spectacular views. Overnight stays can also be arranged and although I have yet to do this, I would think the star gazing must be mind blowing.