Hear about travel to the Pyrenees Mountains in France as the Amateur Traveler talks to Penny Walker from conciergepyrenees.com about the area she now calls home.
Penny says, “I’m based in the central French Pyrenees, literally midway between the Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean, which is an absolutely wonderful part of the world. I have to say I’m absolutely taken with the mountains and the way of life and this part of France. I’ve been living here for nearly 15 years now. It’s the environment, the unspoiled nature of the Pyrenees mountains. It’s so unspoiled. It’s a very authentic mountain destination. Certainly, people who are outdoors lovers, people who love culture and food and wine, it’s unmissable.”
Penny recommends you take a flight or a train to Toulouse in southern France and then rent a car to access the area. But this is an area that begs to be explored on foot so she recommends a few hikes like the Port de Balès or the Port de Venasque. If you are not able to hike there are gondolas that you can take up into the mountains for a view, such as the one in Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Luchon Valley.
Penny recommends we take a hike with a guide to track some of the local brown bears, see the bearded vultures, marmots, or the Pyrenean chamois which is a goat-antelope.
The area has hidden gems like the thermal baths at Balnéa or a natural hammam (steam bath) in a cave called Le Vaporarium.
For students of history, you can explore the Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí which is a UNESCO World Heritage site or the Caves of Gargas with signs of human habitation going back 27,000 years.
After your hike, you can enjoy the regional cuisine with goat’s cheese, saffron, and chocolate. Penny recommends some local producers and some local restaurants where you can enjoy the regional dishes.
Explore this less touristy part of France with great food, views, and history.
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right click here to download (mp3)
Travel to Toulouse, France (Podcast)
Port de Balès
Port de Venasque
Louron valley – Pyrénées2vallées
La Chapelle (Bagneres-de-Luchon)
Les flocons Pyrénéens
Safran de l’Arbizon, safran bio, confitures originales et sirop
Caves of Gargas
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
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