Activity vacations in the Pyrenees

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2017: 1 Jul, 8 Jul, 15 Jul, 22 Jul, 29 Jul, 5 Aug, 12 Aug, 19 Aug, 26 Aug
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Traveling with a local operator

This vacation is operated by a company based in the vacation destination and they will be able to provide expert local knowledge. They will be able to tailor make your vacation to suit your requirements not only concerning the dates of travel but also typically the standard of accommodation, and thus price. It is rare for local operators to be able to help with the booking of your flights.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Activity vacations in the Pyrenees

Environment

We are a small business based in the high mountain village of Bareges in the Haute Pyrenees. Bareges is a traditional thermal spa village, nestling just on the edge of the Neouvielle Nature Reserve and the Pyrenees National Park. The Pyrenees are a great place for a vacation with a difference – experience all the thrills and spills of white water rafting, canyoning, climbing, via ferrata, caving, mountain biking, hiking and more whilst also discovering the secrets of the mountains. Our aim is to provide active vacations and promote awareness of the mountain environment (geology and geography, flora and fauna), to support the local people and community (history, culture, language and traditional way of life) and allow you to discover the beauty of the Pyrenees without upsetting their delicate natural balance.

We practice a “tread lightly” policy in the mountains. Our activities rely on natural energy sources - leg-power for cycling, hiking, caving and climbing; the rushing energy of an upland river for canyoning and rafting; or the soaring thermals rising up the mountainside for paragliding. We visit some wild and beautiful places, but try to leave no trace of our passing. Group sizes are small – between two and eight people – to minimise our impact on the fragile mountain environment, and maximise the enjoyment for our clients.

Although most of our day trips require a short journey by road, we have a single company minibus and offer transfers to reduce the need for guests to hire multiple vehicles at the airport. We promote travel to the Pyrenees by public transport (Eurostar to Paris, TGV train to Lourdes, local bus service to Bareges). Alternatively, guests can bring their own car on the ferry to Spain, thus avoiding short haul flights. Virtually all of our business is conducted over the internet, and we cut down on paper-consumption and airmail miles by posting all of our information on our website and communicating with our customers by email.

Our activity vacations are based from a traditional house in a high mountain village. We spent two years restoring the house to its former glory, maintaining the original features and using local craftsmen whilst taking steps to improve the energy-efficiency of the house. Our work has encouraged a general "facelift" of the village. The house is now gas centrally-heated, by a very efficient, modern, on-demand boiler. Heating is supplemented with a wood-stove burning wood from managed, sustainable forest (with zero carbon debt). We encourage our guests to close their shutters at night to conserve heating energy. The roof and all exterior walls are fully-insulated. Washrooms are fitted with showers rather than baths, and the toilets have an eco-flush option to reduce water consumption. We use eco-friendly A-rated appliances, wash our own bedding and line-dry our linen outside in the mountain air whenever possible. Around half of our household waste is recycled, including glass bottles, tins and cans, paper/cardboard and plastic bottles.

Community

We live and work in the Pyrenees year round and we use local activity guides, instructors, craftsmen and tradesmen. In opening up the English-speaking market, and promoting this beautiful area through the internet, we hope to bring much-needed custom to the people of the valley and to strengthen the village community. The foreign market is becoming increasingly important now, as the number of French tourists traveling within their own country is generally on the decline.

We encourage our guests to shop in the village and support the small traders. All of our food is home-cooked with a French theme, and includes seasonal vegetables and locally-produced meats purchased from the village butcher – Monsieur Sabathie. Specialities include the Bareges-Gavarnie AOC lamb which never leaves our valley, delicious dry-cured mountain sausages, hams and pates. We introduce our guests to local honey, mountain sheeps' cheeses, confit duck and Tarbais beans produced in the SW of France. Locally-produced goods can be purchased at the village market on Wednesdays or direct from the producers on open farm visits. The house bar is stocked with local wines and spirits, and guests are encouraged to try local dishes at a mountain restaurant on our night off.

Reviews of Activity vacations in the Pyrenees

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 08 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Enjoyed all the activities, the chalet and food were great and all the guides were very friendly and experienced.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make sure you are fit as the activities do test your level of fitness especially if the weather is hot.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic vacation, would certainly recommend to friends.

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the fabulous scenery of the Pyrenees, walking in them, seeing the wildlife, and then all the activities we undertook as part of the multi-activity vacation.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared to get wet, muddy, a little bit scared, but have a great time and meet great like-minded people.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Benefited local people, and certainly didn't impact the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


10/10. Loved it.

Reviewed on 03 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


A great itinerary with a chance to try out some activities we wouldn’t normally get the chance to try. Great hosts, great food and a busy and challenging schedule in a beautiful part of the world.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Join in and have fun. A bit of questioning before each day's activity might be worthwhile to make sure you're properly equipped. The activities were well organised and well led, go with the flow, listen to the guides and when they say you'll love it, believe them, you will.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, all the instructors used were local and, for an activity vacation, I don't think we left an excessive carbon footprint behind us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent, a bit of a stretch at times for our 12 year old, but the instructors were excellent in judging what she could do and managing her round what she couldn't.

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