Who Are We ?
In 1984 a small walking holiday company was created, based in the beautiful Val d’Azun in the heart of the French Pyrenees. This company, named « La Balaguère » after the warm breeze that blows upwards from the Sahara to the Pyrenees, offered guided walking trips led by a small group of friends with a huge passion for the mountains.
Little by little La Balaguère expanded and more than 35 years later we help over 13,000 people every year enjoy walking and cycling holidays in the Pyrenees and further afield, to the most unspoilt areas of the world.
In 2018 we launched a new and exciting project. Purely Pyrenees is the English language branch of our business, offering self-guided and guided trips, walking and cycling from Spring to Autumn and snowshoeing in the Winter. Using our decades of experience we created a new range of holidays designed for English speakers who come, maybe for the first time, to experience the best the Pyrenees has to offer. Our focus is always to provide highlights, iconic places to visit, wonderful itineraries, authentic hotels and, of course, tremendous cuisine.
Purely Pyrenees and La Balaguère are now owned by the UCPA (Union des Centres Sportifs de Plein Air) which is a non-profit organisation in France that specialises in making outdoor sports holidays available for all. We are still based where we have always been, in the Pyrenean village of Arrens-Marsous.
We are very proud of our Pyrenean chain and of the knowledge that we have of it, amassed over years of providing guided and self-guided holidays. You can be sure that if you travel with us we will do everything we can to make sure you have a wonderful trip.
The last day of hiking was the best - the hike through Cap de Creus National Park. This hike was what I thought the entire trip would be - pretty much cross-country, dirt path, well-marked. When we ended the day hiking down to the gorgeous town of Cadaques we were so excited to see the beauty of this town!
The first day of the hike, from the town of Collioure (France) was much more difficult than we expected. The written directions could have been more clear, and we ended up scrambling up through shrubbery, but ended up in the wrong place. Finally, we just followed the road and hoped for the best. We found the path again later. The terrain, however, was quite steep, both up and down, and rocky. It would have been better to have hiking poles which were very much needed.
When I think of a "walking" trip, I think "walking" not scrambling over loose rock. We were exhausted and ended up not finishing the hike, instead finding a bus to take us to our destination. The views, however, were splendid!
The "impressively contemporary three star Hotel Les Elmes" was very poorly designed for comfort. The reading lights were strung overhead and shone directly in one's eyes. The window opened up to a patio with an entrance from the communal hallway. So if the window was open anyone walking from the hallway to the balcony could look right into our room. The chairs were contemporary alright; metal and extremely uncomfortable with no outlet anywhere near the desk. The shower did not have a 1/2 wall divider so when turned it sprayed the bathroom. However, having a bathtub after a rough hike was greatly appreciated! Luckily this was our only poor hotel. The others on the trip were lovely.
The next day we chose to be driven to the next town. It was a great decision because it gave us time to visit the Monastery of San Pere de Rodes. We were glad to have plenty of time to spend here rather than just passing through. We took a taxi up to the Monastery and hiked down (six miles of a fairly steep, rocky trail - again - hiking poles greatly advised). The Monastery is not a site that should be passed through quickly, but rather given a good two hours of attention. It was a stunning, historical site.
We appreciated the beautiful hotel Playa Sol in Cadaques with a balcony overlooking the lovely bay and breakfasts that were out of this world!
Loved this part of the world, and loved walking through it. I think the difficulty of the "walking" is underestimated as well as the distance, according to our measurements.