Way back in 1984, I was inspired by my love of walking in the Pyrenees to start a company sharing my knowledge and enjoyment with others.
I named the company after the warm breeze that blows up from the south – from the Sahara in fact – that gives us such a unique climate making the Pyrenees both warm and green.
And now we help over 13,000 people every year to enjoy walking and cycling holidays in the Pyrenees, and in other equally beautiful and unspoilt parts of the world.
While I am French and a Pyrenean through and through, I have always had, as you say, a soft spot for Britain, and worked there while learning English.
So I am delighted that we are now launching a proper English language holiday programme with itineraries, accommodation, transfers and packages designed exclusively for the worldwide English speaking market.
One of the major differences is this: many English speakers may visit the Pyrenees only once, so we have packed as many highlights into each itinerary as we can. You visit iconic places every day, and stay in truly authentic hotels enjoying some of the best cuisine in France.
So if you ask who we are, we are Pyreneans – and you can be sure we will do everything in our powers to give you the best possible experience of our homeland.
As people say these days, ENJOY !
Founder, La Balaguere & Purely Pyrenees
Generally the accommodation offered on a Purely Pyrenees walking or cycling trip is in a comfortable hotel, and often a good meal and a clean and comfy bedroom is just the ticket after a day on your feet, or in the saddle.
However, the best part of any holiday can sometimes be experiencing something new and a bit different, and if you’ve never stayed in a mountain refuge before then it is really worth putting on your bucket list !
Well some mountain refuges are just basic empty huts, maintained to offer shelter to mountain walkers either in bad weather or if they wish to stay out overnight, but others are much more sophisticated. A guardian or warden looks after all the refuges that we use in the Pyrenees, and although by their very nature they are basic, they are very efficiently run.
Situated in the high mountains, away from any roads these refuges cannot be accessed by vehicle. Anything you need overnight and for the next day needs to be carried in your rucksack. The provisions for high mountain refuges are transported there periodically by helicopter, with the warden or their helpers also carrying things up on foot !
Accommodation is in dormitories, the size of which varies from refuge to refuge. Covers or blankets are provided but you need to take your own sheet. Sometimes there is a shower but the time you can spend in it will be limited as water is at a premium. Quite often nowadays there will be electric plugs from which you can recharge your mobile phone, and more modern refuges even have Wi-Fi, but don’t rely on this being the case, enjoy this period of tranquillity by disconnecting from the world for a while.
Food will be simple but copious, prepared by the warden and enjoyed on the terrace or in a group dining room. Often the most enjoyable thing about a night in a refuge is meeting interesting people from all over the world and bonding over a good meal and some tales of your days walking.
If you are a light sleeper you may want to consider taking ear-plugs !
If you are lucky enough to wake up to a cloudless blue sky, or better still, if you awake before it’s light, then witnessing the sun rise over the mountains from a mountain refuge will be an image that will stay with you forever – total bliss.
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