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.
Purely Pyrenees is based in the French Pyrenees and we offer trips in France and Spain.
A huge amount of our customers come from the United Kingdom and, of course, since Brexit there are now
some extra requirements for travellers from the UK to be aware of. Please read on for our compilation of the
most important points you need to know. There is one thing we can definitely reassure you about, and that
regardless of the fact that the UK has left the European Union visitors will still be warmly welcomed in this area, as they always have been.
If you are travelling to Europe after 31st December 2020 certain regulations have changed -
for the latest government guidance please refer to this website UK Government's latest travel advice
Walking in the Pyrenees is guaranteed to lift your spirits!
From 1 January 2021, British nationals will be subject to more extensive checks.
Travellers from the United Kingdom should carry a passport and arrive in good time at border posts for onward travel to the European Union.
At border control they will have to take a separate lane from EU, EEA or Swiss citizens.
British nationals not having resident status in an EU Member State and who wish to visit France / Spain for a short stay will not need a visa
but they will have to :
Show their passport, which will be stamped on entry and exit from the Schengen area.
UK passports will need to have at least six months’ remaining validity before the holder can travel to Europe.
The maximum period for a short stay will be 90 days in any 180-day period.
Be able to prove that they have enough money for their stay - Normally, the minimum amount required for France
will be 65 euros per day.
Carry a certificate of insurance covering any expenses relating to medical/hospital treatment and death that might be incurred
at any point during the stay, including medical repatriation costs.
From the high peaks to the mellow foothills, the Pyrenees are an unspoilt gem
If you are arriving in France or Spain with your own vhicle you will need a GB sticker and a Green Card from your insurance company
to prove that you have cover abroad, check with your insurance company that you are also covered abroad for extras such as theft and damage.
You may also need an International Driving Permit. It is not yet clear which countries will require which type of IDP, there are several different types, for the latest information
please refer to this website International Driving Permit
If you are hiring a car you will need an International Driving Permit if one is required in the country you are visiting,
but you will not need a Green Card.
The beautiful Col de Soum in the Val d'Azun
If you are a holder of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) you can
continue to use this in France and Spain all the time it is valid.
No new EHIC or GHIC cards will be issued but a new global heathcare scheme is being developed with the intention of
replacing the current scheme. We have no further details of this at the moment.
It is highly recommended that you take out a travel insurance with healthcare cover.
Where the Pyrenees descend into the beautiful blue Mediterranean sea
You will still be able to use your UK mobile phone in France and Spain but the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming has ended.
The UK's main service providers are not planning to reintroduce charges at the moment.
It is best to check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.
A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.
Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad.
Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.
St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees is on the route of the Camino de Santiago
You cannot use the existing pet passport scheme.
Instead you’ll need an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet.
The best advice is to contact your vet several months before you travel to make sure everything is in order, pets will need an animal health certificate every time they travel to the EU.
Pets will need an up to date rabies vaccination, and will need to visit their vet again no more than 10 days before travel to obtain the animal health certificate.
Our advice to pet owners is to contact their vet in plenty of time to get the latest advice and allow time for the necessary additional paperwork.
Not just for summer - the Pyrenees present a wealth of possibilities for winter walking on snow shoes or ski touring
You are no longer able to take meat, milk or products containing them into France or Spain.
There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons.
Remember you are still welcome in the Pyrenees and always will be !
All of our Walking Holidays
All of our Cycling Holidays
Want news about our holidays?I want to sign up for The Purely Magazine newsletter