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.
Snowshoeing is an ecologically sound winter sport which is is enjoying a rapid growth in popularity.
This form of hiking that has its origins in the distant past , thousands of years ago the technique was used by hunters to move easily over the snow in search of prey.
If you imagined it was still about struggling through the snow with tennis rackets attached to your feet then read on my friend - here are five things you really need to know about snowshoeing !
Enjoy walking through a snowy forest
Snowshoeing is a low impact total body work out. It is an excellent form of aerobic exercise, working your legs, arms and core muscles but without the same danger of injury that is ever present when you ski or snowboard.
As with walking or running you can make it as hard or easy as you wish.
Add in more climbing or technical sections to work harder and burn more calories, or stick to flatter less challenging terrain for an easier hike.
Snowshoeing is also an excellent way of improving your balance and coordination.
The snowshoe of today is lightweight and durable.
The frames are generally made of aluminium with nylon straps that go over the feet and behind the heel.
A snowshoe is a “flotation” system which spreads the weight of the body and prevents you from sinking into the snow.
In general the heavier the person the more snowshoe area is required. Modern walking poles that you use to help with balance to distribute your effort are also lightweight and easy to manipulate.
Snowshoes attach easily to normal walking boots or warm waterproof boots.
One of the best things about snowshoeing is that it takes you off the beaten track.
You can explore so many places that are inaccessible without snowshoes, and therefore tend to be very tranquil and unspoilt.
Crunch through virgin snow, enjoy forest paths or mountain ridges while avoiding the crowds and mechanical ski lifts.
A note of caution through, you should never venture out alone and it is highly recommended that you snowshoe with an experienced guide unless you are very familiar with the activity and the terrain.
Have fun with a group of friends
For most people the cost of a ski pass will give them pause for thought.
Winter sports are notoriously costly, but snowshoeing much less so.
Apart from snowshoes and poles you need to dress in layers of the same sort of good quality technical clothing that you would use for hiking. No lift pass required !
Snowshoes and poles are provided on all Purely Pyrenees snowshoeing holidays.
When all is said and done snowshoeing is fantastic fun.
Share the beauty of a snowy paradise with your group, enjoy the escape from the madding crowd and get an endorphin buzz from the physical activity.
The only thing left to do with the day is share a hot meal with your friends and recount the most memorable moments from your day on snowshoes.
The equipment is simple and lightweight
See all of our snowshoeing holidays
See all of our walking holidays
See all of our cycling holidays
See our article What to Wear Walking in Winter ?