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 first thing that usually springs to mind when you think about a passage on foot across the whole of the Pyrenean chain is the famous GR10. This is a trail that runs close to the border between France and Spain, from Hendaye on the Basque Atlantic coast to Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Catalan Mediterranean coast.
If you are super fit and have a few weeks to spare then this has proved to be a highly rewarding challenge for lots of intrepid walkers, the route is 538 miles long and has a positive elevation change of 48,000 metres !
The attractions of walking along this chain of mountains are clear, from the beautiful coastlines, each so different but equally as full of beauty and character, the fact that you meander between two countries, when you are walking you may not even know if you are in France or Spain but when you reach a village and encounter the locals, the food, the drink, the architecture it will soon become clear ! From high mountain passes to crystal clear lakes and misty forests, this region will leave you with so many enchanting memories.
At Purely Pyrenees we are striving to make the Pyrenean chain accessible for those who may not have the time, the fitness or the desire to yomp the whole route with their spare pants drying on the back of their huge rucksack ! By walking only the most exciting and enjoyable stretches, with transfers in between, it is actually possible to see all the best sights in a two-week holiday.
We begin our adventure from the pretty port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, with its numerous fish restaurants, it’s traditional red and white timbered houses, and it’s undoubtable Basque character.
From here we climb to the high Pyrenees, taking in La Rhune and walking La Chemin de la Mâture, a 1200 metre path which was literally carved into the rock face. Completed in 1772 it was created to enable wood to be carried from the forest to the boat builders who were constructing vessels for the French navy.
Passing the col d’Aubisque and the amazing Pont d’Espagne we find ourselves at what could well be the highlight of this crossing, the Cirque de Gavarnie. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the waterfall at the centre of this amazing amphitheatre descends over 420 metres.
After experiencing the famous Tour de France col, the Tourmalet, we cross over into the Ordesa National Park, and Spain. Soak in the impressive views of the immense Canyon of Ordesa and Mont Perdu. We continue through the Spanish Lakeland, La Cerdagne, visit the Abbey of St Martin du Canigou, and before we know it we are descending to the blue blue Mediterranean, ready to dip our toes in the sparkling water and treat ourselves to a little glass of Cava…
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