Sally Simmonds

Walking and cycling holidays

Originally from Sussex in the UK, I moved to the Pyrenees with my husband and two boys in 2004.
We settled in the beautiful village of Arrens-Marsous, which is nestled below the famous Cols of Solour and Aubisque, with the Pyrenean National Park on the doorstep. By happy coincidence this is where La Balaguère and Purely Pyrenees are based .
We had been attracted to the area when we discovered it during a holiday, and just knew we had to come back. Since living here I have indulged my passions for mountain walking, cycling, and skiing, and have worked very hard to learn French ! 
I started working for La Balaguère in 2016 and, since the creation of Purely Pyrenees, have had the privilege of sharing my knowledge of, and love of, the Pyrenees with our English speaking customers. It is not difficult to sell our beautiful region to those who have not yet discovered it, I know that when they visit they will not be disappointed. 

Ses articles

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.
Rising to heights above 3000 metres, this magnificent mountain chain forms one of the world’s natural borders between the European countries of France and Spain.
This modern phenomenon that has changed the face of cycling and cycling holidays, but how much do you actually understand about E -bikes ?
COVID-19 Booking Conditions and Safety Information Updated 11th January 2021
If you love walking in the great outdoors and are thinking of including some easy, or not so easy, hiking in your holiday plans this year, read about two areas in the wider Pyrenees that you may not have discovered yet. Definite hidden gems.....
Details of our competition winners from January 2020
Snowshoeing is walking in winter, it’s as simple as that. 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 !
As the winter weather draws in and the evenings become dark and rainy how would you like to dream of a break in the beautiful Pyrenees in 2020? Enter a competition for two people to win a walking holiday in the Val d'Azun with Complete France and Purely Pyrenees
Have a look at what independent journalists and writers have been saying about Purely Pyrenees and some of our Walking and Cycling Holidays
As you probably already know the Pyrenees form a natural border between France and Spain, with the little addition of Andorra tucked away in the middle. When it comes to the competition about who has got the biggest it turns out that Spain is the outright winner!
In winter, the clothes that you chose for walking are very important. Here are some tips to equip yourself properly on a hike, and to not forget the spares that you need in your luggage. It is important to distinguish between trips where you stays in the same hotel every night, where you move accommodation every night, or where you stay in a mountain refuge.
John walked from Getaria to Bilbao with Purely Pyrenees in early July, he tells us about his experience.
What to do in case of a storm in the mountains? What are the right things to do, and what should you avoid ? Discover our hiking tips.
This is a question often asked but there is no one simple answer . The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St James, has a history that reaches back into the depths of time. It is also surrounded by myths, legends and stories…. Here we explore what we know about these ancients pilgrimage routes.
If you are generally in good health, and your idea of the perfect holiday is not just to discover a new region, but to really soak it all in, the sights, the sounds, the tastes, even the feel of the earth beneath your feet and the new scent that teases your nostrils, then what could be better than a walking holiday ?
Are you already planning to visit Barcelona ? Of course there are many reasons why you would be, this Catalan city has so much to offer. A rich and diverse culture, the colourful Ramblas, the amazing architecture and cultural heritage, the Castellars, Gaudi, Puig I Cadafalch, the football, and I haven’t even mentioned the wine or the tapas !
On Christmas Eve you will have the opportunity to win a snow shoeing holiday in the wonderful Val d'Azun, free to enter !
Mountain hiking, whether it is practiced in the summer or winter, is a physical activity and a sport in its own right. It is important that the walker has suitable material and a level of physical fitness conducive with the type and length of hiking to be undertaken. Here are some simple and practical tips about what to wear hiking and what equipment you should take with you.
There is a special magic about the Catalan coast, near the border of France and Spain. Far from the crowds and the sandy beaches, this is a wild coast with a fusion of light, wind, sunshine and rock, the brightly painted houses, the exotic plants and the pretty fishing boats have worked together to create the atmosphere that has drawn many a famous artist to the region.
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.
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 ! So, what can you expect ?
If you can imagine a harmonious collection of mountains, lakes and valleys, interspersed with lush green meadows, thick forests and crystal clear streams, huge rock walls and beautiful waterfalls, an area with a particular geography and many different microclimates, then you can imagine the National Park of Aiguestortes and the lake Saint Maurice, the Spanish Lakeland.
Where to go in the Pyrenees ? 3 of the Unmissables : the Cirque de Gavarnie (one of the most beautiful places in the Pyrenees), Lourdes (visited by well over five million pilgrims every year) and the Royal Monastery of San Juan de la Peña (a beautiful Monastery) !
We have probably all heard of the Cathars, but do you know who they really were or where they came from ? In fact the Cathars were a religious group that flourished in region of France known as the Languedoc from the 11th Century. One of the most famous of these castles is the Château de Montségur. If you decide on a walking holiday in this area, From Cathar Castles To Mediterranean Collioure, for example, a visit to this castle is an absolute must.
Hiking is an excellent way to keep in shape whilst taking in the beauty of the great outdoors. A powerful cardio workout, hiking can help to lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and work many of your major muscle groups all at the same time. It can also, however, be exhausting if you are not ready for it.
Bilbao, set deep in the Basque country, is a truly captivating city in Northern Spain that has been regenerated in recent years to become a cultural hub and a gastronomical delight. With a juxtaposition of old and new on every corner, Bilbao offers Gothic architecture and historical bridges that straddle the River Nervión, nestled next to dazzling new buildings made of titanium, glass and limestone. Quintessentially Spanish, but with its own unique identity, the coastal city of Bilbao is a must-see for anyone looking to experience the real Spain.
With views that extend across the entire Pyrenean Mountain range and far beyond, the Pic Du Midi de Bigorre is one of the most majestic summits in the Hautes-Pyrénées. Standing proud at 2,877 metres above sea level, the mountain is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, high octane sporting events, fine cuisine and a world famous observatory and museum.