World-famous pilgrimage centre with magnificent churches and abbeys. Visit the Sanctuaries and sample the water reputedly possessing miraculous healing properties.
2008 was the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Bernadette Soubirous’s claims to have seen the Virgin Mary after discovering the healing spring in a cave near the town.
Visitors should be aware that with millions of visitors each year, Lourdes is the world’s most popular place of Christian pilgrimage and has necessarily become commercialised. To see another view, take the chair lift to the top of Pic du Jer for fabulous panoramic views over Lourdes, Tarbes, Pau and the mountains.
There is plenty of opportunity for family skiing in the Midi Pyrenees where spectacular Gavarnie Gedre also offers cross-country skiing.
Luchon Superbagneres is also a major spa whilst the spa resorts of Aix-les-Thermes has 70km of ski-runs nearby. All can offer relaxing baths at the end of the day.
Piau Engaly is the highest ski resort in the Pyrenees with good snow cover and excellent facilities. Cauterets is a village resort with areas for snowboarding, beginners and children.
The 100km of skiing at Bareges La Mongie would appeal to intermediaries as there is no nursery slope. Saint Lary has 15km of pistes and you can also ski at La Forge.
Thousands of pilgrims followed the sacred route to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages. Over 80 miles of this route as well as 33 related historic monuments lie in the Midi-Pyrenees. The GR65 pilgrim trail passes through pretty Bastide villages.
Visit Saint-Foy abbey church in the medieval hillside village of Conques which was once a key stopping place. The village is pedestrianised so walkers will have the advantage.
The Hautes Pyrenees is a land of mountains, high pastures and winding roads, where old style upland agriculture is practised.
Parts of the area are in the protected Pyrenees National Park - wonderful walking country with lakes and peaks and opportunities to see rare wild flowers, vultures, golden eagles and perhaps even endangered brown bears.
Walk part of the GR10 cross-Pyrenees route or go to the Grande Cascades de Gavarnie - the highest waterfalls in Europe. Outside the park, there are opportunities for mountain biking, climbing, hang gliding, canoeing and horse riding with skiing in winter.
Full of health spas, the Midi Pyrenees is well known as the place to go for a relaxing spa holiday.