The top activities and visits in the Barétous Valley

Arette
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Land of breeding and traditions, the Barétous Valley is the most authentic of the Béarn Valleys. It is close to Soule, in the Basque Country, but also to the border with Spain. You will appreciate its sumptuous landscapes of snow-capped mountains and its panoramas in altitude. In its famous Pierre Saint Martin massif, you can try out all kinds of unusual mountain activities, in the winter resort, but also in summer, such as caving or rafting...


Photos of the article @ Guide du Béarn Pyrénées


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The most beautiful villages in the Barétous Valley

The Valley of Barétous is very picturesque. For the record, a treaty was signed more than 600 years ago between the Spanish shepherds and those of Barétous. This agreement created an age-old custom: a traditional festival celebrates this mutual aid, which still takes place today in July. The villages of the valley are particularly typical, in particular:

  • Lanne-en-Barétous and its 1000 years of history: Information panels, distributed throughout the village, tell you about this distant past...
  • Aramits, a village of shepherds and its traditional cayolar: This birthplace of one of the famous three musketeers of the king allows us to raise a new chapter in the history of Béarn, that of the fiefdoms of the Béarn lords and the traditions linked to their younger siblings… You will also discover an authentic cayolar, a stone shepherds' shelter, typical of Lower Navarre.
  • Arette and the Col de la Pierre Saint Martin: La Pierre Saint-Martin is a mountain range very famous among sports enthusiasts of all stripes… Its ski resort offers beautiful, well-equipped slopes. Its passes are sporting challenges for cyclists. Its forests are a playground for hikers.

    Learn more? Read our article: Road Trip in the Barétous Valley (fr).


    The Valley of Barétous
    The Valley of Barétous

    Hiking in the Barétous Valley

    The Valley of Barétous offers hikes of different difficulties, accessible to all. In the summer resort of Pierre Saint Martin, you will be able to walk with your family in the fir forests, while the sportsmen will face the peaks and the mountain passes. Our favorite walks in the Barétous Valley are:

    • The summer resort of Pierre Saint Martin: In summer, the tracks turn into meadows and forest areas, criss-crossed by paths. Many services and activities are offered by the resort in all seasons.
    • The Bois de Gouloume: This is a walk around the Col de Bulgaran. It is easy and short. It is therefore ideal for families with children.
    • Le Soum de Casteigts: This hiking loop of nearly 3 hours and a distance of 4 km is very refreshing, as you will pass near springs and water points.

    Pierre Saint-Martin

    Climbing mountain passes

    The Barétous Valley does not lack famous passes for sports enthusiasts. They are very popular with cyclists because there are all levels and difficulties. Here is a small selection:

    • The Col de La Pierre Saint Martin: It is from Arette that you will reach this pass of about 1700 meters above sea level, over a distance of 25 km. The climb is sporty, with impressive elevations. This is the hardest on this list.
    • The Col d'Issarbe: It culminates at 1445 meters for 18 km long. The starting point is Barlanes. The required level is sporty because there are strong elevations.
    • The Col du Suscousse: There are 22 km to cover but the climb, up to its 1216 meters of altitude, is easier than its two previous friends. Its elevations are sometimes steep but less dense!

      Learn more? The best mountain passes in Béarn by bike.


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      Rafting and canoeing on the Gave d'Oloron

      Canoeing on the Gave d'Oloron is a very pleasant family activity. It is accessible to all levels and requires little training. The canoe is a light craft, which is easy to maneuver. Children can even get there, as long as there is not too much current.

      Rafting is a much more intense sport. It requires team cohesion and very good physical condition. Families with teenagers will love it. But it is also an original activity to do with friends. Companies even offer it to their employees to unite a team!


      Learn more? Rafting and canoeing in Béarn.


      Photo credit: Angga Indratama | Unsplash

      Photo credit: Angga Indratama | Unsplash

      Canyoning and caving in the Massif de Pierre Saint Martin

      Canyoning is a very different activity from Rafting or Canoeing! As its name suggests, we descend along the canyons! A sport that adapts to all levels, from active walking, to climbing or abseiling. However, you will need to be in good physical condition, balance on the rocks and know how to swim.

      The Massif de la Pierre Saint Martin also lends itself well to caving with caves, often nestled in canyons elsewhere. You can even occasionally combine the two activities. In any case, do not venture alone and take a guide who will give you all the necessary safety advice.


      Learn more? Canyoning in Béarn.


      Photo @Canyon Experience

      Photo @ Canyon Experience

      Family visits in the Barétous Valley

      The Pierre Saint Martin winter sports resort is located in the town of Arette. It is particularly well equipped, offers unusual services and activities and operates all year round, both in summer and winter.


      Learn more? In winter, go skiing at the resort of Pierre Saint Martin (fr).


      The Grotte de Verna is an atypical outing that will allow you to explore the bowels of the Terre de la Verna, like a speleologist. Professionals will guide you through its main tunnel and its galleries for a very immersive visit.


      Learn more? An unusual adventure in the Grotte de la Verna.


      Photo @ Melanie Oliva

      Photo @ Melanie Oliva


      The Maison de Barétous is a museum, which invites you to go back in time in the history of the Valley! It is about 10 rooms which will show you a beautiful collection of objects from yesteryear, will make you understand the importance of pastoralism in the valley and the life of the inhabitants through the ages.


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      We hope that this walk in the authentic Barétous Valley seduced you and made you want to visit it during your next vacation in Béarn.


      Did you like our article? Find more on the Béarn Guide Blog. Find us on the Facebook page of Guide Béarn Pyrénées and also on Instagram @guidebearnpyrenees


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