Ski touring holiday in the French Pyrenees

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01273 823 700

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Travelling with a local operator

This holiday is operated by a company based in the holiday destination and they will be able to provide expert local knowledge. They will be able to tailor make your holiday to suit your requirements not only concerning the dates of travel but also typically the standard of accommodation, and thus price. It is rare for local operators to be able to help with the booking of your flights.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Ski touring holiday in the French Pyrenees

Environment

We are a small business based in the high mountain village of Bareges in the Haute Pyrenees. Bareges is a traditional thermal spa and ski village, nestling just on the edge of the Neouvielle Nature Reserve and the Pyrenees National Park. Although the Pyrenees have a successful “Alpine” ski industry, ski touring is little-practiced, and few people take the opportunity to get away from the ski resorts and into the National Park and Reserve where the mountains are totally untouched and unspoiled. Our aim is to provide active holidays and promote awareness of the mountain environment (geology, geography, climate, winter fauna), to support the local people and community (history, culture, language and traditional way of life) and allow you to discover the beauty of the Pyrenees without upsetting their delicate natural balance.

We practice a “tread lightly” policy in the mountains. Ski touring relies purely on manpower. It is wonderful to get away from the ski lifts and noisy hubbub of the resort – to visit the most wild and beautiful places, but to leave no trace of our passing. On a ski touring trip, we carry all of our own equipment and supplies, and leave nothing behind (except some very temporary ski tracks!). Group sizes are small – between four and twelve people – to minimise our impact on the fragile mountain environment, and maximise the enjoyment for our clients.

For most of our ski tours we can depart directly from the village, or from the ski resort (a five minute ride on the public bus). Where transport is necessary, we have a single company minibus and offer transfers to reduce the need for guests to hire multiple vehicles at the airport. We promote travel to the Pyrenees by public transport (Eurostar to Paris, TGV train to Lourdes, local bus service to Bareges). Alternatively, guests can bring their own car on the ferry to Spain, thus avoiding short haul flights. Virtually all of our business is conducted over the internet, and we cut down on paper-consumption and airmail miles by posting all of our information on our website and communicating with our customers by email.

Our holidays are based from a traditional house in a high mountain village. We spent two years restoring the house to its former glory, maintaining the original features and using local craftsmen whilst taking steps to improve the energy-efficiency of the house. Our work has encouraged a general "facelift" of the village. The house is now gas centrally-heated, by a very efficient, modern, on-demand boiler. Heating is supplemented with a wood-stove burning wood from managed, sustainable forest (with zero carbon debt). We encourage our guests to close their shutters at night to conserve heating energy. The roof and all exterior walls are fully-insulated. Washrooms are fitted with showers rather than baths, and the toilets have an eco-flush option to reduce water consumption. We use eco-friendly A-rated appliances, wash our own bedding and line-dry our linen outside in the mountain air whenever possible. Around half of our household waste is recycled, including glass bottles, tins and cans, paper/cardboard and plastic bottles.

On our overnight ski trips, we stay at an isolated mountain refuge. These are powered by solar panels or gas bottles and all supplies are carried in, and the waste carried back out by the guardians. The price of our stay contributes to the upkeep and maintenance of the refuge and the summer walking paths in the Nature Reserve and National Park. The huts are clean but very basic - an essential refuge for man in the mountains, where nature is still very much in control.

Community

We live and work in the Pyrenees year round, using local activity guides, instructors, craftsmen and tradesmen. In opening up the English-speaking market, and promoting this beautiful area through the internet, we hope to bring much-needed custom to the people of the valley and to strengthen the village community. The foreign market is becoming increasingly important now, as the number of French tourists travelling within their own country is generally on the decline.

We encourage our guests to shop and hire equipment in the village and support the small traders. All of our food is home-cooked with a French theme, and includes seasonal vegetables and locally-produced meats purchased from the village butcher – Monsieur Sabathie. Specialities include the Bareges-Gavarnie AOC lamb which never leaves our valley, delicious dry-cured mountain sausages, hams and pates. We introduce our guests to local honey, mountain sheeps' cheeses, confit duck and Tarbais beans produced in the SW of France. The house bar is stocked with local wines and spirits, and guests are encouraged to try local dishes at a mountain restaurant on our night off.

Reviews of Ski touring holiday in the French Pyrenees

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 25 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Making tracks in perfect powder under blue sky, skiing from summit to valley bottom feeling like you are the only ones on the mountain. Ok, then the snow suddenly changes as you go from sun to shade and you fall over in an inelegant heap, get back up and carry on with a smile on your face......

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you can, try to put a group of at least four together and pay a little extra so that you can have a guide just for your party as we did. We asked for a guide who spoke good English as our French is limited and I think this was wise as our guide Richard was excellent.
When enjoying the luxury of the chalet be prepared for the huts which can be cold and not especially relaxing (e.g. benches and bunks) but that is part of the experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Guide local and minibus travel limited. Chalet staff English but living in village. Did our share of local gift shopping and beer buying as well as hiring kit from local shop.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent. Chalet accommodation very good but be prepared to share your meals at one table with the other guests. Mixture of chalet and couple of nights hut accommodation worked well for us but have to be happy that you are paying for hut accommodation as an extra though this was made very clear before we booked.

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