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The Setting

places to go, things to do

 

"Perfect location for recharging the batteries, getting together with different parts of the family and for exploring this part of France"

The Wilcox family, Scotland

 

The view from the garden

Pic du Midi from Maison Monique garden

 

On the doorstep

Our beautiful holiday farmhouse is located on the edge of the pretty village of Mauvezin in the French department of the Hautes Pyrenees (65), region of the Midi Pyrenees. Maison Monique sits 580 metres above sea level and is situated on the small road that Chateau Gaston Febusleads up to the ancient medieval Chateau of Gaston Febus. 3km away is the friendly village of Capvern, which has a Bakery, Grocer shop, Chemist, Post office and a little further up the road is a supermarket, which sells everything; so all amenities are close by.

The small, pretty spa town of Capvern-les-Bains Capvern les Bainsis a beautiful 5 minute drive (or if you're feeling up to it, a hike or cycle) up steep winding hills and over fabulous countryside. There are a handful of cafes and a pizzeria, outdoor swimming pool and even a small cinema, also a small street market every Tuesday during the Summer season. Within easy walking distance from the house, you will find the beautiful ancient cistercian Abbaye de L'Escaladieu which is open to the public and often hosts music, film & art exhibitions as well as being the starting point for hot-air balloon trips.

Abbaye de l'Escaladieu

Abbaye de l'Escaladieu

 

Places to go Nearby

It is around a fifteen minute drive to one of the oldest spa towns in France, Bagneres-de-Bigorre which has a beautiful sense of faded grandeur and is not only famous for its health spa and waters but also for the fact that it often pentascope Pic du Midihosts the Tour de France. In Bagneres you will find many traditional outdoor cafes, restaurants, shops, a fabulous covered market, Aquensis, a beautiful modern spa which boasts a solarium, hammam, beauty salon and a state-of-the-art thermal swimming pool and if you fancy a flutter, Bagneres even has its own Casino. Bagneres is the gateway to the high pyrenees mountains with easy access to the Col de Tourmalet for fabulous walking, hiking, cycling, driving and taking in the scenery or in the winter for skiing and winter sports. At La Mongie, (40 kms) the ski resort on the Col deTourmalet you can take a cable car up to the Pic du Midi where there is an observatory (you can see it from the garden) with a space museum, cafe, and fantastic views. St Lary Soulan (42 kms) is our other local ski resort or in the Summer caters for walking, mountain biking & other outdoor pursuits. Close by you will find the Grotte de Medous, a famous cave discovered in 1948, with beautiful stalagmites and stalagtites.

 

Cirque de Gavarnie and St Bertrand de Comminges

Cirque de GavarnieSaint Bertand de comminges

It will take you about 30 minutes to reach the lovely medieval village of St Bertrand de Comminges, where you can amble through narrow cobbled streets, browse in the craft shops , visit the famous fortress-like cathedral, explore Roman ruins and perhaps have a spot of lunch at one of the many restaurants.

Further Afield

There is so much sightseeing in this area that the list is almost endless but here are some Chateau de Pausuggestions: visit the beautiful town of Pau (45 minute drive) which is steeped in history with its ancient chateau, the birthplace of Henri IV. It also has sophisticated shops and an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes. Known as "La Ville Anglaise" due to the fact that Wellington brought his troops to Pau for some rest and relaxation, finding the mild climate agreeable, many of them later returned and settled there with their families. They established the first golf course on the continent, a cricket team and a foxhunt, Pau is still very much an equestrian town hosting many international equine events. In May, Pau also plays host to a Historic grand prix: one of the few events where cars can still race round a street circuit.

Pau Gentleman drivers 2005

pau historic gentleman driversRichard Attwood's winning car 2005

 

Lourdes basilica

Lourdes is only 38 minutes away with its beautiful basilica and interesting religious history. Pony trek or walk to the Cirque de Gavarnie which is a world heritage site (1.2 hour drive over the pyrenees mountain passes), visit Bagneres de Luchon (55 minutes) with its very elegant buildings and a gondola ride up to Superbagneres which was the first ski resort in France.

 

Toulouse CapitolVisit the lovely city of Toulouse for the day (1 hour) for top gourmet food and wine, Anisclo gorgeshopping and sightseeing, the Atlantic coast towns of Biarritz, St Jean de Luz and St Sebastien/Donostia in the Basque country are charming and only two hours away, great if you fancy a day at the beach. If you fancy a change of scene, you can visit Spain only an hour away over the Pyrenees, head for Ainsa one Anisclo gorge rock formations of the jewels of the Pyrenees, sitting high on a hill, this beautiful ancient walled city has wonderful medieval architecture and boasts many restaurants all serving lunch until 4pm. Just off the road to Ainsa is a route taking you through the Valle de Anisclo, you will pass amazing scenery, gorges, and rock formations and if you look carefully you will be able to watch the wildlife including eagles circling.

Things to Do

Just as places to go are endless, the list of things to do is limitless summer or winter: walking, hiking, cycling, horseriding, fishing, (permits must be obtained), bird & wildlife watching,canoeing, hot-air ballooning, canyoning, white-water rafting, golf, (the local Lannemezan course is a gem) parapenting, motorcycling, swimming in mountain lakes and rivers, skiing or snowboarding, exploring the numerous caves in the area, or simply sightseeing,

pyrenees parapenting

Tour de FranceLa Mongie skiing in powdery snow

The Tour de France is big in this area. If you are an enthusiast you can follow the tour during its Pyrenean stage and the tour often passes the end of our road, literally only 100 metres away. Visiting the local markets, haggling at one of the many antique/brocante fairs that are held in the region, enjoying yourself at some of the numerous local fetes and festivals that take place during the summer season including the world famous two week international jazz festival at Marciac (30 minutes away). Try some wine tasting at some of the region's vineyards including Jurancon, Madiran, Pacherenc, Cotes de St Mont and Tursan.

Lake d'Aumer in the Neouville nature reserve and Cap de Long

Lake d'Aumer Cap de Long

Of course, if it's just peace and quiet that you are after you can simply chill out in the spacious comfort and beautiful surroundings at Maison Monique: it's a perfect recipe for the adventurous or those looking for a peaceful, relaxing holiday.

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