In the heart of the Pyrenees, the landscape opens up as the mountains gently yield to the plain and the torrents become rivers.
The result is a whole patchwork of exceptional settings.
The unspoilt appeal of the Baronnies region has attracted people since the dawn of time.
Unfurling before the Pyrenean foothills, this succession of limestone hills and valleys, carved out by water both on the surface and underground, nestles against a mountain backdrop. The presence of water, the development of vast forests and the rolling wooded countryside offer a whole universe of green. Flooded in light, the typical landscapes are dotted with villages and hamlets interlinked by winding roads. Sometimes, getting lost has the advantage of revealing beautiful views (Col de Coupe, Tour d’Avezac, Col du Couret, Col des Palomières, etc.).
The valley is full of remarkable sites: Esparros Chasm, a protected site that’s truly an underground gem of Les Baronnies, the Prehistoric Site of Labastide with traces of prehistoric humans, Escaladieu Abbey and Mauvezin Castle, facing the Pyrenees.
The entire Baronnies region is hiking heaven, with a fabulous network of trails that can take you a little higher in the mountains (Signal du Bassia at 1,921 metres) or, for families, to hidden waterfalls along the riverbanks of Petite Amazonie, which feels like a little Amazonian rainforest, or even across some stunning landscapes straight out of the movies.
Here and there, you may come across craftspeople who still work with local resources and are happy to open their doors to curious visitors, or producers who are proud to keep the region’s farming traditions alive.
Check out the website lesbaronnies-au19eme.fr for an interesting exploration of the Baronnies region from a historical and sociological angle.
Lannemezan Plateau and Baïse rivers
The Lannemezan Plateau and the Baïse rivers seem to reach for the panoramic backdrop of the Pyrenean mountain range.
Truly a balcony with a mountain view, Lannemezan, just a stone’s throw from Spain (70 km) and Toulouse (120 km), is a gateway to the Pyrenean valleys. This town on the piedmont plain, 550 metres above sea level, boasts a very pleasant living environment. It offers a rich variety of leisure activities, especially for families, with an amusement park, a swimming pool, a golf course, hiking paths, treetop adventure trails and much more.
The farmlands of the Baïse valley offer a diverse landscape against the backdrop of the Pyrenean mountains. The bastide of Galan is worth a visit for its remarkable historical heritage.
The Neste valley
Approaching mountain peaks at the gateway to the Aure valley.
The Neste valley is named after the river that flows through it, forging a landscape of wide open terraces.
It is a choice point of passage, paving the way between the Lannemezan Plateau and the valleys further south. Inhabited since Prehistoric times, this valley is home to ancient towers, castle remains, chapels and many other historic sites. A rich history that beckons you to explore from village to village along the river Neste.
With its beautiful scenery and unspoilt nature, this is the perfect place for walking and hiking as you gaze at the great Pyrenean peaks. For climbing fanatics, the Neste valley also has some of the best spots, with famous names like Pene Haute, Suberpene or Rocher de Lortet for the initiated.
Popular among anglers, the sometimes capricious river Neste is suitable for various fishing techniques, especially fly fishing on the Lortet “no kill” trail.
NB: “Neste” means river, like “gave”, the term used in neighbouring valleys.
Spa resort set in a choice environment
Famous for its high therapy standards, Capvern les Bains is a spa resort set in a choice environment at the foot of the Pyrenees. Here you’ll enjoy the combined benefits of relaxation and taking the waters.
Every year, thousands of spa clients come here for treatment because the waters are reputed for their benefits relating to digestive and urinary disorders, rheumatology and follow-up care after treatment for breast cancer.
In short, Capvern les Bains has been entirely designed with your wellbeing in mind!
Exploring the region
Between the history of men and the remarkable natural sites, discoveries are numerous.
Humans have lived here since Prehistoric times, and the region has no shortage of archaeological and historical evidence.
Facing the Pyrenean mountains, the region’s panoramic viewpoints are well worth the effort. Water is everywhere, shaping the landscapes and nurturing natural habitats, be they lush green or more discreet, just as it has nurtured the growth of human activity.
Here, nature reveals her full grandeur, but can also be appreciated in more hidden places where some often remarkable wildlife and plant life are waiting to be discovered in areas set aside for their protection.
On the markets, in good restaurants and at farm shops, you’ll find a huge array of local produce, for unlimited enjoyment. These unspoilt soils are ideal for farming methods that care about quality and taste.
Here, nature reigns... along with culture!
From the hillside villages to the Baronnies valley or the Lannemezan Plateau, check out the artists, activities and performances that make our region so vibrant all year round.
A few examples: Music and art festivals in Capvern les Bains, culture season at Escaladieu Abbey, markets and entertaining evenings in the Baronnies region and beyond, Friday theatre nights in La Barthe de Neste, exhibitions, encounters and conferences in Lannemezan, and so on.
There’s something to suit every taste, much to the delight of all.