The French Pyrenees

p4970024

Halfway up a mountain at an altitude of 1,150 metres, Sers is a tiny hamlet deep in a valley within the French Pyrenees. It’s been a home away from home for us this week,  a destination only reached after a long trip south with a car loaded to the brim with excited children and all manner of winter clothing. Nestled on a ridge overlooking the valley, Sers boasts just 100 year-round residents and also proudly announces to anyone reading the local noticeboard inside its tiny church that it is the best preserved village in the region. 

img_2978

Sheep roam the open roads, and the bells around the necks of the older, more stately members of the flock, let us know well in advance of their imminent arrival, difficult to hear in a vehicle, but good news for hikers with a fear of horns.

img_5266

img_3110

The views are spectacular right from the old shepherd’s house we are staying in, and while ours is easy enough to reach,  we’ve spent days trying to fathom out how one gets to the house below, built into the side of the mountain. We assume everything is done by foot for there certainly is no road. Far across the valley we see the clues to how life here has worked for centuries, with slate-clad buildings perched as high as cows and sheep might graze during summer.

p4970143

Every building in the Pyrenees  blends into the hillside into which it nestles, lending a deceiving air of gentle cosiness to what in reality is a harsh landscape, forged by glaciers aeons ago, and now subject to two important seasons, one with snow and one without.

p4970140

Last year was the first year our children skied, and so they all went to ski-school. This year however, we have skied as a family and I can tell you there is nothing like it. Descending the slopes all together, it’s been quite the best feeling in the world. We have giggled and laughed, and there have been the inevitable tumbles, and stiff legs each morning. The feeling of family camaraderie has been wonderful though.

img_5403

img_5361

We had lunch at a mountain restaurant after a first morning of blizzard like conditions, and we enjoyed the sun as it finally appeared, making it warm enough to sit in a t-shirt.

img_5380

One of the most scenic runs is the one we take home at the end of the day, a mix of slope and narrow trail that one follows alongside the river, all the way down into Barèges where the car is parked for the five minute run to Sers, perched across the ridgeline.

img_5427

img_5428

For once afternoon goûter is not just for the children, for after a hard day of skiing we are all starving. Fortified and replenished once again, we took the opportunity yesterday to explore Sers a little on foot. The village is a real community, even if several of the houses are owned as holiday homes. Sers is most definitely not a spruced up tourist trap, and you won’t find any shops or souvenirs here. Enjoyment here comes from the stupendous views,  walking around, and soaking in the clean mountain air amidst the surrounding peaks and taking photos of course.

p4970113

p4970106

p4970160

There is a small Chambres d’Hotes in the village, with a very simple and wonderfully understated sign advertising it’s presence, 70 euros for 2 people per night and breakfast included.

p4970158

There is a also a small restaurant, and signs along a few trails all seem to lead to it. I suspect it is also a wonderful summer destination! There’s even a special  Menu Randonneurs (hikers menu) for 13 euros.

p4970168

The Church of St Vincent of Sers is a Romanesque church from the 12th Century, and magnificently, much still remains from that date – the ground plan, the pillars, a semi-circular chancel and the barrel-vaulted nave still stand as their creators intended. The church was altered slightly in the 18th Century when the presbytery was built.

p4970161

p4970206

As with every church we have visited in France, it was open, which in itself speaks volumes. As a result one can walk around inside and be awed by the history that resounds through the stone and small space for worship.

p4970222

p4970221

Back outside, the lanes are narrow, built originally for sledge, or donkey and cart; now they are just big enough for a car. Houses jostle for space on the ridge, and everything is built at what appears to be slightly precarious angles.

p4970211

Smallholdings sit amongst the village houses and aside from some renovated roofs and the occasional new chalet one gets the feeling not a lot has changed over the centuries.

p4970236

p4970197

In fact, despite the entire neighbourhood having been under three foot of snow just a couple of weeks ago, the leeks and cabbages in this vegetable garden are thriving.

p4970237

There are several fountains in the village with natural water, eau de source, pure from the mountain springs. Yes – it does taste delicious!

p4970174

p4970192

p4970232

p4970177

Many of the houses are built of local slate, a method of ancient construction where the stone is hand-cut.p4970215

At the very end of the day as the last of the sun’s rays disappear over the mountains we relax in the hot tub, a warm cure-all that is miraculous at soothing aching muscles and reviving tired bodies.

p4970255

Dinner follows, either in the house; real mountain food where raclette is but one option, so much cheese but we’ve earnt it and we’ve certainly burnt off more than enough calories,

p4970079

or a meal in one of the incredibly picturesque little restaurants

img_5291

Afterwards it’s time to curl up as a family by the fire with a good book or a game of cards, sipping a hot chocolate or a glass of red wine to soothe away the evening.

p4970066

I can tell you we won’t want to leave, this has been the most incredible house and holiday, but it’s not over yet,  we have a few more days thank goodness.

If you want to enjoy this fabulous house you can find out more details here.

174 thoughts on “The French Pyrenees

  • What a glorious spot, Susan, and one that makes my mountain-loving heart sing! I haven’t skied in much too long, but I worked in a ski resort for several years right after college. That was quite an experience. As scenic as this place is, I know what difficult life it must be. Thanks for sharing your beautiful shots and safe travels home. You’ll have such wonderful memories.

    janet

    • Thanks Janet, I haven’t skied for years either as last year they were all in ski school, but I cannot tell you what fun it has been to get back on a pair of skis and what fun we have had. I was happy to find it is rather like riding a bicycle, one simply doesn’t forget, it has been a truly fabulous week. I think life is tough in these mountain villages, but everyone is so friendly and cheerful, I would recommend this place to all! And you MUST ski again, you would love it! xx

      • Absolutely gorgeous in the summer. We have not been here in the warmer months but we have been to other resorts in the Pyrenees and swam in the freezing mountain streams, I can tell you the summer is every inch as gorgeous as the winter. We are already all talking about coming here in July or August. The children are particularly keen!

    • I it only enjoyed your wonderful pictures, the history and descriptions were wonderful. Thank you for including us on your vacation.

      • Thanks so much, this is such a wonderful place to visit, enjoying every second of it with the family, the house is fantastic and the scenery is quite stunning. Coupled with excellent skiing and wonderful weather, we couldn’t ask for anything more! xx

  • I’m interested to hear you say that the church was open, as has been the case with all churches you have been to in France….we found that most, if not all, were locked up tight! We love going into churches for the peace and quiet and are so frustrated, all around the world really, that they are so often closed. I can certainly understand why…but still…frustrating!
    On the other hand, what a lovely valley. And the slopes are so wide and gentle: just my kind of skiing. All those small houses perched on the hillsides: just so charming.

    • Hi Libby, that’s almost quite funny that you have had the complete opposite experience with churches. I have yet to come across one in France that isn’t unlocked and open, welcoming everyone inside and we have visited a lot as I always love the complete peace and feeling of calm I always get within the old stone walls. Some of the slopes are wide and gentle, many are very narrow and wind their way through the trees, I probably shot the only wide gentle slope there is here and never even thought about it, I just thought it was a nice photo, snapped on my iPhone as we went past on the lift! Today we skied some really tough runs, some with too much ice which made it somewhat challenging but everyone has plenty of stories to tell around the table this evening! xx

  • I was bound to love this post, n’est pas? But you really do justice to the beauty of the mountains, the lovely unspoiled lifestyle still enjoyed in an area that surely relies much on tourism and the gorgeous buildings snugged into their places safe against whatever the elements throw. I wish you all a wonderful end to your very well earned holiday and a safe drive back home when the moment comes to bid Sers adieu xx

    • You were bound to love it, right up your street and I am happy to say there is so much more snow than there was last year. We hit one really icy run this afternoon which was narrow and through the trees on our way home and not one that anyone wants to repeat! Other than that it’s been fantastic, spring powder, my favourite type of skiing. Are you a skier? I know you are a runner so I am thinking yes?? Don’t want to think about going home yet, having far too much fun and the hot tub has been an absolute godsend for aching limbs! xx

      • Oh I AM pleased that the snow is good. I know it is rather hit and miss this side. I learned to ski as a little girl of 7 – my father was an excellent skier but my mother favoured wearing a fabulous white fur hat and Jackie-Os and a sun-lounger with a refreshments to hand waiting for us all to return. We were unusual for a 1960s family in that we skied every year and my father often several times. My brothers are both far better than me but I can hold my own approximately when called upon. Some things you never forget. I last skied in Cantal two years ago. Enjoy every minute and come home refreshed xx

      • You sound just like Roddy, the two of you would have much in common. He too comes from an unusual English family who skied every winter, often twice a year, winter and easter, in the 60’s, just like you! He learnt from the age of 7 too and he still marvels at the modern carving skis compared to the things he learnt on and how short skis are nowadays and how quickly people learn. Today was a real sun lounger type day, in fact as we sat and ate lunch outside it was so hot we had to seek some shade, gone are those days of lying head facing the sun soaking up every last ray possible!! But there were still plenty of people doing just that, their faces really bronzed. xx

      • Haha! I echo everything he says about modern skis … I remember learning on things that seemed to stretch forever in front of me! How gorgeous to be soaking up the sun in the snow …. this year, ironically I am not skiing on account of the blasted leg injury last year. Imagine! Here in the Gateway to the Alpes and I am refraining from skiing. So far 😉 xx

      • Too cruel for sure. How is the leg, still on the mend? We’ve had quite an interesting time the past few days, two incidents which could have been serious courtesy of snowboarders! But that’s another story and certainly has produced lots of laughs around the supper table as we recount with much hilarity the moments of the day. Roddy talks about skis that were so long and so narrow and seal skins too! Way before I learnt to ski, my childhood was solely about ponies and riding! xx

      • Now that I have in common with you …. when we weren’t taking endless train rides across Europe to ski I was pony mad and skittering about on a variety of unlikely mounts or upstairs buried in Thelwell or My Friend Flicker! The leg is getting there (they told me it would take a year to heal the nerve which is the issue) but I am hiking and running with the aid of my super-spiffy carbon fibre brace (price tag $1,000 so I’m petrified of breaking it) and I could probably ski in it but I don’t want to take the risk. You can tell me about the snowboarders another time but for now, enjoy your evening and tell Roddy – I remember seal skins too!! xx

      • Ah, now Thelwell oh the memories that brings back! I can remember it all like it was yesterday, funny none of my children inherited the pony mad bug, they all like riding, to a degree, they have all ridden, we’ve had ponies, but none of them have that pony mad, nothing else matters, craze that I had! They’ve all gone in different directions instead! So glad the leg is getting better, that sounds like a super brace, for that price it really has to do the job! Seal skins, Roddy just explained them fully to me, this is all long before my skiing days, I started late!! xx

      • None of mine were pony mad either though the youngest I think may become a horse-mad adult. I’m glad you are now fully informed on seal skins! Has he told you what the boots were like?!! Xx

      • It’s funny how it goes isn’t it. I never thought I would have a tennis mad 10 year old for instance! Yes, leather, I have to admit I am in awe, I have only ever skied with modern ski boots, but then I only learnt in my 20’s! We have some great photos of his grandparents skiing in Switzerland way back in the day! xx

      • Wow! Those must be amazing souvenirs of his ancestry. My father learned to ski in the navy (he was in the Royal Naval Ski Team – a fact which a very good friend of mine from the Dolomites finds hilarious … he says it’s rather being in the Alpine Sailing Team!). He was the most elegant of skiers a skill he singularly did not pass on to me … I think I resemble an ostrich slightly out of control skidding down the slope most of the time!!! Xx

      • I don’t believe that for one second, I am sure you are a perfect skier, far better than I am. Roddy and his family put me to shame, but we have fun and that’s what counts (in my opinion)!!!

      • It is the only thing that counts – I truly believe that and I am very glad you have all had a good dose of fun on your hols! Xx

      • The best ever, sad to be home, plus it’s chilly and windy, but spring seems to have erupted since we left, or at least in the past two weeks, I wasn’t at home much for the week before we went skiing either! Have to do some blog catching up and watch that video with Gigi! xxx

      • We actually nearly got blown over in a squall on Saturday morning. Quite literally so I sympathise with the wind and rain … come on sunshine, don’t be shy!!! I hope it is not too much of a wrench seeing your babes back to school and wish you a peaceful time sorting out the inevitable detritus that falls out of the car and cases when we arrive home xx

      • We have those squals here today, very mild and sunny but blowing a gale with gusts forecast of over 100kph and of course an orange alert for wind, it really is violent, I just hope it doesn’t blow all the fabulous blossom off the plum trees, I haven’t had time to enjoy it for long enough yet! Everyone back at school, too too sad and you don’t want to look at the mess, you know the feeling only too well, the car, the study where everything got dumped, guess what I am doing today!!! Xx

      • Bon courage with the ‘bordel’ which on occasions I bless as a jolly good curse which isn’t (too) offensive!! And mind those winds. And wear a hat (tied down if necessary) my hair resembled birds nest soup on Saturday!!

      • I ventured out to hang out all the laundry, lots of it as you can imagine, and then changed my mind, I think the chances of it remaining on the line are virtually zero. The swings are swinging high all by themselves and I just saw a chicken being blown backwards across the garden! it’s windy!! I’ll just have to accept looking like a scarecrow! xx

    • Oh Osyth, we sound way too similar, both crocked and unable to do much because of gammy knees, sigh. However, there is a silver lining. It means more time taking photos, cooking well in advance for the mob, and visiting little places that you’d never get to see if you were on the pistes all day long. I do miss the skiing (it may yet come to pass that the surgeon’s knife will solve something) but not unhappy that I am not killing a snowboarder or two. They all seem to have no manners, am I right? I hope you get out and about again soon.

      • Let’s not mention snow boarders too much! I can tell you, we laughed and laughed and laughed until the tears were flowing and our sides were aching as we recounted the story of today and our mishap with the snowboarder, which I cannot even begin to write about in public, far too humiliating for a start, but even now it’s making me snigger! xx

      • Thank you Roddy! Mine was a double broken leg sustained on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh on the most unimpressive of descents and misdiagnosed at A&E as a calf strain. The upper break (described as an exploded fibular rather alarmingly by the Doc in the US) caused damage to the perineal nerve and thus a ‘foot drop’. It’s healing (prognosis is fully restored nerve – they regenerate at a standard rate – about a year from the incident which will be mid-summer). I do hope they can fix your knees …. those of us that learned on wooden skis with lace-up boots and seal skins to get us back up the piste need to be out there warding off the mannerless (and often dangerous) boarders. Here in Grenoble it is common to see people wandering around with skis on their shoulders hopping on and off the tram or passing in the street and the boarders are just the same on foot. A load of entitled oiks (oops … better go and meditate – my halo of niceness is tarnishing!). Enjoy the rest of your break – you have the right attitude indeed …. turning the gammy knees into so many positives. Sers sounds like a little gem of a village!

    • Hi Mary, thanks so much. I don’t think I can change your email at this end. I think you have to subscribe again using your new email address. Let me know if it works. Susan xx

  • Thank you for sharing this beautiful family holiday with us. Your photographs are so gorgeous! I love seeing the details of your vacation home and appreciated the link, too. Spent lots of time looking at the interiors which were done just perfectly in my mind–nothing competing with the beauty of the natural stone and wood used to construct the home. I also loved seeing the family enjoying the break from skiing and the hot tub. How wonderful that you could have this lovely holiday together! Safe travels home.

    • Hi Anne, this is such a fabulous house, we were so lucky to find it and I can tell you we have felt as if we have been living in complete luxury this week, everything about it is just perfect, the interiors are gorgeous, I am going to do a post all about the renovation in a few weeks time after I have spoken to the owners. We are all having such fun, skiing is just the icing on the cake. xx

  • Oh don’t. You’re making me homesick. I’ve been trying to work out where you were. Those roofs made me think you were in the Cerdagne, but instead I see you’ve been in the Haute Pyrenees, which is thea are we know least well down there. But it’s all wonderfully familiar. So glad you had a wonderful holiday

    • Of course, your old stamping ground, so to speak. I love it down here, we have visited the Pyrenees many many times and this is the second time we have skied from the resort of Barèges which we love, there is something very comforting about coming back to the same place, one knows exactly where everything is and how things work, plus it is a huge ski area as it links with La Mongie. Hope the photos have brought back lots of great memories, I shall keep adding them on Facebook and Instagram for the rest of the week xx

      • I will do, anything in particular you want me to try and find to photograph? I always love ideas? The weather has been stunning, we arrived in 20C, unheard of! then we had snow, and blizzards and now it has settled down to a lovely sunny 12C each day! perfect holiday weather and plenty of snow. xx

      • Thank you, but no. All your photos are wonderful, and this particular patch is not one I know, so souvenirs aren’t required. It’s just lovely to see the mountains again, and the snow xx

      • Ok, I will just keep snapping away and posting photos! We so rarely see snow with us too, far too mild in the Charente Maritime, we have had snow once in the last three years, all of a light dusting which lasted but an hour or two! You can imagine the children are loving every second of this and we are too, just as much as them, especially as it is so warm! The best of both worlds right now xx

  • It’s wonderful to see these pictures of my favourite mountains. I’m going to be a writer-in-residence in the Val d’Azun this spring and I’m looking forward to it enormously. I’ve only seen Sers in the summer so it’s great to see it in the winter sun. Thanks for sharing #AllAboutFrance

    • Oh what fun, you are going to have a wonderful spring. I love the warmer months in the mountains just as much as the hustle and bustle of the ski season and the snow. I can imagine Sers is gorgeous in the summer, in complete contrast to you, I have only seen this area in the winter months but we used to go to the mountains nearer the coast, Iraty and La Pierre St Martin in the summer months and just loved it, swimming in the freezing mountain streams and hiking, it was always absolutely stunning. xx

  • Looks fab! Wish we were with you ….
    we just spoke to our Mayor and she has just come back from there (or the village next door)!

    • Thanks so much Carole, it is such a fabulous little village, so untouched seemingly by time, it has been fascinating to just wander around, a combination of this and the skiing has made for the most perfect holiday! xx

  • What a gift your post was today. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and story. As usual, you took us along on your adventure and we all had a great time.

    • Thanks so much Clifford, there is so much history here and it has been so wonderful to walk around and explore a little as well as to spend the days skiing, it is such a fabulous area. xx

  • What a contrast to your coastal paradise you normally write about, but as always another great piece, loved this insight into the Pyrenees, thank you

    • It is a complete contrast Amanda, like chalk and cheese, our flat marshy coastlands have been swapped for the rugged mountains, but it is beautiful and they say a change is as good as a rest. Loving every second of it! xx

  • Thank you for taking the time during your family vacation to share the beauty of the Pyrenees with us. It looks breathtaking.

    • It is such a stunningly beautiful place, how could I not share it! It has been wonderful just to walk around and explore in the evenings, there is just so much to see and so much to learn about. Loving every second of it. xx

  • Fabulously scenic! The slate buildings remind me of some in Angers. The churches in the Touraine are mostly open, but not all of them these days. But you can usually get the key quite easily. And we once walked into a tiny church in the middle of nowhere which had all the communion gear (simple but proper silver gilt bejewelled stuff) laid out on the altar, and not a soul in sight! We were astounded, and when we blogged about it were careful not to reveal the location.

    • Wow, how incredible, it is wonderful that these churches are open, with so many valuable things inside, and I so enjoy walking around them. We have been in a great many in France and have yet to come across one that is locked. I really hope this never changes. I love the slate buildings, their construction is one of pure craftsmanship, I was surprised to see that there is hardly any mortar involved, in some none at all. Loving every second of this beautiful area, the second year in a row we have been here. xx

    • Thanks so much, I am loving the old buildings too, because architecturally it is so different from the Charente Maritime and the hand cut slates are just gorgeous. It has been such fun to just walk around and explore. xx

  • I have been looking forward to this post. The photos are wonderful. I love rustic surroundings with lots of ancient stone and weathered wood. The mountains and the isolation remind me of the book Heidi….I can almost hear bells on sheep and goats….

    Ali xx

    • Thanks so much Ali, you would absolutely love it down here, it is so steeped in history and so beautiful, but also so friendly and just the best place to be. The house is the ultimate in luxury, we have been having the most perfect week imaginable and it is fantastic to be skiing with the children, the best time ever! xx

  • What a lovely church, it is quite stunning inside and so ornate for such a tiny mountain church. Thank you for these lovely photos, it’s made me long for the mountains.

    • The church is gorgeous, isn’t it wonderful that they are open and we are able to look inside and feel the calm and peace within. This is the most lovely area, such fun to be able to explore. xx

  • Wow! What a fabulous place! How steep are those hillsides! I’ve never been skiing, I’m probably too old to start. Lovely photos, the stone buildings are very cute. Interesting to hear that the churches are always open – that’s the same as in Greece – we always like to look round the local churches when we visit a new Greek town.

    • I don’t think it is ever too late to start skiing, instructors are brilliant and very patient. I haven’t been skiing for years until this year, but it is just like riding a bicycle, it appears one never forgets, which has made me very happy! I love the open churches and I really hope it never changes, I too love looking around them wherever we are. I can imagine the ones in Greece are lovely, I have visited so many in Mediterranean countries and always love them xx

  • Thank you for bringing the extraordinary French scenery to Nebraska today and always! This post was visually exquisite!!! I hope you know how much, those of us who will never get to visit your incredible country, absorb these posts like a sponge! Gratefully, a flat lander

    • Thanks so much Amy, I truly love sharing this beautiful country with everyone, because, as a foreigner myself, I do feel truly privileged to be able to live here. The country is so varied and has so much to offer and the people are so delightfully friendly. As we live in fairly flat country also, nothing but a gentle hill with us, it is wonderful to get to the rugged beauty of the mountains, a complete change of scenery, good for the soul! Hope you have a lovely end to the week and weekend in Nebraska xx

  • Seems like you’ve had better weather than here, rain yet more rain, however we have seen some blue bits of sky with occasional sun bursts. Enjoy your well deserved time in the mountains.

    • I was told that we had definitely chosen the right week to go away and that the forecast for the week was not good! We had one day of snow on Tuesday and apart from that it has been so warm, when we arrived it was 20C and brilliant sunshine! Now a more normal 12.5 each day, but again brilliant sun. At lunch today it was actually too hot, we had to move to the shade! Loving everything about the mountains. See you soon xx

  • From here, it looks like you must be having gorgeous weather, because the Pyrénées have been sharply defined across the horizon every day this week. I even see Canigou, which looks as if it goes straight down into the Mediterranean, blanketed with snow. For a few years, our kid belonged to the Carcassonne ski club, taking a bus every Saturday to the Pyrénées for a day of skiing. As somebody who came from the U.S. Great Plains, I found this completely amazing, to live where we have palm trees and to be able to go skiing in a couple of hours’ drive.

    • The weather has been incredible, heavy snow Tuesday but apart from that it’s been blue skies and sun non stop, we had to seek the shade at lunchtime today as it was too hot, but great for skiing, plenty of snow and great visibility. When we lived down in the Pyrenees Atlantique ou closest resort was just an hour and a half away, we used to go often for day trips in the winter and like you we had palm trees and olive trees in the garden and could see the snow capped mountains from home. Sadly now we are four and a half hours away, but it’s nothing really as the route is so simple. What fun to have had a ski club that provided weekend skiing and transport! xx

  • Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed your photos and all the information! I could “see” France through you! 🙂

    • Thanks so much Karen, there are so many fascinating and varied parts of France, there really is something for everyone and it is such fun to be able to show different areas. Hope you have a lovely end to the week and weekend xx

  • What a pleasure to be able to enjoy the photos of your family vacation, it looks as if you are having a wonderful time and I love that church, how lovely that it was open

    • Thanks so much Shari, we are having the best holiday ever. I was so happy the church was open too, but incredibly, it seems, we have never come across one that is closed in France yet. It is always so calming to be able to walk inside. xx

  • I used to ski every winter with my girls when they were younger, I know just what you mean, some of the best memories of my life are family times on the slopes. I hope you continue to have a wondrous time

    • Thanks so much Robin, you know just what I mean then, about it being quite magical skiing with one’s children, there is a responsibility about guiding them down the slopes but also the most wonderful feeling. We are loving every second of this. xx

  • Another lovely blog Susan, it looks a gorgeous place, & such beautiful photos too. Your children are having an amazing childhood! Enjoy the rest of your stay.x

    • Thanks so much Janet, there are so many different and varying parts to France and it is fabulous to be able to explore different areas and for the children to see so many parts of their adopted country. Skiing really is the best holiday ever, so active and so full of excitement and we all sleep like logs, utterly exhausted and full of clean mountain air, it’s just the best! xx

  • Beautiful pictures, as ever. And, oh, that stone work! I see what look like TV antennas in a couple of your pictures, so am guessing that there is electricity — but what a job it must have been to bring it in through the mountains.
    I haven’t skied in years, either, but reading about it, I could feel the muscle memory kicking in and had the remembered sense of whooshing down a mountain, setting my edges, and all the rest. Fun!

    • Thanks Emm, so many of the photos I have snapped with my iPhone as we went past on the lift, I am always terrified I am going to drop it! There is electricity in all the lower houses and there are cables leading to the house that appears to have no road, so someone has got up there. High up in the mountains, the restaurants all have giant propane gas tanks which run everything, the children have asked every day how all the food gets to the top each day, it really must be quite a job. It’s been quite a few years since I have skied but I am pleased to say it really is just like riding a bicycle, one doesn’t seem to forget and I was thrilled it came back literally within minutes, I felt as if I had been on the slopes forever again. Have caught the odd edge on some slushy snow and had the odd wobble, just to keep me on my toes!! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Oh what a beauty…. I have stopped skiing when we moved to UK in 1997 – Hero Husband’s brother had kept our skis, our skiboots (horrendously expensive) and our gear. One Christmas when we visited he said ‘en passant’ (sort of by the way): I have cleared the garage. The ‘bourse’ gave me CHF30.- for your shoes!!! (In Switzerland, we have what we call ‘Kinderbörsen’ – 2nd hand shops just for kids and no, no children come to harm in those boutiques but it IS funny to say it!) I was speechless, he never asked, just gave EVERYTHING of both of us away….. Now, many years later, I couldn’t ski any longer as my knees are seriously damaged (amongst other accidents, I fell not once, but twice NOT skiing, but standing at a ‘tunnel’ in Zermatt, and waiting for friends – I just fell, twisted my knees and did the same thing again one year later!!!!).
    What I find difficult to understand is the fact that there seems not much snow to be around and yet you can ski. Are there ski cannons (hope not!) or are you going up very high? What altitude is the village and the Ski-Region? I’m totally in love with those Stone-Slate houses and especially the one consisting of a roof and a huge door… ?!?! And that tiny restaurant!!!! And your raclette plus dinner….. AND nice weather too? We’re doing something wrong; yesterday eve we were ready to leave for Paris when I went into our basement and found the boiler room (heating, dryer, ‘stuff’ room) flooded!!!! In the morning, I was down to get something, no problem – I took my coat off and wrecked my back getting the floor halfway dry! We must have had a really BIG load of rain to get that much water into our room. It’s the only one we have not ‘dried’ when we bought the house, so it’s just a cement floor, which is OK 98% of the time. Well, yesterday wasn’t one of them.
    Thankfully, we still have vivid memories of our prolonged weekend in Lisbon. We were spoilt with a lovely appartment, mostly very clement weather and wonderful food/people/experiences, so that this stormy weather and the rain didn’t get to us too much. To you and your family ‘Happy rest of your hols’ – don’t break anything (in Switzerland we say ‘Hals- und Beinbruch’ = break your neck and your leg which is sort of a Swiss Blessing, lol).
    Have some raclette on us, drink some more of your bio-wine, and return safely when the time is up. Thanks a million for even thinking of your faithful readers when you are on hols….

    • Oh Kiki, how unlucky, hope your back is better now, I heard that the northern part of the country was having a lot of rain. Before we left a friend told me we were certainly picking the right week to be away, he said rain was forecast all week where we live. We’ve had one day of snow and the rest of the time has been clear blue skies and endless sun and so warm, 12 to 13C each day, Monday it was 20C! More snow forecast tomorrow night. There is hardly any snow here but just 500 metres higher where the runs start there is plenty, way more than last year and the skiing has been fantastic. They do have snow cannons in places but they have not had to use them yet. Two weeks ago they had a huge dump of nearly a metre of snow which stood them in good stead for the spring. We have perfect spring powder skiing conditions, it couldn’t be better and hardly any ice which I hate. I cannot believe your ski boots got given away, well practically given away, that is almost criminal. So glad you had such a good weekend in Lisbon, it will keep you going until spring arrives properly. There is even blossom out on some of the trees here, I spotted it this evening and was most surprised. Just for now we are totally in love with the mountains, the food, the wine, the atmosphere, just can’t get enough of it. But then as a Swiss person you understand that, I’ve skied a lot in Grindelwald, very different to here! Hoping your basement dries out and you get some sunshine soon. We’ll bring some back north with us! xx

      • THANK YOU for your long reply; you shouldn’t have… you’re on holidays!!!! 🙂
        It wasn’t THAT bad with the water. As it’s only the one room, not a well-cared for anyway (hence not worth to put tiles in at the time – and it gives us a good indication on the water-logged grounds too); it’s just that (as I like to point out to Hero Husband!) God didn’t create me for hard work, lol. Yeah it wd be really nice of you to bring the sunshine back; we now have collected enough water for a good while 🙂

      • Even on holidays I like to chat with new found friends! meant to snow heavily tonight after another perfect day of blue skies! Who knows what we will wake up to!! xx

      • Buried under a foot of snow this morning! Of course you can imagine, children jumping around like they have never seen snow before, you would never think they have been skiing in it for an entire week!!! I’ll post photos on Instagram xxx

    • Aren’t they just beautiful, we have visited so many times for so many years and this is our second year here skiing from Barèges as we just love it and there is something quite comforting about returning to the same place and knowing where everything is and how everything works. xx

  • Your photos are just as lovely as always, what wonderful scenery to enjoy! I have been looking to get away, that seems perfect. Was the drive reasonable or lots of tiny twisting snow cover roads?

    • Thanks so much, it is quite stunning here, I would recommend it to anyone. The route is incredibly easy, literally only the last fifteen minutes is a little winding, but really nothing bad at all and there is no snow on the roads at all. It truly is the easiest route. We have been to other resorts in the Pyrenees which are much harder to get to and where we wind for seemingly ages, but this is simple, another reason we love it so much! xx

  • How beautiful and unspoilt this place is , Susan. Thank you for sharing the wonderful photos. I love the stone and slate houses perched on the hillside. Life must feel so slow and relaxed there, although I can imagine that some years the locals might find the winters a bit on the harsh side. What fun you and your family have. 🙂 xx

    • Thanks so much Sylvia, I think some winters are obviously better than others, this one has had plenty of snow but the temperatures this past week have been so mild, it seems we are getting the best of both worlds. Cannot tell you how beautiful and how peaceful it is, just having the best time. Have a lovely weekend xx

    • Thanks so much, it really is the perfect holiday, definitely do go ahead and book somewhere here and preferably this house if there are enough of you, it is utter perfection in every way. xx

    • Oh I can tell you it certainly is Helen, loving every minute of it. This is the most perfect holiday home, we couldn’t have asked for anything more or anywhere more fabulous. xx

  • We used to go skiing when I was a child and I certainly do not think we ever saw such a pretty village as this one! What a stunning area, and the lodgings to go with it!

    • This really is a lovely little village and it has been such fun to explore up and down the tiny narrow streets. Two weeks ago it was apparently under two feet of snow, I can imagine it must have looked incredible, but at the same time I would imagine the narrow twisting roads to get here might have been a little hair raising! xx

  • It looks really lovely! We were up the Alps at about the same level while you were up the Pyrenees! I have always wanted to try skiing in the Pyrenees but the Alps are closer for us. What station were you at La gourette? The cottage looks lovely and we certainly didnt have a hottub. What a way to soak out those aching muscles.

    • We are still here! and loving every second of it, the weather is fantastic. We had one day of heavy snow on Tuesday when we skied in blizzard like conditions and the rest of the time has been brilliant sun and so warm. Perfect spring powder skiing conditions. We are at Barèges, or rather about five minutes away but skiing out of Barèges, which links with La Mongie to give the largest skiing area in the Pyrenees I believe. It is half the distance that the Alps are for us so it makes perfect sense. This is the most perfect house to stay in, loving every second of it and the hot tub has just been the icing on the cake, in use every single evening and none of us have been stiff at all in the mornings which I am sure is down to the tub and soaking for an hour each evening with plenty of massage from the jets. Feel very pampered and relaxed! If you ever decide to come to the Pyrenees let me know, I can recommend all the best places! xx

  • What a beautiful spot! The mountains are one of my favorite places to go, so much to do and see! I’m not a very proficient skier myself, but I agree that there’s nothing more fun than skiing together as a family! Hope that you have a wonderful end to your holiday! Xxx

    • Thanks so much, there is so much to see and I think even for non skiers it is the perfect place for a holiday in both summer and winter. Plus there is just something so wonderful about breathing in the clean mountain air, we all find we sleep like logs! Have a great weekend xx

  • Great photos, and reminders of when we went skiing with our sons. I kept thinking of the novel, “The Nightingale,” and the downed pilots who were guided by the Resistance across the Pyrenees to safety during WW II. Thanks for another great post!

    • Thanks so much Judy, it is so much fun to ski with our children and it really is a perfect holiday for all age groups, everyone has a wonderful time. I don’t know The Nightingale, but I am going to look it up, thanks for the tip. Have a wonderful weekend xx

  • Fabulous to see images of the Pyrénées! This is à favourite region. Our family spent every summer there for many years. We were based in Argeles Gazost and went hiking every where including in the hills above Bareges. Great memories.

    • Oh wow, you must really know this area well. We have been to many places in the Pyrenees over the years, but this has to be our absolute favourite, we came here last year as well. We are all talking about coming back in the summer, as we all love the mountains as much then as in the winter, I can imagine it must be absolutely gorgeous here in the warmer weather when all the trees have leaves and everywhere is green. xx

  • Wow, what wonderful mountains! We are much jealous – great photos as always too. Hope you get to the end of your week safely….

    • Thanks so much Phil, it is a gorgeous area, so different to the marshy flatlands of the Charente maritime, but they say a change is as good as a rest. There is nothing restful about this holiday but it’s certainly doing us all the power of good! xx

  • I agree with so many other people who have commented on this, thank you for taking the time to share these fabulous photos of yet another fascinating part of France with us whilst you are on holiday. Loved every word and every photo. Now put away your computer and relax and enjoy the last days of your holiday with your beautiful family. I am very jealous, mountains, skiing, a hot tub and that incredible house. Thanks for the link, I shall bookmark it as it looks like a definite future holiday location for us.

    • Thank you Sharon, I have to tell you, it has been such a pleasure to share this fantastic area, I have enjoyed taking all the photos and looking around and exploring and imagining how I am going to explain it all to you and show you the photos. This is what makes it all such fun. I promise I really have not been on the computer much at all, I have ignored emails and everything work related apart from this one blog post! Do certainly bookmark this, I can assure you it is the most wonderful house to stay in, you would certainly not be disappointed. xx

    • Thanks so much, I can tell you it is absolute heaven, the views are fabulous, straight from the windows of the house and the skiing and the weather and the village and the hot tub, I feel as if we have all been truly spoilt and I really don’t want it to end. Plus I love the mountains and the scenery and this little village and the houses, so much to take in, so much I am sure I have missed, oh well we will just have to come back next year, our third year in a row! xx

  • Just reading your post made me feel like I had just taken a mini-vacation! The pictures are beautiful and what wonderful time spent with your beautiful family!!!! It reminds me of how much I need a vacation.

    • Thanks so much Mary, it is so scenic and so beautiful here but also so natural, it has been fun to explore after skiing. Hope you get to have a vacation, I am sure you deserve one! Come to France!xx

    • Thanks Catherine, not your mountains no, but I am sure they made you miss yours! The Pyrenees are very much closer for us and we know them well which is somehow comforting. xx

  • *huge smile* I get to the French Pyrenees for four days every year: in the month of July as a ‘Tour de France’ nut!! At about one o’clock in the morning out of Australia 🙂 !! This is different again and I SO love the photos and am SO glad for all the family and friends enjoying . . . Not just beautiful but ‘real’ and that is something one cannot always say these days when travelling. Beautiful outside and inside and beautiful for the children for a reality check when they grow into adulthood . . .

    • Just driving these roads and imagining the tour de France is exhausting, they truly do have legs of steel! Lots of biking here in the summer, there are routes marked all over the place, I would love to come back in July or August and so would the children, summer in the mountains is always fun, with or without the cycling! I totally agree with you about the real, not everywhere manages to combine a lot of tourists whilst keeping everything normal and as a result it becomes tacky and false. Here everything is just as it should be, perhaps because everyone is here for the mountains or for nature. Just loving it here and so are the children, just our type of holiday, full of action and full of laughter, we have sat around the dinner table and laughed until our sides ached and tears ran down our faces reliving tales from the day! xx

    • I just had to blog about this beautiful place Kim! I promised myself a week off, no internet, no computers, and I have almost succeeded, I have kept everything to an absolute minimum, this one post is the only thing I have done, just because it is so gorgeous! xx

    • Thanks so much, it is such a fabulous place, very natural but so much beauty in everything around us, I love the slate and stone used in all the houses, the different colours, it is all just begging to be photographed! xx

  • Oh how wonderful to read and see your wonderful blog, the pictures make feel like I am there. Everything is just so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us. You have a wonderful family and life. God bless you all — from Betty in Ontario,Canada.

    • Thank you so much Betty, I am sure you have no shortage of stunning scenery and mountains and snow in Ontario, I wonder is it very different? I love this tiny village where we are staying, it really is as if nothing has changed over centuries and yet we are able to enjoy it in a gorgeous luxurious house with everything one could ask for. So enjoying being able to explore here, it is every bit as much fun as the skiing, and the two together make for the perfect holiday. Have a lovely weekend xx

    • Thanks so much, I totally agree, blue skies and snow are fabulous together and it really does make skiing so much fun, we have been lucky to have perfect spring powder conditions. Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Stunning photos, Susan! It almost makes me wish I could ski 😉 One has to be in good shape to survive any time in the mountains … you’re either going up, or going down, and each has there own set of challenges 🙂

    The beautiful stone buildings are a reminder that one builds with the most readily available material.

    • Oh I just love the mountains, had a very scary ride up the mountains this afternoon on the chair lift. A five year old had snuck in front of her mother, went through the barrier and found herself on the chairlift next to Millie with a complete stranger on the other side of her, a young guy of about 20. She wriggled and wriggled and refused to hold on, Millie and I had the most stressful 10 minutes, we imagined her falling all the time and spent our entire lift telling her to be careful and to hold on! But I do simply love skiing, I haven’t actually skied for a few years and I am so happy to find that it truly is like riding a bike, one doesn’t forget, having the best time ever. I am totally in love with the stone buildings all using the local slate. They blend so perfectly with the surroundings. xx

      • They seem to work like clockwork, the odd hiccup, but they literally take thousands and thousands up the mountains. I don’t like them, but simply have to use them, there is no choice!!!

    • Yes try to one day, because it is the most stunning area of France, not just the snow and the mountains, but the villages and the houses built of the local slate, there is so much to see, I could explore for days on end. xx

  • I love the blend of your beautiful pictures with the text! It helps to absorb the feel of every place you take us to! Thank you so much! 💜🌷

  • Susan, I ❤️ that you have spent your holiday with your family in Paradise. I Love ALL of your pictures; particularly the one with the church. I have this fascination for older (much older) churches and quaint little villages; you captured both beautifully.
    Continue to enjoy….the bond between family and the “charm” left by days gone by!
    You are truly Bless! 🎿⛷🎿

    • Thanks so much, the best time away with the family ever, but sadly all good things must come to an end! Still there is always next year and now spring to look forward to xxx

  • Good Sunday Morning, Thank you for this wonderful way to begin my day. The French Pyrenees are indeed glorious and clearly you and family are enjoying a fantastic time together – and it looks like you have found the perfect accommodation for a family holiday. Love the images and everything else. A great place to have a sketch book and watercolours. The good news is that you get to go home to another beautiful part of France….Bravo 🙂 Janet. xxx

    • I totally agree, the perfect family holiday, it of course went by far too quickly, but we loved every single second of it, lots of laughs, lots of fun and great time together. Xx

  • These photos are sublime, I especially love the one of the sheep on the hillside. I loved visiting this part of France with you as I don’t know the Pyrenees at all and am fascinated to see that the architecture is very different to the mountain village near me in the Alpes Maritimes. It looks like you had a perfect winter holiday en famille, thanks for sharing it with us at #AllAboutFrance

  • These photos are sublime, I especially love the one of the sheep on the hillside. I loved visiting this part of France with you as I don’t know the Pyrenees at all and am fascinated to see that the architecture is very different to the mountain village near me in the Alpes Maritimes. It looks like you had a perfect winter holiday en famille, thanks for sharing it with us at #AllAboutFrance

    • Thanks Phoebe, the Pyrenees are a great favourite of mine but they are very different to the Alps, I actually love both for different reasons, the skiing is somewhat different too! It was a fabulous holiday, over far too quickly of course but we are already looking forward to next year! xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s