We are looking small quaint town in foothills to explore the Pyrenees. No preference if it's on French or Spanish side. As a FYI we will doing a lot road cycling. Recommendations? Thanks Roger
I've only stayed in Zaragosa, Pamplona and San Sebastian in the area. I'm not sure any of those are a good recommendation for your trip. Near Pamplona is Olite, it has a great little castle that's a good visit while you're in the area. If you get a chance, I recommend a stop.
Candanchu. Spanish side. Roger, your turn.
Roger, A few weeks ago I finished reading The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemingway. Its easy to read, not lengthy, and takes place where you are planning to go. The book might be interesting as he mentions some of the places you will no doubt be traveling through or staying in.
Thanks for the responses. Like the book suggestion! Candanchu looks nice but can't find much for accommodations. Looking for a studio or 1 bedroom. So far the best accommodations we've found are 6km outside of Lourdes.
My first post was hasty. There's another Roger. He lives in the western Pyrenees and knows more about that area than anybody. If he helps, you've got it made. Candanchu is a ski resort. Couple of bars, big grocery store, and ten zillion condos/hotels. Not exactly quaint, but it's as deep into the high peaks as you can reasonbly get. If you can't find anything there (venere.com?), look around at Jaca. It's maybe fifteen miles south, not quite into the foothills. There's a little train line with a batch of tunnels that runs from Jaca to Canfranc which is about three or four miles south of Candanchu. I've only ridden it once and that was a long time ago, but I'll swear I saw bikes on it. Think of the Pyreness as being like the Sierras along about Owens Valley/Yosemite. The French side is like the western slope, gentle and walkable. The Spanish side is like the eastern slope, shear as hell. If you want to bike parallel to the range and stay high, do it from the French side, especially through the national park.
About 10 years ago, we stayed at a very nice B&B just to the west of Oloron-Ste.-Marie (southwest of Pau). It was in an old (small) chateau. Can't recall the name, but I think the small town started with a J. We drove up to Lescun, in the Pyrenees, from there. You might be able to bike to the Pyrenees rather than taking a car. Another possibility is Sain-Jean-Pied-de-Port, further to the west. I have not stayed there, but have heard reports that it is very nice, and it should have a lot of accomodations, as it is a jumping off spot for people walking the old pilgrim's route into Spain. Peter
Roger; did you have a preference for which part of the Pyrenees you wanted to tour/cycle? There's a lot of Pyrenees in the many miles between the Med and the Atlantic. If 'twas me cycing; I'd choose the western end (between Hendaye/Irun and St. Jean Pierre de Port/Valcarlos) where there's countless small towns and villages in Pays Basque (on both sides of the Fr/Sp frontier) to use as a home base. You can do both sides of the border during the day, but I'd be inclined to overnight on the Spanish side to save you a bundle of $'s for eating, sleeping and gas if you'll have a car with you. A few suggestions for your online research & to give you a feel for the area: 1.Mirabel's Guide to Pays Basque
2.The Complete Anglo in Pays Basque (blog) Geoff
If I were you, I would take a very close look at the Vallée de l'Ossau, south of Pau: http://www.valleedossau-tourisme.com/ http://www.valleedossau-tourisme.com/randonnees/cyclo-vtt/boucles-vtt.php http://www.ossau-pyrenees.com/
http://www.ossau-pyrenees.com/fr/cyclisme-en-vallee-dossau The whole area is lovely for cycling - it hosts a leg of the Tour de France. The Cirque d'Anéou and the Plateau du Bénou are quite beautiful! I would look at Laruns or Bielle as a base. Look for a "gîte" or a "location" listing for self-catering accommodations. BTW, we did not find this area to be expensive at all.