Setting off from the centre of Mauleon Barousse this ancient hilltop castle is about a 30 minute walk away from the house. The path begins at the Maison du Source park and takes you along an ancient forest path, reminiscent of something out of the Hobbit before you reach the castle itself.
Over the last 20 years, the small village of Bramevaque has hosted international volunteer projects every summer to conserve and renovate this ancient castle.
Free to enter you can climb the steps of the fort up onto the ramparts for spectacular views over the Barousse Valley.
St Bertrand de Comminges
The imposing cathedral is one of the most inspiring buildings across the Pyrenees and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a 20 minute drive from the house.
The Cathedral is open to the public and boasts a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The unique stalls represent biblical characters including scenes such as 'temptation', 'envy' and 'lust'. Bizarrely, there is even a stuffed crocodile on the wall inside the cathedral!
The village itself is well worth a stroll, dating back many centuries and the main square is a delightful place to stop for a bite to eat.
The village is free from cars so if you don’t fancy the walk up to the village a road train runs frequent shuttles from the parking.
The Gargas Caves
About a 20 minute drive from the house, the Grottes de Gargas prehistoric caves offer perhaps the best experience in France (after Niaux) to see cave art.
A series of steps and walkways show you the physical beauty of the caves themselves and the evidence of human activity - painted designs, incised outlines of animals and above all the amazing and strangely moving array of hand stencils.
The visit lasts about 40 minutes and is well worth the effort. It is worthwhile booking in advance as visitor numbers are strictly controlled to preserve the wonder of the caves.
There is also an exhibition centre for further insight into the intriguing history of the caves.
Luchon Spa Town
30 minutes by car Luchon is surrounded by the Pyrenees’ most famous peaks. This lively holiday destination attracts hikers, spa-goers, skiers, mountain-bikers and cyclists all year around.
Luchon's elegant Belle Epoque architecture gives the town its charm. A popular destination among high society from the 18th century onwards it has hosted a long list of dignatories from Richelieu to Napoleon III and Alexandre Dumas.
The town is centred around the Allée d’Etigny, packed with restaurants, bars and shops. The thermal baths are a must, with their ultra-modern fitness, well-being centre and Vaporarium, a huge natural steam bath, the only one of its kind in Europe.
Luchon is at the heart of French culture, hosting the International Film & TV Festival in February and the Flower Festival in August.
A lovely setting for a relaxing day out and picnic, 20 minutes away by car
The lake offers a host of things to do:
A nice sandy beach for sunbathing
A cordoned off, filtered swimming pool area off the beach
Pedalo's for hire
Bar Restaurant on site if you don't want to take your own picnic