Grotte La Verna Pyrénées

Three pearls of the Pyrénées

There’s a myriad of pearls in the Pyrénées and today we’ve chosen three especially for you. From underground to mountain tops: La Verna cave system underneath La Pierre Saint-Martin mountain chain, the Fort du Portalet in the Aspe Valley and the train d’Artouste, the highest in Europe, in the Ossau Valley.

La Verna

This is not a singer in residence, but an exceptional geographical location located in the La Pierre-Saint-Martin mountain range, one of the largest known sites of underground caves in the world. Open to the general public since May 2010, La Verna was discovered in August 1953.

When discovered, these caves broke records, notably concerning the total depth of the underground cavities. And today, still, the site is somewhat remarkable, notably after being granted the disability tourism classification for four disabilities, for one of the visits on offer.

There are, indeed, several offers for visits: Discovery (5 years old and over, a secure 800 metre pathway, accessible to people with reduced mobility), Exploration (10 years old and over, a self-instructed visit to the La Pierre Saint-Martin cave), Adventure (12 years old and over, from 3 hours to a full day depending on the route, with a state-registered cave guide) and Winter, depending on weather conditions.

Fort du Portalet, Aspe Valley, Béarn Pyrénées

Portalet, historical fort in the Pyrenees

Entwined in the cliff, Fort du Portalet reaches towards the sky, dominating the Aspe Valley. This imposing building with its perfectly symmetrical architecture was built between 1840 and 1870, which is a good number of years ago! In its day, it was a means of protecting the Col du Somport route from Spanish incursions. It also served as a prison and ... a summer camp!

Let your imagination run wild and turn back the hands of time, listening to the strange stories you’ll hear during the guided tour*.

Useful tip: the walls of the fort are constructed entirely of grey stone which almost merges with the rock of the mountain, so keep your eyes open or it may disappear from view! Trainers, cap, sweater and water bottle are essential.

* Guided tours: in French, Spanish and English. Mandatory reservation. More info at the tourist office.

Train d’Artouste au sommet des Pyrénées béarnaises

Artouste, the highest train in Europe

First built in 1924 for the construction of a dam, the little train at Artouste has been used for tourist purposes ever since the 1930s.

At an altitude of 2000 metres, it will take you from the peak of La Sagette (reached by a cable car from the village of Fabrèges) to the lake of Artouste and its dam.

An extraordinary 10 km ride up in the mountains: landscapes, flora and fauna, a real feast for the eyes. And the walk to the lake is just as breathtaking.

The little train at Artouste (Le Petit train d’Artouste)
Count on 3 hours and a half for the round trip.
Opening time and rates on the website : www.artouste.fr
Booking is recommended.

Pau - Pyrénées 

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