My summer vacation was spent in the south of France this year, together with good friends and family. We had a wonderful time, and made a lot of local excursions. One day, we decided to go high, and went to admire some beautiful view!
Bagnères-de-Luchon, also referred to as Luchon, is a spa town and a commune in the Haute Garonne department in south-western France. The town is situated at the foot of the central Pyrenees in a beautiful valley at the confluence of the One and the Pique.
Bagnères-de-Luchon is celebrated as a fashionable resort. Of the promenades, the finest and most frequented are the Allées d’Étigny, an avenue planted with lime-trees, at the southern extremity of which is the Thermes, or hot baths. The road is lined with bars and restaurants, and there are a lot of shops, so our shopping continued…
Superbagnères, located on the territory of the commune, to the south-west of the town, is a ski resort. Historically it was connected to the town by a railway, and it was the second resort in France to install a lift, but today it is connected with a gondola lift. Each cabin holds up to four people and takes about ten minutes to reach the summit, running in the summer as well as the winter. The locals call the gondola lift an egg-lift, because of the form of the cabins. This made the youngest in our crew a bit nervous, he is four years old and allergic to eggs…
Cycling is a popular sport in the region in the summer. The climbs of Superbagnères, Col de Peyresourde, Port de Balès, Col de Menté, Col du Portillon and the Col de Portet d’Aspet are all nearby.
Luchon’s position at the confluence of two valleys gives a wide variety of routes up into the mountains – although most of them start with a large climb. We saw the smart people, the families that took the gondola lift with their bikes. In that way they could all enjoy a great ride in beautiful surroundings.
Our group was divided, most of us took the gondola lift, but some went by car to the top. Actually the Tour de France route often passes through Luchon, due to its location deep between two cols, so this is a well-known route for those who follow the tour.
The ride with the gondola lift was spectacular. We were so high up, and what a view! When we arrived at the top, it was almost as I expected Julie Andrews coming singing “Climb every Mountain” The scenery was very “sound of music” like.
I felt like I was on the top of the world.
There were a lot of activities going on, the most spectacular for us was the paragliding.
I talked to some of the participants and I was so impressed. The oldest one was 75 years old, and the youngest 15. The grandson had bought the glide for them both, knowing it was a longtime dream of his grandfather.
Paragliding is a free flight activity accessible to everybody. Thanks to a tandem harness and a bigger airfoil, the instructor can fly people of any weight (between 20 and 130 Kg). There is no need for any physical training or fitness, just a few steps downhill and you are airborne.
It was a great day for all of us, but I can only imagine what a day this was for the grandfather! And grandson.