Trying to locate the best route for a motorhome over the Pyrenees proved to be a harder task than we first thought... should we try to head across towards La Mongie and the scene of last October's adventures at Pic du Midi or should we try the infamous D953 and it's truly scenic, if narrow roads... or should we try a tunnel through the Pyrenees much like the one we tried last month under the Alpes and Mont Blanc.
Where did we stay? Well despite many other choices we opted for the Le Vieux Berger site near to Lourdes, close to the centre of a town that is often the end point for many a pilgrimage to the healing grotto. Yet Lourdes is a fine town in it's own right.... built around a rocky highpoint, with it's own castle, a funicular railway, stunning church and full of small intricate streets lined with classic architecture that wouldn't have looked out of place in Pisa
However beautiful Lourdes may be, we needed to traverse the mountainous passes in sunlight and the clock had already struck noon!!! So we headed past meadows full of bright colourful plants, farmers hard at work drilling new seed for spring time crops and an ever increasing series of roads with steepening gradients!
Eschewing the D953 option due to the lateness of our departure, we settled on making our way up the Col de Marie-Blanque... a steep yet not impossible pass....favoured by cyclists from across Europe! However, we hadn't bargained on the brilliant intervention of the sheep farmers enroute... whilst the sheep dogs corralled the sheep, the farmer drove past us in the most rickety old citroen van you have ever seen... followed by some 100+ sheep and three sheep dogs yapping at their heels... it should have been on 'You've been Framed'!!
The mountain pass follows a steady gradient to just over 3,396ft and tops out on a grassy plateau that reminded us of the Elan Valley in Wales... complete with grazing horses and circling buzzards/black kites!! The full climb takes only an 1hr at most and could easily provide 10+ fantastic picnic spots... however we were more than aware that this was only part of the journey across the Pyrenees and we needed the reach the N154 to make it across to Spain (via the
Before departing from the UK, we'd looked long and hard at this route south from Calais from 'outandaboutlive' yet we still prefer the route we've taken... we've certainly taken in suggestions from this route but we've also opted to see the Dordogne, Toulouse and more importantly this amazingly scenic route across the Pyrenees.... or maybe we were just inspired by the sight of the 'kissing bunnies' that can be seen from the N154 before you head into the Comport Tunnel as you crest around 1700m or 5,600ft
Heading southwards out of the higher Pyrenees.. we descended into the fantastic town of Jaca... still high in the Pyrenees.... we used the fantastic (and highly recommended) CamperContact app to find yet another 'free nights' stay.. this time near the municipal bus station... but perhaps more importantly next to a great kids playground and with easy access to full facilities!! Tomorrow should see us leave the Pyrenees behind as we head into Zaragoza enroute towards Valencia!!
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