In Larreule, life goes on at a very relaxed pace, it is tempting just to sit in the sun, listen to the wildlife, watch the birds of prey circle over the pasture land, and let it wash over you. However, it would be a pity not to explore the area with so much to see and do nearby. The list below (which is far from comprehensive) gives you an idea of what is available in the area. Locally; Madiran is the wine producing area, using the tannat grape. There are 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) of Madiran vineyards, a wine that is particularly high in antidioxdants. Maubourguet; the nearest town, which is situated in the south-west of France, not too far from the Spanish border, is a typically Gascon market town with the added charm that comes from its proximity to, and affinity with, the Basque country and culture. Lovely half-timbered houses (colombage) jostle for space in the town, whilst out in the glorious rolling countryside there are delightful L-shaped farmhouses with distinctively shaped rooftops.
Maubourguet, although rural in essence, offers amenities such as supermarkets, restaurants, banking facilities, schools and garages, and is close enough to several larger towns to make long journeys non essential.
Every Tuesday morning, if you drag yourself out of bed and make your way down to the town centre, you will be rewarded by a veritable feast for the senses. All French markets are a delight, but this is never more so than in this ancient region where the rural traditions are still holding strong, and the gastronomy is second to none. Food, with particular attention paid to its freshness and quality, is a serious business in this part of France.
If you don’t make it to the market early enough to buy the best produce for yourself, don’t worry, just treat yourself to a meal at one of the town’s many restaurants.
Day tripping… a cornucopia of cultures!
As Maubourguet is centrally situated in France’s deep south-west, it makes a great base for days out to see the surrounding areas. It is well within the bounds of a day trip to pop into Spain, or head west for Pau. Tarbes is close by (always good for a rugby match!), as is the pilgrim town of Lourdes. further west is the atlantic coast which boasts Biarritz and Hossegor, with golden beaches. To the east is Andorra, for some tax free shopping, the rose-coloured city of Toulouse, or the beautiful mediaeval city of Carcassonne. It seems that everything is possible from here, which makes a little rural town seem like the cultural capital of southern France!
The town has a long and proud association with horses and horsemanship. Equestrian centres abound here, so don’t forget to pack your hard hat because there can be few better ways to discover this beautiful region than from the back of a horse.
The Pyrenées – A huge national park with hundreds of miles of walking/cycling paths and activities: hiking, rock climbing, rafting/canoeing, paragliding, caving, road cycling, mountain biking, horse riding. Golf: Courses at Lannemezan/ Tarbes/ Pau/ Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Winter sports: skiing & snowboarding (nearest resort La Mongie – Barèges, is the biggest in the French Pyrenées), snow shoe-ing, cross country skiing, ice climbing. Tour de France: passing through Tarbes and the Pyrenées in July. Wildlife and nature: bird watching, wild flowers, butterflies. Historical towns: Tarbes, Lourdes, Pau, Auch. Châteaux: E.g. Château de Laas, Château de Pau, Château d'Arricau Bordes, Château de Mauvezin, Château de Tostat