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7 exciting things to do in Hautes-Pyrénées this summer

PUBLISHED: 11:48 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:27 22 March 2019

Overlooking the beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site of the cirque de Gavarnie in Hautes-Pyrenees. Pic: bbsferran/iStock/Getty

Overlooking the beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site of the cirque de Gavarnie in Hautes-Pyrenees. Pic: bbsferran/iStock/Getty

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From equestrian extravaganzas in Tarbes to dramatic mountain performances at Gavarnie, find out what the versatile Hautes-Pyrénées département has to offer this summer

1) Enjoy an outdoor performance of Don Quixote at a Unesco World Heritage Site

Festival de Gavarnie

The magnificent Unesco World Heritage Site, the cirque de Gavarnie, will be a stage like no other when the annual summer theatre festival returns from 25 July – 6 August. This year’s show in the unique setting of the Courade Plateau, just below the cirque, will be Don Quichotte.

65120 Gavarnie; tickets from €25; find out more

2) Marvel at some daring displays of horsemanship in this equestrian extravaganza

Festival Equestria

Horse lovers will delight in this great horse show in Tarbes from 23–28 July, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. There will be some 200 hours of amazing theatrical displays showing off the fantastic animal’s power and trainability, and 40,000 festival-goers will be in attendance.

3 Cours Gambetta, 65000 Tarbes; tickets from €5; find out more

3) Take part in a treasure hunt – 2,877m above sea level

Pic du Midi

The famous Pic du Midi in the snow. Pic: Philipimage/iStock/GettyThe famous Pic du Midi in the snow. Pic: Philipimage/iStock/Getty

A new addition to this Pyrenean peak since December 2018 is the Histopad – a sort of tablet – that acts as an information point, tour guide and games unit. Suitable for both children and grown-ups is the fantastic treasure hunt, where you must move around the summit complex to hunt for clues with the help of your Histopad.

65120 Bagnères-de-Bigorre; return cable car ride from €40; find out more

4) Sleep in an ecolodge in a zoo, watching the residents from your window

Parc Animalier des Pyrénées

Renowned as one of France’s best zoos, this animal park in Argelès-Gazost offers visitors the chance to spend a night in a chalet within the park. The new Refuge, designed as a typical mountain lodge, is suitable for six people and overlooks the zoo’s famous marmots, deer and goats.

60bis Avenue des Pyrénées, 65400 Ayzac-Ost; tickets to the park from €19.50, one night in the refuge from €390; find out more

5) Watch the story of Bernadette of Lourdes come to life as a musical

Bernadette de Lourdes

It may not seem like the obvious choice for a musical, but the interesting story of Saint Bernadette, who witnessed the Virgin Mary in Lourdes’ Massabielle Grotto, will be performed at Lourdes’ Robert Hossein Space. Starring as Saint Bernadette will be young singer Eyma Schären, who appeared on France’s version of The Voice Kids.

Espace Robert Hossein, 19 Avenue Alexandre Marqui, 65100 Lourdes; tickets from €25; find out more

Keep an eye out for the lovely mounaques in Campan. Pic: Charluber CC BY SA 3.0Keep an eye out for the lovely mounaques in Campan. Pic: Charluber CC BY SA 3.0

6) See some cute and crazy mounaque dolls

Les Journées des Mariolles

The population of the pretty, albeit tiny, mountain town of Campan increases drastically with the arrival of the mounaques – quirky, coarse dolls dressed in all sorts of costumes that appear in residents’ gardens, balconies and shopfronts. The mounaques were originally used to mock unorthodox local weddings, but now attract visitors to marvel at the surreal sight from 12-14 July.

65710 Campan; find out more

7) Listen to some underwater tunes at a special spa

Aquensis

Spas are the speciality of the Pyrénées, and one of the most popular is Aquensis in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. The cathedral-like interior makes for a relaxing stay, whether you opt for a swim in the main pool or a sweat in the hammam. Don’t miss the relaxation pool which plays special underwater music for those who stick their ears below the surface!

5 Rue du Pont d’Arras, 65200 Bagnères-de-Bigorre; passes from €11; find out more

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