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Published: September 25th 2006
Sunday 30th July
We headed for the ski resort of Cauteret which in summer becomes a base for mountain walking. I was worried about the brakes so took a longer route via Lourdes to avoid the more tortuous gradients. By being economical with the brakes we arrived safely having negotiated yet another beautiful gorge. Cauteret is surrounded by even steeper peaks than Laruns. The cable car passes right over the town centre. Our camping pitch was right beside the mountain river. (The Gave de Cauteret). We're really getting into the French cafe life enjoying a coffee most days. Also enjoyed a couple of Grimbergen in a friendly cafe near the covered market (which has wonderful cheeses)
Monday 31st July
The clouds are very low over the surrounding peaks and didn't really clear all day so we abandoned the proposed walk from Pont D' Espagne. Instead we had a lazy day strolling into town and catching up on our laundry. The town closes down from about 12 till 3. Even the misleadingly named local supermarket, huit a huit, closes for the long lunch break. Amusing incident when a street entertaining clown band surrounded a young lady on the phone in a call box and loudly played 'as the saints go marching in'. Another street entertainer was the best balloon artist we have ever seen, he made an incredible bugs bunny right down to the carrot.
Tuesday 1st August Cauterets
Against expectations the weather is glorious. Therefore we caught the 10am bus up to the Pont d’Espange. The bus has to navigate tortuous hairpin bends and at one point having to reverse to get round. Our intention was to then walk back into Cauteret, but we decided to walk further up to the Lake. The path was busy but nothing could detract from the superb views on this crystal clear day. The lac is quite busy because it is possible to get the cable car and chairlift up to it. There is a café at the lake where we had a welcome cup of coffee, feeling suitably invigorated by the wonderful weather we decided to walk further up towards the refuge. We’ve seldom enjoyed walking so much. We ended up at the Esplammouse waterfall which was a lovely setting for our picnic of baguettes with egg and tomato. We dipped our feet into the rushing icy waters. The cascades are impressive enough even at this time of year. They must be astounding when there is the melt water in spring. We headed back down to the Port d’Espagne for some more refreshment, and then walked for an hour and a half along the Chemin de Cascades passing several more impressive waterfalls back into Cauteret, passing the bad egg smelling thermal spa along the way. We were exhausted having walked with only a short break since 10:20, it then being 6:30 we had a deserved beer in our favourite café before returning very content to our van.
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