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The Pyrenees and Beyond


On the Spanish side, this town on the edge of Ordesa National Park in the Pyrenees, is a great diving board to the activities on offer here - the mountains providing climbing and hiking - plus there is skiing in the area during winter.  It has been likened to Yosemite in the US for its towering cliffs.  Below in the zips of water that fasten the canyon, adventurers, (like myself and family), slide over and leap off rocks and bob in the numbing waters; our bodies embraced in thick wetsuits leaving only rockthe hands free to feel the shocking cold.  After an active day canyoning the quickest way back to the car (and picnic) is to ab-sail off a rocky edge.  Advantage no. 116 of having children is, never letting them see your fear, therefore freeing you up to be daring!

We stayed in a wooden cabin at Camping San Anton, a short distance from the town, from which I took these photos.



Meandering along the the mountain paths of the oldest national park in Spain, passing the forest-coated landscape, we hold onto our stomachs due to all the bends through the mountains to France.   We sidetrack onto a lumpy track (near Parzan) that ends where a handful of cars shine in the sunlight.  From here we hike up over grassy mounds with some awkward rocky and thorny outcrops, but enough open space to demand an outburst of 'The hills are alive...' Up and up, all the while engaging the children in detailed conversations about Pokemon and Lord Voldemort to distract them from the climb.  And just as we begin negotiating monetary terms for reaching the top, the canyon opens up like a vast toothy yawn and we settle at the top to take in the panaramic views. hikers

hike      sestrales      usatcanyon



The gate trundles back, and we have made it to our destination south of Toulouse, despite irratic help from our out-dated sat-nav, and are greeted by Perry, the owner.  The kids immediately make new friends which allows us a relaxed thai meal and beers, served from over the counter of the Apollo Lounge (an impressive converted metal airstream van) that collects the glampers together at the end of each day. Perry ceremoniously gets behind the decks and spins some great tunes to set the tone, while, as a bonus, Coreo is on hand to entertain us (informally) with magic tricks and illuminated juggling.

Our first nights booking had gone astray so we stay in the farmhouse, with a decidely quirky bathroom - the largest perrymosaic shower tray imaginable and rustic sunbeam window bars through which the Pyrenees mountains could be viewed in the distance.  Perry says they are hoping to extend the unusual accommodation to the house next year, creating a clown theme - true to his roots in the circus.

Next day we are in our comfortable, vintage airstream with all its carefully collected 70's extras.  Every detail has been pieced together to take you back in time, down to the Mr T puzzle in the cupboard.  Perry and his wife Coline, who do a large proportion of the work themselves, want this site to be 'real' and put great effort into providing an inviting ambience that immediately strikes you.  Although as the place has been starshipformed with love they did become anxious at times about the children (in numbers), so much as they are welcomed here, it is with caution. 

As our stay coincided with a heat wave the days were lazy. We made it briefly to the field behind to fly a kite in the much appreciated breeze this plot receives, but then returned to recline and read in the shade of our van's awning.  The kids took turns to whizz down a hosed-down plastic sheet to keep cool.  If we hadn't been organising a payment transfer for the bill (bring cash!) we would have visited the highly recommended nearby Mirepoix market, held on a Monday.

We had great, relaxing days here and met lovely and interesting people - click here for more details on Belrepayre Airstream Trailer Park.


Over the next few days we drove around central France and were impressed by every charming stone village and the bowed heads of many a sunflower.  The food was predictably delicious, but the warm welcome was perhaps less so, especially with my withered french. Our reluctant last night in France was in St Jean de Luz, picked StJeanbeachmainly because it was a suitable distance from our last stop, so it was a delight to find such an enchanting, ancient basque town close to Biarritz on one side and San Sebastian in Spain on the other.  Perfect mid-20's temperatures, a large sandy beach (with children's entertainment stations!), dangerous shops, a colourful harbour and atmospheric square with bandstand, artists and buzzing outdoor tables.  La fin parfaite!