Keeping the Children Happy
Our apartment is on the first and second floors, accessed via an easy-to-use spiral staircase. It has a family-friendly layout, with bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and living and kitchen downstairs. The bedrooms are in the eaves and we find that children love their sloping ceilings. The bedroom windows also have shutters, so can be darkened easily to help children sleep on summer evenings (and mornings!).
The larger twin bedroom also has a small double futon bed, which can work well for a toddler, as it is very low to the ground. There is also a portacot (Phil&Teds brand) in the apartment and a high chair (Phil&Teds 'me too'), which is easily portable should you wish to take it out to cafes. The kitchen is well equipped, including a freezer, microwave and food processor and leads onto the balcony, which has a gate to access the courtyard garden. It may also be handy to note that the television in the flat gets the free UK channels, including CBeebies, and there are also some children's books in the apartment. Please note, however, that we do not have a stair gate.
Within a couple of minutes walk from the apartment, there is a chemist, the Tourist Office, several mini supermarkets and numerous bakeries and cafes.
Around 5 minutes walk, there is a stationery shop for art supplies on rainy days, two toy shops selling lovely French toys (one of which rents toys) and a
playground with a carousel.
Winter sports and walking are the main draw cards of the area, but there are also a number of great days out for children in the area. These include water parks for sunny days (we have tried Lac Vert, about 35 minutes drive away - a swimming pool complex filled with lake water, with grassy areas, slides, a snack bar and boats to take onto the lake, and the public swimming pool at Argeles-Gazost, about 40 minutes drive away, which includes a toddler pool, small playground, bouncy castle and snack bar), grottos (including the Grottes de Betharram where there is a short boat ride and train ride underground), chateaux, rides in ski lifts in the summer (most notably the cable car from La Mongie to the Pic du Midi for a panoramic view of the Pyrenees), a forest adventure park (www.chlorofil-parc.com
) open from March to November, year-round mountain luge at Hautacam and for those who love animals, there is the Pyrenees Animal Park in Argeles-Gazost (summer only -
), a tropical aquarium
), and at the Chateau de Beaucens, a fabulous collection of birds of prey including a stunning live show (April to October - www.donjon-des-aigles.com
The winter sports available in the area include snow shoe walking, dog sledding and skidoos,
as well as downhill and cross country skiing. The largest ski resort in the Pyrennees,
La Mongie (http://www.n-py.com/en/grand-tourmalet
), is 20-30 minutes drive
away (NOT a windy, hairpin bend mountain road!) or can be reached by ski bus
from Bagneres de Bigorre during the ski season. For beginner children, we found Bareges (a scenic, straightforward hour drive) worked really well, as you can park at the bottom of the nursery slopes, where there is a magic carpet, nice little cafe and ski school with English-speaking instructors.
For walks with the kids, the Tourist Offices can provide you with maps and guides and sometimes offer guided walks, some of which are child-friendly. They can also provide details of local guides who specialise in guiding families.