Arreau, Midi-Pyrenees: tourism & sightseeing
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Arreau is a small town in the heart of the Pyrenees of southern France and at the eastern end of the Pyrenees National Park. The town is in a pretty riverside setting and there are several historical buildings of interest, all surrounded by the steep wooded hills of the Pyrenees.
First I should say that the Arreau Tourist Office was closed at the time of our visit and although I could see occasional signs indicating a 'route touristique' to follow the signs seemed to disappear or be hidden away for most of the time. No matter, the town is quite small and I think I discovered most of the highlights!
The Mairie - market hall is in the center of Arreau and easily recognised by the open market area at ground level (markets are held here each thursday) and the small clocktower on the roof. A pretty building but do note that the building was only built in 1932 on the site of the original 16th century market hall, and the colombage woodwork is fake!
Starting from here all the important historical sites in Arreau are close to hand, as is the riverside walk - the part of Anneau along the river is the most picturesque and interesting part of a visit.
France This Way comment: when out exploring it is quite rare to come across places that exceed my expectations - Arreau is one that most certainly did although I must admit I had never heard of the town until I was in the region and stopped on the off-chance that it would be worth a look around. In fact there is a great deal to see and enjoy here!
The notable monuments that you will discover as you explore include:
- The Maison des Lys, next to the market square, is the most imposing medieval building in Arreau. It has an attractively decorated facade in colombage with a 'fleur de lys' design incorporated. This house dates from the 16th century when it was built for a local noble family.
- The Church of Notre Dame is on the same side of the river as the market hall, and has its origins in the romanesque period. Inside the church the notable highlight is a 16th century carving of the Pieta (Mary and Jesus).
- On the other side of the river the Chapel of Saint-Exupery has a roman style porch (note the carvings around the entrance) and chapel, while the octagonal tower and the main body of the church are a 16th century addition.
- Close to here you can also see the Chateau de Ségure, with a square tower (more easily seen from the hill behind than from the riverside) and other interesting architectural highlights such as a decorative balcony at first floor level.
- A little further down the hill on the riverside is the Chateau des Nestes, easily recognisable by its yellow crepi facade and central square tower with an open balcony at the top, apparently originally used as an astronomical viewing platform
Return a little way up the hill and follow the steep lane on the left near the Chateau de Segure towards a calvary cross and with a nice view across the rooftops of the town below.
Although you will come across various small towns, villages and ski resorts in the Pyrenees it is without doubt the scenery and the chance to enjoy the outdoors that attracts most visitors here.
The highlights near Arreau in the Pyrenees National Park include the Col du Tourmalet, the mythical mountain route from the Tour de France, as well as various other popular cycling climbs such as the Col d'Aspin, so don't be surprised if you see groups of tired cyclists in the centre of Arreau!
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Map of Arreau and places to visit
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Address: Arreau, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Hautes-Pyrenees, Midi-Pyrenees, 65240, France || GPS: latitude 42.905278, longitude 0.358889
Plan your visit to Arreau, Midi-Pyrenees
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Jézeau église Saint-Laurent (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site
- Gouffre d'Esparros: site of natural beauty (14km)
- Col du Tourmalet: site of natural beauty (17km)
- Aragnouet chapelle des templiers (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (19km)
- Lac d'Oo: site of natural beauty (21km)
- St Bertrand de Comminges cathédrale (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (22km)
- Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges: most beautiful village (22km)
- Grottes de Médous: site of natural beauty (22km)
- St Bertrand de Comminges chapelle St Julien (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (22km)
- Valcabrère basilique St Just (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (23km)
- Cirque des Crabioules: site of natural beauty (25km)
- Cirque de Troumouse: site of natural beauty (28km)
Market days in Arreau, France
Regular market(s) are held in Arreau each Thursday all day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Arreau (Francais)