Driving Back To France Through The Pyrenees

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Saturday 28 April 2018

Driving Back To France Through The Pyrenees

Setting off from the Ebro Delta to return to France, I was filled with a high degree of excitement. After months by the sandy beaches of Spain’s southern and eastern coast, I was feeling ready for a change of scenery. Plus, with fine weather forecast for the French Pyrenees for the week ahead, I couldn’t help feeling that we had timed things just right to enjoy a few beautiful bike rides.
Our route north took us inland, on a quiet road that was a surprising pleasure to drive, the C-44. Normally we would always stick to the main roads along the coast, yet this time we decided to trust to our Garmin (always a bad idea) but it came out really great. Very little traffic and lovely rolling countryside all the way to Lleida.

One leisurely lunch stop in Lleida later (what a tongue twister) and we set off north once more, reaching the foothills of the Pyrenees another two hours later. It was lashing with rain at times, but with sudden clear patches that revealed beautiful mountains lakes and snow dusted hillsides. We were crossing the mountains at Bielsa, via the tunnel, which in the end was amazingly easy. We’d never come this way before and found tunnel itself a bit narrow, so probably not so relaxed had there been a bunch of trucks coming the other way and if we had a bigger motorhome, but we saw so little traffic it was like the mountains were all for us, at least for a while. The altitude at the French tunnel opening was high enough for the road to be lined with deep snow (about 1600 metres) but the road was entirely clear and well surfaced.

We had planned to overnight at the motorhome aire in Saint-Lary-Soulan, another half an hour from the tunnel, but in the end continued an extra 10 minutes down the valley to Arreau. This is an aire that we have used several times in the past, right at the foot of the Col d’Aspin. On the way down the valley we kept pointing out familiar places we recognised from previous adventures.

It was wonderful to be back in the hills. It felt like coming home. Despite the rain we had our cab windows open to smell the moist fresh air much of the way and were marvelling at the lushness of the green fields and fir trees all around us. As much as we have enjoyed our time in Spain, now that spring is here there is no place I’d rather be than in the thawing mountains. Looking up at the white giants standing tall above the rest of the scenery is like saying hello to old friends.

A few photos of our drive…..

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