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Pastoralism in the heart of the Pyrenees

During your walks discover an exceptional heritage that will let you see the life of mountain farmers of yesteryear. In the Pyrenees, pastoralism has always been synonymous with animals roaming free.

Animals in the open air 

There are so many animals roaming free in the high pastures ! Then, the sound gets closer, and there is the herd. Amazing ! Watch how they move; as true mountain dwellers they are incredibly agile and robust ! 

Can you see the accompanying sheepdog ? The Pyrenean Mountain Dog who is responsible for protecting the herd ?

 

Humans, animals and the mountain in harmony

Exploring the traces of the pastoral past

 Immersed in the heart of pastoral life, you can sense that pastoralism goes hand in hand with an outlook that considers human, animal and mountain as interdependent parts of a whole. This activity makes good use of the environment and animals by treating them with great respect. A waking dream !

On the walks

Remember that the beautiful mountain you admire is largely due to pastoralism !

An essential link

 Cows and sheep grazing for thousands of years prevent vegetation from covering the mountain. The same goes for biodiversity: many animal and plant species need the presence of herds to live

 

Exploring the traces of the pastoral past

If you stroll through the villages or along the hiking paths, you will find signs of the intense agropastoral activity of the past.

 

During the walks ...

Walks for all abilities will help you discover the ingenuity of leytés (stone milk fridges in the waterways) and puits glaciaires (cool boxes improvised in wells), the extreme deprivation of the huts, courtaous (stone shepherd huts in the summer pastures) around which shepherds sang their songs, the positioning of the dry stone walls…

Hikes to discover pastoralism in the Pyrénées

 All “floors” of the mountain reveal signs of a history intimately linked to an agropastoral economy. A whole host of huts are destinations in themselves. For example, the Courtaou de La Lit, the Courtaou des Esclozes and the Cabanes Tramezaigues are like cherries on the cake of wonderful hikes !

The pastoral heritage in our villages

Even if you aren’t a hiker, you can still be amazed by the wealth of pastoral heritage in the villages. In Campan, a stunning example of a series of leytés can be seen in the village centre. And in all the villages you pass through, take a good look at the special way that the Ostaus (year-round housing) are laid out, linked of course to pastoral activity. These barns were inhabited during the summer months to exploit the fodder in the often very steep zones intermédiaires (areas between the high summer pastures and the harvested hayfields). They are among the witnesses to these lives shaped by hard work.

Pastoralism in the Pyrenees is (also) a celebration!

Every time shepherds get together their songs ring out.

Pastoral activity, both long-standing and current, is at the heart of the identity of the Pyrenees and Bigorre. Whenever they meet, shepherds’ songs sound. Passed down from generation to generation verbally, they reflect the region’s authentic soul. To hear the echo of these polyphonic songs, take part in one of the festivals organised by the farmers

  • Fête pastorale des plaines d’Esquiou (pastoral festival on the plains of Esquiou) at the end of summer
  • Fête de l’âne et des métiers de traditions (donkey and traditional trade festival)
  • La messe des bergers: blessing of the flocks, mass at the Cabane d’Arizes 
  • Fête des bergers (shepherds’ festival) at the Col du Tourmalet

 

A night in the middle of the summer pastures

Sleep on one of the most beautiful pastoral sites of the destination and in a real shepherd’s hut

Go on a stroll among animals in freedom. Sit near the hut and imagine the time when the valleys lived at the rhythm of the seasons of pastoral activity in the Pyrénés …

 

To know 

  • Green signs indicate the behaviors to adopt on summer pastures
  • For everyone’s safety, please keep your dog on a leash in pastoral areas.
  • Do not get too close to animals (no selfie!), It could be very dangerous.
     

3 allée Tournefort 65200
Bagnères-de-Bigorre

05 62 95 50 71
info@tourmaletpicdumidi.fr

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