Bagnères-de-Luchon is in the Midi-Pyrenees region, Haute-Garonne department, on the southern border of France.
The population in the metropolitan area of Toulouse is significantly younger and with a higher level of education than in the rest of Midi-Pyrénées. Outside of Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées is an aging region, and that definitely showed in the buildings, and the crowd (or lack thereof) in Luchon. But it was still a lovely, charming small city and a perfect base for hiking and cycling in the Pyrenees.
Bagnères-de-Luchon , also referred to as Luchon, is a spa/ski town: “spa” due to its numerous thermal springs, loaded with sodium sulfate and thought to cure everything from bronchitis to disabilities since Roman times; “ski” because of Superbagnères, the small ski resort connected to town by a ‘telecabine’.
Luchon lies in the Vallee de Luchon. The southern end of the area reminds us of the box canyon of Telluride.
Luchon’s most frequented street is the Allées d’Étigny, an avenue planted with lime-trees, at the southern extremity of which lie the Thermes, or hot baths.
Many of Luchon’s streets are lined with trees, and not so busy.
Flowers everywhere – in parks, pots along the streets, hanging from balconies, etc. help make Luchon very picturesque.
Many stately old mansions remain from the early 1900s when Luchon’s thermal baths were so popular.
Some newer pretty houses have been built on the outskirts of Luchon.
Another view of the idyllic town of Luchon.
We stopped to watch some newborn lambs (born earlier that day).
Uh-oh. This little lamb lost his mom. Its “bah” sounded more like a human baby’s “whaaa”.
Oh boy. oh boy, oh boy, the little newborn found his mom and bounded towards her.
Lots of RVers in the area. A typical European RV is not so large as the US because of the European roads.
“Slippery when wet”
Typical of so many little village cemetaries – markers from 1914-1918 and from 1941-1945. France lost millions of sons and daughters during WWI and WWII.
We stayed at Villa Portillon, a B&B in a house originally constructed in the late 1800s. Brits Michael and Annette have owned it for 10 years and have made a number of improvements. A very lovely place.
The grounds of Villa Portillon.
Hotel le Castel de la Pique – our second B&B in Luchon.
The wonderfully sweet owners of Hotel le Castel de la Pique.
The staircase at the Hotel le Castel de la Pique. Can you tell it has been used for 100 years? Notice how it tilts inward and has been fortified by a pole. We felt a bit like we were in the “sloping house” at Six Flags.
Our ‘chauffeur’ Didier, so very sweet, helpful, friendly. His very reasonable rates allowed us to do some hikes that started/ended outside of Luchon.
We would highly recommend Villa Portillon
. It is located on a quiet street just a block off the main street. The English owners, Michael and Annette, have updated the property to appeal to English-speaking travelers (big rooms, modern bathrooms – with washcloths!, comfy beds and pillows, a mini-bar with cold drinks and wine on the honor system, fast internet). Breakfast was fresh, plentiful, and included. Michael and Annette were helpful in every way; Annette even did our laundry for us, and wouldn’t take more than her 5 Euro fee.
We also recommend Castel de la Pique
. It’s a little further from downtown, so you’ll get a walk in when you want to go to restaurants, the grocery or pharmacy, but it’s not far, and you get to walk through Luchon’s lovely parks. The bathrooms are a little more basic, but the rooms on the 1st floor (2nd floor to Americans) have big picture windows looking out to the mountains. What they don’t offer in the way of laundry or drinks is offset by their warmth, charm and enthusiasm. Also, we are so thankful they introduced us to our taxi/chauffeur:
Taxi services in Luchon aren’t cheap; one company seems to have a monopoly. But Didier of Class Services
, was very reasonable, professional and timely, not to mention sweet, friendly and helpful beyond the call of duty.