Town in the Hautes-Pyrénées (65)
Stage town for the 12th time
Population: 877 (Saint-Hilarians), 229,000 Hauts-Pyrénéens.
Specialities: Black Bigorre pork, spit cake, garbure, etc...
Personalities: Isabelle Mir (ski champion and silver medallist at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics), Jean Henri Mir (former mayor and rugby international in the 1960s), Xavier de Le Rue (snowboard, 7 times world champion), Paul Henri de Le Rue (snowboard, Olympic medallist at the 2006 Turin Olympics).
Sport: COS (rugby union), Brown Bears (snowboard) and the Ski Club. Ski and snowboard events throughout the season on a national or international scale. Events: Freestyle Snowboard World Cup (March), St Lary Patou Trail (June), La Pyrénéenne (Gran Fondo, July).
Culture: The new House of Heritage, the National Park House.
Economy: 4-season tourist resort (more than 27,000 beds, 700-hectare ski area with 100 km of slopes for snowboarding and cross-country skiing), sulphur water-based thermal baths (3,500 curists and 35,000 for fitness), recognised centre for the reception and preparation of high-level sportsmen and women (professional rugby, cycling teams, French snowboarding team, etc.), Saint-Lary EDF hydroelectric power station.
Labels: land of Art and History / Commune of the National Park of the Pyrenees / Label Famille Plus Montagne
Websites / FB / Twitter / Insta : www.saintlary.com / www.colduportet.fr / www.facebook.com/saintlary / www.pyrenees-trip.com / www.facebook.com/hautespyrenees / www.instagram.com/hautespyrenees / www.laregion.fr / fr-fr.facebook.com/TourismeOccitanie / twitter.com/Occitanie / @Occitanie /
fr-fr.facebook.com/LaRegionOccitaniePyreneesMediterranee / www.instagram.com/laregionoccitanie/?hl=fr
SAINT-LARY-SOULAN, A STORY
All the facets of the Pyrenees
In the heart of the Aure valley, at an altitude of 800 metres and at the gateway to the most beautiful natural areas of the Pyrenees, Saint-Lary, a small mountain village, is one of the most important ski resorts in the Pyrenees in winter.
It is the ideal base camp to take advantage of all the facets of the Pyrenees... both for sportsmen and women, since it is at the epicentre of numerous practice sites (cycling, mountain biking, hiking, trail...) and for those accompanying them, since the village offers numerous activities: less than two hours' drive from Toulouse, and only 20km from the Spanish border, this 4-season resort, with the Famille Plus Montagne label, offers a range of cultural and sporting activities to be enjoyed with friends or family. Cycling, hiking, paragliding, canyoning or rafting, among others, are available to all in an authentic and preserved setting. Sensoria, the wellness area which completes the thermal baths of the resort, offers a thermoludic course, the Rio, as well as quality Nuxe treatments. Without forgetting an exceptionally protected heritage from the vagaries of history in this valley on one of the Pilgrimage Routes to Santiago de Compostela and classified as a Country of Art and History.
With its cultural and gastronomic heritage, Saint-Lary also attracts visitors for its art of living and its Iberian influences as well as its delicious specialities such as the Porc Noir de Bigorre, the gâteau à la broche or the garbure.
SAINT-LARY-SOULAN AND CYCLING
In 2018, Nairo Quintana saved a somewhat disappointing Tour de France by winning on the Col du Portet after a short 65-km stage from Luchon on a starting grid like a F1 Grand Prix. The Colombian rider broke clear with Dan Martin and won the second of his three stage victories in the Tour.
In winter, the Pyrenean resort is the talk of the town thanks to the two local children, Xavier and Paul-Henri de Le Rue, who have won world and Olympic medals in snowboarding. It is also the stronghold of the Mir family, and in particular of Isabelle, silver medalist in downhill at the Grenoble Games and of her cousin Jean-Henri Mir, former mayor of the town (replaced by his cousin André in 2020), who won the Grand Slam with the French national team that same year.
In the summer, the climbers of the Tour regularly take possession of the place. Lucien Van Impe won here in 1976 (see Saint-Gaudens). The Belgian climber also consolidated his polka dot jersey in 1981. It was also the case for Mariano Martinez (1978) and more recently for Rafal Majka (2014), on the heights of the village at Pla d'Adet.
It should be noted that it was also in Saint-Lary that Daniel Mangeas made his debut as a announcer on the Tour in 1974.
The Néouvielle Nature Reserve and the Pyrenees National Park
They are accessible from Saint-Lary via the Route des Lacs and also via the Col du Portet, which is one of the entrances to these large protected areas. You can discover lake landscapes, a unique fauna and flora and some refuges such as the Lake of the Oule at the gateway to the National Park.
Another exceptional and lesser-known site, this area of mountain pastures listed as Natura 2000 is a real natural treasure only accessible in summer. You can walk along the streams to the recently renovated Hospice du Rioumajou, the last stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela before crossing the passes to Spain. Activities on site: donkey rides, hiking, fishing...
This is a wellness centre located in the heart of Saint-Lary. It offers a thermoludic space inspired by the Spanish canyons of the Sierra de Guara, where the visitor can relax between waterfalls, a counter-current river and massaging jets. Sensoria also has individual Nuxe treatment areas and a fitness centre for athletes.
Saint-Lary Soulan Heritage Centre
This brand-new structure offers various exhibitions in its visiting areas, presenting the history of the valleys and the way of life in the mountains in the past, as well as temporary exhibitions, such as those currently on snow and the Tour de France. It has a Pyrenean documentary collection, a conference room and a free web lounge.
The Hachan Tower and the National Park House
The Hachan Tower is the only remnant of the former manor house of the noble Agut family. Today, this 16th century tower houses the National Park House, refurbished in 2014. A rich, varied and fun museum space ideal for families: you can discover the fauna and flora of the large natural areas near Saint-Lary. The new interior layout offers, in adapted spaces, a discovery of the forest in the Aure valley and its natural habitats. Outside, a pathway leads the visitor to a better understanding of the eco-responsible use of wood.
The Mountain Bike Park
This is one of the most renowned in the Pyrenees, accessible from the heart of Saint-Lary by cable car and then by a detachable chairlift serving a dozen tracks. This area allows all levels of cyclists to enjoy descents in an exceptional setting: from fun family trails to vertiginous downhill runs for the most expert.
The Debat Mill
Dating from the 17th century, it is today a vestige of the agro-pastoral activity and traces the history of the former millers of Saint-Lary-Soulan. Free visit for individuals.
The spit cake is one of the symbols of the Pyrenees. Also known as Rocher des Pyrénées, this dessert is a cake traditionally served on special occasions in the farms of the Aure valley. Its unusual shape comes from its conception: a conical spit must be turned by hand for many hours in front of a wood fire while the dough is poured with a ladle. It is this method of baking that forms the "peaks" as the cake grow, and gives it its unique taste.