Stage town for the 5th time
Municipality of Hautes-Pyrénées
Personalities: Victor Hugo, George Sand, Heinrich Heine, Bernadette Soubirous, Empress Eugénie, Sarah Bernhardt, Alfred Tennyson, Giuseppe Verdi (famous spa visitors). Henry Russell (Pyrenean pioneer). Sim (comedian, born in Cauterets).
Specialities: berlingots, foie gras, garbure, Tarbes beans, spit cake, Bigorre black pig.
Sport: CH Cauterets (ice hockey). Alpine skiing, winter sports, mountaineering.
Events: Five finishes of the Tour de France, one finish of the Vuelta. Trail des Balcons (July), Trail du Cabaliros (September).
Economy: tourism (winter sports resort). Thermalism. Agriculture (hay, livestock).
Festivals: Pyrenean Nature Festival (October). Latino Roc Festival (July).
Labels: Quality tourism. Land of mountaineering.
Websites / social networks: cauterets.com, www.ville-cauterets.fr
CAUTERETS-CAMBASQUE AND CYCLING
Although the Tour de France has already visited Cauterets four times between 1953 and 2015, it has only stopped once at the Cambasque plateau, in 1989. It was then a very promising young Spanish rider, Miguel Indurain, who won the stage. He finished 17th overall that year. It was the first stage victory of the Navarrese in the Tour: eleven others followed and five Yellow Jerseys in Paris. Another Spaniard inaugurated the prize list in the Pyrenean resort, known for its famous Pont d'Espagne: Jesus Lorono also won the mountain classification in 1953. Four years later, he won the Vuelta. In 1995, Richard Virenque won near Crêtes du Lys, but his victory was overshadowed by the death of Italian Fabio Casartelli on the 15e stage of that edition, who fell on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet.In 2015, Rafal Majka won in Cauterets-Vallée de Saint-Savin. Cauterets was also on the route of the 2003 Vuelta.
Located 7km from Cauterets in the Pyrenees National Park, Pont d'Espagne, a Midi-Pyrénées Grand Site, and its unspoilt nature are an ideal playground for hiking. One of the most popular walks leads to the Gaube lake (via the GR10 or a chairlift) or to the famous Vignemale, the highest peak in the French Pyrenees. In the footsteps of Count Henry Russell, you can admire the preserved wildlife, powerful waterfalls and, with a little luck and patience, marmots and isards. Pont d'Espagne is also the starting point for many ski lifts during the ski season.
In the heart of the National Park, the Marcadau valley is one of the jewels of the Pyrenees, with its lakes, its fir forest, its granite peaks and summits. The word Marcadau means "market place" in Gascon. Indeed, the pass, located on the French-Spanish border, was a place of exchange between the inhabitants of the two regions. For an easy walk of a few hours in the high mountains or for a touring hike, the Wallon Marcadau refuge (1,865m) can be reached from Pont d'Espagne in two and a half hours (less than 45 minutes by the Gaube chair lift). From there, you can hike to the Pourtet lake, Grande Fache, the Spanish side via the Marcadau port or the Vignemale massif.
Cauterets railway station
Style: Belle Époque
Characteristics: it is an original construction that some people compare to mountain chalets, while others see it as a western-style setting. The Pierrefitte-Cauterets railway line was abandoned in 1949 and was transformed into a 30 km long greenway. The station is now a venue for shows and other events and is still a bus station. The building of the Cauterets station was made of wood by the Carde company in Bordeaux, before being dismantled and sent in pieces to Cauterets, then reassembled by the Médévielle contractor. It was erected on 21 May 1898 and opened on 22 June 1898. Made of pichpin, the building is very long. It comprises a central body, with one floor, framed on the same axis by two symmetrical extensions, each with a pavilion with a door at the end. A canopy, which protects the side quay, runs along its entire length.
Liste as: Historical Monument since 1981 (façade and roofs).
Cauterets thermal baths
The Thermes de César or the Thermes de Pauze, with their 1900's facades, are all witnesses of a 19th century corresponding to the golden age of thermal spas. Among the famous visitors, George Sand went there in 1825, Chateaubriand in 1829 and Victor Hugo in 1843. Members of the Bonaparte family were also frequent visitors. German writer and poet Heinrich Heine stayed in Cauterets during the summer of 1841; this Pyrenean sojourn inspired him to write his humorous epic in verse: “Atta Troll". But not only socialites frequented Cauterets: Bernadette Soubirous, suffering from asthma, went there several times in 1858 and 1859.
National Park House
Situated opposite the picturesque Cauterets station, this museum has as its themes the isard, water and chiropterans.
It features several remarkable buildings from the late 19th century, Hotel d'Angleterre, Hotel Continental and the Casino Club. The Continental Residence building has been listed as a historical monument since 1984 for its main façade.
Berlingots of Cauterets
The history of the berlingot in Cauterets is closely linked to the thermal baths whose sulphurous water is used to treat the throat. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was used according to the recommendations of certain doctors to attenuate the sulphurous taste of the water, the sugar optimising the benefits of the cure. All the thermal spas in the Pyrenees had their own berlingot factory. At the beginning of the 20th century, Cauterets was the largest spa town in France. In addition to the people taking the waters, there were thousands of pilgrims from Lourdes who came to visit the town and Pont d'Espagne. A dozen berlingot factories were created, of which four remain. The smell of sugar and the picturesque nature of the activity create an atmosphere throughout the town and still attract crowds today. A mixture of water, sugar and glucose syrup, flavoured and cooked at 150 degrees, is poured onto a marble table. This mixture is cooled until a sugar of a certain consistency is obtained. This paste is worked to obtain several shades of colour or stripes. Then it passes in a "berlingotière" to obtain the final shape of the berlingot. Then it is time to taste it!