After having discovered the city of Toulouse and urban life for three weeks, Dickinson in France had a change of scenery for a weekend in the mountains in Louron Valley, located in the middle of the Pyrenees about 155 kilometers from Toulouse. Sharing a border with Spain, the Louron Valley offers pure, easy to breathe air and a silence and sense of calm that we don’t find in the city, and that puts us instantly at ease. However, despite the tranquillity in the mountain air, we had a jam-packed weekend full of activities.
We spent the weekend at the Mountain Center of Estarvielle, a small village of 30 habitants at 994 meters altitude. In the morning half of the group prepared the garbure, a typical soup of the Pyrenees made from tarbais beans, cauliflower, potatoes and duck and pork meat. In the meantime, the other half of the group tasted another regional speciality: cheese! The cheese-maker from the village of Mont showed us his farm, where he raises cows and sheep, and how to make cheese. After we all tasted the Pyrenees tome, a traditional cheese from the region.
With our guide we walked around the valley, enjoying the views of the Génos-Loudenvielle lake, a man-made lake built in the 1970s to attract tourism, and visiting the village of Loudenvielle, a slightly larger village of about 237 habitants, all the while trying to avoid being pegged by the snowballs launched between students.
Saturday evening we all enjoyed the garbure prepared earlier that day by our students, and after a hefty meal, relaxed around the fire playing cards and charades.
The next morning it was imperative to eat a good breakfast to be prepared for our hike in rackets, a typical mountain activity that requires lots of energy.
To conclude our weekend, we made one last stop, this time to a honey farm in Bordères Louron, where the beekeeper showed us her 200 apiaries, where the bees live, and then explained to us the process of harvesting the honey.
It goes without saying that during our trip we learned about, as well as participated in activities that are part of life in the Pyrenees. The students returned to Toulouse with their bags full of cheese and honey.
Wonderful. I especially like that pic of the church, with frescos.