Vielha is the capital of the Vall d`Aran, in it we find a combination of the traditional and serene air of the valley and the animated busy life of an important touristic reference in the region.
The valley is home to ski slopes and innumerable paths for trekking. This is a city that is fun both in summer and in winter.
A good place to get lost during an afternoon strool. That’s what we did. We left the car in a parking lot and began to wander around the streets without any specific plan, checking out the incredible colored houses, stone-covered streets, and Romanesque architecture.
Arties is perhaps the cutest, most chic and French-like town we’ve seen in the area. The amount of stores and restaurants will impress you, especially considering the town’s size. They’re all full of quality and glamorous items -- that’s for sure!
The towns magnificent views and the honor of walking around two of the biggest rivers in the valley, the Garona and the Valarties, makes everything even that much more beautiful. Many houses made of stone, Wood, and slate have been conserved in the area, but there’s also a surprising amount of French influence, especially in the colors of the houses.
Make sure to hit the ATM before visiting because this town offers the best and demands a pretty penny for it. You can easily see the influence tourism has had on it.
We decided to try to take advantage of both the culture and heritage sites offered, as well as the stores. We spent the afternoon seated in the precious and busy main plaza eating some delicious churros with chocolate right next to the town’s mascot: Nacho (a well-known beagle throughout Arties.
The Val d'Aran is located in the central area of the Pyrenees. Aranese is the name that the Occitan language of Arán receives.
A very deep rooted custom in the valley is to celebrate “romerías” which are processions in honour of saints and festivities pertaining to the countryside and livestock. If you wish to enjoy skiing you need to go to the Baqueira-Beret ski station, and, if on the other hand, what you like is trekking in Spring, you cannot miss getting lost in the Aranese villages, their landscapes and rivers.
Lastly, two recommendations: the first, if you need lodgings, I recommend staying in Hotel Albarés, where you can enjoy the hospitality of Mercedes (the owner) and Fugi (her husband) who will welcome you as if you were a family member.
The second recommendation is for you to visit Eth Córner, where you can taste the genuine Olla Aranesa (typical mountain stew) and ask for Javier, the genuine chef who will recommend the best eating places in the area.
The afternoon is almost over and even though we are tired from our tour, Salardú awaits us, the grey colors and the setting sun blend the houses and landscape which appears somewhat mysterious.
Salardú is a small maze of streets, alleys, little squares and nooks and crannies that feature three elements: stone, wood and slate. A wise selection of these enable the locals to create true works of art, for example, the church of Sant Andreu, another Romanesque marvel of the Aranese Romanesque. Suddenly buildings such as the city hall in brilliant crimson make the rhythm break.
I as always, recommend forgetting about the car, leave hurrying and haste behind and enjoy strolling through this charming village where suddenly you find one of the most animated squares in the area. It must be that since we came during the ski season, this unique atmosphere.
By the way, from Salardú one can view photogenic views of nearby Unha. To jot down in the agenda, you will be able to find anything you need there because it is next to the main road that tours the Valley, Salardú is an interesting summer vacation spot.
A truly spectacular place and the roar of the waterfall is brutally deafening. The waters of the glacier of the Aneto mountain which disappear in Forau d´Aigualluts, reappear from the underground world in els Uelhs deth Joeu, in the very heart of the Valley of Arán.
High up lakes, distant from civilization, excepting the moderate amount of people visiting it. Nature in its purest form, with two trekking routes: one that is 4 hours long and the other which is a little longer that share the same starting point and the end of the other route, bordering 7 or 8 lakes high up in the mountains, with their cascades, fog, waterfalls (be prepared to get your feet wet at some point, and this is not a joke).
Trekking of red/green level, but with some good boots or sports shoes and a good piolet (I didn´t have one), it can be done. Sunscreen is advisable, a cap and a waterproof windbreaker as the area can be covered in clouds, and food (there is a mountaineering shelter with restrooms, showers, pots of food…).
Access can be done by minivan for going up and down which saves us a great walk through a winding forest path (it is done in 15 minutes by van). Access is reached by a road from Tredós. You reach a balnearium/parking where you can hire the van which is constantly doing the route.
Views that are worth it and a small effort. Don´t be discouraged if you don´t have much trekking experience… If I was able to do it…
This is a waterfall about 35 meters high located in Val de Varradòs which is reached by the roundabout of Pònt d´Arròs where you take the Pista Varradòs-Unhòla road. 100 meters before reaching the waterfall, we find a parking place to leave the car.
One walks a couple of minutes and we can already enjoy the incredible views of the waterfall and the small meadow it is located in. From these meadows different walking trips can be done to explore the countryside. From this place it is possible to see the highest peak of the Pyrenees, Monte Aneto which is 3.404 meters high.
The entire trip upwards to reach the waterfall, offers great views of the valley, an unforgettable vision.
The idyllic village of Bagergue is the highest one in the Valley of Arán. Access road from where the peaks of Baqueira-Beret already announce with their beauty that soon we will be nearing a lovely spot.
The village which only has 60 inhabitants has an interesting ethnographic private museum called "Eth Corrau"and a few good restaurants like Casa Perú, a place where it is well worth it to take a break and try its traditional Aranese dishes.
Framed by typical Aranese architecture, pebbled streets and some noble homes, in Bagergue one can visit the lovely church of Saint Felix, a Romanesque temple of the Thirteenth century.
My trip to Vall d'Arán cropped up suddenly, but once I thought about it, a direct goal was to carry out its Romanesque tour which is indispensable. I recommend Bossòst, it has one of the most incredibly beautiful Romanesque churches that can be found in the valley, indeed in the entire country.
Our arrival to Bossòst was hindered somewhat as we found a pretty town, with long avenues, very French in style, elegant but packed with tourists. After days of solitude and the peace that went with it, Bossòst was an impact of harsh reality.
In the end, our goal was reached and we were able to enjoy the architectural and artistic beauty of the Church of dera Purificación. Honestly, it is extremely beautiful outside, with a very defined style and with no notable differences. The interior, austere, fresh, yet beautiful. I have always found Romanesque churches cold yet welcoming, very intimate where spirituality can be felt. This church has enabled us to forget the saturation of traffic, week-end tourists and road chaos. Entering this church has been like crossing a threshold into another reality.
On a day of intense heat we had, the welcoming freshness of the Purificación church has made us stay for a good long while. The entire setting is outstanding in my opinion, but for me the most distinctive element is the tympanum of the North façade, with all the features of this sort of sculptures.