In true Gascon style, the local people maintain a strong and respectful connection with the land and produce excellent quality food and wine. With a wealth of markets in the region, you have the opportunity to sample fresh local vegetables, fruits, cheeses and specialities, including duck and foie gras. A visit to the Saturday market at Mont-de-Marsan is a must for its amazing range of local produce, including seafood and oysters, hams, cheeses and breads as well as fruit and vegetable. You can also sample these at local restaurants in Saint Sever or Hagetmau. In August there are night markets / marchés de nuit with local specialities and restaurants open until late to enjoy the warm evenings, creating a great atmosphere.
Antiques & Brocantes
Locally throughout the year many local villages and towns hold annual vide greniers, a chance to hunt out and buy a few bargains!
Pau bric à brac - every Saturday morning; Dax Antique market - first Thursday of the month; Mont de Marsan - first Wednesday of every month; Mont de Marsan - annual antique fair in May; Port de Lanne annual antique fair in August, where most of the village is packed with antique and brocante stalls and Bayonne - every Friday.
San Sebastian, Spain & Pyrenees
You can tour the Corniche, an amazing stretch of coastline before Spain with walks and venture further into Spain to visit San Sebastian with its internationally recognised cuisine and Spanish culture (just under 2 hour's drive from Pyron).
You can further explore many amazing villages and towns dotted along the Pyrénées (St Jean-Pied-de-Port, Gourette and Gavarnie are all well worth visiting), all providing opportunities to experience Basque food, customs and architecture (1.5-2 hour's drive). Also recommended are trips to La Rhune Mountain either on foot or by train and Lac d'Artouste, where when you can still reach the snow line in May and June. You can either trek right up to the lake or take the easier route via cable car and train. We've always loved spotting marmots too on our trips.
Wine & Armagnac Tours & Tasting
Lots of places to sample Armagnac in the Landes & neighbouring Gers department such as in Labastide d'Armagnac; also reasonably local is wine-tasting in Geaune (Tursan wines); Saint Mont and Madiran wines (both in the neighbouring department of the Gers) and Jurançon wines in the Pyrénées Atlantiques.
Fêtes & Music Festivals
Local towns hold their own annual summer fêtes/festivals and many have their own arena for the tradition of the course landaise, an ancient sport of cow-jumping, which involves no harm to the cows. Other events worth visiting are the night markets in Aire sur l'Adour and St Sever in August; the Marciac Jazz Festival from late July to mid August and fête at Labastide d'Armagnac.
Experience the migration of the 'grues' (cranes) stopping off at the reserve of Arjuzanx in the Landes de Gascogne before heading south in October. They return in early Spring. Other birds to be spotted on local lakes are cormorants, herons, ducks and coots. In the Pyrénées (around 1.5 - 2 hour’s drive to the south), bird watchers may be rewarded by the sight of vultures, eagles and ravens even in the foothills. Kites and buzzards are common and you may also see the colourful bee eater, hoopoes and green woodpeckers. Turtle doves can be heard – if rarely seen – in our garden, along with a host of other species. For nature lovers, you will find butterflies, roe deer, frogs and in the height of summer you will hear crickets, grass-hoppers and cicadas.
The Côte d'Argent runs all along the coast from the estuary of the Gironde right down to the estuary of the Adour near Anglet. Within an hour to an hour and a half's drive is the Atlantic coast with various seaside resorts including cosmopolitan Biarritz, Bayonne and beaches such as Capbreton and St Jean de Luz, a beautiful resort with a fantastic beach, a good choice of restaurants and fishing port. Further north there is the largest Pine Forest in the Landes and the Dune de Pyla near Arcachon, reaching a height of 107 metres. There are safe beaches too for swimming at St Jean-de-Luz, Le port d'Albret and Hossegor.
Architecture & Chateaux
The main Pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela passes through Hagetmau and Saint-Sever and you can explore the Romanesque buildings in Saint-Sever, including the Abbey, Cloisters and the Convent of the Jacobins. Chateau d’Amou is well worth a visit, as is Le Chateau de Morlanne and Chateau Gaujacq, all within a 30-minute drive. The historic Chateau at Pau is also worth visiting.
Lakes & Swimming
Locally there are a number of lakeside beaches, which are usually supervised during the summer months. Le Site de la Saucille at Mugron is 20 minutes drive; St Pierre-du-Mont is 30 minutes drive as is the Base de Loisir in Orthez with lake swimming, accrobranches (similar to Go Ape), walks and café / restaurant. Locally you can enjoy walks such as Lac d'Agès and Lacs d'Halco in Hagetmau, the latter also has pedalos, restaurant and hotel.
The Atlantic Coast provides a long stretch and great choice of beaches for surfing. Hossegor, Cap Breton, Anglet and Bidart are about 1 hour 15 minutes drive from Maison Pyron. There are also quieter beaches for surfing a little further north on the Atlantic coast such as Vieux Boucau, St Girons Plage and Contis Plage - all within 1 and a half hours drive from here.
Cycling & Voies Vertes
There are many cycle paths in the area for differing levels of ability, including the C23 route running through Sainte Colombe. There are two adult bicycles available to use at Pyron – please ask.
Tennis & Swimming
With superb sports facilities in La Cité Verte, Hagetmau boasts its own Olympic-sized pool with jacuzzi, water slide, outdoor terraces and golf course. There is a tennis court in Sainte Colombe.
Dax is the leading Spa resort in France with 'Hyperthermal Water' and 'Peloide Mud' treatments, about 50 minutes drive from Pyron. These are well-visited and respected by people from all over France. Eugenie les Bains also hosts a spa resort plus three restaurants belonging to Michel Guérard, inventor of cuisine minceur.
Kayaking, canoeing & Canyoning
Locally there are plenty of local walks taking in the spectacular views of the Pyrenées plus organised randonées to join or you could simply walk alongside the river in Mont de Marsan. The Vézelay Route (one of four main historical routes to Santiago de Compostela in the middle ages, described by Aimery Picard in his 12th c Pilgrim's guide) passes through both Saint Sever and Hagetmau. Its Latin name, the Via Lemovicensis derives from its crossing of the Limousin, and from the historical, religious and cultural importance of the city of Limoges.
Racing at Pau & Nogaro
Check out the Grand Prix de Pau & Grand Prix Historique held each May in Pau; also Nogaro. The track at Pau has hosted many international races and has a thriving Grand Prix Historique, attracting racing cars from the '50s, '60s and 70's from the UK.
Lots of fishing in local lakes near here.
Visit the caves at the impressive Grottes de Bétharram in St Pé-de-Bigorre, 1.5 hour's drive from Maison Pyron.
Iraty ski resort is only 65 km away and there are many more in the Pyrenees Atlantiques department well worth visiting (Arette, Hautacam, Gourette, Gavarnie, etc..). Why not visit le Pic du Midi with its observatory?