Alan S. (London)
Perfect location, great accommodation
rating : 5 of 5
We had a wonderful stay at the Helios in Bareges. The apartment was very well equipped, warm and comfortable and has great views of the Pyrenees. It also has wifi that was good enough to do some very heavy duty design and publishing work that I had actually arranged to return to London early to complete. Comfortable chairs and good lighting meant evenings in front of the telly (including a BBC channel) were possible.Bareges is quite unusual for a ski resort in that it is a “real” village – complete with a school, several bars, a few restaurants and a well-stocked supermarket. It is just a few minutes’ drive or (free) bus ride from the ski slopes. The bus stops outside the Helios. Good walks are said to start within a few metres.
Barges is part of “Grand Tourmalet” the largest French Pyrenean ski area and we had large amounts of great snow and saw loads of runs from easy to expert and heard about, but did not try, a long off-piste run from the nearby attraction of the Pic du Midi observatory – doable only with a qualified guide, I believe.
Self-catering is a great option in Bareges because we discovered that its excellent butcher, a few metres away from the Helios, specialises in the only appellation controllé lamb in Europe – bred, raised and slaughtered in the area, it’s a revelation for carnivores. The apartment had a full complement of cooking equipment and a good micro/oven to enjoy our purchases. Village restaurants were also good. Try the Isba for traditional French catering and Le Hotel Central for upmarket and modern cuisine.
You should not miss Les Thermes, the village’s recently modernised spa – apparently they were built by Napoleon for wounded veterans of La Grande Armée because the local hot springs are reputed to be particularly efficacious for gunshot wounds. Today you can get a mud bath or a massage; a bain hydroxeur – available in a room for two (or solo) – is good fun – a super-strength jacuzzi.
Local bars are full of character(s), including, on our trip, French soldiers learning to ski whose politeness and good manners were a revelation to a couple of Brits.
The owners Pete and Jude are extremely knowledgeable and very helpful and keep the apartment spotless. It was as described in their materials.
We would certainly recommend this apartment.
One note of caution: The pre-book-only shuttle bus from Lourdes airport to Bareges seems a great idea, but it is obviously having teething problems, so make sure you have a print-out of your online booking.
Review Submitted: Apr 8, 2015 Date of Stay: Feb 2015
All you could wish for …
We stayed in Helios 107 last year and 106 this time.
Both apartments were very clean and kitted out with all you could wish for.
Peter and Jude, the owners, live locally and are able to answer every query plus they make every effort to make your stay as hassle free as possible.
Peter collected us from the airport at Pau and Jude welcomed us at the apartment. They organised ski passes for us and advised ski hire and ski school that we were coming and we got special rates.
Barèges is a completely unspoilt village with butcher, baker, small Spa-type shop and some excellent bars and restaurants. The village boasts a thermal spa that has been completely refurbished.
My husband and son have enjoyed excellent skiing this year. All the runs were open, the snow was superb and it was never horrendously busy.
I was able to go on some walks, even though there was lots of snow and best of all the sun shone every day.
I also took a local bus down the valley to Luz St Sauveur where I visited their thermal baths.
Peter and Jude have put together a brilliant info folder that gives lots of ideas on how to pass your time whilst staying in their apartments during both winter and summer seasons. Their website has lots more information too.
Sue Vaughan March 2009