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 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.
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…
Lovers of Romanesque art have a special reason to visit Arties, the lovely village of the Valley of Arán where the Church of Santa María is located.
The temple is located at the highest point of the village and faces the Garona river. It dates back to the Twelfth century and has a floor plan with three naves, facing the three apses that are semi-circular and today there is only one left.
The belfry of the church, which has five levels, is a blend between Romanesque and Gothic, which leads one to think it was added between the Thirteenth and Fourteenth centuries. A special mention is the remarkable frescoes inside the church which have been restored recently. The altarpiece, which displays biblical scenes of the Virgin Mary, is considered a masterpiece in Gothic painting.
The Valley of Arreu is located in the región of the Pallars Sobirá, in the Lleida Pyrenees. It is one of the last virgin valleys of the Pyrenees where human intervention is almost non-existent. It forms part of the natural space of Alt Aneu, included in the Plan of Natural Interest Spaces of Catalonia. An almost virgin valley leads to Plá de Beret, covered in snow during the winter, from here it is possible to reach Port de Salau, Forest of Bonabé, Cireres…
From Arreu a path leads us to the Vall del Rosari with glacier formed lakes and the Muntanyo d´Arreu that reaches down all the way to the flat lands of Rialba. You need to wait for the snow to melt to be able to get to know that area.
The belfry of this church stands out among the fields of greenery that can be seen from the road of Salardú. An incredible view that becomes bucolic as you near it and it offers the viewer one of the most incredible views of the Valley of Arán once one has had the privilege of reaching the hill where it is located.
This unpretentious church forms part of the Romanesque route of Valle d´Arán and contains valuable treasures inside, among which are its murals. The little village of Unha is precious, it still has the typical features and genuine places that “hunker down” against mass tourism and reward all those that decide to detour a little to discover this pretty Aranese locality.
The church is located at the highest point of the village which makes the views from it to nearby town of Salardú end up hypnotizing the gazer, a place with charm. Access to the church is done by crossing a railing that leads us along its secluded cemetery.
The image of the church from Salardú and the view of Salardú from the Church of Santa Eulalia, are still vivid in my retina and I think it will be a long time until the image becomes a long lost memory. Everything is a pleasant discovery. Unha is in my little box of “special” places and I am sure I will be back as I paid good attention to some rural houses we were delighted by.
A very green and relaxing space, recommendable for visiting when the ski season is over as this is when we can best appreciate the greenery of the mountain. Access is done by a deviation passing Vielha, with very narrow road which rises up to 1.500 meters high. Once up there, there is a great valley crossed by a river that has its spring in the mountains.
Even though it is a rather touristic place, it breathes nature all around. A fantastic place to observe all the tonalities nature has to offer. As a clear and curious example of the difference between the North side and South side of the mountain, great valleys and lots of nature. Recommendable for a week-end getaway in the Pyrenees, outside of the snow season.