Salies de Béarn
This picturesque town takes its name from the Saleys, the small river which meanders through the centre past 17th and 18th century, half timbered buildings. Take some time to stroll through the charming, flower filled back-streets and narrow alleyways, looking up every now and again to really apprecicate the beautiful architecture. Have a coffee and soak up some café culture or enjoy lunch or dinner in one of the many excellent restaurants Salies has to offer. Thursday is market day when the town takes on an altogether more vibrant atmosphere, so join the locals on their weekly shop and pick up some regional delicacies such as Foie Gras, Brebis cheese or Bayonne ham. If you are in search of sporting activities, golf, fishing, horseriding and tennis are all available locally and the area around Domaine Lavie is excellent for walking, running and cycling. For wine lovers, a visit to Salies de Béarn's last independent wine producer, Domaine Lapeyre et Guilhemas, is a must.
A brief history of Salies:
Dating back to the bronze age, Salies grew in importance when salt, known as 'white gold', was found and extracted in the 1500s. Local legend tells how the salt was discovered after a wild boar, mortally wounded by hunters, was later found perfectly preserved and encrusted with salt crystals.Today, Salies salt is an essential part of the culinary repertoire of south west France and is the only salt allowed to be used in the production of the local Jambon de Bayonne (Bayonne ham) having been given PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) status. You can find more information on the properties and production of Salies salt here.
Containing ten times more salt than sea water and rich in minerals, the therapeutic qualities of the waters in Salies were recognised in the 19th century and the first thermal establishment opened opposite the Jardins du Public in 1857. Doctor Jean-Brice Coustalé de Larroque, physician to Emperor Napoleon III, attracted well-to-do Parisians subsequently boosting the reputation of the thermal spa, which continues to attract visitors to this day. As well as being well-renowned as a cure for certain medical conditions, most notably rheumatic diseases, the Spa is open daily for visitors to enjoy beauty treatments as well as the waters themselves. You can find more information on the Thermal Spa and treatments available here (in French).
The surrounding area
The Béarn region and the neighbouring Basque Country are areas abundant in historic sites, ancient châteaux, picturesque villages, lively markets and wonderful restaurants. The beautiful towns of Pau, Biarritz, Bayonne and St Jean de Luz are all within easy reach, as are the fabulous beaches of the Atlantic coast, famous for surfing but also offering miles and miles of golden sands for families to enjoy.
The magnificent scenery of the Pyrénées is just over an hour away and the mountains provide a paradise for walkers, birdwatchers, skiers and serious cyclists. For those with little legs or who don't want to walk, Le Petit Train d'Artouste, the highest train in Europe, or Le Petit Train de La Rhune, a cog-driven railway at Sare, will both take you on a breathtaking trip up the mountains ending in spectacular views - the photo on our 'About Us' page was taken at the top of La Rhune. If you are curious about caves, there are several worth visiting, including Les Grottes de Sare, close to La Rhune, and Les Grottes de Bétharram towards Lourdes.
If you're looking for water based activities then, in addition to surfing, canoeing and kayaking are available just down the road at Sauveterre de Béarn and Sorde d'Abbaye, as well as whitewater rafting and hydrospeeding for those who are after something a bit more exhilarating!
In short, there are a wealth of activities on offer within easy reach for all ages and interests in the Béarn and Basque regions. We have listed below a few links which you may find useful to help you plan your holiday.
Alternatively, you could just stay at Domaine Lavie and laze by the pool ... !
Some useful links to help you plan your stay: