Malvern & Bagneres de Bigorre Twinning Association
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Bagnères-de-Bigorre

 

Signpost

Bagnères-de-Bigorre is a traditional spa town situated at the foot of the Pyrenees, about 15 km east of Lourdes and about an hour and a half by road from Toulouse. The visitor’s impression on arrival is of a fairly compact town, in a largely agricultural setting and surrounded by wonderful countryside. It is a sub-prefecture of the Hautes-Pyrenees department and has a permanent population of just over 8000, although in season this number is regularly doubled by visitors staying in the town to take the waters which give the town its name.

 

Historically the town was under Roman occupation in the first century AD, the thermal springs of Vicus Aquensis no doubt proving an irresistible attraction. This natural resource has shaped the economy of the town over centuries and continues to do so. At one time there were over 20 private hydrotherapy centres in the town but these gradually fell into disrepair. The site of the original spring is located within the old spa building at the head of the Vallée du Salut, now a regional Conservatoire Botanique specialising in the protection of rare and endangered plants.

 

The town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre

 

 

The more modern therapeutic spa (Les Grands Thermes) was built by the municipality in the 19th century, using impressive amounts of local marble in the construction. The Aquensis thermal spa is a purely recreational facility, offering beauty treatments and an exotic pool area housed in a vast cathedral-like vaulted space. Commercial activity in the town still centres, for the most part, on businesses which support the health and well-being sectors of the economy and on tourism.

 

Opportunities to pursue a range of active interests are plentiful in the region. At only 25 kms from the town the ski resort of La Mongie (which is managed by the municipality) offers a complete package for those interested in snow sports, mountain climbing or in the summer hiking and trekking. The focal point in a breath-taking range of mountain peaks is the majestic Pic du Midi (2877m high), the only summit in the whole Pyrenean range which can be reached by cable-car. The 15 minute journey from La Mongie to the summit offers spectacular views. The summit buildings house an observatory of national strategic importance, a restaurant and a museum and visitor centre with recently refurbished planetarium.

 

The area around Bagnères-de-Bigorre

 

 

The area acts as a Mecca for all serious cyclists, Bagnères having several times been a stage town during the Tour de France. The nearby Col du Tourmalet is well known as a brutal challenge which always figures in the Pyrenean section of the race. Bagnères itself organises a respected pre-Tour competitive cycle race following the exact route of the Tour.

 

There is a lively cultural scene in Bagnères; numerous choirs offer performances of a broad range of music throughout the year, the orchestra plays an important role in municipal activities (such as at the Twinning Ceremony held in October 2016) and the town hosts musical festivals during the summer months.

 

Bagnères is a town committed to twinning, having over the past 40 years developed links with other towns in five different countries. The Malvern-Bagnères twinning is the latest of these partnerships which was initiated in 2016 at the same time as a second UK twinning link with Inverurie in Scotland. It is a very friendly town and offers a generous welcome to visitors. Our two towns, Malvern and Bagnères, have a great deal in common on which to build a successful future partnership with the potential to involve young and old in building the relationship.

 

You have only to compare the two skylines to see why it was that Stéphane Barthe, Deputy Mayor decided to approach Malvern Town Council to find its English partner!

 

Malvern in snow

A Winter's Day in Malvern