Cauterets (in Occitan Cautarés, in Catalan Cautarés, in Aragonese Cautarès) is a spa town, a ski resort and a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department and the region of Occitanie in south-western France.
The town hall of Cauterets
Coat of arms
Location of Cauterets
|Canton||La Vallée des Gaves|
|156.84 km2 (60.56 sq mi)|
|• Density||6.1/km2 (16/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||503–3,300 m (1,650–10,827 ft) |
(avg. 1,000 m or 3,300 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Cauterets is located 32 km (20 mi) southwest of Lourdes and borders the Pyrenees National Park. Surrounded by the high mountains of the Pyrenees, the commune of Cauterets spreads in the narrow valley of the Gave de Cauterets, a mountain stream extending from the Gave de Jéret and the Gave du Marcadau and their tributaries, the Gave de Lutour and the Gave de Gaube.
The village gives access to many hiking trails serving natural sights, such as the Pic de Péguère at 2,316 metres (7,598 ft). Meanwhile, Gaube Lake is approximately 1hr and 30 minutes walk from Cauterets or can be accessed by a chairlift from the Pont d'Espagne, a settlement on a mountainside crossed by a waterfall. Also nearby is Petit Vignemale at 3,032 metres (9,948 ft), and the small Massif de la Fruitière. The Cirque de Lys is also accessible by cable car from where there are panoramic views over the Pyrenees. Cauterets is also a regular stopover for walkers travelling on the coast to coast Pyrenean GR10 walking route.
The minimum altitude, 503 metres (1,650 ft), is located in the north, where the Gave de Cauterets leaves the communal area and enters that of Soulom. The maximum elevation of 3,298 metres (10,820 ft) corresponds to the highest point of the French Pyrénées, Vignemale, marking the border with Spain. Other summits in the neighbourhood include the Monné at 2,723 metres (8,934 ft), the Cabaliros at 2,333 metres (7,654 ft) and the Pic de Chabarrou at 2,910 metres (9,550 ft).
The extensive commune of Cauterets is bordered by Spain to southwest and fourteen communes in France.
Cauterets is well known for its copious thermal springs. They are chiefly characterized by the presence of sulphur and silicate of soda, and are used in the treatment of diseases of the respiratory organs, rheumatism, skin diseases and many other maladies. The main thermal baths, Thermes Cesar, were opened in 1843 and continue to offer treatments today.
Key information can be found in the Dictionnaire toponymique de communes des Hautes Pyrénées [Toponymic dictionary of the communes of the Hautes Pyrenees] by Michel Grosclaude and Jean-François Le Nail which relates the historical names of the village:
The final -t is an error, as it was never used before the 19th century.
Occitan name: Cautarés.
Prehistoric and Protohistoric remnants have been found, many in the valleys above Cauterets: Eleven stone circles, four cromlech tumuli, six individual tumuli and five dolmens. The stone circles are particularly located in the Marcadau Valley and some plains and pastures.
There are few traces of the period preceding the Roman conquest. Of the Gallo-Roman period, remains were found which used Cauterets thermal waters, such as a swimming pool. On the balcony of Saint-Savin, a castrum was built as well as the Palatium Aemilianum villa. The Villa Bencer was located on the present site of the village of Cauterets.
In the 8th or 9th century, a monk by the name of Sabinus came to live as a hermit in the valley. The future Saint Savin, his miracles and his canonization caused an influx of pilgrims. An abbey was built around his hermitage. It had the hôpital de Cauterès, named in a Papal Bull of the 12th century along with territories given by various lords, such as Charlemagne and the Comte de Bigorre. The abbey was plundered and destroyed by the Normans.
Between 1059 and 1078, Bernard III, Abbot of Saint-Savin, had installed a pool called "bain d'en-haut" [bath from above]. Cabin houses were grouped around this pool. This was the beginning of the village of Cauterets (Caouteres).
In the 12th century, a conflict arose between the inhabitants of Lavedan and those of the Aspe Valley for a theft of livestock; the result was the death of several Aspe people. The Bishop of Comminges, Bertrand excommunicated the Bigorre people who were repentant. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay a yearly fine on the day of Saint Michel in the Church of Saint-Savin. It was regularly paid until 1789, and it was known as the tribut des Médailles [tribute of the medals].
Return to "antique" values during the Renaissance of the 16th century favoured the return to the baths and the thermal waters. Multiple visits by Marguerite de Navarre in this century gave real fame to Cauterets.
In the 16th century, the Abbey of Saint-Savin lost its prestige and decayed due to lack of maintenance. During the French Wars of Religion, hydrotherapy stopped due to the destruction and wars against Spain.
The construction of passable roads in the 18th century to La Raillère helped the development of the valley. La Raillere became a water source of fashion thanks to editions of books on the water sources of Cauterets. At the end of the 18th century, the Bruzaud Spa was built.
The thermal baths of César, the Grand Hôtel d'Angleterre and the Grand Hotel Continental were all created along with monumental facades. All are witnesses of a 19th-century golden age of spas. Among its famous visitors, George Sand went there in 1825, Chateaubriand in 1829 and Victor Hugo in 1843. However, the socialites weren't the only ones to attend Cauterets: Bernadette Soubirous, affected by asthma, went there on several occasions in 1858 and 1859.
The vogue of hydrotherapy in the 19th century brought many personalities including members of the Bonaparte family. Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, daughter of Empress Joséphine and wife of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland stayed in Cauterets from 18 June to 10 August 1807. On 25 July 1807, the Queen accompanied by guides Clement, Lacrampe and Martin, made the Cauterets-Gavarnie crossing by the Hourquette d'Ossoue. In 1822, Vincent Chausenque, made the first ascent of the peak that now bears his name at 3,205 metres (10,515 ft) above sea level. Count Henry Russell and other famous mountaineers came to realise numerous ascents from the valley. On 8 September 1859, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie visited Cauterets.
La Raillère was built in stone from 1818 to 1828.
Transport infrastructure developed strongly, including the line of railway between Lourdes and Pierrefitte which opened in 1871, then the Pierrefitte-Cauterets electric line in 1899, and the Cauterets-La Raillère tramway was put into service on 2 August 1897.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Louis Falisse was one of the pioneers of skiing in the Pyrenees. With Henri Sallenave and Louis Robach, he made the first ascents of the Vignemale and the Aneto on ski. They gave tribute to the Pic Falisse at 2,765 metres (9,072 ft), close to the Grande Fache. The Cauterets ski club was founded in 1907. In 1910, the France Skiing Championship was organised at Eaux-Bonnes and Cauterets. In 1918, one of the first guardians of the Walloon refuge was Pantet; Pic R.-Pantet at 2,867 metres (9,406 ft) bears his name.
In 1937, the idea of a cable car to develop the skiing was launched but postponed due to World War II.
In the 1950s, during the construction of numerous hydroelectric dams, Cauterets refused the introduction of several selected at the Pont d'Espagne.
On 18 June 2013, a catastrophic flood destroyed several buildings of the village. The RD920 departmental road, the access road to Cauterets from Pierrefitte-Nestalas, was swept away by the Gave de Cauterets. The services of the General Council of the Hautes-Pyrénées commissioned a new section of road, in record time, of several hundred metres drawn on a mountainside, with a succession of spectacular laces that bypass the collapsed area.
|The arms of Cauterets are blazoned :|
Azure to a mountain of argent, on a plain of vert, ensigned by a jackdaw sable taking off between two pots of gules.
Comments: The mountain recalls the geographic location of the legendary Lavedan jackdaws. The pots are filled with cold water (ice torrent) and hot water (sulphurous at 55°C) and recall the origin of the name of the city; Cauterets = hot and cold.
Cauterets is part of the Communauté de communes de la Vallée de Saint-Savin, created in December 1997, which has brought together seven communes.
|March 2006 (re-elected in March 2014)||In progress||Michel Aubry[note 1]|
In 2012, the commune had 1,063 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known through the population censuses carried out in the town since 1793. From the 21st century, real censuses of communes with less than 10,000 population are held every five years, unlike other communes which have a sample survey each year.[note 2][note 3]
|From 1962 to 1999: Population without double counting; for the years following: municipal population.|
Source: Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1999 then INSEE from 2004
Cauterets is a spa town with instructions in ENT and Rheumatology. The waters of its eleven sources are exploited in two institutions that receive spa guests: The Baths of César in the village of Cauterets, and the Baths of the Gryphons in the hamlet of La Raillère. Sources still remain the property of a syndicate of the neighbouring communes.
Confectionery arrived in the 16th century in Europe, the berlingot came to the thermal water communes of the Pyrenees in the 19th century, including Cauterets, according to the recommendations of some medical practitioners, to reduce the sulphur water taste. Ten berlingot manufacturers existed in Cauterets at the beginning of the 20th century. There were four shops in 2014, three of which specialised in this product.
Cauterets is a winter sports resort where one can enjoy downhill skiing and cross country skiing. There are 36 kilometres (22 mi) of cross country tracks at Pont d'Espagne and 25 downhill pistes at Cirque du Lys between 1,700 metres (5,600 ft) and 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) altitude which are mainly suited for beginners and intermediates. A new cable car was built in 2005 which can transport 2000 skiers per hour to the Cirque du Lys area.
An extensive Pyrenean commune, Cauterets offers many natural sites in connection with the Pyrénées National Park, such as the Pont d'Espagne, Gaube Lake and the cascades which adorn the Gave de Jéret and the Gave de Lutour.
The 58th Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain), a long-distance bicycle stage race and one of the three grand tours, was held from 6 September to 28 September 2003. It consisted of 21 stages covering a total of 2,957 km (1,837 mi), and was won by Roberto Heras of the US Postal cycling team.
Isidro Nozal lead the general classification for much of the race until succumbing to the pressure posed by Roberto Heras who closed the gap to Nozal over the final days and took the jersey in the final time trial. The points jersey was won by Erik Zabel from Germany, the mountain jersey was won by Félix Cárdenas from Colombia and the combination jersey was won by Alejandro Valverde. iBanesto.com was the winner of the team ranking. Alessandro Petacchi, an Italian sprinter won four stages.2007 European Mountain Running Championships
The 2007 European Mountain Running Championships were held on 14 July in Cauterets, France. Held by the European Athletic Association.
The championships comprised four races, incorporating junior races for the first time: the men's race, which was 12.8 km long with a 1,570 m ascent, the women's and under-20s men's competitions over 8.5 km and containing a 1,010 m ascent, and finally the under-20s women's race which was competed over 4 km with a rise of 400 m.Ahmet Arslan of Turkey won the title in the men's senior race while the Norwegian Anita Evertsen took the gold medal in the women's race. Italy reached to the senior men's team gold medal and Switzerland won the women's team gold. The junior men's competition was largely a Turkish affair, with Mehmet Akkoyun winning gold and leading a 1-2-3 for his country. The women's junior race was won by Lucija Krkoc from Slovenia. United Kingdom took the team gold.Arras-en-Lavedan
Arras-en-Lavedan is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in southwestern France.Barlest
Barlest is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in southwestern France.Chis
Chis is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in south-western France.Col d'Aspin
Col d'Aspin (Occitan: Còth d'Aspin) (elevation 1,489 m (4,885 ft)) is a mountain pass in the French Pyrenees in the department of the Hautes-Pyrénées. It connects Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, in the upper Adour valley, with Arreau, on the River Neste.Col de Peyresourde
The Col de Peyresourde (Occitan: Còth de Pèira Sorda) (elevation 1,569 m (5,148 ft)) is a mountain pass in the central Pyrenees on the border of the department of Haute-Garonne and Hautes-Pyrénées in France. It is situated on the D618 road between Bagnères-de-Luchon and Arreau.Col du Tourmalet
Col du Tourmalet (pronounced [tuʁmalɛ]; elevation 2,115 m (6,939 ft)) is the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees, located in the department of Hautes-Pyrénées. Sainte-Marie-de-Campan is at the foot on the eastern side and the ski station La Mongie two-thirds of the way up. The village of Barèges lies on the western side, above the town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur.
Tourmalet is also a cheese made from sheep milk produced in these mountains.GR 10 (France)
The GR 10 is a French GR footpath, or hiking trail, that runs the length of the Pyrenees Mountains. It roughly parallels the French–Spanish border on the French side. Those attempting the entire trail often choose to walk it from west to east, from Hendaye on the Bay of Biscay to Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean Sea, but it can just as easily be traversed east to west.Gaube Lake
Gaube Lake (in French: Lac de Gaube) is a lake in the French Pyrenees, in the department of the Hautes-Pyrénées, near the town of Cauterets.Hautes-Pyrénées
Hautes-Pyrénées (French pronunciation: [ot pi.ʁe.ne]) (Gascon/Occitan: Nauts Pirenèus / Hauts Pirenèus ['awts piɾeˈnɛʊs]; Spanish: Altos Pirineos; Catalan: Alts Pirineus ['alts piɾiˈneʊs]) is a department in southwestern France. It is part of the Occitanie region.Lavedan
The Lavedan (in gascon eth/lo Lavedan, /et/lu laβedã/), or occasionally vallées des Gaves, denotes a mountainous natural region of France, located at the heart of the Pyrénées, and forms a group of valleys upstream of Lourdes.
The Lavedan is historically part of the Gascony province and of the county of Bigorre. Today, it is situated in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Midi-Pyrénées region.Louis Varney
Louis Varney (French: [vaʁnɛ]; 30 May 1844, New Orleans, Louisiana – 20 August 1908, Cauterets, France) was a French composer.Petit Vignemale
The Petit Vignemale is a summit in the French Pyrenees in the massif du Vignemale. Access is possible either by the Gaube valley (beyond Cauterêts), or la vallée d'Ossoue.Pierrefitte-Nestalas
Pierrefitte-Nestalas is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in south-western France.Prosper Montagné
Prosper Montagné (pronounced [pʁɔs.pɛʁ mɔ̃taɲe]) (14 November 1865 – 22 April 1948) was a French chef and author of many books and articles on food, cooking, and gastronomy, notably the Larousse Gastronomique.
Montagné was born in Carcassonne, Aude. Upon leaving the Lycée de Carcassonne, he wished to become an architect, but this proved impossible. His father acquired l'Hotel des Quatre-Saisons in Toulouse, with his son as a chef – the beginning of an illustrious career.
He apprenticed at the Grand Hôtel of Paris and the Hotel d'Angleterre of Cauterets, then worked at various restaurants in Paris and San Remo, and the Hôtel de Paris of Monte Carlo. In 1900, he returned to Paris and was chef of the Pavillon d'Armenonville, the Pavillon Ledoyen, and finally the Grand Hotel where he stayed for 10 years. Later, he had his own restaurant, the Montagné, and was a consultant to La Reine Pédauque.
He wrote many books on cooking, including Le grand livre de cuisine—considered his masterpiece, La grande cuisine illustrée, and Larousse Gastronomique with Prosper Salles; Bonne chère, pas chère, La cuisine diétique, Les délices de la table, Le livres des cuisines militaires, Mon menu, and Le festin occitan. He also contributed to many newspapers and magazines, and was editor in chief of the Revue culinaire.
The Encyclopædia Britannica writes of him:After Carême, the two men who probably had the greatest impact on French gastronomy and that of the world at large were Prosper Montagné and Georges-Auguste Escoffier. Montagné was one of the great French chefs of all time, and he achieved a secure place in gastronomic history by creating Larousse Gastronomique (1938), the basic encyclopaedia of French gastronomy. As a young man..., he came to the conclusion that all pièces montées, as well as superfluous garnitures and decorations, should be discarded.
He lends his name to the Club Prosper Montagné, a trade association of French food professionals.
Montagné was a Knight of the Légion d'Honneur.Rabastens-de-Bigorre
Rabastens-de-Bigorre is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in south-western France.Sim (actor)
Sim (born Simon Jacques Eugène Berryer, 21 July 1926 in Cauterets, Hautes-Pyrénées — 6 September 2009 in Saint-Raphaël, Var) was a French humourist, writer and comedian.
He was part of the team on Les Grosses Têtes, a radio and TV programme. He also played the part of Geriatrix in the films Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar and Astérix at the Olympic Games.
Places adjacent to Cauterets