Photo
Photo : © JC Rivas

Iraty Forest

Irati

Iraty forest is the largest beech tree forest in Europe
Situated between the Okabe plateau and the Pic d’Orhi, it’s an ideal spot for families to enjoy the many outdoor activities available throughout the year.
This place of stunning natural beauty reflects centuries of local history, the myths and legends, as well as the traditions kept alive by the summer pasture shepherds.
The Iraty Chalets will be able to guide you and help you to make the most of your time in the forest.

 

All year round nature activities

Photo
Photo : © Chalets d'Iraty

Spring

Nature awakes at this time of year, allowing you to take in its splendour whilst walking along the many marked paths.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly outing or for something more intense, there are multiple hiking trails beginning at the Iraty Chalets.  

 

Summer

Photo
Photo : © Carole Pro

Summer is the perfect time for activities such as mountain biking, fishing, and horse-riding.

Go beyond your limits, and maybe even beyond the border! The 16 mountain bike trails that begin from the Iraty Chalets will allow you to experience as many adventures as there are stunning views.

The Iraty mountain bike centre emerged from a cross-border project between the Salazar and Soule valleys, with the aim of eliminating borders and offering a single place for visitors to enjoy. It offers 16 mountain bike trails with different levels of difficulty, all beginning at the Iraty Chalets and covering approximately 400 km over the 4 valleys.

The paths are identified by 3 colours which correspond to the different levels of difficulty.

To explore Iraty without breaking into too much of a sweat, try an electric mountain bike!

 

Photo
Photo : © Jérôme Borda

Autumn

Leaves start changing colour: this is when the mystical beauty of the forest displays all its glory in varying shades of red and gold.

In the mornings, you will see walkers scouring the woods in search of cep (porcini) mushrooms.

 

Winter

The pure white snow offers the perfect opportunity to go for a hike with your snowshoes or do some cross-country skiing.

Enjoy a different side to the Iraty forest in winter. Few things are more peacefully enchanting than to wander among the snow covered trees, wearing either your snowshoes or skis.

There are over 14 km of marked trails and itineraries for snowshoe hikes.

Children will adore the sledge run opposite the Iraty Chalets reception area.

For the more athletic, 3 cross-country ski slopes (blue, red and black) covering over 28 km are groomed and marked out every day during the school holidays and just on weekends at other times of the winter season.

 

Useful information :

Cross-country skiing and snowshoe hiking are entirely dependent on the snow conditions.

At the bar and restaurant, you will be able to enjoy a meal or drink whilst making the most of the panoramic view over the Pic d’Orhy and the Béarn mountains.

In the reception area you will find a picnic room, a small grocery shop, and next door a ski, sledge and snowshoe rental shop.

Rental shop opening hours:

Weekends and school holidays: from 8:15am to 5:30pm

Weekdays and outside school holidays: 8:15am to 12pm and 1:30pm to 5:30pm

Although the road to Iraty is frequently cleared of snow, snow tyres and chains are mandatory. Information on road conditions is available in English at: inforoute.le64.fr

 

A land of mystery and tradition 

Basajaun, “Lord of the forest”

Amystical atmosphere still reigns in the heart of the forest.

Although trees have dominated the landscape for generations, the forest was mostly inaccessible until the 1960s. Many legends describing its sacred nature are still told today. According to mythology, the forest is the home of the “Basajaun”, a yeti-type creature also known as “Lord of the forest”.  This mythical Basque creature was described as a wild, giant and hairy humanoid, as much respected as it was feared. It was the protector of nature and agricultural activities.

 

Okabé necropolis

Photo
Photo : © Jérôme Borda

The forest and mountains have been home to the shepherds and their flocks for centuries.

Their existence dates back to prehistoric times, as proven by the remains of huts and necropolises on the Okabe plateau. In this vast archaeological site, nestling in the Iraty mountain peaks, can be seen dolmens, tumuli, cromlechs and the remains of huts.

The past can still be felt here. The sacredness of the sun, “daughter of the Earth”, hunter of night spirits, is displayed on funeral stones and the façades of houses.

 

Pastoralism, a deep-rooted tradition

Photo
Photo : © Carole Pro

The tradition of pastoralism persists today, with the shepherds taking up residence from May to November.

During this time, the sheep make the most of rich mountain pastures, and the shepherds produce the summer cheese.

It’s this culture and know-how that the valley’s shepherds wish to continue to share. They offer farm visits and direct sales of their produce.

Iraty Chalets

Awaiting you on the outskirts of the forest and at the peak of the Soule mountains at an altitude of between 1,300 m and 1,500 m, are lodgings surrounded by nature : 35 wooden chalets, a campsite and 3 hotel rooms.

The Iraty Chalets have become an unmissable place to relax, refocus on nature and enjoy a breath of fresh air..

Live your mountain escape dream: board games, raclette and fondue equipment are available at reception.

You can enjoy a wonderful break with your family by the warmth of the fireplace, totally disconnected from modern distractions, no television or WiFi. We even supply the axe to go chop the wood for your fireplace.

 

Photo
Photo : © Carole Pro

INFORMATION AND MEALS

The Chalets of Iraty
The Chalets of Iraty

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