Vallée d’Aspe: the Somport region is being transformed to be attractive in all seasons

“It took ten years of thinking to come to two years of action,” explained the head of the Community of Ut-Bern Municipalities Bernhard Uthrie with a smile. The studies were initiated by René Rose, the symbolic head of the society…

“It took ten years of thinking to come to two years of action,” explained the head of the Community of Ut-Bern Municipalities Bernhard Uthrie with a smile. The studies were initiated by Rene Rose, the symbolic head of the commune of the Aspe Valley. They continued to work inside the CCHB building, with Daniel LaCrumbe and Elizabeth Medard. This project was pursued with the team around me, in a democratic relay.”

4.7 million euros have been invested

The first phase was completed at the end of 2022, with an investment of 4.2 million euros, while the second phase of the work is scheduled to be completed by the end of summer. The project is 70% funded by Europe, the State, the Region, the Administration and the Pyrenees National Park.

“The Soumport region benefits from a certain allure, as it ranks second among the Pyrenean resorts in terms of attendance,” said Lady Althaby, Vice President of Interco Tourism Development.

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The Haut-Béarn Community of Municipalities wanted to boost the Nordic skiing appeal by renovating the reception building. A new tourist area that provides maps and digital tools to highlight the activities offered at the site. A wellness area has been set aside, with a sauna installed as well as a jacuzzi on the terrace, giving the opportunity to enjoy the panorama in complete relaxation. The establishment of a seminar room will allow hosting many exhibitions, conferences and events. The project aims to be “demanding in terms of sustainability and environmental quality, incorporating a reflection on operating costs, particularly energy costs.”

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Create six jobs for a full year

In the second step, the community wants to make the structure a “discovery site for natural and cultural heritage”. “Like any other mid-mountain resort, Somport must be able to adapt to climate change and deal with any lack of snow cover,” Lydie Althapé continues. “The aim, then, is to be able to offer a range of activities to be undertaken in ‘snow mode’ and ‘no snow mode’ in order to give a new appeal and allow year-round operation. This ambitious project aims to maintain and develop an activity in a mountainous area from By attracting new clients on the French side, with occasional offers for all of Haut-Béarn.” Ultimately, it is hoped to create six jobs for the full year.

New facilities

The second phase of the project relates to the diversification of activities. While supporting Nordic skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, new activities must be developed to allow the public to visit the site in all seasons.

Therefore arrangements should be created such as a walkway in the trees or a bird watching gazebo. The creation of “Itineraries and Activities for the Interpretation and Discovery of Natural and Cultural Heritage” is also in the books. It is planned to install a wooden play area and an “educational recreation area” for children. It will also be about promoting the rental of electric scooters and setting up an outdoor escape game around the history of the Col du Somport.

After this part of the work, the “profound renovation of the residence above the Somport space will remain, corresponding to an important need for the station,” according to CCHB Vice President for Buildings Bernard Oresette. .

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Oloron Deputy Governor Anna Nguyen welcomed the completion of the project “in the heart of the Aspi Valley, a particularly dynamic area”. The representative of the state had an idea “for architects and firms, who had to achieve feats in a majestic and volatile environment, not to mention a health crisis.”

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