Pyrenees Dog Trip September 2019



Reserve your spot today!


Join us in the Pyrenees! 
September 6-16, 2019!

For more info on our 2019 Pyrenean Origins Tour, please call or text Patricia at 440-478-5292 or email her at

Access to wonders only the ISO can bring you!


Our annual Pyrenees Trip is an utterly unique, custom-designed tour -a bit different every year- that focuses on the prehistory, nature, geography and wildlife of the Pyrenees mountains plus a special emphasis on how the terrain, ecology and culture worked together to produce the indigenous Pyrenean pastoral breeds of livestock and dogs, and includes the Argeles Valley’s world-famous Festival of Pyrenean Dogs and Folklore (with National Specialty shows for 4 breeds!*) -with lots of incredible food, wine & fun along the way!

Several brand new elements
are special for this year!

Not only will we again have the privilege to walk along with the shepherds and dogs as they move the sheep from the high mountains to lower pastures for the winter on the ancient transhumance migration, we will be able to be there at the start! On Saturday the 7th, we’ll see how they shear and decorate the sheep. Sunday will feature lunch with the shepherds, sheepherding demonstrations, and much more before the flocks step off on their two-week journey to the foothills below!

This year we will visit Pau with its historic Chateau,  home of Henri IV, with wine tasting in nearby Jurancon. An optional helicopter ride over the Pyrenees (supplement) will show us areas inaccessible by land vehicles, including the famous mountain Pic d’Anie!

We will head to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and the Basque Country to experience San Sebastien, Bilbao with its famous Guggenheim Museum of Art, and the facsimile of Alta Mira cave with its stunning multi-color bison painted by the Cro-Magnon people more than ten thousand years ago!

 Returning to the French side, we will sample local Madiran wines, made with the tannat grape, which remains little-known in the US, and visit several Great Pyrenees and Pyr Shep breeders such as Marie Maillot (Pic d’Arbizon), Richard Capel (Bigerionnes), Nadine Lafitte (Neouvielle), Ron and Jo Rooding (Debut de Reve), and Ingrid Lagendijk (Belletiere). These last two breeders run B&Bs (Domaines Le Chec and Serrot respectively) and we will stay at their places overnight! Additional breeders of both breeds will be visited later in the week, such as Olivier Matz (Picourlet) and Benoit Cockenpot (Viscos), where we will also see how goat cheese is made and see Pyr guarding goats in the mountains. We will make new friends and/or renew friendships with Pyrenean dog fanciers from around the world at the annual Lac d’Estaing Pyrenean dog walk and picnic in Pyrenees National Park. And on Friday we will host our annual International Reception at the show site.

Several times we’ll head up into the high mountains, passing over the Col de Soulor and Col d’Aubisque, and exploring multiple valleys. We’ll visit the village of Gavarnie, nestled in the mountains with an insuperable view of the breathtaking Cirque de Gavarnie, a geological marvel with its famous glacier and waterfall. Some of us will relax and enjoy the village’s many shops and cafes. Others may choose a short or long hike in this unspoiled natural landscape, and may even hike all the way to the at the foot of the Cirque de Gavarnie. A horse ride to the cirque is available on the study and surefooted local breed, the Merens horse (supplement). About 2 hours roundtrip.

Throughout our peregrinations in the mountains, we will spot for dogs working with the flocks. For dog fanciers who take their hobby seriously, nothing is more rewarding than to see a breed in its natural habitat. Purebred dogs are vestiges of cultural history from ancient ways of life. Many of these ways of life no longer exist but the Pyrenees dogs are an exception. The traditional lifestyle has survived -though necessarily somewhat modified in a number of respects- and the cultural use of the land remains strikingly similar to what it was hundreds of years ago and beyond. Hiking through boulder-strewn valleys with bubbling streams of azure blue glacial meltwater, one begins to appreciate the mountains that shaped these breeds through natural selection in response to both the physical and ecological environment as well as to human culture, and the original use of these breeds becomes poignantly clear. As Pyr Shep breed expert Guy Mansencal summed it up years ago: “This breed is not the work of man. It was made by the wind and the rain and the mountain.”

*Note: The show is the French National Specialty for Great Pyrenees, Pyrenean Shepherds, Pyrenean Mastiffs, and Gos d’Atura Catala, with BIS judged among the 4 breeds like a group show. Judges education and ringside mentoring available. Travelers are welcome to bring their dogs and can enter and show them if they so desire but note that the show closes early in August

imagesPrices: $3750 (double) $3995 (single)
Subsets or extensions are possible, call for custom itineraries and pricing.
Download the Registration form: Pyrenees-Dog-Tour-2019-Registration-Form
For additional information, call, text or email Patricia Princehouse at 440-478-5292 or


Prieure soup 14609701410_de8fd834fe_o crop 2014-09-18 21.26.03 Viscos Gambis

 The Institute for the Science of Origins is very pleased to be able to bring this innovative experience to the fancy and offer a highly educational tour with lots of frills at a very reasonable price. For those accustomed to trotting the globe it’s a sweet interlude made all the more so by the diversity of canine enthusiasts and others along for the ride. For many American dog fanciers it is a once-in-a-life bucket list trip. For those with more general interests in nature, history, and paleolithic art, it’s a unique opportunity to experience aspects of France and Spain that go way beyond the usual tours or vacations.

Cheese farm Patou doorway 2014-06-19 10.45.05 crop Gaube 2014-06-18 11.10.07 2014-09-16 17.07.45 sheep Troumouse


Dress is casual with perhaps one or two nicer outfits for dinner if you like.  Beige, khaki, grey and other neutral colors show less dust and stay better-looking in the mountains. Laundry service is available, so don’t overpack. The temperatures can be cooler in the early morning and after sunset but can be quite warm at midday, so the best approach is to dress in layers. Pack lightweight clothing of breathable fabrics. For example, one can make do handily with a couple t-shirts, a camp shirt or polo, 1 lightweight long sleeved shirt, 2 pairs lightweight cargo pants with zip-off legs that convert to shorts, one set of pajamas or sweats, and a safari jacket or windbreaker. Good sunglasses and sun block (UVA/UVB) are essential. You may also want to bring a ball cap, sun hat or cape hat, a compact lightweight pair of binoculars, and of course a camera!
The weather can be unpredictable in the high mountains, so if you feel cold easily, it’s not a bad idea to bring lightweight long underwear such as silk or thermaskins turtleneck & leggings. Make sure your safari jacket or windbreaker is large enough to zip up over the warm clothes.


scottevest go2-jacket-and-lightweight-vest

TravelSmith cape hat 79311_main

TravelSmith Moab womens ventilated hiking shoes 11485_main

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Lands End Long Underwear and turtleneck

Safari vests and other multi-pocket clothing make it much easier to juggle cameras, electronic devices, binoculars, sun screen and all the other items you might want to have handy -as well as for navigating airports! CWRU alum Scott Jordan founded a company that specializes in such apparel. See especially the lightweight convertible cargo pants and super-lightweight “Tropiformer” jacket that converts to a vest: A broad selection of less specialized gear is available at many retailers, such as Orvis, REI, TravelSmith and Amazon.

Sneakers are sufficient, but you might want to consider a good pair of lightweight, breathable hiking shoes such as Merrell® Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoes. Sandals or other open shoes are not recommended outside hotels.
Please try to keep your bags below 35 lbs total per person.
Breakfasts and dinners are included. Lunch is on your own. Most special dietary needs and preferences are not a problem. Please let us know in advance and we should be able to accommodate. Snacks and alcohol are at your own expense, as is room service, etc.
TIME ZONE: Eastern +6 hours.

Pimsleur FrenchLANGUAGE

The lingua franca of France is, of course, French! Most hotel staff will speak English, but also many ordinary French people speak some English. You will also hear a little Spanish and various local patois like Provencale, Ariegeois, Bigourdane or Aragonnais at times. You may enjoy your experience more if you develop some familiarity with French ahead of time. We recommend the Pimsleur language program very highly: 


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France is on the Euro. The local currency you may need during your stay should be obtained at authorised facilities such as banks and foreign exchange bureaus. US Dollars can be exchanged at the airport on arrival or through ATMs, but many American banks are starting to charge a “foreign transaction fee” -for no particular reason other than that they can! If you belong to AAA, you can usually order foreign currency through them with no surcharge -but do so well in advance of departure for France since it may take a week for it to arrive at your local office. MasterCard and VISA are accepted at most places but increasingly the credit card systems use chips, rather than magnetic strips, so you will find some places where you may need to get money from an ATM if your credit card doesn’t have a chip. AmEx and Discover are less widely accepted, though that has started to change.


Tipping is not necessary. Traditionally, restaurant and bar prices include the tip as “service compris,” so you need not tip. However, some travelers enjoy offering a small gratuity to the wait staff, and it is of course appreciated. So, you may feel free to recognize outstanding service by individuals at whatever level you like. Tipping is a personal matter, but if you would like suggestions, you might consider: Server – 2 euros, Porter – 1 euro per bag; Cleaning staff – 1 euro per day; Drivers, guides – 3 euros per day – this is often paid on the last day of the trip but you may, of course, offer a gratuity at any time but again, do not feel any obligation whatsoever to tip.

(It goes without saying of course that the tour leader Patricia does not accept tips.)


Be sure to check for visa requirements pertaining to your citizenship. All travellers must be in possession of a passport with at least six months of validity left beyond the intended departure date to go home from Europe and must have at least 2 blank pages in the passport when first arriving in France. Quick turn-around of new US passports and passport renewals can be had through organizations such as VisaRite  Rush service is available in as little as one day!


Southern France has a temperate climate. In September we can expect to experience warm days and cool evenings. It will probably rain at least one day. It is typically in the 70s during the day, falling into the 50s and 60s at night. While not as intense as the height of summer, the sun still gets quite hot and unprotected skin can sunburn.

In general, you can drink or brush your teeth with tap water with impunity. Public pumps in villages, however, are often only for livestock or washing. Make sure a pump is marked “eau potable” before drinking (avoid eau non-potable).

No vaccinations are required for entry if you are arriving from North America. However, the CDC recommends you be up to date on all routine vaccines. See:

WCFor those with special medical needs or conditions, such as diabetes, refrigeration is available 24/7 for insulin or other medication. Whatever your needs may be, please let us know what you need in advance and we will very likely be able to accommodate.

Restrooms in France might be marked “toilettes” or may simply say “W.C.” (pronounced vay-say), a remnant of the WWII Briticism “water closet” -still in use many, many years later!
Note: The price of the tour includes all hotel/lodging, ground transportation, guides (all of which will be English-speaking and/or with anglophone translation), all private receptions & behind-the-scenes experiences as well as admission to parks, museums and other attractions, and all meals except lunch, and except dinner on the 6th and 15th. Optional activities have supplemental pricing. Please let us know asap if you would like to include the optional experiences so we can be sure to get your tickets ahead of time to ensure availability. It goes without saying that incidental personal purchases such as souvenirs, snacks, new puppies, etc, are at each traveler’s own expense. The price of the tour does not include airfare, tips, alcohol or sodas with meals (alcohol is included only at winetastings) or travel/trip insurance (which we highly recommend).


Friday 6 September

Arrive in Toulouse. Overnight NH Hotel Toulouse Airport
man with dog
Saturday 7 September

Transhumance festival, Dinner and overnight Gabizos Hotel, Argelès
Sunday 8 September

Transhumance festival, Dinner and overnight Gabizos Hotel, Argelès
Monday 9 September
Cols de Soulor and Aubisque, and up to Pau, Helicopter over the mountains (supplement); Wine tasting in Jurancon Dinner and overnight in Bilbao
Tuesday 10 September

Visit Alta Mira cave and Guggeheim Museum, Dinner and overnight in Bilbao
Wednesday 11 September

St Sebastian, Bouscasse Wine tasting (Madiran); Visit kennels: Domain du Pont Adour, M/ Mme Maillot, Pic d’Arbizon,  Richard Capel, les Bigerionnes, Ingrid Lagendijk, la Belletierre, Ron & Joke Rooding, Debut de Reve, Dinner and overnight at B&Bs Domaine Serrot and Domaine Le Chec
Thursday 12 September
Visit kennel and goat creamery of Benoit Cockenpot, Pic du Viscos, Gavarnie town and cirque,  Optional: Horse ride to the foot of the cirque (supplement), Dinner and overnight Argelès
Friday 13 September


Lac d’Estaing, Val d’Azun, Host International Reception in botanic garden, Parc du Casino, Dinner and overnight Argelès
Saturday 14 September

Dog festival, Club dinner at Pierre d’Agos restaurant, overnight Argelès
Sunday 15 September
Dog festival and national specialty show, Toulouse; dinner on own, Overnight NH Hotel, Toulouse Airport
Monday 16 September
Travelers take individual flights home

Note: Tour includes ground transportation, meals and lodging with the exception of lunches every day, and dinner on the 6, 15 and 16. Beverages excluded except for wine tastings. Snacks and incidentals excluded. Helicopter and horses require a supplemental fee and availability may be limited. Please let us know as early as possible.

Also note: Some aspects of the final itinerary are subject to change day by day while on the trip according to weather conditions, especially cloud cover, and to respond to last minute opportunities that can crop up spontaneously. We plan to visit Gavarnie with its spectacular cirque and waterfall, but depending on weather, it can be completely socked in by clouds on a given day, so we’ll need to play it by ear a bit and may e.g. reorder visits. The great thing about the Pyrenees is that there are many micro-zones. So if one mountain is immersed in clouds, another equally wonderful place will be clear. It’s all part of life in the Pyrenees! We have informants monitoring conditions on the ground and each day we will take you to the places where you’ll have the best experiences!

Tour size is limited, so please reserve asap.