The majestic Pyrenees Mountains form a natural border between Spain and France, with the principality of Andorra in the middle. The fairy-tale scenery of villages and valleys is steeped in mythology, with the region even allegedly named after Princess Pyrene, lover of the Greek demigod Hercules. Due to its wild and varied landscape of valleys and villages, the area is a heartland for activity seekers. Spend your time swimming in the cool water of fresh mountain lakes, hiking along craggy gorges or simply admiring the endlessly beautiful vistas all around this green oasis. Find out for yourself the incredible things you can discover on an adventure around the French Pyrenees.
Road Trip Fun
With 3,000-metre peaks giving way to deep forested valleys and quiet alpine villages, the Pyrenees is simply perfect for road trips. One of the most famous routes of the region is the Tourmalet Pass, which follows the Col du Tourmalet, the highest paved road in the entire Pyrenees and a challenging climb regularly included in the Tour de France cycle race. It takes you past the skiers’ paradise of La Mongie, the idyllic commune of Sainte-Marie-de-Campan and one of the highest mountains in the area in Pic du Midi. Alternatively, head south from Toulouse past the hillside castle town of Foix to reach the pampering paradise of Ax-les-Thermes, where you can soak in luxurious thermal pools that date back to Roman times.
Fancy stretching your legs and taking in the breathtaking scenery on foot? Join the legendary GR10 route in the village of Artigue, perched on the vast mountainside surrounding the spa town of Bagnères-de-Luchon. Hike along one of the world’s most beautiful natural balconies to take in remarkable views in all directions, before enjoying the serenity of the fragrant mountain meadows and the cooling side valley of the Cigalère State Forest.
Deep in the heart of the Pyrenees, a striking granite mass protrudes from the wild ‘Lake District’ of Néouville, a stunning cluster of glistening lakes surrounded by banks of colourful flowers. With eight valleys, there’s a range of picturesque walks in the area to suit various abilities. In the Midi-Pyrenees region south of Toulouse, the Caving Grotte du Mas d’Azil provides a fascinating insight into the life of our predecessors. Rich with engravings and historical finds, you can take a drive through this exceptional tunnel or enjoy a tour along one of the pedestrian pathways.
Only a short drive north through the upper Ariège valley is the town of Foix, with its immaculately preserved château. The 10th century fortress stands on a rocky outcrop and is surrounded by medieval half-timbered houses. Follow an old railway line between the town and Saint Girons to embark on a scenic cycling route through rural villages, and stop off at sights along the way like the Combelongue Abbey with its fascinating Mudéjar architecture, or the nearby 13th century water mill. The town is also a great place to try out some water sports, with canoeing routes available along the Ariège and the thrill of white water rafting for adrenaline seekers.
Further to the east in the Hautes-Pyrenees, the sacred pilgrimage town of Lourdes can be found nestled in a deep valley. Believed within the Catholic faith to have been the site of a 19th century appearance from the Virgin Mary, millions visit the healing shrine at the Grotto of Massabielle every year. Gaze in wonder at the imposing Sanctuary of Our Lady, the historic Casa Natal Bernadette or take the short cable ride to the summit of the Pic du Jer to enjoy a bird’s eye view of this spectacular town and the green expanse surrounding it.
If this has inspired you, check out our Adventure Page for more ideas.