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Home Travel 10 best things to do in the French Pyrenees

10 best things to do in the French Pyrenees

The Pyrenees are famend for his or her spectacular sunsets, ample mountain climbing alternatives, and distinctive landscapes – actually an unlimited, lovely playground for lovers of the outside. However do not sleep on the picturesque little cities nestled between the peaks, they’re stuffed with cherished traditions, cultural delights and eccentric festivals.

With a lot on supply, it is laborious to know the place to begin when planning a visit to this a part of southern France. Fortunately we have got the perception you want on the prime things to do in the French Pyrenees.

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1. Stand beneath the highest waterfall in France

See one in every of Europe’s strongest waterfalls up shut. The Cirque du Gavarnie is house to a number of towering cascades, the highest reaching a drop of 422 meters. The Gavarnie is a Unesco heritage web site and the waterfalls movement down from one in every of the Pyrenees’ final remaining everlasting glaciers. Victor Hugo as soon as described it as “the Colosseum of nature” and the tumultuous noise, and dizzyingly spectacular views, are positive to stick with you.

Detour: Go to throughout late July / early August to take in Le Pageant de Gavarnie. Head down the valley with the sundown for open-air Shakespeare and different performances.

2. Participate in the Montee du Geant biking pageant

Be a part of hundreds for a distinct angle of the Tour de France, with the annual ceremonial trip up the Tourmalet accompanying the Geant. The Geant is a 3-meter tall statue of the first race rider to crest the go, greater than a century in the past. Each summer season the statue is relocated from its winter house at the foot of the Tourmalet to the prime for 4 months. The flotilla maintaining him firm on the manner usually consists of previous Tour champions, together with five-time winner Miguel Indurain. The spectacle isn’t only for professional cyclists although; all potential ranges are welcome and a few don 1910 garments – and bikes!

It’s free to be a part of, everybody will get a memento, and native cake, wine and cheese are sometimes obtainable.

Planning tip: The occasion takes place on the first Saturday of June, beginning in alternating cities. This 12 months it begins from Pierrefitte Nestelas on 3rd June 2023, at 9 am.

Travelers leaning out the windows of the yellow train in the Pyrenees
Scale the heights of the Pyrenees with out breaking a sweat on the little yellow practice © Bart Dubelaar / Getty Photos

3. Traverse sheer cliffs on the Yellow Practice

When you’re on the lookout for a relaxed manner to discover the Pyrenees, make a journey on The Little Yellow Practice (Le Petit Practice Jaune). Nestled at the foot of the jap Pyrenees, the journey sweeps alongside vertiginous bridges, previous dramatic cliffs, by forests and gushing streams, whereas clinging to hillsides because it climbs 1200 vertical meters. The three-hour journey heads up to Latour-de-Carol, although you may get out at numerous factors alongside the manner.

Native tip: The journey prices €10 for a return and begins from Villefranche-de-Conflent; arrive half an hour early to get an excellent seat. It’s simply over three miles from Vernet-les-Bains, a pure start line for climbing the Canigou on foot.

4. Go canyoning in the moonlight

If you would like some adrenalin, strive canyoning in the moonlight. Canyoning may be very common in the Pyrenees in summer season and you may navigate your manner down a pure gorge through a fast-flowing mountain stream. At the web site in Saint-Lary-Soulan, zip traces take you thru the extra technical elements, alongside pure water slides, some nifty footwork, and optionally available jumps. Excursions can be found by day as nicely, nevertheless it’s one thing particular below the great thing about the stars.

Planning tip: Deliver appropriate garments, towel, footwear and a picnic – different important tools is supplied.

A row of colorful half-timbered houses in the Place de la Couverts in Mirepoix, France
Watch life-size puppets take over the charming streets of Mirepoix throughout the marionette pageant © Getty Photos

5. Enter the unusual world of life-size puppet theater

Puppetry has developed into weird new shapes and worlds. The Mirepoix Pageant of Marionettes brings collectively puppets and their creators from round the world, starting from the unusual and eerie to the sleek and hypnotic. Over 4 days at the begin of August, the streets come to orchestrated life with dance, theater and puppet circuses for loads of memorable moments, adopted by cabaret as night time falls. There are even workshops in case you’re impressed to flip your hand to creating your personal puppet!

Detour: Mirepoix is simply over an hour’s drive from Ax-Les-Thermes, which holds its Grands Chemins Pageant internet hosting avenue performers round the identical time. Each have quick access to mountain climbing, in addition to thermal baths.

6. Come face to face with multi-colored fish

The Pyrenees’ rugged jap seaboard drops instantly and precipitously into the calm Mediterranean, the place you’ll discover France’s first underwater marine reserve. Located in the calm waters of Cerbères on the cusp of the Spanish-French border, the reserve covers 6.5km (Four miles) of shoreline with 5 commentary stations for snorkeling. Kids and adults will love discovering multitudinous colourful fish and starfish.

Detour: There are close by wine cellars the place you may try the conventional artwork of ingesting wine from a porro – assume delicate glass watering can!

7. Expertise deer-bellowing, forest bathing and a moonlit picnic

Throughout the border in the Spanish Pyrenees, the Parc Pure de l’Alt Pirineu is an opportunity to reconnect with nature. A selected spotlight is summer season stargazing with telescopes throughout a moonlit stroll with a regionally sourced picnic, the place you may view galaxies and planets free of sunshine air pollution. Or reconnect with your self and nature by forest bathing. Utilizing the conventional artwork of “Shinrin-yoku”, spend time listening, watching and respiratory to immerse your self in the tranquility of the forest.

Detour: When you go to throughout the fall, there are daybreak treks to observe deer from a distance and listen to their bellowing mating calls.

The towering chimney-like structures of the Orgues d'Ille Sur Têt, France
The towering pure stone constructions generally known as the Orgues d’Ille-Sur-Têt © Getty Photos/500px Plus

8. Wander amid nature’s carvings, the Cheminées de Charges

See nature’s personal intriguing carvings in the type of “Fairy Chimneys” or Hoodoos.

The Pyrenees’ best instance of those might be the Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt. The Orgues, or organs, are named to mirror their resemblance to the pipes of church organs.

Reaching up to 15 meters in top, the chimneys are manufactured from sand and clay and have been formed by the climate over millennia. The maze of imposing but fragile towers provides a distinct perspective on the vastness of the surrounding panorama.

9. Comply with the route of the Cathars who sought refuge in the Pyrenees

Uncover a brand new facet to the Pyrenees and stroll in the footwear of refugees previous by following the Cathar Path. Crossing the border from France to Spain through the GR 107, the route was taken by Cathars in the 13th century as they fled the Inquisition. Ranging from Foix, the complete route takes round two weeks for the common walker. Sights embody chateaus, nature reserves, and an excellent probability of seeing small and stocky Merens horses in the Arieges.

Planning tip: Setting out from June onwards will scale back the danger of unhealthy climate, although examine for unseasonal thunderstorms. En route, take the probability to refresh your ft in thermal baths in the spa city of Ax-les-Thermes.

10. See a city awash with chilies!

The Pimient Pageant in Espelette, in the Basque area of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, is a sight not to be missed. The pageant sees the entire city adorned with scarlet chili peppers. The homes are all wattle and daub – whitewashed plaster with very darkish beams. Over the summer season, the large peppers are frolicked to dry in chains draped down the homes, so the city turns into a flood of pink and white. The peppers are bought throughout the Pageant on the final weekend of October.

Detour: The rolling fog provides the hills in this a part of the nation a particular, velvety high quality of sunshine. The views from La Rhune (open from June to November) are unbelievable, though plan forward as the space might be inclined to rain.


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