Pyrenees – An Active Holiday Guide
The Pyrenees mountains stretch for 430 km from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean forming a natural border between France and Spain. Peaks over 3000 m spike the skyline and a trip to the Pyrenees will uncover some of the most remote and interesting high mountain terrain in Europe.
Some of the most spectacular peaks and mountain valleys are in the Parc National des Pyrénées, which is about 150 km south-west of the region’s largest city, Toulouse. The laid-back city of Pau is the jumping off point for the verdant Vallée d’Aspe, while the pilgrimage city of Lourdes has transport links to ski resorts such as Cauterets and Luz-Ardiden.
The Pyrenees’ wild landscapes are bejewelled with high altitude lakes and streams and adorned with serrated limestone pinnacles and lush forests. Spectacular geography and rich in flora and fauna, the Pyrenees’ pristine wilderness provide a paradise for skiing, hiking, climbing, paragliding, river running and mountain biking.
But there’s more to these mountains than outdoor sports alone. The Pyrenees are as culturally diverse as they are physically beautiful. Steeped in centuries of history and tradition, you go from a Catalan influence in the eastern Pyrenees to a strong Gascon identity in the middle and Basque-speaking in the west. Discover Romanesque abbeys and churches, mountain villages clinging to craggy terrain, ancient caves and spa towns with their natural thermal baths.
The Pyrenees have some wonderfully varied mountain biking through pristine terrain. Ride the breathtaking beauty of the Basque Country in the west, the rugged, flow-tastic trails of the central Pyrenees, and the dry, dusty downhill tracks of Andorra’s bike parks in the eastern Pyrenees. Whether you’re a cross country, enduro or downhill rider, and whatever your ability, the mountain biking in the Pyrenees are sure to satisfy. Escape the crowds, ride the Pyrenees!