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The Pyrenees are one of the last wilderness areas of Europe, and are best experienced on foot. Although the Pyrenees are high mountains, there are walks for every ability - from gentle strolls on forest trails and beside the more accessible mountain lakes, to hut-hut treks amongst the highest 3000m peaks.
The Pyrenees vary greatly in character from the verdent rolling hills of the Basque region in the West, through the towering, craggy peaks of the Haute Pyrenees, to the Mediterranean landscapes of the East. The landscape also changes greatly across the border - lush green meadows and small glaciers on the French side, and a stark arid landscape on the Spanish side, with its dramatic rock formations and spectacular canyons.
On the French side of the border, the Haute Pyrenees is one of the most beautiful areas, with the highest peaks. Based from Bareges, in the Pays Toys region (South of Lourdes), there is easy access by car to the huge frontier cirques of Gavarnie, Troumouse and Estaube. The neighbouring valley of Cauterets and the Pont d'Espagne has fantastic scenery. Above Bareges, the Neouvielle Nature Reserve is the Pyrenees lake district - one of the most untouched places in the Pyrenees. In the local area, there are numerous walks directly from Bareges - the lovely Montagne Fleuri walk across the river is a mecca for naturalists with its wealth of flowers, birds and butterflies. Above the village, the beautiful "Aygues Cluses" (clear waters) valley is a lovely route into the Neouvielle Nature reserve. The Bareges valley has several easy village walks, taking in the summer pastures, pretty barns nestling against the hillsides, and ancient perched villages high above the valley floor. At the head of the valley is the famous " Col du Tourmalet" - the infamous "tour du france" climb and the highest road pass in the Pyrenees. Towering over all this is the "Pic du Midi", which you can visit by cable car from La Mongie village.
The walking season in Bareges is Spring (June) to Autumn (October) - the trails being quietest at either end of the season. The Spring flowers and Autumn colours are quite spectacular, and you will often walk all day without seeing another person. Winter is also worth considering for snow-shoeing, Alpine skiing and ski touring.