Nature in Midi-Pyrenees
A Life-Size Mountain
Looking for fresh air and wide-open spaces? Then, head for the Pyrenees National Park! Stretching from east to west over 100 km, the park features a fully preserved and thriving environment. Pine forests, waterfalls, high meadows, lakes, peaks... all you need to fill up your lungs with fresh clean air! Focus on two of its must-see sites: the cirque of Gavarnie and the Pont d’Espagne.
The cirque of Gavarnie (Hautes-Pyrénées): Nature’s Giant of the Pyrenees
Cut out from the Pyrenees rock in a half-circle shape, the cirque of Gavarnie offers a beautiful natural scenery, without any artifice. With a circumference of 3.5 km at its base against 14 km along its top ridge, a 420 m high waterfall (the highest in Europe), and cliff walls at an altitude in excess of 3,000 m: this is truly a giant amphitheatre carved into the mountain.
Getting to this natural arena from the village of Gavarnie is very simple, really. Whether hiking, or straddling a horse or a donkey, you just need to take the “path to the cirque” for 1.5 hour. At some points, the route allows you to get closer to the cliff edges and the big waterfall. For the bravest among you, don’t stop at the base of the cirque of Gavarnie! Keep on climbing to the “Brèche de Roland”: legend has it that it was slashed with a sword by Roland de Roncevaux, Charlemagne’s nephew...
The Pont D’Espagne (Hautes-Pyrénées): naturally romantic!
Romantic hikers, please note: the Pont d’Espagne has inspired many a French poet! At an altitude of 1,496 m it spans deep gorges filled with the foaming waters of rushing torrents. Waterfalls, pine forests, rock formations: The path leading to it is interspersed with natural, dreamy aspects. You can drive or walk there, via the waymarked footpaths.
Once you have admired the sheer beauty of the Pont d’Espagne, don’t stop now when there is still so much to see. You can take a chair-lift to climb further up to the Gaube Valley. And you can expect more breathtaking scenery when you get there: The Vignemale, the highest peak of the French Pyrenees (3,298 m) is mirrored in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Gaube... Truly magical!
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