Pyrenees National Parc visitor guide

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The Pyrenees National Park is located within the French departments of the Hautes-Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France. The parc encompasses a large part of the central Pyrenees mountain region along the border with Spain and is one of the eight national parks in France.

It is a region with many scenic natural highlights including high mountains, lakes and waterfalls, forests and dramatic cliffs. While it is possible to enjoy some of the scenery from your car, typically by crossing the high mountain passes, the greatest enjoyment comes from walking or cycling in the region.

Places in Pyrenees National Park

Laruns is a town towards the west of the Parc, Cauterets and Luz-Saint-Sauveur are in the centre and Gedre, Bareges, Aragnoet and Arreau are to the east while several smaller towns and many quiet villages also fall within the parc boundaries.

Gavarnie in the Pyrenees national park

Gavarnie, Cauterets and Gabas are among the popular places to begin exploring the region. The architecture of the towns and villages is not always exceptional but the scenery is ample compensation!

The Pyrenees National Parc has many highlights, and one of the most popular is the Cirque de Gavarnie, an immense circular wall of cliff that gazes imposingly at the valley below. The Cirque de Gavarnie also has the advantage that it can be reached by an easy walk from Gavarnie. Even more remote (though still accessible by road), bigger and perhaps even more dramatic, is the Cirque de Troumouse.

The most dramatic scenery is closer to the border with Spain at the southern edge of the Pyrenees National Parc. If you are adventurous, and well equipped, the region around Mont Perdu, now a World Heritage site within the parc, is particularly noteworthy and stands behind the Cirque de Gavarnie.


Walking and cycling

There are of course many shorter trails in the mountains of the Pyrenees National Park including some along valleys that are less demanding and suitable for the inexperienced. Ask at the visitor centre nearest you for information when you arrive.

One popular trail with visitors goes from Gabas to the mountain peak at Pic du Midi d'Ossau, which is exceptionally scenic (just noth of Laruns).

Perhaps the toughest, and most impressive, path through the Pyrenees National Park is the Haute Randonée Pyrénee, which traverses the range from one side to the other and crosses much of the wildest terrain, eventually finishing at the Atlantic Ocean. There is also a Grand Randonnée that passes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic via the Pyrenees - slightly easier and less dramatic, but still challenging!

Likewise, we can hardly list every cycle route through the Pyrénées, but be assured there are plenty to meet the needs of the most demanding cyclist including the famous mountain passes at Col d'Aspin, Col de Peyresourde and Col du Tourmalet among many others.

Col du Tourmalet in the pyrenees national park

Other information

If you are not inclined to walk but still hope to see the mountain splendour, head for the Lac de Fabrèges just outside Gabas and take the cable-car up to the Pic de la Sagette, followed by the little train that runs for 10 kilometres through the mountains (summertime only, takes 4 hours).

It is beyond the scope of this site (and my knowledge) to write at length about the many mountain plants and animals that you might come across but we do suggest that bringing a guide book is an excellent way to better appreciate the flora and fauna.

One of the least likely animals to come across if you head away from the crowds is the renowned Brown Bear, recently released in the region to much local objection (see Brown Bears in France). Unlikely though! Take a look at our guide to wildlife in France for some of the more common mammals in the Pyrenees National Park.

Common sense prevails! Of course any trip to the mountains requires common sense so if you are going anywhere off the beaten track be sure to take water, food and appropriate equipment in case you find yourself lost or in difficulties, and always tell someone where you are going and when you should be back.

You can find more travel ideas in the Hautes-Pyrenees guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

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Gourette s a small ski station on the route to the Col d'Aubisque near Eaux-Bonnes

Gourette guide
Col d'Aubisque

Col d'Aubisque

The Col d'Aubisque is a beautiful mountain pass with views of numerous high mountains in the Pyrenees

Col d'Aubisque guide


Eaux-Bonnes is a 19th century belle-epoque spa town at the base of the Col d'Aubisque

Eaux-Bonnes guide


Laruns is a pretty village, but it is the surrounding mountain scenery that attracts most visitors here

Laruns guide


It is the abbey church in Saint-Savin, and the surrounding countryside, that make a visit recommended

Saint-Savin guide


The village of Lescun is close to the Cirque de Lescun and other scenic highlights in the western pyrenees

Lescun guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Hautes-Pyrenees

The French version of this page is at Pyrenees National Parc (Francais)