An Unforgettable Vacation in the French Pyrenees – Top 10 Must-Do Activities

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The Pyrenees are spectacular! With lots of ourdoorsy activities and landscapes, there is plenty to do. Plus, the little towns between the peaks offer a whole lot of fun too – like traditional customs, culture, and cool festivals!

Planning a trip to southern France can be difficult when there is so much to do. Here’s the help you need to understand the best activities in the French Pyrenees region.

“Experience an Epic Geologic Wonder at the Cirque du Gavarnie!”

Head to the Cirque du Gavarnie in Europe and see one of its largest Waterfalls! It reaches an astounding drop of 422 meters, which Victor Hugo described as “the Colosseum of nature”. That means you’ll be able to experience a loud rumble and amazing views that you won’t forget! The Gavarnie is even an official Unesco Heritage Site with its own permanent glacier.

If you come during late July or early August, the perfect activity is to join Le Festival de Gavarnie. You can also enjoy the sunset while walking down the valley to watch some cool outdoor shows, like Shakespeare performances.

“Take a Trip Back in Time

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Come join thousands of others and swim through the Tour de France with a fun ride up the Tourmalet. You’ll find a 3-meter tall statue of the first cyclist who raced over this pass more than 100 years ago. This statue is moved from its normal spot at the bottom of the mountain to near the peak for four months in summer. The parade usually includes past champions like Miguel Indurain, who has won five times! Some people even dress up in outfits from 1910 and come on old bikes just for fun. Everyone is welcome regardless of their experience level!

It’s totally free to join and everyone will get a special memento. Plus, there are usually local cakes, drinks and cheese available.

Plan ahead – this event will take place on the first Saturday in June every year. This year it starts from Pierrefitte Nestelas on 3rd June 2023 at 9am. Here you can see the tops of Pyrenees Mountains without working hard by taking a little yellow train.

A Relaxing Train Ride Through the Stunning Pyrenees

If you want to explore the Pyrenees in a chill way, The Little Yellow Train is your ideal destination. Situated near the bottom of the eastern Pyrenees, this amazing train ride will take you across thrilling bridges and cliffs while it slowly climbs up 1200 vertical meters. You’ll be able to admire breathtaking sights such as forests, streams, and hillsides as you take your three-hour journey up to Latour-de-Carol – but if that’s too long for you, there are plenty of stops along the route so you can hop off whenever!

Planning to get up the Canigou? Start at Vernet-les-Bains! It’s a three mile trip from there to Villefranche-de-Conflent where you can get on a train. The train ride costs €10 for both ways, but you should arrive earlier to make sure to find good seats.

Take a Thrilling Adventure with Canyoning Under the Moonlight!

If you’re up for an exciting activity, try out canyoning in the moonlight. Canyoning is widely popular during summer season in Pyrenees and it’s all about navigating your way down a mountain gorge using the stream of a mountain river. At Saint-Lary-Soulan, there are zip lines that help you reach difficult spots and natural water slides to slide on, as well as tricky footwork and jumps (which are optional). You can experience this breathtaking activity during the day too, but doing it at night while looking up at stars will make it even more memorable.

When going to the marionette festival in Mirepoix, make sure you pack clothes, a towel, shoes and food for a picnic. Everything else will be provided for you. Let life-size puppets take over the charming streets and take it all in!

Discover Unique Perspectives and Creative Puppetry at Mirepoix and Ax-Les-Thermes!

Every person has unique experiences and perspectives that shape the way they think and interact with the world. It’s important to remember that while everyone’s thoughts, opinions, and beliefs may be different, we can still learn from one another. Listening to each other with open minds helps us understand one another better and allows us to grow in our relationships as well as broaden our knowledge.

Puppetry has changed into a mix of cool and creative forms. Every year on the first week of August, puppeteers from around the world gather together in Mirepoix Festival of Marionettes. There are puppet shows, dances, theatrical performances, and even puppet circuses! Once the sun sets, a fabulous cabaret begins too. The best part is that you can join workshops so you can learn to make your own puppet.

Mirepoix is about one hour away from Ax-Les-Thermes, which has a street performer celebration called the Grands Chemins Festival. Plus, these two places are great places to go hiking and have fun in thermal baths.

Explore France’s First Marine Reserve and Enjoy the Wonders of the Mediterranean Sea!

On the eastern side of the Pyrenees mountains, there is a special area in the Mediterranean Sea that happens to be France’s first marine reserve! Situated on the edge of Spain and France at Cerbères, the reserve takes up around 6.5 km (4 miles) of coastline and has five spots with snorkeling equipment so you can explore it. Kids and adults alike will love seeing all sorts of bright fish and starfish while they’re underwater!

Take a detour on your trip! Go to those wine cellars close by and give it a go to try drinking wine from a porro – that’s like a small, fancy version of a watering can.

Get Closer to Nature

The Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu, in the Spanish Pyrenees, is a beautiful place to get closer to nature. In summer, you can stroll under the moonlight with telescopes and try looking at stars and planets that you can’t view in regular cities with lots of light pollution. Or why not spend some time forest bathing? Shinrin-yoku is an art of gently taking in the peaceful atmosphere offered by the forest – simply take your time to listen, look around and breathe!

If you come during autumn season, you can take a trip at sunrise and watch the deer from far away. You can also listen to their loud sounds as they call each other for mating. Lastly, you can admire the huge natural rocks known as the Orgues d’Ille-Sur-Têt!

Explore Amazing Landscapes

Have you ever seen “Fairy Chimneys” or Hoodoos before? If not, then The Pyrenees is the best place to go. Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt are tall and skinny structures resembling the pipes of a church organ. They can range from 5 to 15 meters in height and have been molded over many years by natural weathering. When you see them with your own eyes, you get an amazing view of the landscape around you!

Enjoy the Captivating Beauty of the Cathar Trail Through the Pyrenees!

There’s a special path through the Pyrenees called the Cathar Trail that people used to take hundreds of years ago when escaping from a group called the Inquisition. It takes about two weeks for an average person to walk this whole path, starting in Foix and crossing over France and Spain. Along the way you can see some cool castles, animal reserves with Merens horses, and some beautiful nature sights!

Start planning from June. This way, you can lower the risk of getting caught in bad weather. However, pay attention and watch out for unexpected thunderstorms. On your journey, make a stop at Ax-les-Thermes, a spa town. Here, take the time to put your feet in thermal baths as a way to relax them!

A Splash of Red in the Pyrenees

The Pimient Festival in Espelette, a village in the Pyrenees Mountains, is something really cool to check out. All the houses are covered with bright red chili peppers and the walls are white-painted plaster with dark wooden beams. Throughout the summer, these huge peppers hang along strings on each of the houses so the town practically looks like a painting made up of lots of red and white. Plus, during the festival’s last weekend in October, there is an opportunity to actually buy them!

The hills in this part of the country appear foggy and smooth due to special light. From June to November, La Rhune offers an amazing view – but beware, it can get rainy!

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