Pau PyreneesFrance - martin bennie

Stretching the width of south-western France, from the wind scuffed surf of the Atlantic to the gentle drift of the Mediterranean, the Pyrénées form a magnificent backdrop of mountains some 400 km long and act as the natural frontier between France and Spain. The landscape along the mountain range is truly diverse: in the west you experience green, rolling, heavily wooded countryside and in the east, where the climate of Catalonia influences both landscape and lifestyle, vineyards and orchards abound and aromatic scrub covers the hillsides. Between these extremes, the region is one of rich scenic and cultural variety: glaciers, limestone pavements, rugged granite peaks and deep canyons, dense forests, spectacular waterfalls and literally hundreds of mountain lakes. There are also extreme contrasts between the northern French slopes and those of the Spanish south. Crossing from one side to the other is not only to enter a new country, it is to exchange landscape, vegetation and even climate. Hautes Pyrénées - meaning 'high Pyrénées' - is truly mountainous, with several 3,000 metre peaks, the last remaining glaciers and many lakes. You will also find the great cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse forming a rim to the Pyrenees National Park and the adjacent Réserve Naturelle de Néouvielle.