Pyrenees National Park

The Pyrenees National Park (in French: Parc national des Pyrénées), located in the central region of the eponymous mountain range in France, covers an area of 45,707 hectares. This protected area safeguards a variety of landscapes, including mountain peaks, glacial cirques, and valleys of great environmental significance on the northern slopes of the Pyrenees, bordering Spain. Established in 1967, the park is managed by the French public agency Parcs nationaux de France.

Its protected expanse stretches longitudinally from west to east, encompassing iconic sites such as the Midi d’Ossau peak, the Vignemale peak, Gaube Lake, the Néouvielle massif, and the glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé, and Troumouse.

Among the animal species that find refuge in this protected environment are the golden eagle, the vulture, the Pyrenean chamois, the alpine marmot, and the brown bear. Since 2014, a process of reintroducing the Iberian ibex (capra pyrenaica victoriae) has been underway, using individuals from the Sierra de Guadarrama.

Information about the Pyrenees National Park

Pyrenees National Park


The Pyrenees National Park was established on March 23, 1967, and extends along the border with Spain, covering six valleys from the Aspe Valley in the west to the Aure Valley in the east, with altitudes ranging from 1,000 meters to 3,298 meters at Vignemale. On the Spanish side of the border lies the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park.

This natural and cultural landscape, which includes the Mont Perdu and Gavarnie massif, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Park is located in the departments of Hautes-Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the regions of Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and encompasses 64 municipalities with around 40,000 inhabitants, spread over approximately 245,000 hectares.

Due to its location, the park experiences a unique variety of climatic influences, making it a treasure trove of natural, cultural, and scenic diversity. Here, a varied fauna and flora can be found, with numerous endemic and emblematic species such as the ramonde, the Pyrenean lily, the ciliate rock jasmine, the chamois, the bearded vulture, the Pyrenean desman, and the brown bear.

With an influx of around 1.5 million visitors, the National Park has developed a visitor policy to meet the needs of all audiences, offering memorable experiences in the midst of this impressive natural environment. It is, along with the Calanques National Park, one of the most visited by both French and international tourists among all the national parks of France.


The Pyrenees National Park consists of two distinct areas: the central zone, known as the "heart of the park" as established by the 2006 law, and the peripheral zone, designated as the "optimal adhesion area". This distinction allows for more flexible regulation in the peripheral zone, with the aim of leveraging economic, social, and cultural investments to counteract rural depopulation and promote tourism development in the region.

Geography of the Pyrenees National Park, France

The heart of the park covers an area of 45,707 hectares, spanning 15 municipalities, with altitudes ranging from 1,273 meters to 3,298 meters (at the Vignemale Peak). Meanwhile, the peripheral zone extends over an area of 206,352 hectares, encompassing 65 municipalities.

Since 1997, a part located in the Hautes-Pyrénées, along with the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park and some adjacent areas in Spain, form the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido complex, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as natural and cultural landscapes.

In France, in the Hautes-Pyrénées region, the cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé, and Troumouse, as well as the Barroude wall, offer distinctive features of this high mountain environment. These cirques originated from glacial activity, presenting high and steep walls. The development of mountain pastures and high granaries are witnesses to the agro-pastoral activity that still persists in the region.

How to Get to the Pyrenees National Park

When planning your trip to the Pyrenees National Park, it is important to consider options that promote sustainable development and reduce the environmental footprint. Here are some transportation alternatives to consider.

Park Directions

  • Pyrenees National Park:
  • Villa Fould.
  • 2 rue du IV Septembre.
  • BP 736.
  • 65007 TARBES CEDEX.
  • Phone: 05 62 54 16 40.


Taking the train is an excellent option to reduce carbon emissions and enjoy a comfortable and scenic journey. You can reach stations like Pau, Oloron, Tarbes, and Lannemezan, from where there are coach connections to the different valleys of the park. I recommend checking with SNCF and the tourist offices for available schedules and routes.


If you decide to travel by car, consider sharing it with others to reduce environmental impact and costs. Additionally, carpooling can make the trip more social and fun. Be sure to use updated road maps, like those from Michelin, to efficiently plan your route.


If you are coming from further away, you might consider flying into Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées International Airport or Pau-Pyrénées Airport. However, keep in mind that air travel has a greater environmental impact compared to other options, so I would recommend using it only if strictly necessary. Once at the airport, you can opt for more sustainable transportation methods, such as the train or carpooling, to reach the Pyrenees National Park.

Where to Stay in the Pyrenees National Park

When visiting the Pyrenees National Park, you will have the opportunity to stay in accommodations designated as "Esprit Parc National." These lodgings are committed to promoting sustainable practices and respecting the values and conservation of the park.

Recommended accommodations in the Pyrenees National Park, France

During your excursions, you can also opt to stay in mountain refuges or bivouacs. These places offer a safe and cozy shelter for hikers who want to spend the night in the heart of nature. Additionally, staying in a refuge or bivouac will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience of exploring the mighty landscapes of the Pyrenees, providing you with a more intimate connection with the park’s natural surroundings.

Bivouac: Outdoor Camping

Although camping is not allowed inside the national park, there is the possibility of bivouacking while adhering to the current regulations. Here are the guidelines to follow:

Bivouac in the mountains: it is permitted to set up a small tent for the night, but only between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. the following day. It is important to take down the tent in the morning before 9:00 a.m. Additionally, the tent must be set up more than an hour’s walk from any motorized access.

Bivouac areas near refuges: in certain places and near the refuges, designated bivouac areas are established where hikers can spend the night in accordance with the specific regulations of each area.

Bivouac in the Néouvielle Nature Reserve: in the Néouvielle Nature Reserve, bivouacking is only allowed in designated areas around the Orédon and Aubert lakes, and only between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. the following day.

Caravans: it is important to note that caravans and overnight parking of motorhomes are prohibited on roads and car parks in the protected area.

Mountain Refuges

Mountain refuges provide comfort and safety to visitors while maintaining their rustic charm even after renovations. Situated in remote high mountain areas, these refuges have evolved into meeting places for hikers and mountaineers, fostering exchange and camaraderie.

Both in summer and winter, the refuges continue to be welcoming places offering shelter, opportunities for discussion, and collective rest. Open to all types of people, refuges are typically staffed during the summer and certain spring periods. Even in winter, some remain open and accessible for those seeking shelter in the mountains.

To ensure the safety of visitors, refuges are equipped with radiophones that allow for assistance requests in case of emergencies. Additionally, the wardens strive to provide a warm welcome and the best possible experience for guests, ensuring they feel comfortable and welcomed during their stay in the mountains.

Services Available in the Refuges

  1. Meals: Refuges provide meals for visitors. Dinner is served around 7:00 p.m. and usually costs about €15. For those who do not wish to dine at the refuge, there is a free bag storage room for storing food.
  2. Sleeping: Refuges offer accommodation in shared dormitories. Mattresses and blankets are provided to ensure a comfortable night’s rest.
  3. Sanitary facilities: Refuges are equipped with modern but rustic sanitary facilities, including bathrooms and showers for the comfort of guests.
  4. Reception and information: In the refuges, guests can find useful information about hiking routes and weather conditions. Maps and topographic guides are provided, and the refuge manager is available to offer advice on route selection and any other queries visitors may have.


It is important to follow certain rules and regulations when staying in a mountain refuge to ensure a positive and respectful experience for all guests. Here are some common rules to keep in mind:

  1. Reservations: It is advisable to contact the refuge manager in advance to book overnight stays and meals. If for any reason you need to cancel the reservation, make sure to notify the manager as early as possible.
  2. Inform your arrival: Upon arrival at the refuge, inform the reception staff or the warden of your arrival so they can assist you with the registration process and assign you a place to sleep.
  3. Shoe change: Out of respect for the facilities and other guests, it is common to be asked to remove your shoes upon entering the refuge and use slippers or clogs provided by the refuge to move around inside.
  4. Respect schedules and silence: It is recommended to respect the schedules established by the refuge, such as the dinner time and the time when the refuge goes quiet, usually around 9:30 p.m. This ensures that all guests can rest adequately and enjoy a peaceful environment during the night.
  5. Care for the dormitory: Before leaving the dormitory, make sure to fold and store the bedding provided by the refuge. This helps maintain order and cleanliness in the common areas of the refuge.

By following these basic rules, all guests can enjoy a pleasant and respectful stay in the mountain refuge.

Water, Energy, and Waste in Mountain Refuges and Shelters

Environmental management in mountain refuges is crucial due to their location in sensitive and isolated high mountain environments. Here are some important practices:

  1. Energy: Energy is produced and managed on-site, using renewable sources whenever possible. Photovoltaic solar generators power lighting, radiophones, UV lamps, and other devices. Gas cylinders are used for stoves, refrigerators, and hot water production. Firewood is used as fuel for stoves. It is essential to save energy due to its limited availability.
  2. Water: Refuges are supplied with water from catchments, but since water is a limited resource in the high mountains, its consumption should be limited. Guests must be aware of the importance of conserving water and using it responsibly.
  3. Waste: Waste management practices are implemented to reduce volume and minimize environmental impact. Refuge caretakers sort waste, composting organic materials, and burning paper. The remaining waste is stored and taken to the valley by helicopter, resulting in a costly and restrictive disposal process. Therefore, visitors are urged to take their own waste with them and follow the waste disposal rules established by the refuge.

Nearby Hotels and Houses

The Pyrenees offer rugged landscapes on the French side, with localities situated in the valleys. This can limit the views, although some areas like Aspe Ossau, for example Lescun, might offer better panoramas. Gavarnie, while well-located, can be crowded during the day but tranquil at night, although in season it may smell of manure.

The Gaube Valley is beautiful but busy up to the lake. Personally, I love Marcadau and have yet to explore the Lutour Valley and the Lake Ilheou sector. For overnight stays, the Valon Refuge in Marcadau is magnificent, although it requires a hike from the Pont d’Espagne. Another good place to spend the night is the Oulettes Refuge at the foot of the north face of Vignemale or the Espuguettes Refuge above Gavarnie, though reaching them involves a genuine hike and a steep climb to the Espuguettes Refuge. We do not seek comforts in mountain refuges.

What to See and Do in the Pyrenees National Park

What to See and Do in the Pyrenees National Park

Lake Montagnon

Lake Montagnon at 2,000 meters altitude, located in the Pyrenees National Park, is a charming place nestled in a mountainous environment of incomparable beauty. Surrounded by peaks and green alpine meadows.

This glacial lake offers impressive views in a natural space where outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, photography, etc., can be carried out.

Its crystal-clear water reflects the blue sky and the mighty mountains that surround it, creating a serene and magical atmosphere that invites contemplation and connection with nature. Lake Montagnon is a hidden treasure in the Pyrenees, a place where serenity and natural beauty merge to delight the senses and rejuvenate the soul.

The Ansabère Needles

The Ansabère Needles are a spectacular rock formation in the Pyrenees. These towering needles, sculpted by erosion and the passage of millennia, dominate the landscape with their very characteristic natural silhouette.

Located in a mountainous environment of great beauty, the Ansabère Needles offer an irresistible challenge for climbing and mountaineering enthusiasts, as well as impressive views both at the summit and at their feet. With sharp ridges and vertical walls, these needles are a symbol of the grandeur and mightiness of the Pyrenees, attracting adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The Cirque de Gavarnie

The Cirque de Gavarnie is a natural amphitheater located within the Pyrenees National Park. Known for its beauty and rock wall, this glacial cirque is one of the largest in Europe, renowned worldwide.

The vertical walls of the cirque rise to impressive heights, creating a spectacular view.

In its center, the Gavarnie waterfall has a drop of more than 400 meters, adding to the grandeur of the place. It is truly awe-inspiring.

The Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the must-visit sites in the Pyrenees Park. It is very popular, and if you have enough time, we recommend that you do not miss seeing it.

The Roland’s Breach: Walking Between the Passage of France and Spain

The Roland’s Breach is a legendary mountain pass at 1,300 meters above sea level, connecting the regions of France and Spain through the Pyrenees.

Wrapped in stories and myths, it has been a vital passage between the two countries for centuries. Situated at a considerable altitude, the Roland’s Breach offers very beautiful panoramic views, where you can see the surrounding peaks and the valleys stretching on both sides of the Iberian Peninsula.

Its access is challenging, but the visit is rewarding, leaving a fantastic feeling that only special places provide.

Besides its geographical importance, the Roland’s Breach has also been a significant point in legends and folklore, adding an aura of mystery and fascination to this iconic natural border between France and Spain.

Historical Traces and Hot Springs

From the Paleolithic to the present day, human presence in the Pyrenees National Park has left a series of traces revealing early occupation, mainly pastoral, dating back to 5000 or 6000 B.C.

In the heart of the National Park, we find several sites that testify to this historical presence. Places like Anéou, in the upper Ossau Valley, Troumouse, and the Marcadau Valley are especially notable from an archaeological perspective, offering valuable insights into ancient human interaction in the Pyrenees.

Exploring this heritage requires meticulous archaeological research, seeking evidence of human occupation, such as cromlechs and dolmens found in the Marcadau Valley.

Besides its historical importance, the Pyrenees are also known for their hot springs, whose properties have been recognized since Roman times. Since the 16th century, these waters have been exploited for thermal purposes, reaching their peak in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During this golden age of hydrotherapy, the Pyrenean spas attracted notable personalities from the Romantic era and the European high bourgeoisie.

Archaeological Sites

The architectural and functional richness of the traditional structures in the Pyrenees National Park can be found along the way. From granaries to pastoral huts, these constructions bear witness to agro-pastoral life and human skill in adapting to the mountainous environment.

The Fairground Granary

Granaries, also known as "granaries in Béarn," represent an extension of rural life, serving as crucial places for shepherds and flocks on their way to summer pastures. Strategically located at the edge of agricultural plots, these buildings combine various functions, including stables for sheep and cows on the ground level and hay storage above, under the roof.

Pastoral Huts

Pastoral huts occupy the higher elevations of the landscape and are a testament to the local agro-pastoral culture. They represent exceptional dry stone construction skills, adapting to extreme conditions such as slopes and weather. These structures, some ancestors of modern huts, include toues or orries, rock shelters with stone roofs, and walls built with dry stone.


Enclosure systems are essential for pastoral function, as they allow parking and containing the flock during the night. Traditionally built using natural elements of the relief, such as rocks and hollows, these enclosures are an integral part of agricultural life in the region.

The Leytes

The leytes are stone structures used to keep food fresh, such as milk and cream, near pastoral huts and granaries. Placed over captured springs or channels, these leytes ensured a constant temperature to preserve the stored dairy products.

Star Gazing

The Pyrenean night offers a unique opportunity to gaze at the stars. The night sky is bright and visible to the naked eye, with the Milky Way and countless stars seeming to embrace the peaks.

During the summer, the southern France location of the Pyrenean massif, along with the purity of the sky and the altitude, allows enjoyment of the wonders of the universe. Hikers can marvel at the sight of nebulae, star clusters, and constellations in the deep sky.

Poetically, the constellation Scorpio unfolds completely over the territory.

Since 2013, this exceptional quality of the sky has been internationally recognized by the International Dark Sky Association, which awarded the area the distinction of International Dark Sky Reserve (RICE).

The richness of the starry sky is a unique heritage that deserves to be protected and preserved.

Valleys of the Pyrenees National Park

The National Park stretches over about one hundred kilometers, crossing six main valleys, each with its own distinctive character:

  • The Aspe Valley, characterized by vast forests and being the last refuge of the bear.
  • The neighboring Ossau Valley, famous for its pastoral tradition.
  • The Azun Valley or Arrens Valley, dominated by the mighty presence of Balaïtous.
  • The Cauterets Valley, known for its impressive waterfalls.
  • The Luz-Gavarnie Valley, home to the famous glacial cirques recognized worldwide.
  • The Aure Valley and the Néouvielle Nature Reserve, which houses the highest mountain pine forests in Europe.

The Pyrenees not only represent a geographical border but also a climatic barrier. While the northern French slope enjoys a temperate and humid climate due to oceanic influence, the southern Spanish slope presents a more arid aspect due to southern winds.

Sharing a 15-kilometer border with its Spanish counterpart, the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, this Franco-Spanish massif has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its spectacular natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage, including the social and economic organization of the valleys since the Middle Ages.

Fauna of the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees National Park is home to an astonishing diversity of wildlife, ranging from majestic birds of prey to small endemic amphibians. Among the high peaks and rugged valleys, every corner of the park offers a sanctuary for a unique variety of species.

Golden eagle in the Pyrenees National Park

High in the mountains, the mighty flight of the golden eagle cuts through the sky, while the elegant gliding of the bearded vulture and the short-toed snake eagle can be observed on the cliffs. In the high-altitude forests, the melodious song of the black woodpecker resonates among the trees, while the stealthy ermine glides nimbly among the rocks in search of prey.

In the alpine meadows, herds of Pyrenean chamois, Iberian ibex, and marmots find their home, sharing the space with the capercaillie and the rock ptarmigan. Lower down, in the crystal-clear streams, the Pyrenean desman dives in search of insects, while the Pyrenean frog hops from stone to stone.

Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica) in the Pyrenees National Park

In the wetlands, the midwife toad performs its striking mating ritual, while the cazo, an endemic invertebrate, moves slowly among the vegetation. The beech and fir forests are home to the elusive squirrel, while the Bonnal’s lizard camouflages itself among the leaf litter in search of prey.

And among all these natural wonders, the king of the Pyrenees, the brown bear, roams majestically, reminding us of the privilege of sharing our world with these incredible creatures. With its beauty and ecological importance, the fauna of the Pyrenees National Park is truly exceptional and must be protected with dedication and respect.

Flora of the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees National Park is a true botanical treasure, with a rich and varied flora that spreads across the slopes, influenced by a wide range of climatic factors. As the southernmost "alpine" mountain range in Europe, the Pyrenees boast extraordinary biodiversity.

Flora of the Pyrenees National Park, France

Located in this mountain massif, the national park is home to more than 2,500 species of higher plants, representing more than 40% of the plant diversity of all mainland France, concentrated in just 0.5% of the territory. The Pyrenean flora has developed a series of adaptations to colonize the higher altitude areas where climatic conditions are more extreme. These adaptations include size reduction, hairy leaves to conserve water, and ground-level arrangements to protect against strong winds.

The stratification of vegetation is evident in the National Park, where different species are distributed along an altitudinal gradient. Each one can "climb" or "descend" according to their preferences and capabilities, thus discovering a variety of unique plant species at different altitudes.

The Pyrenean massif is home to many endemic species, found only in this region due to the climatic history and geographical isolation of the mountain range. These endemic species, such as the Pyrenean ramonda, Pyrenean bellflower, the ciliated androsace, and the Pyrenean sunflower, among others, contribute to the uniqueness and diversity of the region’s plant heritage.


Lichens and fungi, part of the fungi kingdom, constitute a fascinating and diverse group, with an abundance of species yet to be discovered. Although hikers often overlook the presence of fungi, except for some edible species, both lichens and mushrooms are fundamental to maintaining the natural balance and possess significant nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value for humans and animals.

The beech forests found in humid areas offer a favorable environment for these organisms, which are among the first colonizers of the Earth. From rocks to trunks, soil, leaves, concrete, and even bones, lichens and fungi colonize a wide variety of environments.

To date, about 780 species of lichens have been documented in the territory of the Pyrenees National Park, but much work remains to be done in this field.

Some examples of lichens present in the National Park include:

  • Cladonia (composite type)
  • Collema (gelatinous type)
  • Letharia (fruiticose type)
  • Lobaria (foliose type)
  • Psora (squamulose type)
  • Rhizocarpon (crustose type)
  • Umbilicaria (umbilicate type)
  • Usnea (fruiticose type)

These organisms, though often unnoticed, play a crucial role in the ecosystems of the Pyrenees, contributing to their biodiversity and natural balance.

Natural Environments of the Park

The territory of the Pyrenees National Park hosts a wide variety of natural environments, each with its own characteristics and challenges for the species that inhabit it. The diversity of the landscape and ecosystems present in the park is closely related to the different altitudinal levels that stratify the forest and vegetation, influenced by climate change and human activity impacts.

In the high peaks, snowy summits and snow cornices dominate the landscape, offering a challenging yet impressive environment for species adapted to extreme conditions. The forests, which cover large expanses of land, provide shelter and food for a variety of flora and fauna, while the glaciers, though retreating due to climate change, remain towering natural monuments.

Lakes and winding rivers traverse the landscape, providing fresh water and vital aquatic habitats for various species, while flower meadows offer a feast of colors and fragrances during the warmer months, attracting pollinators and herbivores alike.

Wetlands, although often overlooked, are unique and valuable ecosystems that host a great biodiversity, including species adapted to wet and swampy environments.

Snow Cornices

In the Pyrenees, snowy valleys offer natural habitats where snow endures for prolonged periods due to specific topographical features, such as depressions or particular exposures. These conditions allow the development of unique vegetation, like the herbaceous willow, adapted to the constant presence of snow. The diverse plant community that flourishes in these valleys reveals the state and dynamics of the snow cover.

These plant communities are mainly found at the alpine level, between altitudes of 2,200 and 2,900 meters. Places like the Cauterets Valley and the Ossau Valley harbor these snowy valleys, where detailed scientific monitoring helps understand and assess the impact of climate change on these unique environments.


Forests are a dominant feature in the Pyrenees National Park, covering vast areas both in its core and peripheral zones. These forests host a rich diversity of ecosystems typical of the Pyrenean mountains, presenting a variety of forest facies depending on the altitude and the orientation of the slopes.

Below 900 meters of altitude, oaks and chestnuts dominate the landscape, creating a mountainous level of dense vegetation. From here, the environment changes with altitude: the mountainous level is marked by beech and fir on the northern slope, while on the southern slope, Scots pine becomes prominent in the dry beech forests. As you ascend, the landscape becomes sparser, with pines dominating the subalpine level and dwarf willows marking the highest alpine level.

Between 900 and 1,700 meters, the beech and fir forests, typical of the mountainous level, offer a refuge for a variety of wildlife, from the brown bear to the black woodpecker. Above 1,700 meters, pines dominate in the pine forests, where life is sparser but equally fascinating, with unique habitats housing threatened species like the capercaillie.

Additionally, alluvial forests, known as "saligues," border streams and rivers, showcasing a rich biodiversity adapted to periodic flooding. These forests play a vital role in flood regulation and water and air purification.

Finally, ancient forests are true natural treasures, with unique flora and fauna that have thrived without human intervention. These rare ecosystems are characterized by their advanced maturity and the presence of giant trees and deadwood, providing a vital refuge for a variety of species.


In the Pyrenees National Park, there are six glaciers that form a beautiful landscape. These ice formations, known as Néous, Oulettes de Gaube, Petit Vignemale, Ossoue, Gabiétous, and Taillon, are true natural monuments in the heart of the mountains.

A glacier is much more than a simple accumulation of snow; it is a living phenomenon, in constant movement and transformation. Its life is marked by the eternal dance between the accumulation of snow in winter and the loss of ice in summer, a cycle that defines its dynamics and morphology.

The flow of the glacier, driven by the viscosity of the ice, manifests itself in the deformation of the ice mass and the formation of crevasses and seracs on its surface. These features are visible testimonies of the constant movement of the glacier, slowly advancing down the mountainside.

During the summer, the ablation process leads to the melting of ice and the formation of meltwater streams, known as lech, which meander across the glacier’s surface. These lechs can find crevasses in the ice, forming glacial mills and leading to impressive waterfalls.

Moreover, the sun’s action on the glacier’s surface can create surreal landscapes, with rock formations emerging from the melting snow, creating glacial tables and miniature wells.

In summary, the glaciers of the Pyrenees are silent witnesses to the constant change in the mountainous landscape, offering a unique vision of the beauty and strength of nature in its purest state.

Lakes and Rivers

The Pyrenees National Park boasts an incomparable wealth of lakes and rivers, which form a vital part of its ecosystem. With 169 bodies of water, including 76 in the central area of the park, and an extensive hydrographic network encompassing over 3,200 kilometers of watercourses, this aquatic environment is a legacy of the ancient glacial formations that sculpted the landscape.

Many of the mountain lakes that dot the Pyrenees were formed after the last glaciation, as a testament to the slow retreat of the glaciers. Their origin can be attributed to two main processes: natural dams and moraines. The former are formed when glaciers encounter hard rocks, creating a natural barrier that partially blocks the valley. The latter, known as moraine lakes, are generated from the debris accumulated by glaciers at their edges and front, forming a natural dam as the ice retreats.

Over time, these lakes gradually fill due to basin erosion and the progressive enrichment of organic matter, a natural process that can be accelerated by human activities and external factors such as eutrophication.

These bodies of water harbor an impressive variety of aquatic and semi-aquatic life, including notable species such as the white-clawed crayfish, the dipper, the otter, the Pyrenean desman, and the Pyrenean newt. Their presence is a testament to the unique biodiversity that thrives in the lakes and rivers of this mountainous region.

Flower Meadows and Wild Plants

Flower meadows are areas that have not been subjected to plowing and are distinguished by their astonishing diversity and density of flowers, creating a colorful and lively spectacle in the landscape.

Present in a variety of locations, from slopes to ridges, these meadows host a diverse range of natural environments, from wet meadows to dry meadows, even adapting to shallow soils. They are of vital importance for the production of high-quality forage, which feeds the local livestock and contributes to the characteristic flavor of local products such as meat and cheese.

In addition to their economic value, flower meadows are biodiversity refuges. Extensive and traditional agricultural practices, along with the mountain climate, foster a rich variety of flora and fauna, from insects and birds to reptiles and small mammals. However, this delicate balance faces threats from changes in modern agricultural practices.

Fortunately, flower meadows play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, acting as important carbon sinks. Their plant diversity makes them less susceptible to the effects of climate change, making them valuable allies in the fight for sustainability and environmental preservation.


Swamps, also known as peat bogs, are wetlands characterized by unique ecological conditions, with almost constant flooding and a scarcity of nutrients. In this challenging environment, life progresses slowly, and organic matter decomposes at a slow pace. Over time, this accumulated organic matter forms what we know as peat, a valuable resource and a signature of these ecosystems.

The unique conditions of swamps have given rise to very specific communities of flora and fauna. Among them, carnivorous plants like sundews stand out, having developed specialized strategies to survive in this inhospitable environment. Despite the challenges, swamps are life refuges, providing important habitats for a variety of species adapted to their extreme conditions.

These wetlands play a crucial role in ecosystems, filtering and purifying water, regulating the carbon cycle, and providing vital habitats for a diversity of organisms. Although often overlooked, swamps are natural treasures that deserve to be protected and conserved for their unique ecological value.

Best Time to Visit the Pyrenees

The climatic conditions of the Pyrenees National Park vary significantly throughout the year. Average temperatures range widely, from around -5°C in January to approximately 10°C in July. The wettest months are typically January, March, and December.

To make the most of your visit, it is recommended to plan it during the months of May, June, July, August, September, or October. During these months, temperatures tend to be more moderate and pleasant, facilitating outdoor activities and offering more optimal weather conditions for visits.

Nearby Localities to the Pyrenees National Park

Situated in France, the Pyrenees National Park spans the departments of Hautes-Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques. This park is renowned for its stunning mountainous landscapes, which include peaks such as Midi d’Ossau and Vignemale, as well as Gaube Lake and the glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé, and Troumouse.

Localities near the Pyrenees National Park

In the areas near the park, particularly in the departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées, there are various localities offering a wide range of tourist services, including spas and ski resorts, as well as accommodations for visitors who come year-round to enjoy this privileged natural environment.

Some of the localities that can be visited near the Pyrenees National Park are the following:

Arrens-Marsous, Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveur

These localities, located in the Hautes-Pyrénées department, are ideal starting points for exploring the park. They offer tourist information as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions about the mountains.

Etsaut and Laruns

Situated in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, these localities allow visitors to discover the heritage of the Béarn mountains. The Aspe and Ossau valleys, in particular, host exceptional nature with wildlife such as marmots, chamois, peregrine falcons, and golden eagles. Additionally, they offer excellent opportunities for hiking and fishing.

Lourdes and Bagnères-de-Bigorre

Although better known for other attractions (Lourdes for its religious significance and Bagnères-de-Bigorre for its spas), these localities also provide access to the natural beauties of the Pyrenees and are excellent options for lodging while exploring the park.

Each of these localities offers a unique experience to enjoy nature, culture, and outdoor activities in and around the protected area of the Pyrenees.