Spiking the skyline for 430km along the Franco-Spanish border, the snow-dusted Pyrenees offer a glimpse of France’s wilder side. This serrated chain of peaks contains some of the country's most pristine landscapes and rarest wildlife, including endangered species such as the griffon vulture, izard (a type of mountain goat) and brown bear. Since 1967, 457 sq km has been protected as the Parc National des Pyrénées, ensuring its valleys, tarns and mountain pastures are preserved for future generations.
Rural and deeply traditional, the Pyrenees’ wild landscapes now provide a paradise for skiers, climbers, hikers and bikers. But there’s more to the mountains than just outdoor thrills: there are alpine villages to wander, hilltop castles to admire and ancient caves to investigate. They might not be on quite the same scale as the Alps, but the Pyrenees are every bit as stunning. Strap on your boots – it’s time to explore.