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10 best things to do in the French Pyrenees

Travelers leaning out the windows of the yellow train in the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees are renowned for their spectacular sunsets, ample hiking opportunities, and unique landscapes – truly a vast, beautiful playground for lovers of the outdoors. But don’t sleep on the picturesque little towns nestled between the peaks, they’re full of cherished traditions, cultural delights and eccentric festivals.

With so much on offer, it’s hard to know where to start when planning a trip to this part of southern France. Luckily we’ve got the insight you need on the top things to do in the French Pyrenees.

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1. Stand beneath the highest waterfall in France

See one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls up close. The Cirque du Gavarnie is home to multiple towering cascades, the highest reaching a drop of 422 meters. The Gavarnie is a Unesco heritage site and the waterfalls flow down from one of the Pyrenees’ last remaining permanent glaciers. Victor Hugo once described it as “the Colosseum of nature” and the tumultuous noise, and dizzyingly spectacular views, are sure to stay with you.

Detour: Visit during late July / early August to take in Le Festival de Gavarnie. Head down the valley with the sunset for open-air Shakespeare and other performances.

2. Take part in the Montee du Geant cycling festival

Join thousands for a different angle of the Tour de France, with the annual ceremonial ride up the Tourmalet accompanying the Geant. The Geant is a 3-meter tall statue of the first race rider to crest the pass, more than a century ago. Every summer the statue is relocated from its winter home at the foot of the Tourmalet to the top for four months. The flotilla keeping him company on the way often includes past Tour champions, including five-time winner Miguel Indurain. The spectacle isn’t just for pro cyclists though; all ability levels are welcome and some don 1910 clothes – and bikes!

It’s free to join, everyone gets a souvenir, and local cake, wine and cheese are typically available.

Planning tip: The event takes place on the first Saturday of June, starting in alternating towns. This year it starts from Pierrefitte Nestelas on 3rd June 2023, at 9 am.

Scale the heights of the Pyrenees without breaking a sweat on the little yellow train © Bart Dubelaar / Getty Images

3. Traverse sheer cliffs on the Yellow Train

If you’re looking for a relaxed way to explore the Pyrenees, take a trip on The Little…

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