Hiking & Scenery
The Pyrenees offer a great variety of scenery for the walker, from high peaks, plateaus and glaciers, lunar landscapes and glacial valleys down to meadows, pasture land and ancient forests.
Walking in this stunning mountain scenery of the French Pyrenees can be accessed easily from La Joie de Vivre , with the highlights being glacial lakes and waterfalls, peaks and high ridges and many varied flowers and wildlife, with some extremely pretty villages known as ‘bastides’ nestled amongst the mountains. Several of the most beautiful walks are found within the Parc National des Pyrenees.
Pic du Midi
1 hr drive
During the day or at night, come and be spellbound by the sheer expanse of pure sky and majestic view from the observatory, originally constructed in the late 19th century, which played an important role in the Apollo Lunar Landing Programme.
The Pic du Midi is an absolutely unmissable site of the Pyrenees: its wide terraces perched at 2877 meters above sea level offer a unique panorama of the entire Pyrenean chain on the one hand, and a good part of Occitania on the other. After a majestic climb by cable car, you are transported into the world of high mountains, at the forefront of the Pyrenean massif, on a place that combines beauty of natural elements and strength of the human will – a n experience you won’t forget!
‘Cirque de Gavarnie’ and the nearby crater ‘Cirque de Troumouse’
1 hr 45 mins drive
Cirque of Gavarnie and the nearby crater Cirque de Troumouse is a world heritage site with a spectacular 1,000 ft waterfall, which is a visual feast.
Lac de Gaube
1 hr 30 mins drive
Lac de Gaube is an exceptionally blue lake with an amazing mountain backdrop.
Pont d’Espagne and the Marcadau Valley
1 hr 15 mins drive
Pont d’Espagne and the Marcadau Valley is a large pine valley filled with some superb mountain views across to Spain.
1 hr 15 mins drive
Ossau Valley is one of the more beautiful Pyrenean valleys near the Cirque of Gavarnie. Set off on an unforgettable journey to the top of the mountains, at an altitude of almost 2000m with the Train d’Artouste, the highest train in Europe, on narrow tracks, to discover exceptional panoramas in the heart of an authentic, well preserved, natural environment.
Grottes de Betharram
45 mins drive
The ‘Grottes de Betharram’ are caves full of interesting water formed rock formations.
1 hr 30 mins drive
Located at 2085 metres above sea level, this absolutely enchanting hike takes you through the heart of the Néouvielle massif, in the upper Aure Hautes-Pyrénées valley. The hike takes you through a sequence of beautiful lakes and many absolutely perfect spots for a picnic!
Ornithology and Bird-Watching
The variety of birds in the area is frequently commented on and is an additional bonus to those who explore this wonderful countryside. There are red kites, buzzards, green woodpeckers, jays by the dozen, sometimes hoopoes, kingfishers, hen harriers, and if you are very lucky eagles and golden orioles. For those who are particularly keen, there is an ornothological lake within a 10-minute drive, which has a circular walk that is ideal for bird-enthusiasts.
The fishable waters in the Pyrenees are exceptionally diverse, ranging from small mountain streams and fast-flowing rivers to high-altitude lakes accessible only by foot.
Pyrenean fishing is exceptionally diverse, ranging from small mountain streams to fast-flowing rivers to high altitude lakes accessible only by foot. Some of the lakes and rivers are stocked, but those higher up contain mainly wild, brown trout. Fishing is popular among local inhabitants but has not yet become a tourist industry.
For those who have never fished before but would like to try, there are numerous privately run ‘parcours de pêche ‘ where the uninitiated can rent equipment and (if lucky) cook and eat their catch at the picnic areas provided.
Those non-fishers who like long walks, photography or watercolour painting will equally appreciate the areas of natural beauty that are frequented by the fisherman.