Hiking in the French Pyrenees


Dwarfed by the peaks surrounding us, we set off by car from Saint-Lary-Soulan for a day hike into the surrounding wilderness. It was late April, a perfect time to hike–with the snow from the winter steadily melting, and before the stifling heat of summer crept through the valleys of the Pyrenees. 

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The day shifted between crisp and sunny to foggy and chilly, depending on the elevation. There was no solid plan, no trail planned for, just the freedom to pull off the road at what I deemed the prettiest spot to explore the trails in that area. 

I sat slack-jawed as we drove through the mountain pass of La Hourquette d’Ancizan; it was all vast green meadows and babbling brooks peeking out from under blankets of fog. We were completely alone except for the gluttonous herds of Pyrenees cows gorging on the land.  The road started descending and I noticed several trail heads and hikers, disappearing amongst the thick canopy of pine trees. 

After a few hours of exploring the area, we ended up at Lac de Payolle, an alpine lake that’s popular with day hikers and campers. There, we spread out a picnic of the most humble yet satisfying food: crusty baguettes, hunks of Cantal cheese, and the first cherries of the season. There’s something about eating outside that makes food taste better (or is it just me?) and with the Pyrenees as a backdrop, there’s no competition!


  1. says

    I will be visiting northern Spain for the first time this Mar. 5-21. We are traveling from Barcelona to Santander.. We have been to Spain many times but never north. Love your Basque info.I will be looking up some of the places you recommended. Dan and Barbara

  2. says

    That’s the beauty of living in northern Spain, Christine. The ease with which you can pop over the border to France. Although being on Gran Canaria, we can’t complain too much. Especially as we can hop over to the other islands.
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