MORE PYRENEES GEMS

The Cathar Chateau de Foix. Photo, i.reddit

For a region that is relatively unexplored by many visitors to France, the Pyrenees has so much to offer.  Not just its breathtaking scenery of snow-capped mountains, deep gorges and high altitude agriculture, but also for the number of beautiful little villages that have their own distinct architectural style and character.

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EXPLORING THE HEART OF THE PYRÉNÉES

The beautiful town of
Pau. Photo, wikimedia

Travelling eastwards from the Basque region of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, there are many more gems to discover.  Pau, the capital of the department is set along the northern edge of the Pyrenees, has fine boulevards, an impressive castle and panoramic views of the mountains.  There are little villages nestled in the high plateaux, stunning scenery, excellent ski slopes, glaciers, high altitude agricultural communities and rich gastronomic traditions such as the famous sauce Bearnaise.

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FRENCH BASQUE COUNTRY AND THE PYRENEES

Typical Basque countryside. Photo, basquecountry.bike

Located down in the most south-westerly tip of France, this small area is the last region in the country before crossing into its larger Basque neighbour over the Spanish border.  Most visitors cling to the beautiful coastal area around the trés chic city of Biarritz, but venture further inland from Bayonne and you’ll soon be immersed in the rich Pays Basque with its own distinct culture.

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SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES OF GASCONY-GERS

The beautiful bastide village of Larressingle. Photom mazacars

The traditional name of Gascony nowadays refers to modern-day French departments of the Gers, the Landes and the Hautes Pyrénées.  To the west, it’s bordered by the Atlantic ocean and to the south by the Spanish border.  The name ‘Gascony’ conjures up a rich agricultural area, warmth, sunshine and a traditional rural way of life.  It’s one of the great gourmet regions of France and produces some of the country’s finest wines.  There are fortified villages, sections of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, and home to the story of d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers.

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EXPLORING MONTAUBAN, CAPITAL OF THE TARN-ET-GARONNE

Montauban, on the river Tarn. Photo, sebasnavarrete

Formerly part of the provinces of Quercy and Languedoc, this Occitanie region in the southwest of France is traversed by the Garonne and Tarn rivers from which it takes its name.  It’s one of the most picturesque agricultural départements of the country.  For the visitor, there are charming medieval villages and towns to explore, plus the great draw-card of outstanding gastronomic delights, including game and poultry, fine local wines, and in particular the local specialty, Armagnac.

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