May 15
French Pyrenees Hiking Tour

Four Experiences You Can Only Find in the French Pyrenees

French Pyrenees Hiking Tour

The French Pyrenees are a mountain range unlike any other. Situated along the French-Spanish border, these mountains have a distinct medieval history. Although they are less famous than their eastern sisters the Alps, their relative obscurity gives the Pyrenees a distinct peace. In the Pays-Basque, located in the lower Atlantic facing the Pyrenees, the unusual Basque language, considered by many the most unique and complex in the world, is spoken rather than either French or Spanish. In so many ways the Pyrenees are a truly individual mountain range – and in mountains unlike any other, there are adventures unlike any other!

  1. Journey from the Sea into the Mountains

The journey between Saint-Jean-de-Luz, an Atlantic port town, and the Refuge de Baysellance, a high mountain hut, takes you through multiple alpine biomes. Begin beachside along the Atlantic and plains surrounding the historically infamous Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Saint-Jean-de-Luz was originally referred to as the port of vipers. Our journey takes us upward through rolling hills and herding villages. The villages have whitewashed walls with painted shutters and orange roofs. It provides a distinct sense of the combination of Alpine villages and coastal ones.

As we climb higher the terrain becomes rougher and the boulder fields and granite summits of the Haute Pyrenees become more prominent before finally, we ascend to walk among the magnificent peaks themselves. The journey through these environmentally and culturally distinct regions gives a sense of experiencing a true adventure, one grounded both in history and personal accomplishment!

  1. Explore the Forgotten Alpine Majesty of Gavarnie

The Alpine village of Gavarnie is located in the Haute Pyrenees, the high mountains bordering Spain and France. On our Pyrenees tour, you will spend the night far above treeline at the lonely Refuge de Bayssellance. Enjoy the quiet company of the majestic peaks around you. The next morning we descend back into the forests, down the Gavarnie valley. It is marked by a small forgotten settlement of the same name. The descent from the mountains takes you above towering cliffs and past thundering waterfalls. The desolate alpine landscape gives way to verdant forest.

  1. Step into History at the Walled City of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a medieval walled city that sits at the base of the Haute Pyrenees. Originally known as Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, the original city was raised by the legendary warrior-king, Sir Richard the Lionheart. The city’s walls were reconstructed in a slightly different location due to the regions strategic importance. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was the last place to rest before endeavoring in the rigorous crossing of the Pyrenees. Today, we use the city for a similar purpose. We rest here for the night before setting out on our own journey over the high mountains.

  1. Experience Alpine Basque Culture

The Pyrenees-Atlantiques are located in the heart of Basque country in the French Pyrenees. The Basque people have been known throughout history as being staunchly unique.  They have a revolutionary spirit, a mix of cultural influences, and their own traditions and language. When hiking through the French Pyrenees you get to experience all that Basque culture has to offer. There is much about Basque culture that will immediately stand out from other herding villages and traditional farming practices.

The Basque language is an ancient language of mysterious origin and is one of the few isolated languages in the world. It cannot be linguistically traced back to any of the other ancient languages of mainland Europe. Additionally, Basque food is a special event. It often involves meats such as lamb roasted over hot coals. In particular, Basque food has a more fiery flair than the fare from other Alpine regions. This is due to the popularity of paprika in Basque cooking. The rural Pays Basque in the French Pyrenees is truly a unique place. It can only truly be experienced by taking on the rustic Pyrenees mountains!

Learn more about Ryder-Walker’s Pays Basque & The French Pyrenees trip here, and start planning your next adventure.

Find you perfect trek image with hiker in the mountains

About the author: Branford Walker
Since the age of three, Branford has either participated in the development of, or been on almost every trip Ryder-Walker has to offer. He has worked as a guide for the last four years and is currently living in New York.
You Might Also Like...
Training For A Hiking Trip As you are preparing for your next Ryder-Walker hiking trip,
  Trekking Poles So, you are getting ready to embark on your Ryder-Walker hiking trip
Building Artificial Glaciers for an Agricultural Future in Ladakh Climate change continues its grim march
Your Perfect Women's Hiking Trip All of Ryder-Walker’s treks are accessible and enjoyable regardless of
Include the Whole Family on Your Next Hiking Trip Each trip we put together at Ryder-Walker
Over the years here at Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures, we have been asked for advice on
Ryder-Walker's Multiple Country Treks Ryder Walker’s tours are all culturally and environmentally unique, however some
Our Most Captivating Cultural Treks One of the most important parts of joining a Ryder-Walker
The Perfect Holiday Gift This holiday season give the gift of a life-changing vacation with
Ryder-Walker’s Seven Most Challenging Treks Why not start training for one of Ryder-Walker’s more vigorous
Watching Nature When guiding for Ryder-Walker, every day is a new adventure. The Alps remain
Planning the perfect hiking trip involves making numerous decisions. If you would like to take a