In the heart of South-West France, the Pyrenees region is the domain of hikers and lovers of the great outdoors. Abundant wildlife and plants thrive alongside the paths in its various nature parks. Walkers will never tire of admiring the natural wonders, such as the Cirque of Troumouse and its mountain walls, the stunning, vertiginous site of the Galamus Gorges, or the Cascade d'Ars, one of the Pyrenees' most beautiful falls with its series of three waterfalls.
The caves of Niaux or Mas d'Azil are also worth a visit, as is the underground river of Labouiche. The Col du Tourmalet pass offers magnificent views of the Pyrenees mountains, as does the Canigou, which towers over the Roussillon Plain and the Mediterranean Coast from a height of 2,784 metres. The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, runs for 240 kilometres connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
The list of prestigious and legendary cities includes Toulouse and its pink bricks, Perpignan and its Gothic architecture, and Pau with its majestic castle which is now a museum. Also not to be missed are Collioure, the pearl of the Vermilion Coast; the medieval town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, surrounded by its pink sandstone walls, or Foix and its old town, where a feudal castle stands proud. Argelès-sur-Mer will win over seaside resort fans, while Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Bagnères-de-Luchon and Ax-les-Thermes will charm spa-lovers. Keen skiers will opt for Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000, a resort near to Spain and beautiful Andorra.
Lovers of old buildings and beautiful villages will find their hearts conquered by the medieval town of Villefrance-de-Conflent and its fortifications reinforced by Vauban, or by the superb medieval village of Castelnou, dominated by its castle fort. There are other must-see buildings, too: Serrabone Priory in the heart of an oak forest, Montségur Castle, the hillside village of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges and its Romano-Gothic cathedral, the abbey of Saint-Martin du Canigou on its rocky peak, or Salses fortress at the foot of the Corbières.