Want to try something different this summer? With gorgeous scenery, great weather and a quiet tourist scene, the Pyrenees might just be the perfect place to explore in the coming months.
Mountains aren't just for Christmas
Straddling the border between Spain and France, and covering the entire country of Andorra, are the Pyrenees. Although hugely popular as a skiing destination in the winter months, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this mountain range in the off-season. From hiking, to bathing in lakes, to exploring medieval villages, here's why the Pyrenees should be the destination of your next summer holiday.
1. Hiking trails
As the warmer weather creeps closer in the Pyrenees, ski boots are replaced with hiking boots and hundreds take to the hills to explore the many hiking trails they offer. Try out the French section of the Camino de Santiago, starting in France and ending in the northwest of Spain, or head in the other direction and end up on the beautiful Mediterranean Coast. With hundreds of trails to choose from, you're sure to find one that works for you.
2. Lovely lakes
Although wild swimming is one of the most popular things to do during summer in the Pyrenees, the lakes still remain extremely quiet and peaceful, making for the perfect holiday activity without the hassle of encountering too many other tourists. Take a dip in Lake Gaube in the western French section of the Pyrenees and enjoy amazing views and bright blue waters. However, don't forget that you're in the mountains, so beware of the chilly, glacial waters!
3. The most beautiful villages in France
Many of the officially certified 'most beautiful villages in France' are situated in the Pyrenees. Perhaps the most famous of these villages is Villefranche-de-Conflent (pictured), situated in the Pyrénées-Orientales region in the east. This pretty little walled commune is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is connected by an underground staircase to the nearby Fort Libéria, dating back to the 17th century.
4. Le Petit Train Jaune
This little yellow train rides along a scenic railway which takes passengers through the Pyrenees, stopping at numerous small towns on the way. One of these stops is la gare de Bolquère - Eyne, which is the station at the highest altitude on the SNCF national rail network. The route, which begins and ends at Villefranche-de-Conflent, crosses several vertigo-inducing bridges and viaducts so it's not for the fainthearted, but makes for some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountainous landscape! During summer, enjoy sitting in the open air section of the train to bask in the sun as you travel.