What is the Pyrenees special magic? Maybe it is the peace and solitude of the high mountains and valleys. Perhaps it is the feeling you get on a hiking tour in the French Pyrenees of a place cut off from the real world, where people, livestock and nature just live together in harmony and no-ones found a way to spoil it yet.
It is a special place. The people, distrustful from long experience of governments and politicians on both sides of the mountains, hold out a warm welcome to all who want to understand how they live. The mountains themselves encompass some of the countrys most savage and most spectacular landscapes. The towns and castles bear witness to a turbulent history from Roman through medieval times and, in many of them, you feel time has stood still for the last five hundred years. There is a rich heritage of neolithic art, and natural wonders from the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees to prodigious underground cave systems.
Some of the rarest species of birds and animals flourish here, undisturbed. Marmots, wild boar, foxes, roe deer can often be seen in the foothills or by a mountain lake. Pyrenean ibex, isard and mouflons graze the mountain passes, while bearded vultures and golden eagles circle the highest peaks. You may even see a desman, a timid webbed footed mole-like creature who lives along the quieter banks of the Ariège river. Pyrenean wild flowers are no less remarkable - in spring, the hills are covered with crocuses, blue gentian, Pyrenean lilies, common rockroses, yellow monkshood and columbine flowers.