The Pyrenees French Mountains

The Pyrenees are the French mountains located on the Franco-Spanish frontier, with Andorra sandwiched in between. The main exception to this rule is formed by the Val d'Aran, which belongs to Spain but lies on the north face of the range.


Where does this Pyrenees name come from?

The Pyrenees are named after the Greek mythology: Pyrene (fire in Greek) was the daughter of Bebryx and was raped by Herakles. Terrified at giving birth to a serpent, she fled to the mountains and was either buried or eaten by wild animals.

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Geography

These French mountains separate the Iberian Peninsula from France, and extend for about 430 km (267 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus).

Politically, the French Pyrenees mountains are part of the following French départements, from east to west: Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (the latter two of which include the Pyrenees National Park).

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The Pyrenees mountains are also part of the following Spanish provinces, from east to west: Girona, Barcelona, Lleida, Huesca, Zaragoza, Navarra, and Guipúzcoa.

Physically, the Pyrenees are typically divided into three sections: the Central, the Atlantic or Western, and the Eastern Pyrenees.

The Central Pyrenees extend eastward from the Somport pass to the Val d'Aran, and include the highest summits of the range:

  • Pico d'Aneto or Pic de Néthou 3,404 m (11,168 ft) in the Maladeta ridge,
  • Mont Posets 3,375 m (11,072 ft),
  • Mont Perdu or Monte Perdido or Mont Perdut 3,355 m (11,007 ft).

In the Atlantic Pyrenees the average elevation gradually decreases from east to west, until they merge with the Basque mountains near the Bay of Biscay. In the Eastern Pyrenees, with the exception of one break at the eastern extremity of the French Pyrénées Ariégeoises, the average elevation is maintained with remarkable uniformity until a sudden decline occurs in the portion of the chain known as the Albères.

Skiing in the Pyrenees

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Pyrenees are a must to spend your skiing holidays in France. There are 50 ski resorts in the French Pyrenees, please find below the main ones:

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