The spectacular mountainous terrain of the French Pyrenees National Park lies on the French-Spanish border. A natural heritage site since 1967, the Park is packed with biodiversity and teems with natural wonders.
Many rare and protected species inhabit the park: Pyrenean frogs, mink, bears and a small, shrew-like mammal called the Pyrenean desman that lives and hunts in the park's rivers. Golden eagles and bearded vultures can be spotted soaring overhead.
The steep-sided valley created by the Gave du Marcadau is hemmed in by rocky outcrops above and the cascades of the river below. Follow it to the very end before journeying on foot to the historic Pont d'Espagne.
The stone arch of the Pont d'Espagne perches high above waterfalls. These cascades can be followed high up into the mountains. From the Pont a cable-car ride or 2.5km hike takes you to one of the Park's stunning mountain lakes.
The spectacular Lac de Gaube is surrounded on all sides by some of the highest peaks of the French Pyrenees including Vignemale (3298m), Mayouret (2688m) and Gaube (2377m).
Further south-east within the Park is a path leading to a truly spectacular sight – the so-called Cirque de Gavarnie.
Described by Victor Hugo as 'the Colosseum of nature' the Cirque is a giant bowl of rock carved by glaciers. Meltwater cascades over the walls of this natural amphitheatre. The largest, the Gavarnie Falls plunge 422m to the foot of the Cirque.
The 19th-century observatory stands 2870m above sea level, high on the Pic du midi Bigorre. In 1963 a NASA funded telescope was used to take detail photographs of the moon ahead of the Apollo missions. Today it is home to the Bernard Lyot Telescope, the largest in France.
While the Pic du Midi can be reached by cable car, the routes up to the summit of the Pic du Balaïtous on the French-Spanish border are challenging climbs. But from its peak 3144m up, the rewards are among the most spectacular views anywhere in the Pyrenees.
Glaciers and Sea Level Rise (2017-12-08)NASA