How on earth we pack everything into our France travel guide is beyond me however, pack it all in we do and if you’re looking for what we rate & what we don’t as well as Responsible Travel’s best & worst high and low lights then read on to discover France like a local, cuisses de grenouilles and all.
Best time to go to the French Pyrenees
The French Pyrenees are typically wetter than the Spanish side, with the happy result that the vegetation is much more verdant.
The Pyrenees are cooler, and see more rain and snow than low lying areas. And, like most mountain chains, about the most predictable thing you can say about the weather is that it tends to be unpredictable. You might encounter a string of hot summer days in late autumn, while spring can be very wet, or totally dry. The western end of the Pyrenees, especially around the Basque region, is affected by the Atlantic climate and typically sees the most rainfall. It gets drier and warmer the further east you go.
French Pyrenees Weather Chart
The French Pyrenees, month by month
If you'd like to chat about French Pyrenees or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Our top French Pyrenees activities
Things to do in the French Pyrenees……
Things not to do in the French Pyrenees ……
French Pyrenees holidays advice
Emma Mason from our supplier Mountainbug on when to visit the Pyrenees:
“The Pyrenees have a long hiking season, but the trails are naturally busier during the French school holidays. Our favourite time for walking is spring, when the wild flowers are magnificent. From early June you can walk through flower filled meadows, while the high Alpines appear in late June through to mid July. With the high peaks still capped with snow, there cannot be a more spectacular time to visit the Pyrenees. September is also lovely after the August rush. The autumn colours start to appear towards the end of the month. In winter, it is again worth avoiding the school holidays for a wilderness experience on snow shoes. We recommend mid to late January for deep winter conditions, or for milder temperatures and (usually!) lots of early spring sunshine, the second half of March is glorious.”
Emma Mason from our supplier Mountainbug on the joys of snow shoeing:
“Snow shoeing is a great way for non-skiers to see the mountains in the winter. It’s about intermediate hiking level in terms of difficulty, but not technical and doesn’t require any pre-experience. In the Pyrenees it is easy to get away from the hustle of the ski resorts and quickly find yourself in the wilderness. On a ‘bluebird’ day, with wide open skies and fresh snow, the landscape is almost unreal: sculpted ridges and hollows, twisted pine trees weighed down with snow, and sparkling ice crystals glinting against a deep blue horizon. Our routes are chosen carefully, so that we stick to open, rolling ground wherever possible - ideal terrain for snowshoeing. There are, however, some quite big ascents, which can be fairly strenuous, particularly in new snow; any extra effort is worthwhile, of course, as walking through fresh powder in absolute silence is magical.”
Chloe Knott from our supplier Exodus on what to expect from cross country skiing in the French Pyrenees:
“Having a guide on a cross country ski trip allows you to relax and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about where to go next or figure out where the best lunch spot will be, your guide takes care of this. Our guides all carry international mountain qualifications and know the landscapes inside and out so that they can take you to the best areas with the best skiing conditions on a given day.”
Small group cycling
Small group cycling
Chloe Knott from Exodus on the advantages of small group cycling on the GR 10:
“You need to bring your own cycle helmet on this trip and you may also like to bring your own pedals and a gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bike, as we want you to feel as comfortable as possible! The advantages of a small group tour is that you have a support vehicle accompanying you, so should you have any technical issues with your bike or simply need a bit of break you can jump in the van. You are also taken on the best roads and stop at the most suitable points to rest – this is a tough cycling trip so it is important to pace yourself correctly. Also there is nothing like a bit of group encouragement to get you up those steep hills!”
French Pyrenees tips from our holiday reviews
At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.
We have selected some of the most useful French Pyrenees walking holiday tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
the reward was a fantastic sense of achievement and glorious views that I couldn't have seen if I stayed in my comfort zone.
– Maggie Felton
“You need to make sure you are comfortable with the demands of the level you choose in terms of the hours walking, terrain and the ascents, and be aware that you will be walking at a higher altitude for some of the time.” – Jenny Lunn “Appreciated the benefits of being based in one place and having a guide who could tailor our walks to the weather conditions and give us the best opportunities... Was well looked after – important as a solo traveller.” – Rosemary Ruddell “Do some hilly walks in preparation; take clothes for cool and wet, or hot and humid, or in-between weather; then just go for it, and enjoy the experience.” – H. M. Gill “Be prepared to challenge yourself during your walking expeditions: some of the walks we did really pushed me, but the reward was a fantastic sense of achievement and glorious views that I couldn't have seen if I stayed in my comfort zone.” – Maggie Felton
when ski touring try to put a group of at least four together and pay a little extra so that you can have a guide just for your party as we did
– Steve Jackson-Turner
“You need to be really fit for the coast-to-coast Pyrenees ride. Train beforehand as much as possible. Some climbs are very long and arduous. I did not cope with the unseasonably hot temperatures (over 40C, according to my Garmin).” – Dave Hutton “If you can, when ski touring try to put a group of at least four together and pay a little extra so that you can have a guide just for your party as we did. We asked for a guide who spoke good English as our French is limited and I think this was wise as our guide was excellent. When enjoying the luxury of the chalet be prepared for the huts which can be cold and not especially relaxing (e.g. benches and bunks) but that is part of the experience.” – Steve Jackson-Turner “Be prepared to get wet, muddy, a little bit scared, but have a great time and meet great like-minded people.” – Sally Preece (French Pyrenees activity holidays) “Join in and have fun. A bit of questioning before each day's activity might be worthwhile to make sure you're properly equipped. The activities were well organised and well led, go with the flow, listen to the guides and when they say you'll love it, believe them, you will. A bit of a stretch at times for our 12 year old, but the instructors were excellent in judging what she could do and managing her round what she couldn't.” – Alison Cousland “I think the main advantage of a holiday like this is to be able to try out all sorts of different activities, with expert help and support, and to take you to places that it would be hard to access or discover on your own.” – Trisha Cochrane
More about French Pyrenees
Far less developed than their better known Alpine cousins over on the other side of the country, these mountains are exceptional territory for activity holidays.
During World War II the Pyrenees loomed up as an ominous barrier for downed airmen and others hoping to escape France for neutral Spain.
Stretching from the Bay of Biscay to the Med, the GR10 trail in the Pyrenees is one of France’s greatest treks.