The Spanish border forms part of the spectacular Pyrenees National Park which includes some of the range’s highest peaks, such as Midi d’Ossau (2,884m). The park covers 45,000 hectares of marvellous sights.
Walk or ride by donkey to the breathtaking amphitheatre carved out of rock at Cirque de Gavarnie surrounded by 10,000 ft high cascading waterfalls including the highest in Europe - Grande Cascade de Gavarnie.
Hunting is banned, making the park a sanctuary for vultures and golden eagles, chamois, marmots and endangered brown bears.
Rich with flora, the park also has over 200 lakes, dozens of valleys and 400km of signposted walking trails. (Remember the climate in the Pyrenees can be unpredictable and serious hikers should be well prepared).
Each valley has a National Parks Centre, school groups are welcome and wardens often organise activities and themed outings.
A region of mountains and plateau in south-central France formed by volcanic upheaval and separated from the Alps by the Rhone River, the Massif Central is at the very heart of France.
Until recently it formed a barrier to north-south travel but the opening of the A75 motorway has made it more accessible.
Covering parts of 5 regions, including the Midi Pyrenees, it offers rugged hills, breathtaking gorges and long meandering rivers such as the Lot and the Tarn.
The rivers are great for watersports like canoeing, there are many walking trails and mountain biking is popular. Amongst the wealth of natural beauty are to be found delightful villages with Romanesque churches, chateaux and spa towns such as Aix-les-Thermes.
At the south western point of the Massif Central the Rivers Lot and Tarn flow through breathtaking scenery and deep dramatic gorges.
The magnificent Tarn gorges travel 48km and at one point the river is spanned by the Millau Viaduct with masts higher than the Eiffel Tower. The River Lot, hemmed in by steeply rising wooded hills carves its way through the rocky beauty of the Causses limestone plateau around the capital, Cahors.