Monday, 30 May 2011

A Walk In the Pyrenees

One of our favourite things to do in Alet le Bains is take a walk through the foothills of the Pryenees. Walking up the fragrant mountainside in Spring is a real delight.  Taking in the scented air you quickly realise why it smells so wonderful with a look at the local flora.  Here you can find herbs like rosemary, thyme and wild garlic as well as my favourite aromatic shrub, french lavender, all growing wild.

There were lots of flowers bursting into bloom this time and we came across a meadow filled with these wonderful pink blossomed shrubs which the bees seemed to love.  There are several local beekeepers who sell locally produced honey. Imagine mountain wildflower honey on toast for breakfast!

I thought I'd take a walking outfit shot to show I have a vaguely practical side and it's not feathers, fur and frilliness all the time. However I've artfully hidden my most horrible walking trainers behind the flowers for your benefit!  I'm not much of a walker of hills and mountains generally and don't own the requisite walking gear or clothing (what to wear up a mountainside?) but I always pack a pair of trainers with me to make an effort for the Pyrenees.  I do however, take care to opt for long jeans and something with a bit of a sleeve to avoid stings from the nettles that tend to line the walking paths.

This is one place where you really forget the world at large exists.

Pardon me if I get all David Attenborough on you but it always amazes me how much the mountainside is teeming with life and there is no better time to see it all coming out to play than in the Springtime.  We spotted some wonderful colourful butterflies including this black and yellow fellow whose wings reminded me of the pattern on err, an Alexander McQueen dress (once a fashionista...)

I do love pointing out all the creepy crawlies and small flying creatures to Mr V. who would otherwise charge up the mountain oblivious.  I studied biology and zoology units at university and truly loved those subjects (that is, until I had to dissect a cockroach for a practical).  Despite their cute fuzziness these little caterpillars can actually give you a nasty, painful and itchy rash.

In the Autumn the locals like to go hunting for wild boar on the mountainside.  During this time you can often hear the sounds of gunshot cracking through the trees and the baying of hunting dogs as they crash through the shrubbery after their prey.  In the late evenings the locals will gather in the town to swap stories about the one that got away over a drink.

Here are just a few of the vibrantly coloured wildflowers that were on display on the walk down.

Hope you've all had a wonderful weekend!


  1. Oh such beautiful pics! I love it so much. We get those super itchy caterpillars here too - we call them spitfires as they mass together on tree branches and then spit on you if you walk under the tree! And if you brush up against one you will be itchy for hours.

    Thanks for the gorgeous pictures and descriptions - I can smell the lavender!

    Sarah xxx

  2. What a fabulous post, I feel like I just took a mini-vacation. The pictures are clear and stunning, thank you for sharing them with us. Are you still on holiday?

  3. Such beautiful pictures, the wildflowers, the butterfly, the itchy caterpillars!
    I've read so many of those relocation books set in France, your colourful description of the wild boar hunt brought several to mind. xxx

  4. How beautiful, the smell must be wonderful. x

  5. Fantásticas fotos, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. No conozco los Pirineos,pero creo que lo voy a añadir a la lista. Siempre hacemos senderismo en Escocia.

  6. OMG looks so beautiful there. I'm glad you are having (had?) a good time!

  7. gorgeous post, gorgeous photos! It looks amazing up there, I havent been up a mountain since I left canada, Its such a great way to escape the city life for a day or two.

  8. Such beautiful pictures! With a zoologist dad my childhood was roaming nature with a plant/insect book in hand. Any creepy crawlies were 'beautiful' and 'fascinating' in our world (even the bloody huge Australian ants whose bites hurt more than bee stings).

    Re the Next voucher - I haven't been to a Next shop for ages because the designs normally don't excite me at all, but autumn/winter looked really quite promising - so you might want to wait a few more weeks?


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