Of Nature and the Great Outdoors: Toulouse Pyrénées

A gamut of outdoor activities promises a busy agenda in the Toulouse Pyrénées region! The train from Toulouse takes you to divine Lourdes which is your best base for discovering some of the natural wonders of the Pyrénées.

At an hour's distance from Lourdes, lies the grandiose Cirque de Gavarnie - a natural bowl carved out by ancient glaciers in grey, ochre and pink limestone rocks - that enjoys a UNESCO World Heritage classification. Kids are sure to enjoy the ride from the village of Gavarnie on horses, donkeys or ponies who will lead you to the foot of the Cirque. The time will be just right to stretch your legs and admire Europe's largest waterfall with its 413m vertical drop and permanently snow-covered mountains!

It can't get any more natural than a visit to Cauterets and the Pont d'Espagne located in the heart of the Pyrénées National Park. Charming Cauterets located at an hour's distance from Lourdes, offers itself as an ideal destination for family holidays. A 10 minute shuttle bus ride brings you to the splendid natural site of the Pont d'Espagne which is the gateway to the Pyrénées National Park. Here is where the rugged beauty of the Marcadau valley and its sparkling waterfalls await you. Plan a picnic at the edge of lake Gaube accessible by a chairlift. Local residents such as mountain goats or marmots stop by to say hello!

If wild encounters are on your mind, then plan a sojourn at the Pyrénées Animal Park located in Argelès-Gazost - a mere 20 minutes from Lourdes. Watch wildlife at its best! Connect with local celebrities such as otters or caress deer, marmots or say bonjour to bears or wolves.

Bordering the mountains, this zoo is one of the most beautiful in the South of France.

Finally, round off your great outdoors expedition with a well deserved spa session. The Pyrénées offer many opportunities to enjoy wellness sessions with family. Give in to the "Inca Baths" in Argelès-Gazost or the Bains du Rochers at Cauterets which offers you a hot pool directly facing the mountains - a must do indeed!