The tree species found here include the amazing mountain pine, some specimens of which, growing at the foot of the Pic de Néouvielle, are more than 600 years old.
The fauna is just as rich, with golden eagles, vultures, capercaillie, izards, roe deer, red deer, marmots and more… The Pyrenees also provide a home for species found nowhere else in the world, such as the Pyrenean desman and the Pyrenean brook salamander. In addition, some 300 species of butterfly have been recorded here.
The riches of the Pyrenees are both protected and accessible inside the Pyrenees National Park, Pyrénées Ariégeoises Regional Nature Park, Néouvielle Nature Reserve, Pibeste Nature Reserve and other wildlife reserves.
Historically, the Pyrenees are home to an exceptional prehistoric heritage with evidence in wall art of complex prehistoric human societies thriving here. This include the Grottes du Mas d’Azil and Grottes de Niaux, and the Parc de la Préhistoire in Tarascon-sur-Ariège.
Through history, rather than separating the south of France from Spain, the Pyrenees have formed a link between them. Evidence of this survives in the pastoral alliances still in force today and in the routes followed by St James's Way to Santiago de Compostela
, whose heritage can be seen in places such as Saint Lizier, Gavarnie and Bétharram.
The Pyrenees were also an important centre of Catharism
in the 12th century, as witnessed by the Château de Foix and Château de Montségur
, the last bastion of the Cathar Church.
Lastly, since 1858, when the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, Lourdes
at the foot of the Pyrenees, has been one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world, with 6 million visitors a year.