The 2,000-hectare Néouvielle Nature Reserve is next door to the Pyrenees National Park.
Its glacier-sculpted scenery creates an Eden of ridges, meadows, pine forests, crystal-clear waters and high-level moors, all combining to form a kind of vast terrace suspended at an altitude of 2,000 metres at the foot of the Pic de Néouvielle. Here there are some 80 lakes of colours ranging from jade green to steely blue and packed with fish. The largest of these are the Lac d’Orédon, the Lac de l’Oule, Lac d’Aubert and Lac d’Omar.
Hydroelectricity, the resource of the Aure Valley below, is generated from the vast body of water contained in the Cap-de-Long reservoir, the largest in the Pyrenees, and the Orédon reservoir, built in 1982.
The mountain pine is the iconic tree of Néouvielle Nature Reserve. Here, this conifer breaks all records for longevity, with some specimens having reached the ripe old age of 400, 500 or even 600. Bright pink wild rhododendrons, growing in vast groves, add to the Reserve's incredible plethora of colours. The fauna too is highly distinctive, including the midwife toad, which remains a tadpole for almost its entire life, and the legendary desman, a strange little semi-aquatic mammal found only in the Pyrenees and northern Spain.
Easily reached by car, the Reserve is criss-crossed by waymarked footpaths
accessible even to those with little experience of mountain walking. Hikes staying overnight in mountain huts are also an option.
The Néouvielle National Nature Reserve is open from June to September
, when it is free of winter snow. During the summer, access to the Park is strictly regulated
. Visitors are required to park in the Orédon car park, from where they can strike out on the various footpaths or take the shuttle bus to the Lac d’Aubert and Lac d’Aumar.