15 Pretty Towns and Villages in the Pyrenees

Pau Castle, Aquitaine, France | © Sergey Dzyuba/Shutterstock
Pau Castle, Aquitaine, France | © Sergey Dzyuba/Shutterstock
Photo of Esme Fox
10 October 2017

The Pyrenees is a vast mountain range that splits the two countries of France and Spain, and runs right through the middle of tiny Andorra. One of the most picturesque regions in Europe, it’s dotted with many charming towns and villages. Here’s our pick of 15 of the prettiest towns and villages in the Pyrenees.

Ordino, Andorra

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Ordino, Andorra
Ordino, Andorra | © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga) / Wikimedia Commons

Ordino, Andorra

Andorra may be better known for its luxury shopping and its ski resorts than its quaint villages, but it’s home to quite a few. One of the most charming is Ordino, filled with stone houses with slates roofs and surrounded by jagged mountain ridges. In summer, it’s often decorated with many colourful flowers too.

Ordino, Andorra

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

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Saint Jean Pied de Port, France | ©Pierre Bona / Wikimedia Commons
Saint Jean Pied de Port, France | ©Pierre Bona / Wikimedia Commons

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port sits on the French side of the border and is the famous starting point of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across the top of Spain to the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. It’s characterised by steep quaint cobbled streets, stone arches and a pretty mountain river running through the middle.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

Panticosa, Spain

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Baños de Panticosa, Spain | © Guillén Pérez / Flickr

Panticosa, Spain

Smart modern buildings with matching slate roofs make up the small town of Panticosa, which sits in a deep valley on the edge of the stunning Búbal reservoir. As well as cute churches, hotels and restaurants, the town also has a ski station.

Panticosa, Spain

Puigcerda, Spain

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Puigcerda, Spain | © Jorge Franganillo / Flickr

Puigcerda, Spain

The town of Puigcerda sits in the north of Catalonia, just two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the French border. Dotted with brightly coloured buildings, it’s a treat for the eyes and the camera lens – particularly with the views of the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees in the distance.

Puigcerda, Spain

Saint-Savin, France

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Saint-Savin, France | ©Daniel Jolivet / Flickr
Saint-Savin, France | ©Daniel Jolivet / Flickr

Saint-Savin, France

Saint-Savin lies in the high Pyrenees, approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) south of the charming city of Lourdes. It made our list because of its riverside location, elegant pastel-coloured houses decorated with French shutters, and its impressive abbey.

Saint-Sevin, France

Cauterets, France

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Cauterets casino, France | ©Père Igor / Wikimedia Commons
Cauterets casino, France | ©Père Igor / Wikimedia Commons

Cauterets, France

For such a small French village, Cauterets has many grand and beautiful buildings. Hemmed in by misty mountains, carpeted in fragrant pines, it has an old-fashioned train station, an impressive Belle Époque-style casino, elegant hotels, and even a ski resort.

Cauterets, France

Arreau, France

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Arreau, France | © Coline Buch / Flickr

Arreau, France

Also found in the high Pyrenees, to the south-east of Lourdes, is Arreau. Here, the old stone houses cling to the sides of a babbling mountain stream. In summer, it’s surrounded by wide open spaces of lush undulating meadows, while in winter, its backdrop features snow-white ridges.

Arreau, France

Ayet en Bethmale, France

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Ayet en Bethmale, France | ©PierreG 09 / Wikimedia Commons
Ayet en Bethmale, France | ©PierreG 09 / Wikimedia Commons

Ayet en Bethmale, France

Ayet en Bethmale sits in France, right in the centre of the Ariège Pyrenees Regional Nature Park and close to the border with Spain and the Catalonia region. Tucked in between bottle-green valleys and surrounded by imposing peaks, it’s quite a sight to behold.

Ayet en Bethmale, France

Besalú, Spain

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Besalú, Spain

Besalú lies in Catalonia, in the low foothills of the Pyrenees, and is one of the region’s most spectacular-looking towns. This old medieval village, set next to a river, is accessible via an impressive bridge and a castle-like entranceway. Once inside the maze of steep cobbled streets, its charms are only further revealed.

Besalú, Spain

Portbou, Spain

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Portbou, Spain | ©Ellen Bicknell / Wikimedia Commons
Portbou, Spain | ©Ellen Bicknell / Wikimedia Commons

Portbou, Spain

The last town in Catalonia before you reach the French border, Portbou is unique because it sits both in the foothills of the Pyrenees and along the Mediterranean coast. The houses here slope down the mountainsides towards the pretty promenade and its sweeping crescent beach.

Portbou, Spain

Barruera

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Church in Barruera, Spain | C0O / Wikimedia Commons
Church in Barruera, Spain | C0O / Wikimedia Commons

Barruera

Located right on the border between Catalonia and Aragon, Barruera sits in the La Vall de Boí. Surrounded by mighty snowy peaks, it’s filled with old stone buildings dating back to the Medieval times. One of its most impressive sights is the Romanesque Sant Feliu church.

Barruera, Spain

Casteller de N'hug

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Casteller De'hug, Spain | ©JosepMonter / Pixabay
Casteller De'hug, Spain | © JosepMonter / Pixabay

Casteller de N’hug

Situated on the Catalan side of the Pyrenees, close to the Cadi Moixero Natural Park, Casteller de N’hug stands at 1,400 metres (46 feet) above sea level. Characterised by old stone houses, the village is also the source of the Llobregat River, which flows all the way to Barcelona, before pouring out into the sea. The village also holds a well-known sheepdog contest and has a small museum where you can learn more about Pyrenean culture.

Casteller de N’hug, Spain

Benasque, Spain

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Benasque, Spain | ©Luidger / Wikimedia Commons
Benasque, Spain | ©Luidger / Wikimedia Commons

Benasque, Spain

Situated in the province of Huesca, just below the Pyrenees National Park and very close to the border with France, sits the idyllic little village of Benasque. Built alongside a cool mountain stream and framed by craggy mountain peaks, it’s ideal for adventure sports such as hiking and whitewater rafting.

Benasque, Spain