France (French Republic)

Languages: French

Currencies: EUR · Euro (€)

Capitol: Paris

Continents: Europe

Borders: Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, Spain, Belgium, Andorra

More useful information

Area: 551,695km2

Population: 67,391,582

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +33

Timezones: UTC-10:00, UTC-09:30, UTC-09:00, UTC-08:00, UTC-04:00, UTC-03:00, UTC+01:00, UTC+02:00, UTC+03:00, UTC+04:00, UTC+05:00, UTC+10:00, UTC+11:00, UTC+12:00

Last updated on December 16, 2023

Pyrenees landscape, shaped with dramatic snowy peaks, emerald rivers, deep valleys and curly mountain roads is truly breathtaking! My priority for this trip was obviously mountaineering but from the moment I stepped into Pyrenees National Park, I figured I must travel the most scenic road in the Pyrenees from Spain to France via Col du Pourtalet.

My scenic road in the Pyrenees from Spain to France.

There are more than 20 border passing between France and Spain, but the one through the Col du Pourtalet is a highly spectacular mountain road. I drove from Huesca (Spain) to Lourdes (France), 175 kilometres takes 3 hours but trust me it’s well worth it.

It starts with an amazing view of the snowy Pyrenees cordillera spreading for almost 500 kilometres along Spanish and French border.

MY ROUTE: Huesca (488m) – Canfranc (the most beautiful train station in Spain) – Candanchú (1530m) famous ski resort in Huesca, Aragon, Western Pyrenees – Col du Pourtalet (on the border) – Ossau Valley in French Pyrénées – Laruns VillageLourdes (Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Lourdes).

How to get a cheap but good car rental in Spain?

I rented my car as usual on RENTALCARS.COM, this is world’s largest online car rental service, comparing offers from majority of rental companies. By selecting your preferences you can get best deal on your desired car category. I chose Drivalia this time and I have to say the service was top class! From shuttle van from the airport to the rental office, smooth pick-up and drop-off. All rental conditions were clearly communicated and explained in details. Really fabulous. I had a car for a week – went to France and around Aragon state without detecting any problems. I also had a full coverage purachased on 

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are two countries you are allowed to drive to: France and Andora. You need to communicate this while collecting the car and purchase extra insurance of Euro 20/per each trip. However the minimum payment is Euro 40, so even if you plan only one trip, report two. You need to specify your plans for abroad trips – otherwise GPS will detect the car crossing the border and you will be fined.

What is the highest peak of Pyrenees?

The highest peak of Pyrenees is Pic Aneto 3404m, located in the Massif de la Maladeta in Huesca Province in Spain.

Pyrenees cordillera: 500 km

Most spectacular Park: Ordesa National Park

Highest peak: Aneto – 3404m.

It takes 2 days to climb Aneto Glacier (1-day for very experienced climbers). At the very top you’ll feel much safer with a rope support. Aneto peak can be climbed all year round but the easiest trail would occur in summer months. 

Driving through Aragon Province in Spain.

Magnificent Gallego River running along the main road is famous for exciting rafting expeditions. The river flows into Embalse de Bubal phenomenal emerald colour lake. There are few viewing points on the way, where you can park safely and take some pictures.

Sallent de Gallego – spectacular village located at the bottom of powerful mountain peaks. With number of good hotels and accommodation options, the place is a great gateaway for skiing and hiking adventures. It also has gorgeous Gothic church from the beginning of the 16th century. This stage of the trip definitely deserves to be called the most scenic road in the Pyrenees.

Enjoy skiing in fabulous Sallent de Gallego in Spain.

Before reaching the French border you’ll drive up to the altitude of 1530m to Candanchú – famous ski resort in Western Pyrenees. This is the very last stage of Spanish Pyrenees, the drive leads along tiny mountain road with many warning road signs. Keep in mind at this altitude the weather can be changable, the wind got very strong on the way back, it was difficult to get out of the car and take a photo. It also got cloudy and the road surface was a bit icy. Even though there was a yellow warning for avalanches the road was opened for traffic.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: In high avalanche danger – the road through Cor du Pourtalet is CLOSED until the conditions are back to safe – there is a barrier which goes down blocking completely road traffic between Spain and France. 

Choose accommodation in Sallent de Gallego.

ROAD ADVICE: There are very few petrol stations in the area – make sure you have enough fuel for few hundred kilometres. The road was almost empty in mid-December (even it is Christmas Season) – make sure you have road assistance in case of any technical issue or emergency. 

Phone signal is very weak in some areas but works fine for the most of the distance. 

There are very few cafes on the way, no harm to have some snacks and thermos with hot tea.

Ski adventure in Sallent de Galleo.

Stay in Sallent de Gallego in one of the top hotels in Canfranc and enjoy popular attractions of Candanchu Ski Resort!

Check best charming and original stays and can’t miss spots to dine – Tripadvisor.

From this point you are leaving the high mountains behind, the road goes pretty flat with more countryside landscape. Fabreges Village with spectacular scenery of emerald Lac de Febreges is a real gem and will definitely encourage you to stopover.

Laruns - typical Pyreneean village in France.

Now it’s time to meet some fabulous old villages in France – with famous Laruns on the top of the list. Laruns – the pearl of the region – is a small village with amazing piece of typical Pyrénéean architecture and most friendly people I’ve ever met in France (very different to Paris ones ;)) ). 

Tourist Information in Laruns – can’t miss it, beautiful building, lots of information & maps, lovely lady will briefly explain the importance of the region, and name most spectacular villages worth visiting in the area: Bielle and Beost (almost on the way). 

Take a break in a coffee place with unbelievable pastries in La Vallée du Pain – local bakery at the round about – couldn’t imagine better breakfast 😉

Best accommodation options in charming Laruns.

World famous Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Lourdes.

Lourdes, with same emerald river flowing into the city centre, world famous pilgrime destination and one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world – Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Lourdes – Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. This place should be visited once in a life time. The city is busy all year round, we have visited in low season and I can’t even imagine how crowded it gets in popular months. There are plenty shops around the area with religious souvenires and candles. So if you are looking for salvation – that’s the place 😉

Browse best accommodation options in Lourdes.

Highly impressive Grand Hotel Moderne is an example of 19th-century French architecture and it’s located 50 metres from the gate to the sanctuary complex. Hotel rooms are elegant, decorated in French style, very prestigious and spacious. If you are looking for a little bit of a luxury (still affordable) this hotel is one of the kind.

Check for best ratesin the Grand Hotel Moderne in Lourdes. 

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes includes several religious buildings: the main sanctuary, Chapelle Sainte-Anne and grotto of Massabielle, which consists with Lourdes Water known for its miraculous healings! People are continuously lining up to walk through the grotto to wet their hands and other parts of the body. The whole complex is walkers friendly, with beautiful river park and lots of water intake. The Sanctuary of Lourdes is one of the most-visited Catholic shrines in the world with most popular grotto place. 

On the way back we have witnessed huge herd of sheeps returning from the uphills, slowly walking the main road of Laruns, blocking the whole traffic. What a wonderful picture!

Travel through the most scenic road in the Pyrenees from Spain to France.
Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!