France: Pyrenees Nat’l Park – Cirque de Gavarnie
Pyrenees Mountains separate Spain from France across the entire stretch of the border – for the most part, the mountains form one long 500km/350mi crest of peaks and glacial valleys. Most of it is designated as Pyrenees National Park on both French and Spanish sides, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage area for its natural beauty, flora, and fauna. Cirque de Gavarnie is perhaps the most famous and spectacular spectacular sight in Pyrenees – a massive glacial scooped bowl of a semicircle of sharp peaks and waterfalls cascading down everywhere you look. The cliffs rise vertically over 1400m/4000ft. It’s about a 2-3 hour hike, which was a bit of a strain in a nearly 40 Celsius heat. Nevertheless, the green mountains, waterfalls, meadows with wild irises and orchids, and thick forests are all worth it. The main Grand Cascade is Europe’s highest waterfall at 423 meters.