Wildflowers in the Pyrenees
Profuse and sensational flora in the garden of Europe
- An explosion of colour in wildflower-strewn meadows ~ hundreds of rare species
- Walking amidst the flowers of the Pyrenees will expose you to some of the best floral sites in Europe
The Pyrenees is a floral crossroads where the alpine gentians, primulas and pasque flowers of northern Europe meet the wild daffodils of the Iberian peninsula. Many species are unique and such is the variety (with around 160 endemic species) that the Pyrenees are often referred to as the Flower Garden of Europe.
Profuse flora and Fauna in the garden of Europe
By June as the snow recedes and the hillsides come to life, elegant pink snowbells and pyrenean buttercups are some of the first flowers to emerge. Carpets of wild daffodils are punctuated by vibrant blue gentians, cowslips, oxslips, burnt tip orchids and swathes of pink and yellow elder-flower orchids. By running water the dramatic yellows of marsh marigolds and globeflowers can be seen from afar, whilst closer inspection reveals purple large-flowered butterworts, dainty pink birds-eye primroses and a dazzling array of moisture loving orchids.
While out in the open, the feathery plumes of the Pyrenean asphodel reach for the skies, the equally stunning St Bruno, St Bernard and martagon lillies, can often be found nestling in shady spots.
Two endemics worthy of particular note are the Ramonda (often found in shady crevices with purple flowers rising from rosettes of fleshy green leaves); and in the limestone rocks and crags, the striking Saxifraga longifolia both of which you will not see anywhere else in the world. For a few weeks in June the delicate Lady’s Slipper also flowers in the Valle de Tena, which is so rare all viewings are conducted under the watchful eye of a local guard!
By July two more beauties unique to the Pyrenees emerge and flood the slopes: the electric blue flowers and the silver prickly leaves of the Eryngium bourgattii and the large, elegant and purple English Iris. Great yellow gentians and false helleborines burst into flower. Simultaneously delicate spring squills, cross gentians, dark red helleborine and Edelweiss continue to enchant walkers.
Even as late as August and September, some flowers are still emerging for the first time such as the proud blue and yellow monkshoods, the deep purple cups of the autumn crocus, and the large sunflower like heads of the stemless Carline Thistle.
Whilst we do not offer dedicated flower walks in the Pyrenees, throughout June the easier of our two organised walks is likely to provide walkers, who are also flower enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the amazing flora that is on display at this time of year.
In pictures – Wildflowers in the Pyrenees
We arrived just after office hour had started. We were met by a staff member, shown to our room, left our cases and immediately proceeded to join office hour. Well under way by then. Routes for next day explained etc. However we did not receive an actual briefing re the hotel amenities and Collett's initial intro. We did ask lots of subsequent questions and did eventually have all the info we needed. This is not a reflection on Collett's staff but more to do with our late arrival. Definitely looking forward to our first walk.
All in all accommodation and meals were first class. However the hotel website indicated there was a minibar. There was none in our room. The fridge element would have been an asset in the extreme heat. That and a room safe would have been helpful. Didn't ruin our holiday in any way though. When booking, albeit a bit late in the season we asked for a room with a balcony. Advised in advance that this may not be possible. Imagine our surprise to have a room with a terrace. Well done Hotel Sabocos and Collett's! Only problem was it was so hot we couldn't make full use of it. Some folk are never satisfied.
No pressure for anyone to go on the organised routes of the day. Alternatives readily suggested. We were looking for a walking holiday in the Pyrenees esp one that covered the Ordesa Valley and the surrounding area. My wife and I Were last in the area 36 years ago. The Ordesa valley did not disappoint!
All in all we had a very enjoyable week both walking and socially. I must congratulate Collett's' staff for the interaction they had with the guests. It must be hard to always be chatting to different people each week, not knowing how they would be accepted or what was expected of them over and above the walking side of things. Our thanks to Will, Remy, Claire and Kiwi Clare for a very enjoyable week and wish them all well wherever they decide to go in the future.