Pyrénées-Atlantiques - Le territoire


Bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Pyrénées mountain range to the south, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques is heavily influenced by these two natural features. The department owes its rich landscape, mild climate and complex history to the ocean and mountains.

In the south, the mountains offer a wide variety of extraordinary sites: snow-capped peaks after immense cirques after narrow gorges after lakes, caves and waterfalls, all to the delight of hikers. The mountains also provide the department with closes ties to nearby Spain. More than half of trans-Pyrenean crossings are made through the Pyrénées-Atlantiques (Col du Somport, Hendaye). They reflect the traditions of exchanging with and meeting others. Paths leading to Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St James) also converge within the department: Ostabat, Lacommande, Irissarry, l'Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, Saint-Engrâce, etc. are all signs of a long history of welcoming travellers.

In the north, the Pre-Pyrénées is an area full of hills and valleys that streams level out into plains. A patchwork of vineyards, corn fields, farmland and forests, a mosaic of small farms that give the landscape an undeniable charm.

In the west, at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay, the department opens its arms to the rest of the world. Just 32 km of coastline, but it's 32 km of long, fine-sand beaches and high cliffs with rocky coves, like those in Biarritz or Saint-Jean-de-Luz, or around the large bay in Hendaye. An open window for the spirit of the Pyrénées and the diversified culture within. The Atlantic also gives the department a mild and balanced climate as well as a good amount of rainfall conducive to agriculture. An open window on the adventures of Basque tuna fisherman and whale hunters who discovered the new world and in whose wake our shepherds emigrated. An open window for our forestry production, maize and Lacq sulphur.

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