IRATY / SOULE

If you’re a city dweller needing to get away from it all, or a nature lover hoping to explore new scenery, Iraty is the perfect place to fulfil your expectations!

Between 1,327 and 1,500 metres in altitude, the largest cedar forest in Europe on the Franco-Spanish border also features a ski resort with 28 kilometres of Nordic ski slopes. Plus 14 kilometres of snowshoeing trails. Near the car park, there’s a chalet renting all the necessary gear. You won’t regret your efforts once you see the unique view across Haute-Soule and the Navarre mountains.

The young and young at heart will be able to enjoy snow fights, and go sledding on a special course. Come evening time, you can prolong the delights of the open air at a magical site, sleeping in one of the 35 wooden chalets. They sleep between 2 and 29 persons, for an authentic mountain feel!

Those visiting Iraty during the summer will see it’s pastoral side, with animals — horses, cattle, ewes — grazing on pastureland. You can either cycle or walk to explore the generous flora and fauna. Walk the Orgambideska Ridge passing through forest to the 1,420-metre peak. You can then continue on to the Pic d’Orhy, 2,017 metres high, on a 5-hour round trip. This walk is fairly tough and you do need the right gear, however the view at the summit is extraordinary!

Towering over the landscape, this iconic peak is an easily identifiable landmark wherever you may be. The hike alternates between forests, pastureland and scree slopes. Even with small children you can enjoy the fabulous scenery at the summit, by taking the charming little rack-railway.

Soule is the smallest of the seven Basque provinces, but no less attractive for that. There are two walks you can do in one day, a 35-minute car ride from each other. One takes you through lush green canyon and the other over a bridge suspended at a height of 140 metres!

Labourd province features a mountain with a distinctive peak, with cliffs forming a rocky wall that’s easy to identify. You can admire a fantastic 360° view of sea and mountains, and traditional discoidal steles at the start of the hike from Aubépine chapel.