Dates & Prices
Dates: 17 – 24 May 2020 Places available
Single Room Supplement: £175
Deposit: £150 per person
Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, holiday report & a donation to Butterfly Conservation
Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items
Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to Butterfly Conservation
Leader: David Moore & Yiannis Christofides
Group Size & Travel: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 10 guests plus 1-2 leaders. Comfortable vehicles will be used for all travel
Grade: Gentle pace in meadows & mountain terrain, ideally suited to photography
- Visit one of the best areas in the whole of France (and indeed Europe!) for butterflies & flowers
- See 75+ species of spring butterflies (98 recorded in 2017!)
- Special species – Spanish Fritillary, Provencal Fritillary, Spanish Festoon, Apollo, Chequered Blue, Violet Copper, Spanish Swallowtail and lots more!
- Flowers included too. Our expert botanist Yiannis Christofides will delight in showing you many special species!
- Natural rock gardens festooned with Saxifrages, Sempervivums, Globularias, Saponaria ocymoides, Dianthus, Gentians, rampions, Aster alpinus, Rhododendron ferrugineum etc!
- Relaxed pace ideally suited to photography & full enjoyment of the wildlife & scenery
- Contribute to Butterfly Conservation
Join us in the eastern French Pyrenees for a feast of spring butterflies & flowers!
Join us in the eastern French Pyrenees for a feast of spring butterflies & flowers!
The eastern French Pyrénées (Les Pyrénées Orientales in French) lie along the French border with Spain and Andorra. They are the eastern part of the chain of mountains linking the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean Sea and were once part of Spain. The area is often referred to as ‘French Catalonia’; indeed a minority of the population still speak the Catalan dialect. The dominant climatic influence of the Eastern Pyrenees is the Mediterranean; the climate is warmer and the days sunnier than elsewhere in the Pyrenees.
The Pyrénées National Park was created in 1967 and its mountains made from crystalline and sedimentary rocks are a national heritage without barriers or fences providing a sanctuary where wildlife are totally free to move around without human exploitation. Today, the park rangers do much to monitor, protect and enhance the wildlife which lives there. There is breathtaking variety in the fauna and flora occupying the very different ecosystems found in alpine, sub alpine and montane forest zones, river valleys and escarpments. Golden Eagles, Bearded, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures soar effortlessly on the updraughts. Butterflies flutter all over the mountains and foothills adorned with gorgeous wild flowers like beautiful Pyreneen Lillies, Gentians and Irises. Mammals such as Red Squirrel, Wild Boar, Chamois and even Brown Bear can be found here.
Our base for the week will be on the slopes of Mt Canigou, the sacred mountain for Catalonians on both sides of the French-Spanish border. Rising to 2784 metres it dominates the eastern end of the Pyrenees. We’ll stay in a charming village hotel with a family atmosphere, nestled within a sheltered green valley in the foothills of Mt Canigou. All the rooms have large balconies and most come with inspiring mountain views. The area boasts a wide variety of habitats, from Mediterranean garigue and maquis, through holm (Quercus ilex) and downy oak (Q. pubescens), beech woods, calcareous grasslands and alpine screes. The Mediterranean area will host orchids and other typical plants such as Galactites tomentosa, Aphyllanthes monspeliensis, Helianthemum, Salvia and other Labiates. The woods higher up host a different set of orchids such as Epipactis, Limodorum abortivum, Cephalanthera longifolia, Corallorhiza trifida, Platanthera and Orchis militaris. The subalpine areas are natural rock gardens festooned with Saxifrages, Sempervivums, Globularias, Saponaria ocymoides, Dianthus, Gentians, rampions, Aster alpinus and Rhododendron ferrugineu.
The butterflies that we can find are a beautiful mix of interesting and colourful species. Because of the proximity to Spain, we will find many of the species more commonly associated there like Spanish Fritillary and Spanish Festoon, Spanish Gatekeeper and Spanish Marbled White and many spring time butterflies. Others such as Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Southern Scarce Swallowtail, Marsh Fritillary (large reddish subspecies), Provençal Fritillary, Weaver’s Fritillary, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, False Heath Fritillary, Provence Orange Tip, Moroccan Orange Tip, Mountain Small White, Western Dappled White, Mountain Dappled White, Map Butterfly, Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, Cardinal, Southern White Admiral, Chequered Blue, Osiris Blue, Chapman’s Blue, Amanda’s Blue, Provençal Short-tailed Blue, Provence Chalkhill Blue, Green Underside Blue, Turquoise Blue,Geranium Argus, Sooty Copper, Pearly Heath, De Prunner’s Ringlet, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Red-underwing Skipper and Olive Skipper, are just a few of the other butterflies we will see. We will also be searching for the rare and beautiful Violet Copper.
Because of our love of butterflies and commitment to conserving them 10% of profits from the holiday will be donated to Butterfly Conservation.
We hope to welcome you on what promises to be a fantastic tour which combines vital ingredients for making your holiday special and memorable – a bonanza of butterflies, beautiful flowers and stunning landscapes!
Day 1: Arrival in Perpignan. Transfer hotel.
Day 2: Sournia: Flowery meadows for Spanish Fritillary, Spanish Festoon, Osiris Blue and many others.
Day 3: Nohèdes: Valley and woodlands, dry slopes, cliffs and stream.
Day 4: Towards Andorra & Llivia: higher up in a valley in damp meadows at 1400-1600 m + possibly to Andorra for Apollo, Mountain Dappled White, de Prunner’s Ringlet in meadows with gorgeous mountain flowers.
Day 5: Upper Aude and Rebenty in beautiful wooded valleys.
Day 6: Lower Corbières: close to the Mediterranean Sea, the limestone hillsides offer dry grasslands and stony slopes with small streams for Mediterranean butterflies.
Day 7: Foothills of Mt Canigou or around Llo to find spring or mountain butterflies.
Day 8: Transfer to airport.
Allan F, 2017…I had such an enjoyable trip to the Pyrenees, David and Yiannis were splendid guides and made us all feel so comfortable and packed so much in that we made it an unforgettable experience.
This was the first time I had been on an organised wildlife holiday and was a little unsure what to expect, but I must say that I was completely delighted with the whole trip. From day 1 our friendly and enthusiastic guides whisked the twelve who made up our party off to selected sights teeming with butterflies and carpeted with colourful meadow flowers. We had ample time to explore each area and photograph the plants and insects encountered.
Our accommodation was in a comfortable small hotel, where the staff couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome and in the evening provided us with the most delicious three course meals all in the most charming of settings with a mountain backdrop.
We visited numerous differing habits through the week, from shady valleys to alpine pastures and higher peaks which enabled us to see more than 90 different species of butterfly including some rarities like violet copper, marbled fritillaries and Spanish festoon as well as innumerable orchids, alpines and other beautiful and interesting plants and flowers.
I can’t wait to book my next trip with Greenwings, will it be Greece, the Alps or perhaps Bulgaria, I’m spoilt for choice.
Stuart H, 2017…My expectations were exceeded in nearly every respect. It was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever been on. The hotel, the food, the guides, the locations, the participants, the vehicles and even the weather were all nigh on perfect and combined to make it an outstanding and memorable holiday. In addition, I would like to commend the guides especially. Exceptionally knowledgeable and hard-working, they did their utmost to ensure we both saw and enjoyed everything we could possibly hope to see. The whole trip was an absolute delight.
Barrie & Anita S, 2017…We had a fantastic holiday with Greenwings again. We could relax and enjoy the area, the scenery, the butterflies and the flowers without having to worry about anything, because the whole holiday was well organised. We enjoyed the company of the other guests and the guides were very helpful, extremely knowledgeable and friendly.
Michael…Great butterflies, great scenery, great food, great driver! The French Pyrenees trip was well planned to visit all butterfly sites at optimal times. A great holiday with dramatic scenery and a profusion of butterflies and flowers. A very enjoyable trip.
Butterflies and Botany of the Eastern French Pyrenees 2015
Butterflies of Eastern French Pyrenees Holiday Report 2014