Iron mines in Canigou and Ariège; timber forests scattered throughout the range; marble quarries in Haute-Garonne, the Hautes-Pyrenees, and Béarn; slate quarries in Bigorre, and talc in Luzenac... The exploitation of the forest and underground has been an important part of the Pyrenean economy for a long time. Today, only the wood and talc industries are still fully developing economic sectors.
 
 
Now a popular trail for walkers, 300 years ago it was the scene of exhausting, inhumane work exploiting the Pacq forest, near Urdos.
A trail carved in the mountain to transport trees to the ocean.
 
At the time, the royal navy needed masts for ships, and Louis XIV had them brought from the Pyrenees.
 
The timber industry has remained an important industry for the Pyrenees, creating renowned Pyrenean know-how, particularly that of the lumberjacks and stevedores from Soule and Ariège.
 

 

The timber industry is still an important source for the ranges economy, and several centres propose training in different professions for the sector.
 
On the contrary, the once-prosperous Pyrenean slate sector, particularly in Labassère, has been reduced to three quarries.
 
Yet at the end of the 19th century, slate from the Bigorre area was famous throughout France. It was used for the roof of the Capitole in Toulouse, and for the restoration of the Cité de Carcassonne by Viollet-le-Duc himself.
 
Pyrenean marble was also famous, being used for the columns of the Palais Garnier in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York. At the time, Sarrancolin, Arudy and Saint-Béat were the major  suppliers of 120 types of Pyrenean marble. You can learn more about Pyrenean marble at the thematic museum in Bagnères-de-Bigorre.