From Canigou in Catalonia to the Rhune in the Basque country, each Pyrenean department has its own totemic mountain, its own Mount Olympus. The Pic du Midi d'Ossau for the population of Béarn, the Bigourdans’ Vignemale, Pic du Gar in Haute-Garonne, Valier for the Ariégeois and the Pic de Bugarach for those in the Aude country, local common sense, often a long way from legends told elsewhere, has bestowed these peaks with a totemic role which is handed down from generation to generation.
Everywhere in the Pyrenees, the valley inhabitants confirm that they bear an ancestral memory of their mountain deep inside them. The mountain that is steeped in a symbolic and emotional power, that is their own, as though engraved in their DNA, where they know every trail and mushroom spot.
From Canigou (2,784m), the Catalonian Kilimandjaro sung by the poet, Jacint Verdaguer: “Lo Canigó és un magnolia immensa”, to the Rhune (905m) with its immemorial rural activity. These mountains are like beloved faces. Far from being fearful, they reassure those who live alongside them.
Like the giant Catalonian, the small Basque was used as a daymark for fishermen and sailors for a long time. Perhaps because Olympus, the ultimate mountain - was home to the Gods, each of the Pyreneans have their own Sainte-Victoire. For the population of Béarne - it’s Ossau - the symbol of the Pau valley and the Section Paloise rugby team. They lovingly call it Jean-Pierre amongst themselves. For the Bigourdans, the Vignemale (3,298m) which sheltered Henry Russell, hermit and aesthete, for many years. And for the Aude population, the Pech de Bugarach (1,230m) which long before being made famous by the millenarians and the Maya calendar’s Apocalypse, attracted local walkers for its sumptuous view of the Corbières.


For the Ariégeois it is the Valier (2,838m) which overlooks the Courserans.