Pierre Meyer
Mountaineer facing high mountain peaks
A PYRENEAN PHILOSOPHY

Pyreneanism 

  • Discovery and heritage
  • Outside

    Pyreneism offers much more than a simple practice of mountain hiking. It's a real way of life, a passion for exploring majestic peaks. This philosophy has inspired generations of writers and adventurers to set out to conquer the Pyrenees. 

    What is pyreneism?

    A PHYSICAL AND INTELLECTUAL PRACTICE OF THE MOUNTAIN 

    Pyreneism remains a neologism formed in opposition to mountaineering. This intellectual movement of the 19th century offers a sports, artistic and literary approach to the mountains. 

    Ascend, feel, write An inspiring philosophy...
    Pierre Meyer

    After several trips to the Pyrenees, the Parisian Henry Beraldi, French bibliophile and publisher, published in 1898 “ One hundred years in the Pyrenees », a monumental work in seven volumes. Its preamble introduces the term “Pyreneism” which it associates with three phases: “climbing, feeling, writing”. 
     
    Beraldi considers pyreneism as an intellectual approach to the mountain which connects the emotional to the sports practice. He defines the Pyreneists as passionate men and women who translate their discoveries of the Pyrenees into writing (poetry, literature) and images (drawing, painting, photography, etc.). 

    THE FIRST EXPLORER

    The beginnings of pyreneism 

     

    For centuries, the mountain is considered a hostile place that is only used for pasture. But in the 18th century, the first conquests of the summits with Mont-Blanc in 1786, which marked the beginnings of mountaineering. The first Pyrenean summit over 3 meters was conquered in 000 by Henri Reboul and Jacques Vidal with The Turon of Neouvielle

    In 1789, Ramond de Carbonnieres, adviser to Cardinal de Rohan exiled in Barèges publishes “ Observations made in the Pyrenees in which he recounts his discovery of the Pyrenees after that of the Alps. He becomes one of the first explorers of these mountains. 

    Over the course of his long walks (he crossed Mont-Perdu in 1802), he described the history of the lands crossed and the customs of the inhabitants. Geologist, naturalist, illustrator, he is considered the pioneer of pyreneism

     

    Manon Vallin
    Summit of the Turon du Néouvielle
    IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF RAMOND DE CARBONNIÈRES

    Famous Pyreneists  

    During the 19th century, which also represents the golden age of hydrotherapy, artists, aristocrats and intellectuals will follow in the footsteps of Ramond de Carbonnières and create the history of Pyreneism.  
     
    The geographer and painter Franz Schrader realizes in 1874, a real work of art with his 1/40th map of the Gavarnie - Mont-Perdu massif.

    Pierre Meyer
    Mountaineer standing on a line of ridges

    The English aristocrat Ann Lister is known as the first lady to have climbed to the summit of Vignemale in 1838. The story of his ascent will only be discovered in 1969! The count Henry Russell, a native of Toulouse, devoted most of his life to exploring the Pyrenees to the point of having caves dug as a shelter for sleeping in the high mountains. This contemplative Pyrenean created the first learned society of mountaineers in Gavarnie in 1865 alongside Packe, Maxwell and Frossard. 
     
    Let us also quote Henry Brule considered the founder of the pyreneism of difficulties. With the guide Célestin Passet, the two men undertake a great fourteen-day tour in the Pyrenees. They climb about twenty peaks including all 3000 known between the peak of Maladeta in Spain and Gavarnie. 
     
    Today, other travel writers like Sylvain Tesson recount their experience of solitary roaming like Frederic Julien in his adventure story The great crossing of the Pyrenees ».  

    The Pyrenean heritage

    Would you like to know more about pyreneism in the Gavarnie Valleys? Don't miss the permanent exhibition at the Maison du Parc national des Pyrénées dedicated to it. Some heritage sites also testify to the history of Pyrenees such as the Gavarnie cemetery and Russell's Caves.  

     

    Places to visit in Gavarnie

    Famous pyreneists rest in the small cemetery of Gavarnie located next to the Notre-Dame du Bon Port church in Gavarnie. It is indeed from the village of Gavarnie that the majority of Pyreneists left to make their ascents in the Pyrenees. The communal cemetery houses the graves of the inhabitants and those of famous Pyrenees recognizable by their cutout in the shape of mountain peaks.

    It includes in particular that of Georges Ledormeur who has climbed more than 1500 peaks and John Arlaud, doctor for the first French expedition to the Himalayas in 1936 and a great Pyrenean climber.
    There is also a small rock in the shape of a mountain in the Pyrenean cemetery which houses commemorative plaques dedicated to famous pyreneists.

    ZOOM ON … 

    Russell's Caves

    Did you know that the Vignemale caves are not a natural site in the Pyrenees? These were dug by the pyreneist Henry Russel in 1889. These three caves were a high mountain refuge in the heart of the Vignemale massif. They were very well appointed and the interior included comfortable furniture which was used for the Earl's receptions! They even had doors that locked like in a house! 
     
    In 1893, he built a last cave called "Paradise" 18 meters from the summit. On the summit, he built a tower three meters high to reach 3 meters above sea level. Today abandoned, the site is still the subject of pilgrimage in the footsteps of the pyreneists

    Pierre Meyer
    Aerial view of a high mountain peak and its glacier
    The Vignemale

    All about pyreneism

    To find out more about pyreneism, go to the Gavarnie National Park House. You will be able to discover the exhibition on the Pyrénées-Mont-Perdu site classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which presents the greatest expeditions in the mountains of the Pyrenees and the most beautiful writings of Pyreneism. 

    Pierre Meyer
    Natural canyon in the mountains

    To immerse yourself in this philosophy, be accompanied by an experienced mountain guide, or in the village of Gavarnie, take part in a guided tour by a guide speaker.
     
    Guided walks and hikes

    Book a guided tour

    Manon Vallin
    Bell tower of a mountain church
    Travel journal
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