Andorre-la-Vieille: Santa Coloma© Andorra Turismo SAU
• 1st-time stage-town
• Population 24,000
• Capital of the Principality of Andorra
At the heart of the Pyrenees, nestled between France and Spain, Andorra-la-Vieille is both a parish and the capital of the Principality of Andorra. Situated at an altitude of 1400 m, it is Europe’s highest capital city.
The Principality was created in 1278 by its French and Spanish titular co-princes; it is the country’s commercial, political and cultural centre. A multitude of music, dance and theatre festivals are performed in the Llacuna Cultural Centre and the new Congress Centre and its auditorium, with capacity for 900 spectators, host an extensive range of cultural events.
The old town is picturesque, with its old-world streets, traditional houses and buildings of wood, granite and wrought iron that bear witness to the origins and traditions of Andorran culture. The most notable of the town’s buildings are the Santa Coloma church, one of the country’s Romanesque marvels of art, and the Casa de la Vall (la Maison des Vallées), built at the beginning of the 17th century and the seat of Parliament, since 1707.
Global view of Saint-Girons© City hall of Saint-Girons
• 4-time stage-town
• Population 6,800
• Sub-prefecture of Ariège (09)
The town lies nestled in the foothills of the Ariège Pyrenees, in the shadow of the Gallo-Roman ramparts of the ancient bishopric of St-Lizier. Two fast flowing rivers from the mountain peaks, the Salat and the Lez, gush through the quaint streets of the charming capital of the Couserans and converge in its centre.
Its trade fairs and its markets, which, several times a month, attract an entire community of mountain dwellers, are particularly lively and eclectic and always greeted with awe and admiration by tourists.
It is in Saint-Girons that the greater part of the Couserans’ commercial fabric is concentrated, and the town also flourishes from the activity of small and medium-sized companies: local beer production, coffee roasting, paper-making industries, cheese dairies, the fabrication of Christmas crib figures, glass manufacture, building trade…
Its population, its exceptional climate and its strategic position also make the capital of the Couserans an ideal tourist destination. The Pyrenean mountain chain with its symbolic peaks, like the Mont Valier and the Pic du Crabère, appeal to mountain sport enthusiasts and lovers of nature.
Saint-Girons and the Couserans are also steeped in a rich and varied folklore…