Butterflies & Birds in France – Eastern Pyrenees

Tour dates: Thursday 29th June – Thursday 6th July 2023
Tour code: BLJBBP-23

This trip is developed in partnership with the Catalan Pyrenees regional park.

The French Eastern Pyrenees are home to a remarkable number of butterflies. In 2022 we managed to see 96 species in a week… so do come and help us break the 100 mark!

  • 8 days / 7 nights
  • From €1750 per person (at end April = £1535)
  • 50€ Discount for train travel
  • Local butterfly guide + British butterfly guide
  • Resident English speaking tour leader
  • Group size = 7 – 10

Discount available for 7 or more participants booking together.


Our Partners for this trip

The French Pyrenees are home to a remarkable number of butterflies, with over 150 species recorded in the area. We hope to see upwards of 75 – 100 species during the week.

If the weather conditions are not suitable for seeing butterflies we will birdwatch – and there are plenty of interesting bird species to see too!

This is a brand new butterfly and birds trip based on the extensive experience of our local guide, David Thibault, who works locally doing butterfly surveys. He knows where to find a wide range of  species and has adapted each day’s itinerary to maximise the diversity of habitats to give you the best chance of seeing as many different butterfly species as possible.

Day 1

Transfer to our accommodation
at the Gîte de Llo

For those arriving early we will stop on the way to look at butterflies and have lunch.

Those arriving on later flights will do the same on day of departure!

Welcome drinks & dinner


Day 2

Habitat: Mountain lakeside, high-altitude meadows and pine forest habitats

This morning we will be looking for the following species:

Eros Blue, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Apollo, Western Brassy Ringlet, Dewy Ringlet, Mountain Ringlet, Idas Blue, Chestnut heath

After our picnic lunch, we will move on to a river valley with wet meadows and pine forests where we will be looking for: Clouded Apollo, Apollo, Geranium Argus, Little Blue, Amanda’s Blue, Silvery Argus, Turquoise Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Niobe fritillary, Scarce Copper, Purple-edged Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Chestnut Heath, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Large Ringlet, Yellow-spotted Ringlet, Bog Fritillary, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Day 3

Habitat : dry prairie meadows and eroded limestone shale. 

Our target species this morning are:  Spanish Argus, Damon Blue, Apollo, Mountain Alcon Blue, Turquoise Blue, Esper’s Marbled White, Chestnut Heath, Great Sooty Satyr, Black Satyr, Hermit, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Lesser Purple Emperor, Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Sloe Hairstreak

After lunch we will move on to  a different spot with high altitude meadows and a boggy area along a mountain river. 

This afternoon we will be looking for: Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Peak White, Gavarnie Ringlet, Western Brassy Ringlet, Mountain Ringlet, Lefebvres Ringlet, Chestnut Heath, Provence Orangetip, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Bog Fritillary and with a certain amount of luck a late-flying Violet Copper…

Day 4

Today we start our search in dry grassy steppe habitat with areas of bare rock and we will be looking for: Apollo, Provence Orangetip, Hermit, Dusky Meadow Brown, Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Great Sooty Satyr and Black Satyr.

After lunch we will move on to an area of mixed habitat along a canal and then a river, with alternating patches of open forest and meadows varying from dry to wet.

Our targets this afternoon include:  Tufted Marbled Skipper, Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Provencal fritillary, Amanda’s Blue, Turquoise Blue, Chestnut Heath, Tree Grayling, False Grayling, Sloe Hairstreak

Day 5

Today’s butterfly search takes us to dry rocky areas of Mediterranean vegetation where we will be hoping to see: Cardinal, Lulworth Skipper, Lesser Purple Emperor, Southern Small White, Spanish Gatekeeper, Spanish Swallowtail, Striped Grayling, Tree Grayling, Dusky Heath, Purple Hairstreak

After lunch we will head to an area of cliffs and mainly rocky habitat, looking for Apollo,
Chalk-hill Blue, Great Sooty Satyr, Southern Small White, Southern White Admiral, Spanish Gatekeeper, Spanish Swallowtail, Purple Emperor, Rock Grayling

Day 6

Quite a different habitat today at high altitude with a large area of open mountain steppe vegetation. Our target species this morning include:
Glandon Blue, Lefebvre’s Ringlet, Pyrenees Brassy Ringlet, Apollo, Large Ringlet, Niobe Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary

Then in the afternoon we move to lower altitudes in the valley bottom where the habitat is cooler and damper, with wooded areas.

Target species for this afternon include: Geranium Argus, Amanda’s Blue, Mountain Alcon Blue, Silvery Argus, Esper’s Marbled White, Chestnut Heath, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Purple Emperor

Day 7

Dryish prairie habitat with areas of shale, some pine forest fringes and high altitude mountain stream banks are this morning’s habitat.

Targets include:
Esper’s Marbled White, Apollo, Chestnut Heath, Hermit, Cinquefoil Skipper, Chalkhill Blue, Bright-eyed Ringlet, etc.

And this afternoon’s habitats vary from very dry meadows to wet meadows and stream banks.

We will be looking for:
Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Brown Hairstreak, Safflower Skipper, Olive Skipper, Catalan Fritillary [Melitaea ignasiti : closely related to and until recently thought to be a subspecies of Lesser Spotted Fritillary – newly (re)discovered in France], Chestnut Heath, Esper’s Marbled White, Provencal Short-tailed Blue, Lesser Marbled Fritillary

Day 8

Departure after breakfast

An early departure for some with a more leisurely day for those with later flights allowing for more butterfly spotting and lunch on the way!

Transfer to airport or train station for departure.

The French Eastern Pyrenees are home to a remarkable number of butterflies, with over 150 species recorded in the area.

We expect to see 75-100 species (possibly more!) during the trip.

Target butterfly species include :

Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Geranium Argus, Amanda’s Blue, Silvery Argus, Turquoise Blue, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Niobe fritillary, Scarce Copper,
Purple-edged Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Chestnut Heath, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Large Ringlet, Yellow-spotted Ringlet, Bog Fritillary,
Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Mountain Alcon Blue, Esper’s Marbled White, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Purple Emperor,
Dark green fritillary, to name but a very few!

Birds we would hope to see include:

Griffon vulture, Short-toed eagle, Red-backed shrike, Iberian grey shrike, Crag martin, quite possibly Lammergeier…

View/download the Trip report by clicking on the link below:

Trip report and butterfly/bird list 2022



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Travel is not included in the cost of the trip and all participants must make their own travel arrangements.
Below are some of the options but we recommend that you do NOT book your travel until the trip is confirmed!

By train!

Joining a Birding Languedoc tour by train is the perfect, relaxing #lowcarbonbirding option! It’s really quite easy and you get to see more of the beautiful French countryside.Before you throw your hands up in horror, thinking that getting to the south of France by train might be just too hard… please check out this most useful website about traveling by train to Paris on the Eurostar The man in seat 61. The site is full of very practical tips and advice! There is even a section about traveling through to Narbonne! If you travel by train to join one of our tours we will give you a 50€ discount on the tour cost!

A  comfortable and surprisingly fast way of getting to the Languedoc, more and more people are choosing to come by train.

There are various routes and one client travelled south via Paris and Bordeaux, returning north via Narbonne and Lille.
See the Getting here page in our DIY birding section, and do get in touch if you need any help!

See the links below for train times and bookings all the way through from London St Pancras to Perpignan.
We do recommend however, in order to avoid the stress of potential missed connections, that it is better to travel the day before.
We can pick you up at Narbonne or Perpignan train station (trains are often going on through to Barcelona).
Timetables and tickets are available 3 months in advance. Or you can talk to your local travel agent to book your tickets through them!

SNCF French trains in English

Eurostar website in English


By plane
Transfers are included for the flights mentioned below – but given the unsociable flight times we recommend that you travel by train!!!

Click on the links below for flight details and pricing (you can track the price to see if it goes up or down!).

London Stansted <-> Perpignan

Leeds Bradford <-> Perpignan

Birmingham <-> Perpignan

Other options may be available, please contact us with your preferred departure airport in the UK.



  • Transfers from / to Perpignan airport or train station
  • All local transport
  • Ensuite accommodation
  • Expert local butterfly & bird guide
  • English butterfly & bird guide
  • English speaking tour leader


  • Travel to Perpignan (train or flight)
  • Cancellation insurance
  • Personal medical and repatriation insurance
  • All drinks (apéritifs, wine with meals, coffees, etc.)
  • Personal expenses
  • Lunch on the first and last days


This week-long trip is centred on the Catalan Pyrenees regional park in the Eastern Pyrenees

The team for this trip combines the expert knowledge of a local butterfly specialist, a Britsh butterfly guide and a resident British tour leader for the logistics!

David Thibault - Independent Guide

David Thibault - Independent Guide

Local bird and butterfly guide - French & English

David started birdwatching in Paris 30 years ago working for a local bird organisation (CORIF). He moved to the Pyrenees-Orientales 20 years ago and spends most of his time looking for butterflies and birds in the area. Currently working for the local biodiversity protection society the Groupe Ornithologique du Roussillon (G.O.R), David has been training along side Aurélien Gaunet - the top butterfly specialist in the Eastern Pyrenees - for the past five years.

Tony Williams - Independent Guide

Tony Williams - Independent Guide

Guest Tour Guide - English & French

Tony Williams has lived in France for over 30 years and as director of the LPO Brenne he was instrumental in developing nature tourism in central France over the past 25 years. Tony’s extensive knowledge and his knack of making beginners and experts alike feel comfortable, has made him a highly popular leader with a number of British tour operators. This invaluable experience leading tours and his willingness to share it have been much appreciated in developing the Birding Languedoc tours.

Philippa Benson - Birding Languedoc

Philippa Benson - Birding Languedoc

Founder/Tour Leader - English, French & Spanish

Like many Brits, Philippa has a keen interest in nature and is always curious to learn more about the amazing birds and wildlife of the Languedoc. Resident in this unspoilt area for over 15 years, she has a good working knowledge of where the best spots are for birds, flowers and other species and enjoys sharing these with interested visitors.
Her background in project management and hospitality combined with being fully bilingual are useful skills for organising and hosting tours, and Philippa has a particular focus on customer service!

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