The Pyrenees: Places to Explore

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Roncal Valley

The Roncal Valley, the eastern edge of the Basque Pyrenees, is famous for its eponymous sheep's-milk cheese and as the birthplace of Julián Gayarre (1844–90), the leading tenor of his time. The 34-km (21-mile) drive through the towns of Burgui and Roncal to Isaba winds through green hillsides past caseríos, classical Basque farmhouses covered by long, sloping roofs designed to house animals on the ground floor and the family up above to take advantage of the body heat of the livestock. Burgui's red-tile roofs backed by rolling pastures contrast with the vertical rock and steep slate roofs of the Aragonese and Catalan Pyrenees; Isaba's wide-arched bridge across the Esca is a graceful reminder of Roman aesthetics and engineering techniques.

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