The dominant climatic influence of the Eastern Pyrenees, excluding the misty Couserans region, is the Mediterranean; the climate is warmer, the days sunnier, the landscape more arid than elsewhere in the Pyrenees. Dry-weather plants like cistus, broom and thyme make their appearance, and the foothills are planted with vines. The proximity of Spain is evident, with much of the territory definitively incorporated into France in 1659 previously belonging to historical Catalonia. Like the rest of the Pyrenees, the countryside is spectacular, and densely networked with hiking trails. Historical sights, except the painted caves of the Ariège and the Cathar castles and medieval towns of the upper Aude, are concentrated towards the coast in French Catalonia and along the Tech and Tet valleys.
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