mountain cirque; french pyrenees; pyrenees hiking tour

The Circque de Gavarnie

The Pyrenees mountains form a spectacular natural border between France and Spain. Our hikes bring us to the crest of the range, including into the spectacular Cirque de Gavarnie.

Photo by Annie Hawkins

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Hiking the French Pyrenees

Glacial Cirques, Mountain Meadows, and the High Peaks of the Pyrenees

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4795  
Length: 9 days
Arrive: Pau, France
Depart: Pau, France
Lodging: 8 nights in charming hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 7 hiking days on steep trails, 4-7 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000-8,700 feet, van support (for luggage or tired feet)


  • Alpine hikes in a spectacular mountain realm
  • Cirque de Gavarnie, one of the grandest natural sites in all Europe and a World Heritage Site
  • Famed GR 10 trail across the high trails of Pyrenees National Park

The hike to the Breche de Roland was one of the best I’ve ever done!Keith R.—New Orleans, LA

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Grand glacial cirques, crystalline lakes, snow-capped summits, mighty waterfalls, magnificent beech forests—the aery realm of the French Pyrenees is simply breathtaking. This great mountain range forms the magnificent 10,000-foot-high border between France and Spain, lush and green on the French side—and is ideal for our wonderful hiking adventure. With Trip Leader extraordinaire Annie Hawkins, we hike the best trails of Pyrenees National Park by way of the famed GR10, the long-distance footpath that carves a dramatic route among the high peaks of the Pyrenees. This is a true alpine hiking adventure that brings us into spectacular realms including the wild Cirque de Gavarnie, a vast stone amphitheater and World Heritage Site with dramatic 4,000-foot-high walls, and the glorious Cirque de Troumouse, also on the crest of the range.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Pau / Saint-Lary-Soulan

We meet in Pau and head to Saint-Lary, a beautiful slate-roofed village in the Hautes-Pyrenees. The next day we enjoy a warm-up hike amid the picturesque mountain villages of the Vallee d’Aure, with their impressive medieval churches built when Christian pilgrims hiked this valley on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Overnights in Saint-Lary.

Days 3-4
Reserve Naturelle de Neouvielle / Viscos

In the magnificent Reserve Naturelle de Neouvielle, a nature sanctuary created in 1936 and one of the oldest mountain reserves in France, we follow the GR10 trail up to the peak of Madamete (8,717') for expansive views. The next day we hike to the Cirque de Troumouse, a wild and magnificent glacial cirque. Overnights in Viscos.

Days 5-6
Cirque de Gavarnie

From the Lac de Gloriettes, we hike up to the Hourquette d’Alans, with panoramic views of the Cirque d’Estaube, then enter the famous Cirque of Gavarnie, a towering amphitheater surrounded by perpendicular cliffs rising over 4,000 feet from the verdant valley floor. The crowning ridge of the cirque forms the frontier with Spain. On Day 6, we hike to the Plateau de Bellevue, or for those who are feeling energetic, even further to the foot of the Breche de Roland, immortalized in the epic poem the Chanson de Roland. Overnights in Gavarnie.

Day 7-9
Circuit des Cascades / Cauterets

A scenic hike brings us Lac de Gaube then along a lovely trail known as the “circuit des cascades” among beech trees, gnarled pines, and waterfalls, and we explore the verdant Mercadau Valley on the French-Spanish border, with its exquisite lakes, shepherds’ huts, and rugged glacier-carved scenery. Overnights in Cauterets, famed as a thermal hot springs town since Roman times. Depart on Day 9.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This hike is rated Level 4-5, Strenuous. Most hiking is between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is about 9,000 feet. Trail conditions can be primitive, and there is a good bit of up-and-down (often a 2,000- to 3,000-foot gain and loss in elevation per day). Every participant must understand that this hike is truly challenging—trip members should be in excellent physical condition and have mountain hiking experience. We recommend you make a special effort to get in top physical shape for the trip. Of course, you are always free to skip a day’s hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle.
Our lunches will be in mountain refuges, villages, and small cafes. Most evenings we have dinner at our hotel. Vegetarians please note that we will accommodate dietary needs as best as possible, but it is a good idea to bring along protein bars and other supplements. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm. Luggage space is limited in our van, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack. We spend our nights in comfortable hotels.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Sep 7-15, 2015

Jun 30-Jul 8, 2016  Annie Hawkins
Sep 11-19, 2016  Annie Hawkins

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$4795 (13-15 members)
$5195 (9-12 members)
$5695 (5-8 members)
Single supplement: $540
Forced single supplement: $340
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
90-46 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included
  • A glass of wine or beer with dinner
  • Land transportation and airport transfers as noted in the Full Trip Brochure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, transfers for independent arrival or departure, airport departure taxes, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional activities, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, hotels en route, or any additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to international airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation arriving to and departing from Pau, France. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip and have reviewed your proposed air schedule with our office. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

Meeting Place:
Pau, France
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Pau, France (airport code PUF)
Suggested flight arrival time: no later than 2:40 pm


Cauterets, France
Date: Day 9

Suggested Airport for Departure:

Pau, France (airport code PUF)
Suggest flight departure time: no earlier than 11:00 am on Day 9 or anytime the next day

Hotel La Pergola

Hotel La Pergola

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Saint Lary Soulan, France

This charming mountain retreat is set in the picturesque Aure Valley on the edge of a nature reserve. Each of the 20 individually decorated guest ...
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La Grange aux Marmottes

La Grange aux Marmottes

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Viscos, France

This cozy hotel (just 15 rooms) is an ideal mountain retreat, located in the lovely rural setting of Viscos, a remote village of stone houses with ...
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Grand Hotel Vignemale

Grand Hotel Vignemale

Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Gavarnie, France

Set at the end of the village, this hotel offers fabulous views of the Cirque de Gavarnie and its stunning waterfall. Some of the rooms are a bit ...
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Hotel Lion d’Or

Hotel Lion d’Or

Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Cauterets, France

You’ll receive a warm and friendly welcome at this family-run hotel. It’s been around since 1840, and lovingly and beautifully ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

James Fuss

Departure Dates: September 7-15, 2015

James Fuss is a trekking guide, photographer, cyclist, and chef extraordinaire. Born and raised in South Australia, James found his wanderlust early on family camping trips across Australia. His love of the culinary arts is deep-rooted as well, and as a young chef, he headed off to Europe to ...
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Annie Hawkins

Departure Dates: July 2-10, 2015, September 7-15, 2015, June 30-July 8, 2016, September 11-19, 2016

Annie Hawkins, born and raised in a small village in Burgundy, is a passionate world traveler and one of our most enchanting Trip Leaders. After studying art history in Provence, Annie moved to California, where she led adventure tours in the American Southwest and realized that leading adventure ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips