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
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
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)
45

Highlights

  • Alpine hikes in a spectacular mountain realm
  • Cirque of 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.

References

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.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

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 ideal for our newest 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