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: Next Offered July 2-10, 2015 & September 7-15, 2015

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5195  
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 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.

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.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

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

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

2015
Jul 2-10, 2015  Annie Hawkins
Sep 7-15, 2015  Annie Hawkins

Trip Cost

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

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included
  • 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.).

Trip Payment Schedule

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

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

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

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 located in the lovely rural setting of Viscos, a remote village of stone houses with slate roofs set on a ...
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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.

Annie Hawkins

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 trips was her vocation—nothing would keep her inside an office again! She has led exclusively for Wilderness Travel since 1995 and has helped us create journeys in France, Spain, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Niger, and Angola, and is thrilled to be leading our first-ever trip to the Desert Kingdom of Oman. “As a Trip Leader, I see myself as the personal ambassador to a place. In France, I love introducing the products of the “terroir” such as wine or cheese, or in southern Spain, taking the group to my home to share a paella with them. And in the Sahara, I have a passion for the wind-created landscape I call “the yellow circle” and the ingenuity of the people who live in this place of extremes. I'm also fascinated by the friendships that people forge while traveling together day after day. I remember how six guests become lifetime friends after our trip in Niger—this warms my heart!” While scouting our trip in southern Spain in 1999, Annie bought a 300-year-old house in a village clinging on the flanks of the highest mountains in Spain. It took her three years to transform it into the home she calls La Casa del Milagro. She married in 2006 and now divides her time between Europe and San Francisco, where she lives with her husband.

Upcoming Trips:

Hiking in Sicily, September 12-21, 2014
Medieval France: The Lot Valley, October 4-12, 2014
Sri Lanka, February 2-14, 2015
Southern Spain to Morocco, May 1-12, 2015
Granada to Sevilla, May 16-23, 2015
Medieval France: The Lot Valley, May 30-June 7, 2015
Normandy and Brittany, June 8-18, 2015
Hiking the French Pyrenees, July 2-10, 2015
Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean, July 12-25, 2015
Great Alpine Traverse, July 28-August 11, 2015
Tour du Mont Blanc, August 23-30, 2015
Hiking the French Pyrenees, September 7-15, 2015
Desert Kingdom of Oman, October 19-30, 2015

Client Testimonials:


Once again Annie proved her competence with graciousness and charm. You are so lucky to have her. We will travel with Annie again! Julie R., Bainbridge Island WA Annie is everything a guide should be and even more. She is your best ‘advertisement!" Emond D., Claymont DE Annie was incredibly excellent! Bill U., Mechanicsville, VA
Hiking the Haute Route
Annie is a great leader, a great person to be with. She was always able to convey a complete understanding of the place in its physical sense as well as its culture, which made it even more interesting. Maria A., New York NY
Hiking the Haute Route
Annie took my breath away. She could not have been more caring, fun, concerned. What a joy she is to everyone. Pamela R., LA Jolla CA
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie was by far the best leader we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a lot of excellent leaders with Wilderness Travel Hugh and Wendy K., Anacortes WA
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie was first rate. She charmed everyone, her knowledge of the area was superb, and she handled all the logistics and contributed to a very enjoyable trip. Larry S., Boise ID
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie was such a superb guide. Her love of the places we visited was evident in her enthusiastic nightly briefings. Angela S., Wrightsville Beach NC
Great Alpine Traverse
Annie Hawkins was terrific, outstanding in every way. She is so lovely and we had total confidence in her leadership. We hope to do another trip with her some day. Linda and Ira G., West Hartford, CT
Hiking in the Cortina Dolomites
Annie Hawkins is a marvelous Trip Leader in every way. She is a delightful personality and charming company. She oversaw all the details and added her own special touches that made our adventure really superb. Hala A., Oakland, CA
Niger: The Wodabe Gerewol Festival
Annie is better than excellent! She is professional, competent, and absolutely enchanting. We will plan another WT trip with her schedule in mind. Julie R., Bainbridge Island WA
Tour du Mont Blanc
Annie was terrific! A key part of the wonderful memory I have of this trip. Marrie C.l, Marblehead MA
Tour du Mont Blanc
Annie was terrific. She adapted her itinerary to the group beautifully and managed to cater to all levels of fitness and interest. She did a great job. Elaine H., Verona WI
Hiking in the Pyrenees
We loved Annie. She is obviously a very experienced leader. She was always enthusiastic and knew the area very well. Steve H., Verona WI
Hiking in the Pyrenees
Annie is a very resourceful leader, a professional who loves her job and shows it. Marwan B., San Jose CA
Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean
Annie Hawkins was one of the most attentive, sincere, and enjoyable guides we’ve ever had. She was spontaneous and up for any opportunity that presented itself. Craig & Debbie D., Nichols Hills, OK
Southern Spain to Morocco
Annie Hawkins is a treasure. She’s an amazing person and superb Trip Leader. I can’t wait to travel with her again. Judith K., South Portland ME
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie Hawkins is the best—she is warm, engaging, caring, enhthusiastic, humorous, knowledgeable, and just a super person. Steve T., Santa Rosa, CA
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie's 'eating, drinking and exploring old France' trip was just as wonderful as we expected! Jack H., Cockeysville, MD
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie lives up to her fabulous reputation. She is charming, friendly, engaging, knowledgeable, completely in tune with everything going on, and totally devoted to all travelers having the best possible experience. Susan W., Albuquerque, NM
Bilbao and the Picos de Europa
Annie MADE the trip. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, and over the top attention to customer needs is unsurpassed. Lesly H., Mill Valley, CA
Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean
Annie is an ACE. I don't think you could find a better guide. Tom L., Hanalei, HI
Southern Spain to Morocco
Experienced, enthusiastic, highly knowledgeable about the Lot Valley, including the history and culture of the area. She constantly worked to enhance the experience for all of us. Tom M., Arden Hills, MN
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie is fantastic, a very warm, engaging person with an exceptional knowledge of the area. And wow does she know restaurants! Linda H., La Canada, CA
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie was amazing and it would be hard to top her for knowledge and charm Jeanne S., Mill Valley, CA
Granada to Sevilla
Annie is outstanding! What a special lady. You have a real gem here! Fantastic people and organizationl skills, great sense of humor. I didn't want the trip to end. Janice G., Edmonton, Canada
Granada to Sevilla
Annie's reputation as the best of the best is well deserved. One of the reasons we were treated so well, I believe, is every guide, driver, hotel and restaurant proprietor—man or woman—is totally in love with her. She is a treasure! Suzy M., Pittsburgh, PA
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
Annie was a breath of fresh air and has a subtle, fantastic sense of humor. Her coordination of picnics, meals, treats, etc. was outstanding. She has a unique talent to gauge each participant and address needs with compassion. Alan S., Oakton, VA
Heart of Switzerland