Hiking the French Pyrenees

On the Famed Long-Distance GR10 Trail


The GR10, running the length of the French Pyrenees, is one of Europe’s classic hiking trails, and our journey celebrates the most spectacular sections of it as we follow a high route to wild glacial cirques, mighty waterfalls, and crystalline lakes. Grande Randonée (GR) stands for “great walk” in French and our hikes are moderate to challenging, yet well rewarded as they bring us to destinations like the Cirque de Gavarnie, a World Heritage Site with 4,000-foot-high walls. One of our hikes starts at the Pont d’Espagne, once an important trading route to Spain, where the rivers still demarcate the grazing territory between French and Spanish farmers. We’ll fuel our hikes with hearty Pyrenean cuisine, visit classic villages, and stay in family-run mountain hotels.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Pau / Arreau / Réserve Naturelle de Néouvielle

From Arreau, a slate-roofed village in the Hautes-Pyrenees, we hike among the classic mountain villages of the Vallée d’Aure, where medieval churches were built during the time Christian pilgrims hiked this valley en route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In the magnificent Reserve Naturelle de Néouvielle, our hikes follow the GR10 trail up to the peak of Madamete and to the Cirque de Troumouse, with its vertical walls above sapphire-blue tarns.

Hotel Angleterre
Arreau, France
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
La Grange aux Marmottes
Viscos, France
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
Days 5-6
Cirque de Gavarnie / Breche de Roland

The towering Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the world’s best examples of a glacial cirque, surrounded by perpendicular cliffs rising more than 4,000 feet from the valley floor. The crowning ridge forms the frontier with Spain and includes 10,000-foot peaks and a famous waterfall, the Grande Cascade, with a near-vertical drop of over 1,000 feet. Starting from the mountain village of Gavarnie, we hike to the Plateau de Pailha and onward to the foot of the Grande Cascade. Our next day’s hike is challenging (but optional) and brings us to the Breche de Roland, a dramatic 100-foot-wide breach in the cirque wall that offers a fabulous view into Spain’s Ordesa Canyon.

Grand Hotel Vignemale
Gavarnie, France
Days 5 to 6 (2 nights)
Days 7-9
Mercadau Valley

We hike through pine forests to Lac de Gaube at the foot of Mt. Vignemale, then descend by cable car to a trail along the Mercadau River, passing waterfalls as we head to Cauterets, famed as a thermal hot springs town since Roman times. Hiking from the Pont d’Espagne (Spanish Bridge), we ascend the Mercadau Valley on the French-Spanish border, with lunch at the Refuge Wallon, set at the entrance to an idyllic glacial cirque. Depart on Day 9 via Pau.

Hotel Lion d’Or
Cauterets, France
Days 7 to 8 (2 nights)



Follow the famed GR10 across the high trails of France’s Pyrenees National Park
Hike below the towering rock faces of the Cirque de Gavarnie, a World Heritage Site
Enjoy the special culture of Pyrenees, with its blend of Spanish and French influences
Stay in family-run inns and hotels in charming mountain villages


Length: 9 days
Cost From: $5995  
Arrive: Pau, France
Depart: Pau, France
Lodging: 8 nights charming inns and hotels 
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
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 if you wish to skip a day’s hike). This is a strenuous hiking trip, read “What the Trip is Like” for more details.