Walking Holidays in France - France - Pyrenees


France - Pyrenees - Hotel to Hotel Trek
Holiday Highlights
  • Walk through Hautes Pyrenees to the heart of Gavarnie Mountains
  • A truly inspiring route and a paradise for keen walkers
  • Criss-Cross the renowned GR10 avoiding any commercial areas


Lourdes


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Self Guided walking holiday - Click here to find out more about Self Guided walking holidays          

 
  • Overview
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The French Pyrenees are a taste of paradise for walkers. This glorious trek is diverse and undulating, and traces the International Greenwich Meridian through Hautes Pyrenees to the heart of the mountains at Gavarnie, just a few kilometres from the Spanish border as the crow flies. The route starts in the country spa town of Argeles-Gazost and ends at the Cirque Gavarnie, which is a World Heritage site. The whole route is inspiring.

Starting at 400 metres, you climb to Gavarnie at just over 1400m; a steady ascent of 1000m over 6 days leading you amongst high mountain peaks. Along the way, the route criss-crosses the renowned GR10, the 700km west/east long-distance path that links the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. The week’s trek runs north/south for some 95km and avoids any commercial areas. The walking is on good paths, with some country road sections.

Day 1: You will be transferred from Lourdes to the first night’s accommodation in Argeles-Gazost - a small bustling spa town some 15km south of Lourdes. The upper part of the town has good views over the ‘Gave de Pau’ valley and an intriguing range of small shops and cafes.

Day 2:  Argeles-Gazost to Pierrefitte. Begin the trek by meandering through beautiful Pyrenean villages and woods. The highlight of the day’s trek is the old shepherd’s trail to the picture-postcard village of St Savin and an opportunity to explore the 12th-century abbey church. Continue to the Chapelle de Poueyaspe and a wonderful picnic spot with stunning views. Finally descend into Pierrefitte, ending the trek on a picturesque cycle way. Overnight in Pierrefitte.

Ascent 740m, Descent 700m, Distance 9 miles, Time 4 ½ hours.

Day 3: Pierrefitte to Luz St Sauveur. Follow what would have been for centuries the main access route between the ‘Pays Toy’ (the area around Luz St Sauveur) and the rest of France. The road in the gorges below was not built until 1730 and before then all north/south travel would have been along the well-defined path you take today. The path is often edged with low walls and there are breathtaking views along the way. Overnight in Luz St Sauveur.

Ascent 680m, Descent 565m, Distance 10 ½ miles, Time 5 ½ hours.

Day 4: Either enjoy a rest day or this fascinating walk: Take a 10-minute bus ride to Bareges and mainly follow the GR10 route, initially through a beech forest and then crossing pastures above the Bastan Valley before dropping down to the village of Viella, and finally to Luz. In the Bolou Valley, try to spot the old watercourses, used in the past for taking water from the stream to animals in the barns. There are often marmots in the valley too. Overnight in Luz St Sauveur.

Ascent 250m, Descent 800m, Distance  9 ½ miles, Time 4 ½  hours.

Day 5: Luz St Sauveur to Gedre. A more challenging day with a few short stretches involving loose scree. Leaving the town of Luz, pass the Chapelle Solferino high on a hill while savouring its stunning views. The route mostly follows the GR10, passing the towering 66m Pont Napoléon. This major architectural feat, spanning the canyon, was built for Napoleon III in 1861. Gedre is a small village boasting panoramic mountain views. Overnight in Gedre.

Ascent 650m, Descent 350m, Distance 9 ½ miles, Time 4 ½  hours.

Day 6: Gedre to Gavarnie. This is the longest day, although there is a shorter option if you prefer or if the weather is inclement. The majority of the walk follows the GR10. Ascend through beech and fir forests before tracing old shepherds’ paths across high summer pastures. The final section crosses the Plateau de Sauge with majestic views of the Cirque de Gavarnie. Descend to Gavarnie for the night.

Ascent 930m, Descent 530m, Distance 12 miles, Time 6 hours.

Day 7: Circular walk. Today is the highlight of the week. Taking in the Cirque de Gavarnie and a hillside viewpoint, Bellevue, enjoy a walk to the Grand Cascade. With a dramatic drop of 423m, this is Europe’s longest-drop waterfall. The surrounding cliffs rise to over 3000m and form a tremendous amphitheatre classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Finally walk down a track that traces the valley bottom before reaching Gavarnie. (There are alternative shorter walks today if you wish.) Overnight in Gavarnie.

Ascent 630m, Descent 630m, Distance 9 ½ miles, Time 5 hours.


Day 8:You are transferred to the railway station or airport in Lourdes. Or you could stay on in Lourdes, if you choose. Pilgrims have been coming here since 1882. The town has many interesting places to visit or you can take the funicular railway to Pic Du Jer, which has stunning views over the town and surrounding area.

Baggage Transfer

Your baggage is transported for you from hotel to hotel so you can then travel with day rucksacks only.

Walk Grading
Self-guided – Moderate. Total for standard week ignoring variations:- Ascent 3880m, Descent 3575m, 60 miles.

Pyrenees

The hotels are small and family-run.  All rooms have private bathroom, mostly with showers. You will be assured of dinner with local specialities and buffet-style continental breakfasts.

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Availability Information

This walk is available from the end of May to the end of October.  You can start on any day. August is busy and accommodation difficult to secure. Early in the season will have alpine flowers at their best, whilst late September and October offer wonderful autumn colours.

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