There are parts of the world where nature rules, and often this goes hand in hand with people fearing to tread there. The border between France and Spain is dominated by the impressive Pyrenees mountain range, a place crossed by the epic GR10, a route with a fierce reputation that only the genuinely hardy ever approach. This gives the Pyrenees an almost impenetrable air, a warning to walkers that you have to be epic, or begone. However, we want to open up this spectacular area to anyone and have discovered some not-so-tough walks in the heart of this dominating mountain range. Welcome to Walking in the Pyrenees National Park.
Where: This trip is located in the French Pyrenees, just south of Lourdes. You start your adventure in the spa town of Cauterets, situated right in the heart of the National Park, surrounded by high peaks. Cautetes will form your base for the first few nights as you head out and explore various amazing routes in the national park before heading on to Luz Saint Sauveur, situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Pyrenees. Here you will spend your final few days before being transferred back to Lourdes for your onward travel.
Distance: All together we have 57km of walking planned for you on this trip, with a rest day in the middle. However, as it is based in two locations, should you feel the urge not to walk on any given day, you can relax and enjoy your surroundings instead.
Grade: This is a moderate trip. Being that it is in the mountains, on some days you are going to have some elevation gain and drop, so get those walking poles out and prepare for some incredible scenery. The terrain is a combination of dirt or rocky trails, country tracks and lanes or tarmac country lanes and all the routes are available in our Macs App, so while the signposting is very good, you can have this reassurance in your pocket to make sure you don’t put a foot wrong.
The Pyrenees offers outstanding walking, surrounded by some of Europes most beautiful scenery. You are surrounded by peaks, immersed in mountain life. Birds of prey dot the skies above you, and wild horses roam the valleys. The Pyrenees is relatively quiet, compared to the Alps, so you will be enveloped in peace as you explore.
The walking, in general, is tremendous, but there are a few points that deserve special mention on this trip. You get a chance to walk in the Cirque de Gavarnie, a UNESCO World Heritage site, given this status for its outstanding natural beauty and uniqueness. A Cirque is a French term for a natural amphitheatre, and the Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the most spectacular examples in the world. It also hosts Europe’s second largest waterfall, which is a joy to behold. Walking through this natural wonder is an unforgettable experience. There are few days hiking in Europe that are quite so beautiful.
The Pont d’Espagne is another beautiful sight. This used to be an official crossing point through the mountains between France and Spain, and a more beautiful border crossing you could not imagine. The arched bridge sits over a deep gorge while a crystal clear water cascades down the hillside and round under the bridge, it is remarkable! This inviting (but achingly cold) water flows from Lac Gaube, situated high above, fringed by jagged peaks and adds to the spectacular nature of this day’s walk.
Cauterets is a fantastic place to start your trip. It is the French village of your imagination, delightfully crisp and clean with pastel hued buildings, wide streets, the traditional Tabac on the corner, all the things you would stereotypically think of in a classic French town are here, and it is beautiful. Add to this the fact that the town is surrounded by glorious hills and that it is bursting with natural hot springs, means that you will very much enjoy your time here.
To make it easy for you to get to our Walking in the Pyrenees National Park trip, we have included a transfer to and from Lourdes, so all you have to do is get there. This is easily done by a 2-hour rail journey from Toulouse and exploring Lourdes is not a bad idea while you are there!
If you have any questions about the route, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.