France : The Pyrenees

Walking the Best of the High Pyrenees

Trip code: W07PR 5 (2 reviews)

Self-guided walking

7 nights,
hotel-to-hotel

Level: 2
Moderate

18.0Kg CO2e

SUMMARY

  • Follow trails through the High Pyrenees: dramatic peaks, plunging waterfalls and flower-filled meadows
  • Admire the most stunning panoramic view from the Pic du Midi and Cirque de Gavarnie
  • Discover the Observatory of Pic du Midi for an unforgettable moment 'among the stars'

WHAT'S INCLUDED?

  • 7 nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts and evening meals
  • Comprehensive route directions
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Walking transfers
  • GPX files
  • Email briefing pack

TRIP DESCRIPTION

Discover all the top highlights of the High Pyrenees - turquoise lakes, innumerable waterfalls, and the UNESCO Site of the Cirque du Gavarnie. Enjoy great walking on ancient footpaths, regional cuisine, and an unforgettable visit at the Summit Observatory of the Pic du Midi. A wonderful walk through beautiful valleys and foothills before arriving at the amazing UNESCO Site of the Cirque de Gavarnie, the absolute must-see natural feature of the High Pyrenees.

In the heart of the Pyrenees National Park, be amazed by the emblematic animals and plants, as well as breath-taking landscapes Stop a moment and admire herds of cattle, the marmots and the birds of prey.

Later, other breath-taking sceneries are waiting for you. With views that extend across the entire Pyrenean Mountain range and far beyond, the Pic Du Midi is one of the most majestic summits. The mountain is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, and a world famous observatory.

End your tour in the mystic town of Lourdes : whether you have religious beliefs or not, it certainly is a fascinating place to explore with a very rich cultural and natural heritage.

Although this is in the High Pyrenees, anyone who is reasonably fit and used to walking will find that this is one of their most memorable walking holidays.

Terrain

This holiday features mainly comfortable, but some challenging walking, so is suitable for people who are reasonably fit, and used to walking (albeit 'gently') for much of the day. On most days there are choices of itineraries, which you can decide for yourself each day. The whole summer season is recommended but there might be some snow left in June.

READ MORE

DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

 

Day 1: Arrival in Cauterets

Cauterets is an attractive and vibrant Pyrenean mountain town, which in the 19th century was packed with Romantic authors and artists as well as the affluent bourgeoisie all 'taking the waters' (what the French call 'the cure') thanks to its natural, health-giving thermal springs. They would also explore the other natural wonders of the region and have a go on the funicular railway (unfortunately no longer running).

You stay at Hotel Lion d'Or.

hotel details



Hotel Lion d'Or, Les Cauterets

HOTEL WEBSITE      TRIP ADVISOR

Mastercard
Visa
AmEx
Hairdryer
WiFi
TV
Safe
Tea/coffee


Since 1913, the Lasserre-Morel family has been welcoming guests with the desire to make their stay in the Pyrenees the prettiest of memories. Homemade recipes, warmth and authenticity find all the ingredients of a traditional family hotel. The names of the 17 rooms evoke the mountains, lakes and flowers of the valley. Located in the heart of the village, close to shops and restaurants and 150 m from the cable cars of the ski resort and opposite the Bains du Rocher thermal spa.

Day 2: Gaube Lake (16km/9.9mi)

Short transfer (local bus to pay locally) so you can start from the photogenic stone bridge called the Pont d'Espagne with its impressive waterfalls. From there, you walk up through pine forests to appreciate one of the most memorable views in the High Pyrenees: the massive Vignemale mountain and the glacier of Petit Vignemale reflected in Gaube lake.

After breaking the spell of that view, you follow a path alongside a tumbling torrent with frequent waterfalls surrounded by forests and alpine type meadows before arriving at the mountain refuge of Les Oulettes from where climbers often launch their attempts on the north face of Vignemale (3,000 feet of climbing heaven or hell, depending on your point of view). You then descend by delightful paths for the short transfer back to (local bus to pay locally).

Day 3: Embarrat lake and Marcadau Valley (16km/9.9mi or 20km/12.4mi)

After a short transfer (local bus to pay locally), you stroll quietly across the Clot plateau (but not feeling like one, we hope), and then the Cayan plateau where the torrent from the slopes above snakes its way between pine trees, and forms small islands in mid-stream. The source of some of the streams you pass are the impressive Embarrat and Pourtet lakes you now reach at well over 7,000 feet (remembering that you did not start at sea level, but were already at many thousands of feet up). {BREAKK} Rising even higher are the granite 'needles' of Castet-Abarca walked on only, but not infrequently, by Pyrenean chamois. You now have the privilege of walking down the Marcadau valley, which Walkopedia says is one of the world's best walks, and Cicerone describes as a walkers' paradise, but you can decide for yourselves what you call it. As you get lower, so the pine forests reappear, and the stream gets rather more calm, cool and collected.

Its here you will see the large and impressive Refuge Wallon on its literally outstanding site (drinks and snacks usually available) close to a lovely little chapel. You return to the Pont d'Espagne then transfer back to Cauterets (local bus to pay locally).

Day 4: Cirque de Gavarnie (10km/6.2mi)

Today we visit what most people regard as the most exceptional and memorable site in the whole of the Pyrenees. We drop you off in the village of Gavarnie from where you walk fairly gently up a wide path on a mountain 'balcony' to the Bellevue plateau with privileged panoramas of the high mountain scenery all around you. From the top, you descend into the centre of the enormous natural 'amphitheatre' that is the Cirque du Gavarnie with its myriad waterfalls - many impressively long and powerful - sheer bare rock cliffs, and contrasting peaceful valley bottom.

The appropriately named Grande Cascade at about 1,300 feet is over 300 feet higher than the Eiffel Tower (300 feet!), and one of the highest in Europe. The bucolic final section is along the valley bottom, or, more challengingly, by the Espugues route, which follows an attractive rocky balcony path. Either way you arrive at Gedre-Gavarnie village. Truly memorable, we are confident you will agree. Then transfer to your hotel.

You stay at Hotel de la Breche de Roland.

hotel details



Hotel La Breche de Roland, Gedre

HOTEL WEBSITE      TRIP ADVISOR

Mastercard
Visa
Hairdryer
WiFi
TV


At the gates of the Pyrenees national park, the Logis Hotel de la Brèche de Roland is an ancient 18th century house, situated in the heart of the village Gèdre at an altitude of 1,100 yards. Rooms are comfortable and traditional, all equipped with private bathroom. The Hotel de la Brèche has a restaurant with local cuisine and offers access to a sauna.

Day 5: Cirque de Troumouse (12km/7.5mi)

A beautiful walk from the hamlet of Heas, passing herds of summer pasturing long horned cattle and up to the incredible glacially created 'arena' that is the Cirque de Troumouse (rising to almost 10,000 feet all around you). There can be no doubts about why this whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You walk across the plateau in the middle of the Cirque with its wildflower meadows and streams before arriving at the Aires lake where there is also a refuge cabin. Having spent plenty of time taking it all in, you now descend down good footpaths back to Heas. Don't forget to visit the 16th century pilgrimage chapel built to house a wooden Black Madonna found by local shepherds, and which miraculously (say some) survived an avalanche. Then transfer to your hotel.

Day 6: Ets Coubous Valley (11km/6.8mi)

Today you walk mainly in the wonderful Ets Coubous valley, which offers a succession of lovely lakes where the colour of the water and the reflections change as you walk by. It is an altogether enjoyable walk that enables you to really immerse yourselves in the endless panoramas and beauties of the High Pyrenees. Thoughts of home and work seem a million miles away, and you will hopefully fully appreciate the tranquillity that comes from being among, and almost part of, these magnificent mountains.

Transfer to your hotel

You stay at Hotel Le Chalet.

hotel details



Hotel Le Chalet, Campan

HOTEL WEBSITE      TRIP ADVISOR

Mastercard
Visa
Pool
Hairdryer
WiFi
TV
Tea/coffee


The hotel has been freshened up to bring you a contemporary and functional setting alongside quality services including accommodation in cosy rooms and delicious dinners at the restaurant! In terms of relaxation, you’ll love the 1ha grounds where squirrels live in leafy fir trees, the summer pool, tennis court and outdoor terraces. Step inside and soak up the bar area, dining room with a fireplace and the lounge where you can get together and chat or read by the fire after your walks.

Day 7: Pic du Midi (10km/6.2mi)

Transfer to the village of La Mongie, where start your the cable car journey up and up and up another 4,000 feet to the summit of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre for views across what feels like endless miles of the mountains and a visit of the observatory. On your descent of the Pic du Midi, via the historical 'Chemin des Muletiers' (the 'Muleteers' Path'), originally taken by the men who built the observatory. Continue through a gorgeous valley, high-altitude grazing areas and shepherds' huts. Transfer to your hotel.

Day 8: Leave Campan

Transfer from your hotel to Lourdes.

Extending your holiday

If you'd like to extend your trip with extra hotel nights we recommend: Hotel Beau Sejour, Lourdes; Hotel Lion d'Or, Les Cauterets.

hotel details



Hotel Beau Sejour, Lourdes

HOTEL WEBSITE      TRIP ADVISOR

Mastercard
Visa
Pool
Hairdryer
WiFi
TV
Aircon
Safe
Tea/coffee


In the heart of the busy city centre of Lourdes and close to the sanctuary, the Best Western Hotel Beauséjour, is a beautiful house of the nineteenth completely renovated. Its 45 rooms with a cozy and personalized decoration offer, for some, a breath-taking view of the Pyrenees. To relax, the Best Western Hotel Beauséjour offers the calm of its garden, solarium and heated outdoor summer pool.

Extra nights: Please contact us for details.



Hotel Lion d'Or, Les Cauterets

HOTEL WEBSITE      TRIP ADVISOR

Mastercard
Visa
AmEx
Hairdryer
WiFi
TV
Safe
Tea/coffee


Since 1913, the Lasserre-Morel family has been welcoming guests with the desire to make their stay in the Pyrenees the prettiest of memories. Homemade recipes, warmth and authenticity find all the ingredients of a traditional family hotel. The names of the 17 rooms evoke the mountains, lakes and flowers of the valley. Located in the heart of the village, close to shops and restaurants and 150 m from the cable cars of the ski resort and opposite the Bains du Rocher thermal spa.

CHOOSE A DEPARTURE DATE

Show prices including flights?  

MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
£1829
£2079
30
£1829
£2079
31
£1829
£2079
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

These tour only prices are based on two people sharing. Single supplement from £410.

These flight inclusive prices are based on two people sharing. Single supplement from £410.

TRAVEL DETAILS

Our aim is to provide holidays that are unbeatable for choice and flexibility. We've listed our most popular travel options below, however you aren't limited to these - we can tailor-make virtually any holiday to suit.

Air prices include our standard flights

Alternative transfers
If you require alternative transfers (because you will be arriving at a different time to our standard flights), then we can usually arrange these for you (there may be an additional charge).

To find out more about the travel options available call our sales team on 01606 720199, use our live webchat (we're open until 10pm today) or email sales@headwater.com

Should you require overnight airport accommodation, airport parking or even a uniformed chauffeur to take your car from your departure terminal and park it for you, we can arrange this for you through Holiday Extras. You can book airport parking, airport hotels and executive lounges through their website or contact us for further details. Early booking is recommended to obtain the best availability and prices.

REVIEWS

Travel/Arrival: Generally good, but why won't Headwater deal with the budget airlines when the route is better suited?

Accommodation: very good to start with..

Food: Amazing!

Locals: Cheerful and helpful. Drivers very flexible.

Routes: Out of this world! However no live tracking of issues/closures? Nor recognition that the Tour de France was on and could affect travel time?

Memories will last a lifetime 🙂



John Ellis, 6 Jul 2024

 

All very good, excellent introduction to the Pyrenees itinerary.

Timothy Blackstone, 5 Aug 2023

 


Self-guided walking

7 nights,
hotel-to-hotel

Level: 2
Moderate

18.0Kg CO2e

7 nights from £1749

CHOOSE A DEPARTURE

Call: 01606 720199

 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE