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Access into the Pyrenees is easy from the UK and the huge number of trails traversing them in every direction makes them perfect for exploring by foot. Pyrenees specialists Pyrenean Odysseys reveal 7 fantastic multi-day walks in this captivating landscape.

The Pyrenees have a huge number of trails traversing them in every direction. Firstly there are the long distance walking trails, the three main ones being between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea (the GR10 on the French side, the GR11 on the Spanish side and the Pyrenean High Route running between these and staying, as its name suggests, as high as possible). There is also the long distance foothill trail (GR78) which runs from Carcassonne to St Jean Pied de Port linking in with the Camino de Santiago. Along with these long distance trails are the multitude of trails that have always existed within and across valleys where people and animals moved from one place to another on foot, or with donkeys and mules. These paths provide a wonderful network of possibilities from which to create unique point to point treks. Ancient trails for the modern walker traversing villages, valleys and forests, walking along rivers and beside lakes, and even crossing high passes between valleys, or between France and Spain, with the option of a 3000m summit or two along the way. What more could you ask for this summer?

Access into the Pyrenees is easy from the UK, and easier from the French side than the Spanish, partly because the mountains rise so dramatically directly from the plain, making transfer times from the airports and train stations much shorter. There are also airports and fast train lines to cities closer to the central Pyrenees rather than just to the coastal areas. For example Lourdes train station to Luz St Sauveur is a breezy 30 mins, and from the Lourdes-Tarbes airport it is only 45 mins. Pau airport is 1.5 hours and Toulouse airport is 2.5 hours from Luz. In 50kms the altitude changes from 300m to over 3000m. It makes for some dramatic scenery.

The seven treks outlined here are all based in the Central Pyrenees, mainly on the French side, with one including the Ordesa Canyon in Spain. They stretch from the foothills to the high mountains, from 3 to 13 nights, and from medium level to challenging. In short, they are for anyone who walks.

 

The Secret Seven

1. Gavarnie Balconies 3 days/4 nights

2. Gavarnie - Troumouse 3 days/4 nights

3. Barèges-Néouvielle 3 days/4 nights

4. Pyrenees National Park Trek 6 days/7 nights

5. Lavedan Valleys & Villages Gourmet Trek 5-13 nights

6. GR10 Cauterets-Néouvielle 7 nights

7. Gavarnie-Ordesa 7 nights

 

Gavarnie Balconies

Discover nature’s colosseum in all its glory. You walk either on parts of the GR10 variant, or up the Way of St James to approach the cirque from the north. Your first night is spent at 1600m on the Saugué Plateau in the heart of a Pyrenean pastoral landscape. Day two takes you down into the Ossoue Valley with the cirque in front of you. Big views all the way down, and again you have a medium or a more difficult option. Your final day takes you right into the Cirque and out via the balcony path. A wonderful finale, where again there are two options. This is a perfect introduction to trekking as you have shorter and longer options each day.

Gavarnie_Plateau_Bellevue_2.jpg

Duration: three days, four nights

Difficulty: medium or more challenging. Each day has a choice.

Cost: 375€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes

Not included: buses Luz-Gèdre, Gavarnie-Luz (2€pp each way), drinks.

Logistics: Arrive and leave from Luz St Sauveur. Bus to and from start of walk. Bag transfers possible.

 

Gavarnie - Troumouse: Grandiose Glacial Cirques

Gavarnie is the most famous of the limestone cirques carved out by successive glaciations over the last 2 million years. But its neighbours are equally spectacular, and all three are quite different. This four night, three day trek allows you to traverse across all three glacial cirques while marvelling at the scenery, and wondering about the processes that allowed such geological marvels to form.

Bergons_view_to_Gavarnie.jpg

Duration: three days, four nights

Difficulty: medium-hard.

Cost: 405€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes and collection from the end.

Not included: buses Luz-Gèdre, Gavarnie-Luz (2€pp each way), drinks.

Logistics: Arrive and leave from Luz St Sauveur

 

Barèges-Néouvielle Trek

From Luz at 700m to the Glère Refuge at 2103m this trek offers a great variety of scenery in a very short space of time. The first day is short, heading up through the villages to a lovely secluded gite, but the two next days are substantial with a big descent of 1300m on the last day. You can add a day if you’d like to tackle the Turon du Néouvielle Summit (3032m) or the lakes just below it.

Glere_Refuge_Bareges_Valley_Trek.jpg

Duration: three days, four nights

Difficulty: medium-hard.

Cost: 375€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes.

Not included: Drinks.

Logistics: Walk out from, and back to Luz St Sauveur

 

Pyrenees National Park Trek

In one week this trek takes you through the heart of the Pyrenees National Park, past lakes, glaciers, up a 3000m summit, down through the high pastures, and finally through the three glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse. A week of highlights in the French Pyrenees.

St_Justin_Bareges_Valley_Trek.jpg

Duration: six days, seven nights

Difficulty: medium-hard.

Cost: 735€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes, transfer to start and collection from end.

Not included: Drinks.

Logistics: Collection from Lourdes, leave from Luz St Sauveur (bus to Lourdes).

 

Lavedan Valleys & Villages Gourmet Trek

For those who have no desire to sleep in dormitory accommodation without showers, this trek is for you. Cute B&Bs, family run 2 and 3* hotels, and wonderful food each evening. The trek takes you through a string of foothill villages, then into the higher mountains above Cauterets, over to Luz St Sauveur and up to Gavarnie at the end of the week. A truly varied trek that is as challenging as the Pyrenees National Park trek, but with much more comfortable accommodation. There are also less challenging options on most days and also the possibility of catching a ride with the bags on any day, so there is always an out if your legs are tired or you’d like an easy day. There are also easier walking options available most days.

Gaube_Lake_Cauterets.jpg

Duration: six days, seven nights (can be from 3-12 days walking)

Difficulty: easy-hard. There are options.

Cost: 905€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes, transfer to start and collection from end, bag transfers.

Not included: Drinks.

Logistics: Collection from Lourdes, leave from Luz St Sauveur (bus to Lourdes).

 

GR10 Cauterets - Néouvielle

The most physically demanding trek of the selection, this itinerary covers plenty of ground, with logistical backup provided to remove some of the less interesting sections. Two sections of lake filled landscapes are split by the section through the majestic Gavarnie Cirque with its wonderful high mountain pastoral scenery. This central section of the GR10 is worth every step.

Gavarnie_Plateau_Bellevue.jpg

Duration: six days, seven nights

Difficulty: Difficult.

Cost: 735€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes, transfer to start and collections from end + transfer in middle.

Not included: Drinks.

Logistics: Collection from Lourdes, leave from Luz St Sauveur (bus to Lourdes).

 

Gavarnie - Ordesa Trek

The contrast between the Gavarnie Cirque on the French side and the Ordesa Canyon on the Spanish side of the border is truly astounding. One faces north and the other south meaning the climate is dramatically different in the two neighbouring areas. On one side successive glaciations have carved out a giant semi-circular natural colosseum, on the other the size of the glaciers was limited by the south facing aspect and erosion by water has played a larger part.

Gavarnie_Main_Path.jpg

Duration: six days, seven nights

Difficulty: Medium.

Cost: 735€pp (2P min), includes all accommodation, full board, maps and notes, transfers during the trek.

Not included: Drinks.

Logistics: Arrival in Luz, leave from either Torla (Spain, bus to Sabiñanigo once per day, then to Huesca) or Gavarnie (bus to Lourdes once per day). Taxi possible. If you are leaving from Spain then you must carry all your baggage with you for a 3 hour descent over the border before you reach a road head and the possibility of a taxi.

 

For more information or to book a trip visit pyrenees-mountains.com