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A real balancing act — adventuring in France’s Gavarnie cirques

David Lpx 📸

A real balancing act — adventuring in France’s Gavarnie cirques

Hiking Collection by Luc Gesell

5

Tours

38:14 h

49.3 mi

18,550 ft

This adventure of the Gavarnie cirques takes you to the heart of France’s Pyrenees National Park. Between ridges, narrow passages and steep ladders, this hike sometimes requires some tightrope walking skills but remains, on the whole, accessible.

The route draws a line between three great, legendary cirques of the Pyrenees and you’ll see all their facets. The idea of this itinerary is to guide you both into the heart of the cirques at the bottom of the valley but also in the heights. You can experience the high mountains and rub shoulders with many 3,000 metre peaks, but also enjoy pure Pyrenean hiking: wild valleys, waterfalls, rustic huts, herds in summer pasture, and sparkling lakes.

You go from pretty meadows to spartan screes and from undergrowth to exposed plateaus. Above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft), you see the hooked pines and mountain flowers become rarer before disappearing in favour of the last snows and rocky patches.

The stages in this Collection each lead you to a comfortable hut for the night. You can set up tents at these same stops too; this is the advantage of carrying a tent, especially as the Pyrenees National Park allows camping during the night time hours.

During these five days of walking, you remain up in the mountains without going back down through the villages. As a result, you need to carry all of your meals for five days. To lighten your load, you can reserve dinners and breakfasts in the huts. As far as hydration is concerned, there’s no trouble getting water. The huts and rivers are there for you. You may want to consider taking some purifying tablets if you fill up in watercourses.

Spring is the best time for this hike while it’s best not tackled after mid-September, unless you’re experienced in alpine mountaineering. Outside the high season, this adventure can be intimidating, even inaccessible. If unsure, the best thing to do is to ask at the tourist office.

This loop begins and ends in Gavarnie. Line 965 of the liO buses will take you there in all seasons. You can find the timetable by season on this site: mestrajets.lio.laregion.fr

Have a good hike!

PS: If you liked this Collection, consider discovering this other one: komoot.fr/collection/1883722/trek-de-gavarnie-a-ordesa-une-boucle-suspendue-dans-les-cirques

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Le tour des cirques de Gavarnie

42.4 mi

15,350 ft

15,350 ft

Last updated: November 24, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Gavarnie to the Sarradets hut — adventuring in France’s Gavarnie cirques

    Difficult
    05:32
    6.62 mi
    1.2 mph
    4,625 ft
    775 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Before launching an assault on the circuses, linger in the streets of Gavarnie and along the Gave de Gavarnie, also called the Gave de Pau. If necessary, you can also finish your shopping there for meals for the next five days of walking.

    

    

    Once in Gavarnie, the call of the circus is powerful. We want to

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    by Luc Gesell

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  • Difficult
    10:01
    10.8 mi
    1.1 mph
    4,725 ft
    4,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This second stage is the high mountain guarantee of the route. Glacial lakes, mineral universe, snow, committed paths, succession of peaks at 3,000 meters. You will pass in particular along the Helmet and Tour du Marboré. You can also reach the summit of Mont Perdu, the highest point of the massif with

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    by Luc Gesell

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  • Difficult
    10:43
    12.4 mi
    1.2 mph
    4,925 ft
    6,650 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    If you slept at the Tuquerouye refuge, you could admire the Estaubé circus from above. Rather than going down there right away, I suggest you go back, on the Spanish side, and head towards the Cirque de Troumouse. The first kilometers of this stage will therefore be a beautiful and long descent to the

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    by Luc Gesell

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  • Difficult
    07:57
    12.9 mi
    1.6 mph
    3,125 ft
    3,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    If you slept at the Aires cabin, this fourth stage starts in your footsteps from the day before, until you reach the Aires lakes. From there, you descend on a rolling, flexible and not very technical path. Very pleasant to put on the leg. In the descent I suggest you a small detour to reach the orientation

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    by Luc Gesell

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  • Intermediate
    04:01
    6.55 mi
    1.6 mph
    1,150 ft
    3,200 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    You dreamed of it on the first day, you will finally afford it. This fifth and final stage takes you under the Gavarnie waterfall. You won't be able to go any further in this monumental natural site that is the Cirque de Gavarnie. To achieve this, I suggest you follow what is for me the most beautiful

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    by Luc Gesell

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    49.3 mi
  • Duration
    38:14 h
  • Elevation
    18,550 ft

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