• At a glance
  • Locality & Walks
  • Accommodation & Meals
  • Travel options
  • Photos
At a Glance

Your Holiday at a Glance

Independent Walking Holiday
  • Traversing the Pyrenees National Park

Dates for 2018
  • 20 June - 10 September (every day subject to availability)
  • £495/€550
  • moderate pyrenees balcony trail france
  • 7 nights, 6 day's self-guided walking moving between gites and refuges
  • A spectacular traverse of the Pyrenees National Park
  • A series of magnificent, must-see sites such as the Cirque de Gavarnie with the highest waterfall in Europe
  • Wonderful trails through a series of cirques with beautiful lakes
  • Plenty of wildlife with vultures, eagles, marmots and isards
  • Only carrying a light rucksack
Accommodation and Meals
  • 5 nights in gites and 2 nights in mountain huts. All nights are in dormitory style rooms with shared bathrooms. Dormitories vary in size. Blankets are provided (so you don't need to bring sleeping bags). Tasty and filling meals are taken in a large dining room where a great atmosphere prevails as walkers share their stories and experiences.

What's included
  • 7 nights' Half Board accommodation. Transfer either at the start or end of holiday (1 hour). Full walking notes and maps. Transport of luggage between accommodation (except on two nights).

What's not included
  • Travel to Cauterets or Maillet, lunches, drinks with meals, showers in the mountain huts, any excursions or entrance fees, travel insurance


Locality & Walks

This self-guided walking holiday is a wonderful trek through the High Pyrenees, undertaking an almost complete crossing of the Western Pyrenees National Park. You’ll discover a superb series of must-see sites with water as your guide from the tranquil lakes of Embarrat to the highest waterfall in Europe at Gavarnie Cirque. The stunning high mountains of the Pyrenees National Park are peppered with beautiful lakes, rich green forests and mountain pastures which you’ll discover with a light rucksack, as your bags are transported for you. Parts of your traverse follow the legendary long distance trail, the GR10, whilst at other times you’ll follow quiet and remote paths.

After a relatively easy start you'll do a circular trail around the Carinquere Massif before approaching the highest summit in the Pyrenees, le Vignemale (3298 m) by the hanging Gaube valley. After passing the Hourquette d’Ossoue pass at 2736m you'll traverse above the Ossoue Gorge accompanied by marmots with rich flora in the summer pastures to reach the village of Gavernie below its famous cirque. Your trail goes around Cirque de Gavarnie, the highest limestone mountain & waterfall in Europe.

Walking Profile

6 days independent walking moving between gites and mountain huts with one circular trail. It is graded moderate/challenging with average days which include 5 hours of walking and 800m of ascent & descent (Maximum 1200m). Paths are generally good and well defined, although they can be rocky and mountainous in character in places. You should have a good head for heights and be able to navigate.


pyrenees walking map

Walking Holiday Day-by-day

Day 1: Arrival

Welcome at Cauterets if arriving by train or at Auberge du Maillet if arriving by car.

Day 2: Cauterets - Le Clot

Transfer if you arrived by car. A relatively easy day to start the week. The trail meanders in and out of beech and fir woodland before crossing summer meadows and then onto the edge of the National Park. You will be entering the land of isards, marmots and large birds of prey. 4 hrs, +800m, -200m (optional detour which adds 1hr 30).

Day 3: Tour from Le Clot

A circular trail around the Carinquere Massif in the Marcadau Valley. It crosses summer pastures, climbing and contouring the marvels of this lake land region. You’ll discover the eastern side of the mighty Vignemale Massif. 6hrs, +/-850m

Day 4: Le Clot - Refuge de Baysellance

Today you’ll approach the highest summit in the Pyrenees, le Vignemale (3298 m) by the hanging Gaube valley and its famous lake, loved by the romantic writers such as Sand, Baudelaire and Hugo. You’ll discover a rich flora as you pass through various stages of vegetation to reach the high Hourquette d’Ossoue pass at 2736m, the highest point of the day. 5hrs, +1200m, -100m

Day 5: Refuge de Baysellance - Gavarnie

Another ‘classic’ day, passing under one of the biggest glaciers in the Pyrenees, the Ossoue Glacier. After a spectacular traverse above the Ossoue Gorge, it’s an easy trail, accompanied by marmots with rich flora in the summer pastures. Then cross several wild valleys & reach the village of Gavernie below its famous cirque. 5hrs +200m, -1500m.

Day 6: Gavarnie - Refuge des Espuguettes

Your trail goes around Cirque de Gavarnie, the highest limestone mountain & waterfall in Europe. Despite its popularity, the walk around the cirque provides a relatively wild and very spectacular day out. Your itinerary follows ledges in the cirque but without ever being overly exposed, the walk is still ‘aerial’ and breath-taking. The site also has a rich fauna and flora (birds of prey, marmots, isards) & from your refuge you are often treated to a beautiful sunset. 4hrs 30, +900m, -300m.

Day 7: Refuge des Espuguettes - Le Maillet

After the pleasant crossing of the Cardous Plateau at the foot of the impressive north face of Astazou and Swan Couloir, you pass by Hourquette d'Alans to reach the less frequented but nonetheless wild and beautiful Estaube Cirque which harbours Lake Gloriettes. After a small climb you have a pretty balcony trail which takes you to Troumouse Cirque. Your traverse finishes on reaching Le Maillet. 5hrs 30, +700m, -900m.

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast departure by car or transfer to train station.

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Accommodation & Meals

6 nights half board in friendly, family run, two star hotels and an auberge, four nights of which have swimming pools. Breakfast and evening meals at your hotel. Picnic is not included in the price, but can be ordered from your hosts the evening before.

Name Type Details Rating  
Gite le Maillet Gite and auberge Gite and auberge with 32 places in dormitories in an exceptional mountain setting    
Travel Options

Travel Options

Start at Cauterets station or Auberge de Maillet. If arriving by car: park at Auberge de Maillet and night there before transfer to Cauterets for start of walk. If ariving by train (see below): Arrive at Cauterets station at night at gite de Cauterets with transfer in the morning.

Train: Changes between the Eurostar and TGV are at Lille or Paris. TGV's run from Paris to Toulouse. Regional train from Toulouse to Lourdes. Change & take bus (replaces train) to Cauterets.

Flights: There are flights from French and UK airports to Tarbes-Lourdes airport: Ryan Air on Tuesdays & Saturday from London Stansted or Air France via Paris Orly. Taxi transfers can be arranged on your behalf.

Please visit our travel shop for links to useful sites for reserving airport parking or booking train tickets

Note: Please check concerning the availability of a holiday before booking any flights. If you need further information or would like to discuss any aspect of your travel arrangements, please contact us, we’re here to help you.




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