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

Your Holiday at a Glance

Independent Walking Holiday
  • Pyrenees GR10: Part 7, Merens - Vernet-les-Bains

Dates for 2023
  • 15 June - 30 September (every day subject to availability)
  • From £790 / €870
  • Without bag transfer: less £200 / €230 per booking
  • All prices per person, except where stated
  • challenging walking in french pyrenees
  • 7 nights, 6 day's self-guided walking moving between accommodation
  • A part of the itinerary walking in the Natural Park of the Catalan Pyrenees
  • Crossing of the Cerdagne high plateau and its mountain villages
  • Discovering the site of Bouillouses and its numerous lakes
  • The Nature Reserves of Mantet and Py
  • An itinerary blessed bythe Catalan sun
Accommodation and Meals
  • Half board

    5 nights in private rooms & 2 nights in shared dormitories.

    Bring a sack sheet (blankets provided)

What's included
  • Half board accommodation
  • Transfers days 5 & 6
  • Luggage transport except for 2 nights in refuges
  • Dossier containing maps, route notes (1 for 4 persons, given in 1st accommodation)
  • GPS tracks if you ask us + access to the detailed itinerary on the Mhikes GPS mobile application
What's not included
  • Travel to Merens les Val and from Vernet-les-Bains
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Holiday and travel insurance
  • Showers in the mountain huts
  • Additional transfers
  • Entrance fees, additional activities
  • Drinks and picnics

Locality & Walks

This self-guided walking holiday is the sixth part of a wonderful & dramatic 415km crossing of the Pyrenees Mountain chain between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean along the GR10 long distance trail. You'll amble through stunning scenery that varies enormously, with flower-filled meadows, sparkling lakes, cirques and high summits. You’ll get a taste of many different cultures, from the Basque country by the Atlantic to Catalonia by the Mediterranean. Each valley you pass through has its own distinct flavour.

This section of the GR10 long distance trail goes from Merens to Vernet-les-Bains. From Merens the high mountains open up and offer wonderful hiking to the Refuge of Bésines, at an altitude of 2104m. Another highlight is the the trail that passes the numerous and beautiful Bouillouses lakes. Perched at 2020m altitude in the Carlit Massif, this area forms part of the wider Cerdagne Plateau which is known for its far-reaching views and sunny climate. You'll also cross the high plateau of the Capcir towards the Pays de Conflent enjoying wonderful views along the way. As well as some lovely mountain villages, you'll also discover the gorge of Caranca and the nature reserves of Mantet and Py on your way to Vernet-les-Bains.

Walking Profile

6 days independent walking moving everyday between accommodation. It is graded challenging with two days with over 1000m of altitude gain, the longest day having +1300m of ascent. Average days include 6 hours hours walking and 800m of ascent & descent. Details are provided with the descriptions below. Paths are generally good and well defined, although they are often rocky and mountainous in character. You should have a good head for heights and be able to navigate.


location map cauterets luchon pyrenees

Walking Holiday Day-by-day

Day 1: Arrival in Merens

Arrive at your accommodation. Depending on your arrival time, you can visit the village or go hiking.
The Col de Joux
A loop walk that starts on open ground and then enters the forest to reach the Col de Joux between the Ariège and Orgeix valleys. The ridge passages offer beautiful views of the surrounding peaks, including the Dent d'Orlu.
The Etang de Comte
Walk along the Mourguilhou stream, through pastures filled with gentians and rhododendrons, to the pretty and bucolic Comte pond.

  • Distance: 11.5km, duration : about 4h30, altitude gain : + 700m, descent : - 700m.
  • Distance: 12km, duration : about 4h50, altitude gain : + 760m, descent : - 760m.

Day 2: Merens - Besines Refuge

From Mérens, the GR10 leaves the Haute-Ariège to approach the Capcir region. This is a classic Pyrenean walk of deep valleys and passes. A long ascent along the valley and the torrent of the Nabre will lead you to the Porteille des Besines, at 2333m. Then descend to the Etang des Bésines and its guarded refuge. From the terrace of the refuge, the view towards the Etang des Besines and the nearby Pic Pédros is superb.

  • Distance : 9km, duration : about 4h45, altitude gain : +1305m, descent : -260m.

Day 3: Besines Refuge - Lake Bouillouses

From the Besines refuge, the itinerary crosses the Coume d'Anyell pass at an altitude of 2391m, before descending to the Lanoux lake, at the base of the Carlit mountains. Lake Lanoux is the largest in the French Pyrenees, with its surface area of 1.71 km². During your descent to the Lac des Bouillouses, through the Porteille de La Grave, take the time to observe your surroundings, which are favourable for encountering isards and mouflons.

  • Distance : 16km, duration : about 5h45, altitude gain : +695m, descent : -750m.

Day 4: Lake Bouillouses - Planes

Starting from Les Bouillouses, a walker's paradise and reminiscent of the wilds of Canada, the GR10 goes through plateaux, mountain lakes and forests. After reaching Bolquere, close to the famous resort of Font Romeu, you will cross the vast high and sunny plateau of Cerdagne, a landscape found nowhere else in the Pyrenees. Then you will reach Planes, a magnificent village with its Romanesque church, unique in Europe with its trefoil plan.

  • Distance : 19km, duration : about 6h00, altitude gain : +230m, descent : -745m.

Day 5: Planes - Caranca Refuge

The profile of the walk is reminiscent of a rollercoaster, with frequent descents into valleys and crossing high passes and plateaux. Today's walk crosses, the Pla de Cédeilles (1911m), and the Mitja pass (2367m), a remarkable vantage point to admire the nearby Capcir and the emblematic Pic du Carlit. The influence of the Mediterranean starts to become more noticable in the vegetation at lower levels.

  • Distance : 15km, duration : about 6h30, altitude gain : +1190m, descent : -890m.

Day 6: Caranca Refuge - Py

Today, you will walk from the refuge of Caranca to the hamlet of Py. The GR10 crosses the reserve natural of Mantet and then the reserve of Py. There is a passage across the Col del Pal (2294m), with a wonderful panorama. If the weather is good, a short round trip (+1h30) to the easy Serre Gallinière peak will allow you to get even better panoramic views.  And after the Alemany valley and reserve, you will join the village of Py, where you spend the night.

  • Distance : 16km, duration : about 6h45, altitude gain : +860m, descent : -1665m.

Day 7 : Py - Vernet-les-Bains

From the village of Py, the Mediterranean atmosphere becomes more and more pronounced, especially with regard to the vegetation. A balcony route over the Rotja valley leads to the Goa tower located on a small natural platform offering a beautiful panorama of the Canigou peak and the Haut Conflent. A ridge path followed by a forest descent then leads you to Vernet-les Bains.

  • Distance : 9,5km, duration : about 4h00, altitude gain : +510m, descent : -870m.

Day 8: Departure

Holiday ends after breakfast.


gr10 trek pyrenees ariege

self guided walking pyrenees traverse gr10 France

lake mountains hiking trip pyrenees

gr10 french pyrenees self-guided walker

refuge GR10 trek france

high mountains lake hiking trip europe

walking holiday in France sel-guided

valley walking long distance trail atlantic mediterranean





Accommodation & Meals

2 nights in room in a guest house on days 1 and 6
1 night in room in hotel** on day 4
1 night in room in an “auberge de montagne” on day 3
2 nights in shared dormitory in mountain refuges on days 2 and 5 (bring a sack sheet (blankets provided)). Breakfasts are continental breakfasts (tea, coffee, milk, butter, jam) and evening meals in gites are often based on local specialities. Picnics and drinks are not included.

Name Type Details Rating  
Travel Options

Travel Options

How to get to Merens:

  • - By air :
    Toulouse-Blagnac airport (140km) : tel 0033 (0)561424400, shuttle service to Toulouse Matabiau train station all the 20mn.

    - By train :
    Many trains from Toulouse Matabiau train station to Latour-de-Carol ; get off the train in Merens les Vals.

    - By car :
    From Toulouse, 140km, auto route A61 to Pamiers (direction Andorre/Foix).
    To go to Merens les Vals from Foix, direction Tarascon sur Ariège, Ax-les-Thermes.

    Parking in the village, or train station parking.

Depart from Vernet-les-Bains:

Shuttle service from Vernet to Villefranche de Conflent. From Villefranche-de-Conflent, train to Perpignan.
To join Merens les Vals from Vernet-les Bains :
Shuttle service from Vernet to Villefranche de Conflent. From Villefranche-de-Conflent, train to Latour-de-Carol. From Latour-de-Carol train station, take a train to Merens les Vals (Latour-de-Carol to Toulouse route).

Public transports
Informations SNCF: https://uk.voyages-sncf.com/en

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.




Pyrenees GR10 walking holiday pic carlit cerdagne cerdan
view lakes mountains pyrenees hiking trail france gr10
glaciated valley trekking pyrenees walking holiday
GR10 trek pyrenees france spain
mountain lake independent trekking holiday french pyrenees europe
pyrenees independent walking high mountains self-guided trip europe