24 May Hiking the Pyrenees – The Top 10 Things to See on the GR10
The Pyrenees is a wonderful sight to behold. It explodes into the skyline, straddling the French and Spanish border. The snow-capped peaks and the jagged appearance gives a gentle insight into the wilder side of France. However, this collection of peaks delivers some of the most spectacular landscapes and hiking trails in the whole world. It has been protected as the Parc National des Pyrenees since 1967 and this ensures that the beautiful valleys, steep tarns, and pastures that grace the exposed mountainsides are protected for centuries to come.
It has a rugged yet welcoming landscape that is a haven for a range of activities such as skiing and walking holidays in the Pyrenees. However, the GR10 trail is the best way to experience all that this mountain range has to offer. You can wander almost aimlessly, surrounded by breath-taking views and scenery and understand why so many marvel at this part of the world.
On foot, you will have the chance to take in the most beautiful places in the Pyrenees such as grand glacial cirques, clear lakes, and snow-kissed summits. You will come across mesmerising waterfalls and dense forests. It doesn’t get much better than this because the famed GR10 trail carves and curves it way across the high peaks. Footpaths take you straight to the heart of spectacular surroundings.
Be Amazed by the Cirque de Gavarnie
Reaching the high Pyrenees will give you access to one of the most photographed spots in the area. As far as impressive goes, it does not get much better than the Cirque de Gavarnie. The glacial bowl situated beneath the Pic du Marabore has crests of as much as 4,000 metres and it will deliver you with views and scenery that will simply leave you amazed. During summer, access is easy and approaching the bowl is straightforward. Many consider the waterfall, which has a staggering drop of 422 metres to be the real treat but when you stand back and view it all, it is easy to see why so many return time and time again.
Hike across the stunning Pont d’Espagne
This is another popular hiking hotspot that is highly appreciated by many. When you visit the Pyrenees you will not want to leave this behind because it is an area of real natural beauty. This is a world of paradise and a world that will whisk you away from the reality of life where you view the majestic waterfalls and the Vignemale Peak standing at 3298m above sea level. If you take the waterfall path, to Pont d’Espagne, you will come across the sprawling Pyrenees National Park. One of the oldest in France after being established in 1967, it is more than 100km in length and consists of a number of valleys a huge array of wildlife to keep an eye out for. The Meillon monument is a great place to stop and take a look at the beauty that unfolds before you while those of you who like to relax, the Cauterets thermal baths are available to help you unwind.
Take in Lac de Gaube
Following on from Pont d’Espagne for an hour, you will come across the splendid lake de Gaube. Clearwater that glistens and shimmers in the sunshine. At any time of year, this lake will leave you mesmerised while the tranquility and serenity will leave you at one with nature. The sharp peaks and mountainsides that are carpeted in beautiful forests paint a picture of perfection. You can choose to get there by cable car for a price of 15 Euros which will not only give you the opportunity to take a well-deserved break but it will also give you the chance to take in the spectacular surroundings. For those who love their coffee and cake, a lakeside café is just the ticket to fuel you up for the journey ahead.
Capture the Chemin des Cascades
Astonishing waterfalls give this area of the Pyrenees a touch of natural beauty and intrigue as the rivers and streams traverse their way along the rocky peaks and mountainsides. Visiting Chemin des Cascades should definitely be on your list of things to see and doo because it is a completely unforgettable experience. You will need the correct hiking shoes as things can get tricky but more importantly, make sure you have a camera to capture the incredible view and scenery. For those of you who want something more, then hop on the Le Petit train d’Artouste which is the highest train in Europe. As you can imagine, this also offers amazing views while prior to boarding you will be able to view the well-known Pic du Midi d’Ossau
Tackle the Pic du Midi
While the Pyrenees is the gift that keeps on giving, the best panoramic views can be found at the Pic du Midi. This spectacular summit can be reached via cable car but it is an attraction that should certainly be at the top of your list when you hike the GR10 trail. To take the experience to the next level, you can even book a night in a luxurious refuge and spend the night under the stars before waking up to a beautiful sunrise. If you do choose an overnight stay, at the summit, you can access the Charvin dome, where you can use the 400mm Smith-Cassegrain telescope to view the beautiful night sky in all its glory.
The Cauterets to Luchon Stage
Sat at the heart of the Central Pyrenees, this 4th section gives you the opportunity to explore some amazing sites starting with the Gaube Valley. This stage will take you along the Cirque du Gavarnie, the Vignemale – the highest summit in the French Pyrenees and many other impressive sights. Moving from Gavarnie to Luchon, you will make your way through a wide range of lakes and mountain passes where you will be able to take in the views and experience the quaint mountain villages. You will cross the Nature Reserve in Neouville and then move on to the villages of Saint-Lary-Soulan and Germ, the Espingo lake refuge and then Bagneres-de-Luchon.
The Petite Vignemale through the Ossoue Glacier
While the Vignemale might be asking a lot of many, considering its height of 3298m, the Petit Vignemale might be a great alternative for others, standing at 3032m. Approaching this impressive mountain is done via the Ossoue glacier. This will ensure that you access some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the Pyrenees. The best time to visit is during the summer months where the warmth of the summer sun and the unspoiled views across the Ossoue and the Gaube valleys will let your imagination run wild.
Aulus Les Bains to Merens
This stage takes hikers across the western and central areas of the Pyrenees. The mountain peaks leave a jagged mark on the skyline while the deep valleys deliver real character to the GR10 trail. The high plateaus provide a great spot to stop and take in your surroundings and as the trail progresses, the mountains change around you and throw the light in different directions adding mystery and intrigue. You will come across Roman churches, shepherds huts and mountain farms sprinkled around the landscape, which is ideal for those of you who love to immerse yourselves into true history.
Pau / Saint-Lary-Soulan / RéserveNaturelle de Néouvielle
The GR10 trail will take you from the stunning, characteristic village of Saint-Lary and through to the mountain villages of Vallee d’Aure where you will find striking, picturesque medieval churches that were built at a time when the Christian pilgrims hiked across the valley on their way to Spain. Here you can then take in the mesmerising Reserve Naturelle de Néouvielle, continuing your journey up to the peak of Madamete before moving on to Cirque de Troumouse. Here the gigantic vertical walls and glistening meadows along with the bright blue tarns will give you the feeling of another world.
Verney le bains to Banyuls Sur Mer
If you can arrive at Vernet de Bains as early as possible in the day, you will have the chance to visit the Abbey of Saint Martin du Canigou. This is positioned on a rocky peak and the religious community are still frequent visitors today. The Roussillon plains are dominated by the summit of Massif du Canigou and the Mediterranean coastline can be seen in the distance. This shows the stark contrast between the rocky mountains and the golden coastline but there is no better way to complete a journey such as the GR10 trail.