High Pyrenees
From 1095
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7 nights, 6 walking days
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Itinerary : Hotel to Hotel
Holiday code : FP2PUPI
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The Best Of The High Pyrenees : From Lourdes To The Stars

An exceptional itinerary with all the top highlights of the High Pyrenees - turquoise lakes, verdant valleys, innumerable waterfalls, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cirque du Gavarnie. Also featuring great walking on ancient footpaths, authentic cuisine, and an unforgettable night staying at the Summit Observatory of the Pic du Midi. You will be starstruck!

A summary of your journey

We make it possible to enjoy discovering this wonderful region on foot by including transfers that ensure you only walk "the best bits", so, although this is in the High Pyrenees, anyone who is reasonably fit and used to walking will find that this is one of their most memorable walking holidays ever - for all the best reasons.
You also stay in good quality, authentic hotels, so your creature comforts are well taken care of as well. To really appreciate what this holiday offers, we'd suggest you read the itinerary below - then decide for yourself.
This itinerary includes several private transfers to enable you to only walk the "best bits". Inevitably, this adds to the holiday cost, so it cannot be directly compared with apparently similar holidays.

The Plus Points

  • Transfers from and to Lourdes (other transfers available)
  • Daily transfers to ensure you experience only the "best bits"
  • Luggage transfers every day (except one) so you only carry a daysack
  • Characteristic hotels with dinner included
  • 24/7 customer service

Day 1

Arrival at Cauterets
We meet you at Lourdes airport, train station or hotel (if you have taken a night to discover this iconic town), and transfer you up into the Pyrenees to the still attractive and vibrant mountain town of Cauterets, which in the 19th century was packed with Romantic authors and artists as well as the affluent bourgeoisie all "taking the waters" (what the French call "the cure"), thanks to its natural, health-giving thermal springs, and exploring the other natural wonders of the region, not least using its funicular railway. Alternatively, you can drive yourself to Cauterets, and then use your car each day, which reduces the holiday price considerably.
You stay for the first three nights at the remarkable three star Hôtel le Lion d'Or - remarkable because its owes its existence and origins to those affluent times, and remarkable too because you walk into a seemingly brand spanking new 19th century hotel, but gradually discover that it has undergone a comprehensive and very expensive refurbishment that retains all its 19th features, yet now includes state of the art 21st century showers (to name but one thing). The restaurant too serves the sort of authentic regional cuisine that those needing to take the cure (then and today) appreciate.
Transfer time : 50 minutes.

Day 2

Gaube lake
We take you on the short transfer so you can start from the photogenic stone bridge called the Pont d'Espagne with its impressive waterfalls, and from there you walk up through pine forests to appreciate one of the most memorable views in the High Pyrenees : the massive Vignemale mountain and the glacier of Petit Vignemale reflected in Gaube lake. After breaking the spell of that view, you follow a path alongside a tumbling torrent with frequent waterfalls surrounded by forests and alpine type meadows before arriving at the mountain refuge of Les Oulettes from where climbers often launch their attempts on the north face of Vignemale (3,000 feet of climbing heaven or hell, depending on your point of view). You then descend by delightful paths for the short transfer back to Cauterets.
You will appreciate all the modern comforts of the Hôtel le Lion d'Or when you return - and thoroughly appreciate a well earned dinner.
Walking time : 5h. Distance : 15,5km. Elevation : + 700m / - 700m. Transfer time : 15 minutes.

Day 3

Embarrat lake and Marcadau valley
After a short transfer, you stroll quietly across the Clot plateau (but not feeling like one, we hope), and then the Cayan plateau where the torrent from the slopes above snakes its way between pine trees, and forms small islands in mid-stream. The source of some of the streams you pass are the impressive Embarrat and Pourtet lakes you now reach at well over 7,000 feet (remembering that you did not start at sea level, but were already at many thousands of feet up). Rising even higher are the granite "needles" of Castet-Abarca walked on only, but not infrequently, by Pyrenean chamois. You now have the privilege of walking down the Marcadau valley, which Walkopedia says is one of the world's best walks, and Cicerone describes as a walkers' paradise, but you can decide for yourselves what you call it. As you get lower, so the pine forests reappear, and the stream gets rather more calm, cool and collected.
Its here you will see the large and impressive Refuge Wallon on its literally outstanding site (drinks and snacks usually available) close to a lovely little chapel. You return to the Pont d'Espagne where we transfer you back to Cauterets.
You will again appreciate all the modern comforts of the Hôtel le Lion d'Or when you return - and thoroughly appreciate a well earned dinner.
Walking time : 5h or 6h30. Distance : 16km or 19,5km. Elevation : + 400 or + 960m / - 400m or - 960m. Transfer time : 15 minutes.

Day 4

Cirque de Gavarnie
Today we transfer you to what most people regard as the most exceptional and memorable site in the whole of the Pyrenees, the Cirque de Gavarnie. We drop you off in the village of Gavarnie from where you walk fairly gently up a wide path on a mountain "balcony » to the Bellevue plateau with privileged panoramas of the high mountain scenery all around you. From the top, you descend into the centre of the enormous natural "amphitheatre" that is the Cirque du Gavarnie with its myriad waterfalls - many impressively long and powerful - sheer bare rock cliffs, and contrasting peaceful valley bottom. The appropriately named Grande Cascade at about 1,300 feet is over 300 feet higher than the Eiffel Tower (300 feet!), and one of the highest in Europe. The bucolic final section is along the valley bottom, or, more challengingly, by the Espugues route, which follows an attractive rocky valley. Either way you arrive at Gerdre-Gavarnie village. Truly memorable, we are confident you will agree.
You stay two nights at the recently refurbished, very comfortable and renowned three star Hôtel de la Brèche de Roland with its impressive and enjoyable restaurant serving local traditional dishes transformed into contemporary masterpieces by chef-owner Philippe Pujo. The Brèche de Roland - Roland's Breach - is a 40 metre wide, 100 metre high gap in the cliffs dividing the two sides of the High Pyrenees, and legend claims it was cut by Count Roland using his sword Durendal after losing the 8th century Battle of Roncesvalles.
Walking time : 4h. Distance : 9,5km. Elevation : + 500m / - 500m. Transfer time : 1 hour.

Day 5

Cirque de Troumouse
We transfer you to the auberge at Maillet from where you gradually walk up, passing herds of summer pasturing long horned cattle, to the incredible glacially created "arena" that is the Cirque de Troumousse rising to almost 10,000 feet all around you. There can be no doubts about why this whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You walk across the plateau in the middle of the Cirque with its wildflower meadows and streams before arriving at the Aires lake where there is also a refuge cabin. Having spent plenty of time taking it all in, you now descend down good footpaths to the 16th century pilgrimage Heas chapel built to house a wooden Black Madonna found by local shepherds, and which miraculously (say some) survived an avalanche. From here we transfer you back to your hotel.
The welcome comforts of the Breche de Roland await you.
Walking time : 4h30. Distance : 10km. Elevation : + 450m / - 700m. Transfer time : 30 minutes.

Day 6

Etc Coubous valley (Néouvielle) and night at the summit of the Pic du Midi
Today you walk mainly in the wonderful Ets Coubous valley, which offers a succession of lovely lakes where the colour of the water changes as do the reflections as you walk by. It is an altogether enjoyable walk that enables you to really immerse yourselves in the endless panoramas and beauties of the High Pyrenees. Thoughts of home and work seem a million miles away, and you will hopefully fully appreciate the tranquillity that comes from being among, and almost part of, these magnificent mountains. But now a change of pace is forced upon you as we transfer you to the village of La Mongie, itself a ski resort at 6,000 feet, where you take the cabin car up and up and up another 3,000 feet to the summit of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre for your unforgettable night "among" the stars.
The Observatory was begun in 1878, and its telescope was funded by NASA to photograph the moon in preparation for the Apollo landings. Now it is primarily used for visitor purposes you will be pleased to learn, and has a new planetarium experience. The daytime views across what feels like endless miles of mountains is matched at nightime by almost literally endless views of the stars - crisp, clear and apparently very close due to your altitude and the absence of light pollution. The Hôtellerie du Pic du Midi right by the Observatory offers a welcome cocktail to enjoy as you stand on the terrace watching the sun go down. After dinner, you are given a guided "tour" of the heavens, and a privileged visit inside the Observatory itself.
Walking time : 5h. Distance : 10km. Elevation : + 700m / - 700m. Transfer time : 1h15.

Day 7

Descent of the Pic du Midi
On your descent of the Pic du Midi, via the historical "Chemin des Muletiers" (the "Muleteers' Path"), originally taken by the men who built the observatory, you will walk down past the Hôtellerie des Laquets (old, unused hotel) before coming to the ruins of the former observatory at the Col de Sencours. The descent continues down through a gorgeous valley, through high-altitude grazing areas and shepherds' huts, but it is also possible to take the cable car down. Transfer to Lourdes.
You stay the last night at the three star Hôtel Beauséjour in the centre of Lourdes enabling you to visit the religious sites, and take the funicular up to Jer peak, which has exceptional panoramic views.
Walking time : 4h30. Distance : 10km. Elevation : - 1500m. Transfer time : 1 hour.

Day 8

End of stay
After breakfast, we take you to Lourdes station, airport or other location as agreed in advance.
Transfer time : 20 minutes.
  • Practical details
  • Equipment
  • Formalities, Health

PROGRAM OF DEPARTURES

15 June to 30 September

MEETING POINT

We return you to Lourdes (Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées) airport or Lourdes station, but for a supplement you can choose Toulouse, Pau or Biarritz. Or, if you have brought your own car, then you can depart from the last hotel.

END OF STAY

We return you to Lourdes (Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées) airport or Lourdes station, but for a supplement you can choose Toulouse, Pau or Biarritz. Or, if you have brought your own car, then you can depart from the last hotel.

LEVEL

This holiday features mainly comfortable, but some challenging walking, so is suitable for people who are reasonably fit, and used to walking (albeit "gently") for much of a day. On most days there are choices of itineraries, which you can decide for yourselves each day. It can get hot in July and August, as well as more crowded. We would recommend June and from mid August through September as the best months.

GUARANTEED DEPARTURE FROM (PERS)

2

LUGGAGE TRANSPORTATION

We will transfer your luggage between each hotel, so all you need to carry when walking is a daysack with whatever you regard as essentials. This does not apply to the night on the Pic du Midi when you will need to carry any washing essentials and clothing changes you consider necessary.

SUPERVISION

This is an independent, self-guided holiday.

ACCOMMODATION

You stay in double or twin en suite rooms for 6 nights in three star hotels, and one night in a room at the Observatory.

MEALS

You will eat well. Dinners are based on set menus featuring regional specialities usually with 3 or 4 choices for each of three courses, but you can pay locally for upgraded choices. Breakfast is included every morning as are picnics on days when there are no shops or cafes/restaurants - and, anyway, you can always ask the hotel the night before to make a picnic, which you can pay for locally.

TRANSFERS

Usually transfers are in people carriers, mini-buses, cars or taxis. Often they will be exclusively for you.

CONTENTS OF YOUR TRAVEL FOLDER

When we have received your balance of payment for your holiday, and in the month before departure, we send you all the documentation you need: detailed itinerary showing dates, times, contact details etc; a detailed guide to your walking route (with options) and lots of cultural, historical and nature background information; formal documents (invoices, contracts etc); luggage labels etc. If you book at the last minute, we can send this information to your first night hotel.

To make the right choice

Have a look at our detailed explanations on the types of hiking, the standards of accommodation, and understand baggage transport ... How to choose your trip ?

LUGGAGE 

  • A soft travel bag, avoid suitcases, which are more cumbersome and limit the weight of your belongings to 10 kg.
  • A small backpack of 30 litres minimum for your daytime requirements.

CLOTHES 

  • A waterproof and breathable jacket (Gore-Tex type)
  • A fleece or a sweater
  • A raincoat (poncho)
  • Walking trousers
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 hat
  • Shorts
  • A bathing suit + towel
  • Several pairs of socks (not too large)
  • Underwear
  • 1 pair of trainers
  • Loose clothing for the evening

EQUIPMENT TO BRING 

  • 1 pair of walking shoes that have been used before
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip protection
  • 1 bottle (allow 2 to 3 litres per person per day in summer)
  • A Tupperware type plastic bowl for the picnic + cutlery
  • 1 compass
  • Waterproof map cover (advised)
  • 1 head torch in your rucksack (for safety)
  • 1 survival cover (from a chemist)
  • 1 mobile phone (advised)
  • Camera and why not a novel, your watercolours or other desires...
  • Your identification documents

FORMALITIES

You need to keep your passport with you at all times, and ideally insurance information. You need to make your own arrangements to claim local healthcare. There are requirements in France and Spain for all vehicles to carry safety equipment.
Click on the price that corresponds to your choice.
FromToFrom / to holiday startFrom / to arrival airport
Fri 15/06/2018Sun 30/06/20181 095 € 1 665 €
Sun 01/07/2018Fri  31/08/20181 165 € 1 735 €
Sun 01/09/2018Sun 15/09/20181 095 € 1 665 €
 
List of additional options (to select later)
TitleTime periodPrice
Single room sup. / pers. subject to availabilityfrom 15/06/2018 to 15/09/2018485 €

THE PRICE INCLUDES

7 nights dinner, bed and breakfast; people transfers; luggage transfers; detailed walking instructions; 1:25,000 IGN map; 24/7 customer phone service.

THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

The journey to the start point, and from the finish point, except as specified; lunches except when picnics are included; drinks with meals; non-standard menu items; entry fees; personal and travel insurance.
Provided by TransferMate

You can change the itinerary, and receive revised information

Want to change the itinerary? Complete the form below, and we will send you a revised itinerary as soon as possible.

 

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