Guided holidays
7 nights - 5 active days
Level :
Type de circuit : RaquettesItinerary : One Centre
Holiday code : FP6PUAZ
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The Best Pyrenean Winter Walks

Truly memorable yet remarkably easy, guided snow-shoe winter walks that feature some of the most iconic mountains and valleys in the Pyrenees - especially in winter - not least the UNESCO Heritage site of the Cirque de Gavarnie. You stay in a wonderfully authentic, yet fully modernised, farmhouse rather than anonymous hotel.

A summary of your journey

Perfect for anyone who loves walking, mountains and snowy landscapes, this holiday uses snow-shoes to enable you to easily and comfortably discover wonderful paths, frozen lakes and waterfalls, high peaks, the inspirational tranquillity of the Pyrenees and its jaw-dropping beauty. In a small group with an English speaking guide, you reach places others simply can't and don't visit in winter. And the accommodation...? Well, it's one of our favourites in the whole of the Pyrenees because of its location, character, hospitality and cusine.

The Plus Points

  • Where you stay
  • Where you walk
  • What you discover
  • How amazing the Pyrenees are

Le programme

The Programme

Day 1

Saturdays: we meet you at Lourdes airport to take you to our hotel in Lourdes for this first night, or if you arrive by train (fast services), you can simply walk the 50 metres to the hotel. You are then free to explore the historic city of Lourdes. If you arrive at Toulouse, then we recommend taking the train or hiring a car, although we can arrange a private transfer for you.
The comfortable three star Hotel Beauséjour is right in the city centre, and in easy walking distance of all places of interest.
Airport transfer time: 15 minutes

Day 2

You can choose to arrive in Lourdes on Sunday (with the price lowered accordingly). Until 18.30 on the Sunday, you are free to explore the city, walk in the surrounding hills (we supply detailed route instructions, and usually they are snow-free). Then you are taken to your accommodation for the next six nights where you will meet your your English speaking guide, and the other group members (minimum 5; maximum 15).
You are fortunate to be staying at one of our favourite places in the whole of the Pyrenees. Why? Well, four main reasons: Les Gerbes has a magnificent location with inspiring panoramic views across the beautiful Gave valley - one of the most attractive valleys in the Pyrenees; it is an historic Bigourdian farmhouse that has been completely yet sensitively modernised to provide the best possible mix of old and new; you have free access to the jacuzzi in the evening, the hospitality and the cooking are not only exceptional, they are just what you want and expect in French mountains in winter; it is excellently located to proivide easy access to some of the very best winter walks in the Pyrenees. It is not an "hotel", and we think all the better for it. This is among the best of authentic Pyrenean accommodation, and you will have the chance to see how accurate this description is before testing the cuisine with a special first night gastronomic experience.
Transfer time: 25 minutes

Day 3

After breakfast, you can have a snow-shoe lesson with your guide. Unlike every other forms of snow travel, snow-shoeing is easy to learn (spoiler alert: it's walking!), quick to master, and not much more tiring than ordinary walking. That's why you'll be eager to get started. You are taken to start at a magnificent location: the 4,500 feet high col de Soulor, a feature of the Tour de France, yet for winter walking it offers fairly level high altitude walking with marvellous panoramic views all around including, far below, the plains of Pau, nearer the traditional villages of the Azun valley, and, way above, the peaks of the Pyrenees. In fact, your total ascent is under 1,000 feet. It is a real pleasure and a privilege to be walking on this circular route to Soum lake and the mountain refuge of Cantau because, simply, you'd never dare to discover it without a guide. Yet this is a comparatively easy walk lasting upto 4 hours with frequent stops, and a picnic supplied by Les Gerbes.
All the same, you will appreciate the comfort and warmth of Les Gerbes before tucking into a well earned dinner.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 300m / - 300m. Transfer time: 40 minutes

Day 4

Today your walk starts at the beautiful high altitude Estaing lake with pine forests and some of the Pyrenees' highest summits reflected in its waters - if it's not frozen over! Here you are walking in the highly protected National Park of the Pyrenees, and will follow tracks through pine forests, along open valleys, and beside streams and waterfalls (probably frozen to provide excellent photographic opportunities). Your guide leads you gently to an especially high valley - the Ilhéou - dwarfed by the granite heights of Grand Barbat and Maleshores among others. It's an inspiring and very satisfying walk, but, again, will last no longer than 4 hours, and the total ascent is only a little more than 1,000 feet.
Les Gerbes will welcome you back.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 350m / - 350m. Transfer time: 30 minutes

Day 5

Today you will enjoy a comparatively easy walk (3 hours or so, and around 1,000 feet of ascent/descent), but discover some of the many joys of snow-shoe walking - not least going to places the vast majority of people don't/can't visit in winter. You start at the high arched stone-built Pont d'Espagne where you will see the first of many frozen waterfalls that often look more like dramatic ice sculptures. You walk up beside streams and through pine forests to reach the legendary Gaube lake dominated by the pinnacle that is Vignemale - 10,000 feet high, and the highest mountain in the French Pyrenees. The lake will be frozen, and everything snow covered. It really does look like virgin territory.
By now, Les Gerbes feels like home in the very best senses.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 350m / - 350m. Transfer time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Day 6

Hautacam is a renowned Tour de France destination, and a downhill ski resort at well over 5,000 feet - but that's not why you are here today. Now you've got your snow-shoe legs working well, there's a little more ascent/descent today (still less than 1,500 feet), but absolutely worth it primarily for the incredible views. You walk along ridges with amazing views all around including the mesmerising Pic du Midi, other major summits (your guide will identify all of them for you) and the lovely in summer/dramatic in winter heart shaped Isaby lake. You may be reading this thinking "what? More peaks, lakes and snow?" but you won't when you are there we promise!
Your penultimate night at Les Gerbes.
Walking time: 4 to 5 hours. Elevation: + 450m / - 450m. Transfer time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Day 7

A lovely last day with a walk to the Hautacam for a 360 ° view both towards the plain and towards the observatory of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, perched at 2877m. The route is traversal and then climbs to the large ridges that lead to the Pic de Barran and the Pic de Mont. Fun descent northward to the valley floor. Your last snow-shoe walk ever? We doubt it! Special dinner to celebrate the last evening.
Your last night, and a final gastronomic dinner to say au revoir to your guide, your new found friends, and Les Gerbes.
Walking time: 4 hours. Elevation: + 350m / - 350m. Transfer time: 2 hours

Day 8

After breakfast on Saturday morning, sadly we have to take you to the train station in Lourdes, or to Tarbes-Lourdes airport. A la prochaine!
Transfer time: 35 minutes
  • Détails Pratiques
  • Equipement
  • Formalités et Santé
  • Informations COVID-19


This holiday for English speakers has a fluent English speaking guide as well as being for French speakers. It starts on Saturdays to coincide with the weekly flight from London Stansted to Lourdes - by far the lowest cost, fastest and most direct journey from the UK.
Saturday arrivals: we will meet the London flight, and take you to the hotel in Lourdes, then leave you free to explore the city.
Sunday arrivals: if you choose to arrive at Toulouse by air or train, we recommend you catch a train to Lourdes, although you could drive your own car or hire a car.
Sunday meeting point: whichever way you travel or day you arrive, the meeting point is at 18.30 in front of Lourdes railway station where you will meet your guide, and be taken to the holiday accomodation.


On the Saturday at the end of the holiday, we will get you to Lourdes train station by 09.00, and Tarbes-Lourdes airport by 09.30 in time for the London flight.


Each day the time spent on your snow-shoe walking journey will vary between 2 and 4 hours including rests etc. The total daily ascent/descent will range from 300 to 450 metres (900 to 1,500 feet). This is far less than a summer walking holiday, and is intended to be comfortable for anyone who can walk for 4 hours or more in hills and valleys.






You only need carry a small rucksack for any personal items, extra clothing, camera etc. The hotel provides a picnic each walking day, which you will be expected to carry.


We have found that our customers really enjoy being in a small group that includes both English and French speakers. The minimum group size is 5, and the maximum is 15. There is no minimum/maximum for English speakers. The guide will speak at least good conversational English, and usually speak fluent English, or be bi-lingual.


Les Gerbes is a wonderfully located, superbly modernised, authentic Bigourdian farmhouse that has been awarded 4 "chambre d'hotes" stars. The charming bedrooms have double or twin beds, and private bathrooms with shower. Downstairs there is an attractive lounge with bare stone walls, locally made wooden furniture and, importantly after a day's walking, a bar! In a cabin on the terrace is a jacuzzi for you to enjoy when you please - after the walk is pretty popular as you might imagine.


Meals: continental style breakfast at the Lourdes hotel, and each morning thereafter (copious quantities!). There will be special dinners on the first and last nights at Les Gerbes, and on other nights meals consist of locally sourced traditional dishes with contemporary twists. Wine and coffee is included with each dinner. Hotel supplied picnics for each walking day are also included.


Transfers are by minibus or taxi.

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 ?


  • 1 travel bag per person (or wheeled suitcase). Do not take too much luggage to avoid logistical issues for the transporter. On itinerant or semi-itinerant trips, also limit the weight of your travel bag to 10-12 kgs, as where there is difficult access to certain accommodation too much weight could jeopardize the delivery of your luggage. Do not leave fragile or valuable objects in your luggage.
  • 1 rucksack of about 35-40 litres, with ventral waistband, wide shoulder straps and a well-ventilated back for your comfort. You must also be able to fix the skis to your rucksack.


      • 1 hat, or cap, scarf, or fleece choker
      • 1 warm, light fleece
      • 1 ski mask, useful in case of bad weather
      • 1 pair of warm and waterproof gloves "Gore-tex" type
      • 1 pair of thin gloves
      • 1 pair of spare warm mittens (or gloves) to put in the bottom of your bag
      • T-shirts made of breathable material (micro fleece type) with long sleeves (1 every 2-3 days) and 1 or 2 with short sleeves
      • 1 thin fleece (optional)
      • 1 warm fleece jacket (even water-repellent type "softshell") or type "primaloft" (warm and compressible)
      • 1 waterproof and breathable jacket "Gore-tex" type with hood
      • 1 solid and waterproof mountain trousers + over trousers ("Gore-tex" type)
      • 1 pair of gaiters (only if your trousers are not equipped)
      • 1 pair of thermal under trousers
      • Underwear
      • Warm socks (at least 1 pair every 2 days) synthetic and / or wool ("Coolmax" type)
      • Comfortable clothes and shoes for the evening


          • 1 large plastic bag to slip into your backpack to protect your belongings from the weather and / or rucksack cover.
          • 1 waterproof pouch with: your identity papers, details of your insurance and any other document mentioned in the formalities section
          • 1 pair of good quality wrap around sunglasses (level 3 protection) + sunscreen with good protection and lip balm (all to be carried in your rucksack)
          • 1 insulated gourd or 1.5 litre aluminium bottle (avoid backpack water carriers, risk of freezing)
          • 1 small thermos 50 cl (optional, useful if you want to bring tea, coffee...)
          • 1 plastic or aluminium cup with insulated handle 1 folding pocketknife
          • For your picnic: cutlery and 1 plastic box of 0,5 litres minimum type Tupperware
          • Toiletries
          • Ear plugs (in case your neighbours snore)
          • Tissues
          • Toilet paper (burn, do not leave on the ground)
          • 1 lighter
          • 1 head torch or flashlight + survival blanket: to always put in your rucksack, an unforeseen delay following an incident can take place even during an easy hike
          • Spare glasses (if you wear glasses)
          • Camera, binoculars, drawing equipment ... (optional)


              The guide is equipped with a first aid kit but is not intended to provide for all of your needs for small issues
              Security equipment (Avalanche victim detector, shovels, probes), mandatory each day


              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.

              DISPOSITIONS COVID-19

              Because of the added health precautions relating to COVID, you must be equipped from the start of your trip with:

              * a sufficient quantity of masks (at a rate of 2 per day minimum). Wearing a mask will be compulsory during any transport, in certain accommodation, crowded places etc.

              * zipped pockets for masks and other items such as used tissues

              * hydro-alcoholic gel

              * a thermometre to take your temperature in case of symptoms appearing during your stay

              * a pen (sometimes necessary to sign an agreement in certain accommodation).

              The hosts who will welcome you (hoteliers, refuge guards, restaurateurs, transporters, local teams ...) are the people who will help to guarantee the smooth running of your stay and will ask you to conform with certain health related protocols. Out of respect for them and other people who frequent the same places, we ask you to commit to respecting the instructions given to you.

              Be reassured and optimistic, because as you know, hiking is an activity that will allow you long and enjoyable periods of time during which the wearing of a mask is not mandatory!

              On our guided trips we do not insist that you take a single room if you are travelling alone. If you book a shared " twin" room with 2 beds you agree to assume responsibility for the possible consequences related to sharing the room (and therefore the bathroom and toilet) with another person from the group. If you do not wish to do this you should take the single room option, subject to availability

              Thank you for your interest in the trips presented on this website.

              Purely Pyrenees is based in the French Pyrenees and we are specialists in creating and organising walking and cycling holidays in this region, both in France and in Spain.
              Our parent company, La Balaguère*, has provided holidays for French walkers for nearly forty years.
              Due to the problems we have experienced following the global pandemic, notably the difficulty experienced by English speaking customers being able to travel to the Pyrenees, we have taken the decision to stop selling our trips directly from this site.

              Our holidays will soon be available again through trusted partner agencies and more information on this will soon be available on this page.
              If you would like any further information at this time, please do not hesitate to contact us at

              *La Balaguère is part of the non profit organisation UCPA.

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              Prolongez votre séjour

              "In winter, the clothes that you chose for walking are very important. Here are some tips to equip yourself properly on a hike, and to not forget the spares that you need in your luggage. It is important to distinguish between trips where you stays in the same hotel every night, where you move accommodation every night, or where you stay in a mountain refuge. "
              Sally Simmonds
              Walking and cycling holidays
              See the article
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