"Pyrenées - Incredible Beauty" Gavarnie by Trekki

Gavarnie Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 26 photos

(despite being UNESCO :-)

Well, I would never have thought that I will voluntarily visit a UNESCO heritage site, but…. never say never. And in case of the beautiful scenery of the Pyrenées, it is even easier to get far off the crowds from the bus loads by hiking (luckily not all of bus loads hike – oh yes, I am bad, I know…)

My intention was a long circle hike around the Cirque de Gavarnie, and eventually visit one of my wish places – Ice Cave of Casteret, but due to the weather conditions, the plan was changed. Not that I don’t like wind and cold weather, but hiking in soft snow, where below the little mountain rivers develop in late spring, is not at all fun, despite crampons and ice axis.

So, it was only two days in the French part of the Pyrenées National Park, and then to the Spanish part, which is Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido, and surroundings.
What made this trip special as well was driving through the landscape to get from A to B, mainly in this time of year, late spring, with all the variety of landscape, deep canyons, folded mountains, different wildflowers, and their smell…:-) and even collecting wild thyme.

It was my first time there, the landscape is amazing, the food exceptional, and Spain is quite reasonable compared to other countries - and I might return and completely forget the busy and overcrowded Alps in Germany, Austria, Swizzerland and Italy. (Plus, the more I think about it, it is even cheaper to get there, with Lufthansa flights for 99 Euro…., than to take the train into the Alps, which, even with my Bahncard would be more than 150 Euro).

I just found a website of a German guy with so beautiful pictures, but taken during a summer trip. He went to almost all places, I would like to have gone, but did not due to weather.
Please see here: Picture website of Pyrenées hikes (maybe you need to click to "Bilder" (left) and then "2004-Pireneos".

So, my writings about this short hiking trip are:
1. Gavarnie (in France) to Refuge des Sarradets (on this page here);
2. Canyon de Anisclo and the beautiful town of Fanlo

I will only write about my hike here, and not write tips on restaurants and accomodation or shopping.

But some words:
Gavarnie is (=seems to be) a town which is completely devoted to bus tourism. This I can easily state, even if I was there in end of May. The parking lots are designed for huge amounts of busses, it has innumerous shops with all kinds of kitschy souvenirs, a lot of restaurants and accomodation, and I even saw a place, where in summer obviously 50-60 horses or mules can be “parked” to be afterwards loaded with tourists which want to be taken up to the waterfalls.
I did not see any house which does not have anything to do with tourism.
But, obviously, travellers who arrive “out of season”, seem not to be very welcomed (or maybe as it was obvious that I won’t stay in town?), so food is not easy to get, some are either closed (as the cook only returns for the bus loads), or serve only snacks. The pizzeria there is quite good (funny native america interior design), and also serves non-italian food.
And, I did not see a shop to buy supplies (food etc). So if you plan hiking, bring your supplies and do not rely on finding some there.

Ah, and before I get misunderstood - the landscape around the town cannot be blamed for the bus loads, it (landscape) is just too beautiful.
In a way, I also understand the restaurant / shop / hotel owners: if the bus loads come, why not take advantage :-)

But at least I had wonderful solitude up in the mountains and away from town and could even better enjoy and breathe in the incredible magic landscape :-)))))
(despite my cursing sometimes when I ended up deep in the snow again... :-)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Exceptional landscape
  • Cons:Busloads of tourists into town of Gavarnie (aarrgg)
  • In a nutshell:If you hike - you'll be safe of the crowds :-)
  • Last visit to Gavarnie: May 2005
  • Intro Updated Dec 29, 2011
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Reviews (9)

Comments (24)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    Makes me feel cold just looking at this, but the scenery, wow! fabulous!! I love mountains like this.

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Jun 19, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      Thanks Dee :-)) Ah yes, I could have a slight bit of cool air right now :-) We are melting here...now I mean.

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    What a great mountain-scenery and an interesting hoteltip, especially the out-of-season hotel there !!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    Great hiking tips Ingrid. You are a brave soul to hike during the winter. I enjoyed your lovely photographs. Have a great day!

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2009 at 11:53 PM

    Ingrid- the only way I will ever experience this wonderful area (especially hiking) is through your eyes.Thank you. The scenery must also be magnificent in spring & summer.Good tips & pictures

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Dec 1, 2008 at 5:12 AM

    Well, I for one admire your quest for adventure. The Pyranees do look absolutely beautiful. What an experience it must have been. This is not for the faint-hearted (like me).

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2008 at 4:06 AM

    I thoroughly enjoyed taking this hike with you, Ingrid. Such spectacular scenery, very impressed by the waterfall going sideways! Must have been huge winds. Top stuff.

  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2007 at 5:28 PM

    Your page revives memories from long time ago. When I was there the first time 20 years ago there were no buses, and I was alone hiking to the Cirque de Gavarnie LOL BTW Here in NZ sheep have colourful spots on their backs after sex... ;-) Sissi

  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo
    Jul 5, 2007 at 4:35 AM

    Absolutely fabulous!!! The write-up and the photos... simply breathtaking scenery. Thanks Ingrid! :)

  • olja1234's Profile Photo
    Jun 24, 2007 at 2:53 AM

    Outstanding! I enjoyed in your tips and photos.

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2007 at 10:19 AM

    An interesting tale about Roland and his sword, a beautiful view from Col de Tourmalet. What would be better then mountains? Only mountains! Thanks Ingrid for sharing!


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