I’d been to the Spanish Pyrenees (see Trip 13) so I wanted to try the French side of the mountain range. Ever since childhood, I’d heard of Gavarnie and its cirque so it was my first choice to check out. The map (Carte de Randonnees, Hiking map 12, 1:50,000, Gavarnie-Ordesa, 2018) showed me that there are enough trails around Gavarnie, apart from the cirque, to keep me happy for 3 weeks with rest days in between.
There’s one summer bus a day from Tarbes, Lourdes or the airport (same bus) but it’s in the early morning so you’ll have to stay in Tarbes or Lourdes overnight, unless you are driving. Gavarnie is full of hotels and tourist flim-flam but still manages to retain some scenic charm and a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. It’s really a village of two parts, a lower one where most of the vehicles are parked, and a higher one where most of the shops are. In between, there’s a short ‘corniche’ past a large hotel which takes 5 minutes to walk. I loved the whole place despite the hordes of day-trippers heading for the cirque.
Click to enlarge the map.