French Pyrenees GR 10 trail: a walker’s guide

Cet article est également disponible en: French

On Hendaye beach - the start of the GR10

On Hendaye beach – at the start of the GR10

What equipment do you need for walking the GR 10 across the Pyrenees, how long does it take, which are the most interesting sections? Here are my answers. If you don’t find what you are looking for fill in the comment form at the bottom and I’ll try to help.

This is not meant to be a definitive guide to the GR10 – it is very much my personal advice. I believe that Traveling Light is the Only Way to Fly. It also saves on the knees and shoulders. And I am prepared to pay the cost of staying in hostels rather than camping. It would be great to have other comments and suggestions…

For a quick overview of the route see the section on navigation below. The Wikiloc maps show both the route and the (saw tooth) profiles.

Updates on GR10 diversions

The FFRP (French Rambler’s Association) in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques has a page dedicated to changes in the route of the GR10. But as far as I can see the Ariège committee is no longer producing its equivalent.

What is the attraction?

Griffon vultures

Griffon vultures

The GR 10 is a classic mountain walk, large scale. It crosses France from one side to the other, links the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and takes a whole range of mountains, the Pyrenees, in its stride.

The western end is lusciously green, the middle austere and rocky, but as the Mediterranean approaches, dry garrigue and blue skies take over. The walk visits all the well-known sights of the range – the Lac de Gaube, the Lac d’Ôo, the Cirque de Gavarnie – and nestles up to some of its highest mountains. One of them, the Vignemale (3295m), an optional extra involving crossing a glacier, can be tackled in a single memorable additional day (see below).

And yet, despite the sometimes rugged terrain, there are hostels to be found most evenings; the GR 10 combines days in natural surroundings with nights under a solid roof.

Hendaye to Banyuls or Banyuls to Hendaye?

Bidarray in the Basque country

Bidarray in the Basque country

It’s not the same. Most people walk from Hendaye on the Atlantic coast to Banyuls on the Mediterranean, probably because the official French guide and Paul Lucia’s guide are written like that. As there are only a limited number of hostels, this means you keep bumping into walkers met along the way – conviviality assured. Walking in the other direction must be a completely different experience, with more interaction with nature than with other walkers

How long does it take to walk the GR 10?

Typically between 45 and 60 days of walking 6-8 hours a day. Plus rest days. Plus a few days more if you follow one or other of the variants.

What is the best time of year?

The pass at the Horquette d’Arre (2465m), (Day 17 on a 60-day schedule) is covered in snow until about 14 June, sometimes for a couple of weeks more. At the other end of the season, the weather deteriorates from the beginning of October. So the ideal dates are 12 June to 30 September. Unfortunately in July and August it is hot and hostels may fill up early in the day, particularly between 14 July and 15 August.

How many people walk the GR 10?

Between Gavarnie and Luz-St-Sauveur on the GR10

Between Gavarnie and Luz-St-Sauveur on the GR10

I estimate that from mid-June to mid-September, about 10 people leave Hendaye every day, with the intention of walking a significant part of the GR 10, though most of them will take several years to do it. Only one or two people leave Banyuls in the other direction. Some days I saw almost nobody; other days, particularly around popular centres I met 10-20 other walkers. Many parts of the GR 10 are also suitable for shorter walks.

Walking the GR10 with a dog. What are the rules?

Having been asked several times if walkers can bring their dog with them trekking, I have now compiled a list of the restrictions on dogs in the Pyrenees.

Is it safe to walk alone?

As long as you are good at map reading and stay on the path, whatever happens, somebody will turn up. Sooner or later. Being in a group won’t stop you breaking your leg, or save you from being attacked by a bear.

Are the bears dangerous then?

Marmottes (groundhogs) were reintroduced to the Pyrenees in the 1948

Marmottes (groundhogs) were reintroduced to the Pyrenees in the 1948; bears have always been there

Statistically speaking, no. You are more likely to be killed in a plane crash in the Pyrenees than by a bear. Nobody has been killed by a bear since the invention of the airplane, but the wreckage on the GR 10 on the slopes of Canigou is testimony to the unreliability of aircraft.

In fact, there are only 20 bears in the Pyrenees, so you are unlikely even to see one – which is why I have a picture of a marmotte here. You definately will see marmottes.

If you do see a bear it will probably ignore you. If you are still uneasy, extensive advice on bears is available on backpacker.com. Questions in the forum include such interesting topics as “Will backcountry sex attract a bear?”, “Do Tasers stop bears?” and, for the really paranoid, “Will my farts attract a bear?”.

Whatever you do, don’t wear a sheepskin coat. Several hundred sheep are killed by the bears each year (out of a population approaching half a million).

What are the other dangers?

 

Cauterets, one of the few towns on the GR 10, is decorated like a wedding cake

Heat. Thirst. The Pyrenees are a long way south and, although mountains get colder as they get higher, walkers get hotter as they climb them. The air gets thinner as well so there is less protection from the sun’s rays. In some areas there are surprisingly few springs. Dehydrated water (water purifying tablets) is useful.
Cold. Wet. There are glaciers not far away but they don’t cool the atmosphere much. The main worry is thunderstorms. The temperature can drop 15 degrees Celsius in as many minutes. Thunderstorms can occur at any time, but it always seems to me that they roll in round about 16h00.
Gravity. Not so much the danger of falling off a cliff, but the danger of carrying too much and wearing yourself out to the point where you become too weak – and fall off a cliff. See the equipment list below.
Dogs which think they are sheep. Pyrenean patous are dogs which have been brought up with sheep to the extent that they identify with them. They think they are sheep. They see their job as attacking anything else, other dogs and walkers in particular. Avoid coming between them and their flock.

Trailheads (access points) from France

Public transport will get you to the following trailheads on or near the GR10
• Hendaye
• St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
• Etsaut
• Cauterets
• Luz-St-Sauveur
• St Lary
• Mérens
• Bolquère
• Villefranche-de-Conflent
• Banyuls

In addition, many hostels and huts on the GR 10 are accessible by car

Supply points on the GR10

  • Ainhoa
  • St-Etienne-de-Baïgorry
  • St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
  • Bagargrak (Iraty)
  • Lescun
  • Gourette
  • Arrens-Marsous ?
  • Cauterets
  • Gavarnie
  • Luz-St-Sauveur
  • Barèges
  • St-Lary
  • Luchon
  • Aulus
  • Seix
  • St-Lizier
  • Auzat (2km)
  • Bolquère
  • Arles
  • Le Perthus

And, if you let them know in advance many hostels and hotels will make you a picnic. Bon appétit !

Navigation

Banana trees in front of classic Basque etxe (houses) in the foothills of the Pyrenees

Banana trees in front of classic Basque etxe (houses) in the foothills of the Pyrenees

The French IGN publishes maps of the whole of the Pyrenees at 1:25,000 which are useful for short sections, but the GR 10 is 400km long as the griffon vulture flies (and 850km long as the rambler walks), so it would take a map 16m long to cover the whole walk. In any case sketch maps are included in the Paul Lucia’s guide, and detailed 1:50,000 maps in the FFRP version.

However, the best, though not the cheapest solution is a GPS with onboard maps. I have a GPS eTrex Summit HC (229 euros). Although you can just buy the two GPS maps needed for the Pyrenees (258 euros), you might as well buy the whole of France as it only costs 21 euros more.

Whether you buy the maps or not, you can always view and download the tracks from Wikiloc.

See also my discussion of free downloadable maps of the Pyrenees.

 

GR10 GPS tracks (format GPX)

GPS files shared by GR Infos

Hendaye to Estérençuby
Distance: 111 kilometres
Elevation min: 2 metres, max: 1023 metres
Accum. height uphill: 5575 metres, downhill: 5340 metres

Estérençuby to Borce
Distance:  104 kilometres
Elevation min:  244 metres, max:  1920 metres
Accum. height uphill:  6664 metres, downhill:  6316 metres

Borce to Cauterets
Distance: 79 kilometres
Elevation min: 588 metres, max: 2450 metres
Accum. height uphill:  6232 metres, downhill: 5958 metres

Cauterets to Lac de l’Oule (via Gavarnie)
Distance: 92 kilometres
Elevation min: 709 metres, max: 2732 metres
Accum. height uphill:  6164 metres, downhill: 5272 metres

Lac de l’Oule to Etang d’Araing
Distance: 106 kilometres
Elevation min: 534 metres, max: 2264 metres
Accum. height uphill:  7851 metres, downhill:7692 metres

Etang d’Araing to Etang de Guzet
Distance: 102 kilometres
Elevation min: 535 metres, max: 2231 metres
Accum. height uphill:  8161 metres, downhill: 8531 metres

Etang de Guzet to Mérens les Vals
Distance: 104 kilometres
Elevation min: 731 metres, max: 2393 metres
Accum. height uphill:  7545 metres, downhill: 8027 metres

Mérens les Vals to Batère
Distance: 111 kilometres
Elevation min: 922 metres, max: 2477 metres
Accum. height uphill:  7260 metres, downhill: 6840 metres

Batère to Banyuls
Distance: 85 kilometres
Elevation min: 3 metres, max: 1472 metres
Accum. height uphill:  4525 metres, downhill: 5990 metres

Theoretical totals: 894km, 59,970 metres uphill.

Hostels and huts on the GR 10

Goats at Rouze, in the Ariège

Goats at Rouze, in the Ariège

You can always carry your home on your back – and save money – but have you seen how fast snails move? A tent (and all that goes with it) is not essential equipment for the GR 10 and adds greatly to weight. With good planning you can always have a roof over your head, though some of them may be a little precarious.

When I walked the GR 10, I tried to arrange my overnight stops at intervals of 6-8 hours walking apart – any longer turns enjoyment into endurance.

Think hours. Forget distances, they are meaningless in the mountains. Count 300m climbing or 500m descent per hour and even then you will be doing well.

The FFRP guide gives reasonable timings for a fit walker who is used to carrying a full rucksack.

Huts and shelters (cayolars, cabanes, orrys)

Lac d'Estaing

Lac d’Estaing

According to Pyrénées – cabanes et refuges, a wonderfully useful site, there are 775 huts and shelters in the Pyrenees, many of them on or near to the GR 10. The site gives details (in French). The huts are free, but some are locked or occupied by a shepherd, others semi-derelict. Nothing can be taken for granted, even the existence of a roof, so arrive early. I do know of a few which are as comfortable as some refuges gardés, but they are exceptional.

Hostels (refuges gardés)

Pyrénées – cabanes et refuges lists 63 though some that I have stayed in are missing. Evening meal, bed in a (mixed) dormitory, breakfast, and a picnic lunch will come to about 42 euros. This may seem expensive for basic accommodation, but the costs of running a refuge are high, given the transport difficulties. Blankets are always provided but a sheet sleeping bag is essential. Most provide sandals. Booking one or two days in advance is fine, though if you are really stuck they will find you a space on the floor. Many have no mains electricity so hot water may not be available (or may be possible for a small fee). You will need to carry cash for payment.

See also le Guide gites d’étape et refuges.

Bed and breakfast (gîtes d’étape)

Cork oak near the Mediterranean end of the GR 10

Cork oak near the Mediterranean end of the GR 10

A step up from a refuge gardé, a gîte d’étape will cost 5 to 15 euros more. You will still need a sheet sleeping bag but are more likely to find rooms with 2-4 beds available. Booking is essential. Pay in cash, or French euro cheques.

Hotels

There are hotels, and sometimes no cheaper alternatives, in the few (small) towns along the route.

Sections of the GR 10 without organised accommodation

There are a few sections where trekkers need to sleep in a hut, or walk a very long way in one day. These are the only sections where a sleeping bag is necessary.

The main problem is in the Ariège. The official slogan for the département used to be “Terre courage” and I interpret this to apply to the GR 10.

The walking times given below are taken from the FFRP guide.

Gabas to Gourette (8h50)

There are huts at Cézy clearly visible from the GR 10. At a push it should be possible to do the whole leg in one day, thus obliviating the need for a sleeping bag until you reach Eylie d’en Haut in the Ariège (about Day 33 on a 60-day schedule).

Bagnères de Luchon to Fos (about 10h00)

Fisherman on the river just north of Luchon

Fisherman on the river just north of Luchon

There is a new gîte d’étape at Artigue which means that this section can now be split over two days.

Apart from that there are two huts at the Cabanes de Peyrehitte (one is reserved for the shepherd). There is a water trough a little further along the GR 10.

Eylie d’en Haut to Esbints (3 days, 2 nights – 19h40)

This used to be a particularly difficult section from the point of view of accommodation, with two consecutive nights in huts, but there is a new gîte at the Pla de la Lau. Unfortunately the stage is still a little too far to be done in two days, one after the other.

  • Day 1: Eylie to Gîte Auberge Maison du Valier (Pla de la Lau) 9h35
  • Day 2: Gîte Auberge Maison du Valier (Pla de la Lau) to Esbints 10h05 (no thank you!)
Lac d'Aubert in the Néouvielle National Park

Lac d’Aubert in the Néouvielle National Park

So the followings huts (listed west-east) may be useful

Goulier to Rulhe (4 days, 3 nights)

The most difficult section of the GR 10 accommodation-wise.

  • Day 1: Goulier to Siguer 4h05
  • Day 2: Siguer to Cabane du Courtal Marti 5h30
  • Day 3: Cabane du Courtal Marti to Cabane d’Artaran 5h40
  • Day 4: Caban d’Artaran to Refuge du Rulhe 5h45
  • Siguer. Ask at the mairie (town hall) for the keys to the room near the salle des fêtes.
  • Cabane du Besset d’en Haut at Col de Sasc – there is a concrete hut a little way down the slope but there is no door or window. To be avoided.
  • Cabane du Courtal Marti. A much better alternative to the Cabane du Besset d’en Haut is this former shepherd’s hut only an hour further on.
  • Cabane de Balledreyt. 632m beyond the Cabane du Courtal Marti.
  • Cabane de Clarens. In bad condition but there is still a roof.
  • Cabane d’Artaran.
  • The ski resort on thePlateau de Beille is 30mins walking from the Cabane dArtaran. Angaka can provide tents and food if booked in advance. For more information ring 05 61 01 75 60. I haven’t tried this, but they are well organised: I have been dog sledding with them.
    There is also a restaurant at the ski resort, open at lunchtime.
    This is the last possibility before the refuge de Rulhe, as the Cabane de Beille d’en Haut is private, though I was told by a waiter at the ski resort that part of it was available for walkers. Further along, the Cabane de Poussiergues may be useable but don’t bet on it.
Basco-bearnaise sheep, just arrived for their summer holidays

Basco-bearnaise sheep, just arrived for their summer holidays

Mérens

This gîte is closed for 2010. It is possible to sleep in the Chambres d’hôtes du Nabre or on the municipal campsite. The campsite has several tents with duvets available for walkers. Ring 05 61 02 85 40

Equipment

As a result of walking the GR10, having lugged anything from 12-18kg on my back, I revised my ideas of “necessary” items. On a recent 4-day walk round – and up to the top of – the Posets (the second highest summit in the Pyrenees, 3375m), I carried the following (plus crampons and piolet, not necessary for the GR10). I don’t see any reason to carry any more on a longer walk.

My GR 10 kit list

GR 10 FASHION
g notes
boots 1824 with high sides which are great for my ankles
anorak 775 Gortex
trousers 304 lightweight trousers with detachable legs (Columbia)
tee-shirt 160 synthetic so that it dries quickly – not cotton
belt 97
underwear 80
socks 74
TOTAL 3314
ACCESSORIES
water 1548 1.5 litres
rucksack 330 from zpacks.com. The version I have is no loger available but you can get an Arc Blast (465g)
winter fleece 731
4 GR10 guides 640 contain maps at 1:50000
food for the day 500
camera 273
first aid kit 246
2 tee-shirts 238
shorts 217 top half of lightweight trousers
pole 202
battery charger 194
waterproof leggings 177
GPS 173 with integrated maps
sun cream 149
wallet 142
Mars bars 130
spare batteries 111
phone 108
sheet sleeping bag 101 silk
travel towel 97 microfibre (Boots)
Swiss army knife 86
shampoo 80
toilet paper 78
hat 78
head torch with batteries 78
1 pair socks 70
emergency blanket 61
glasses 54
toothpaste 31
soap 30
earplugs 30
plastic bags 25
plastic cup 23
Compeed 18
toothbrush 17
water purifying tablets 13
cigarette lighter 12 for lighting fires in emergency
pen 9
whistle 9
TOTAL 7109

Things I don’t think necessary include:

  • sandals (provided at most refuges – otherwise walk around in socks)
  • deodorant – positively dangerous it as it stops you sweating naturally
  • a razor, even if you have better-looking legs than I do.

Other kit lists

My best bits

Hourquette d’Ossoue, the Vignemale, and Gavarnie

The Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the best known images of the GR10

The Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the best-known images of the GR10

To my mind the best section of the GR 10 is the detour which goes from Cauterets to Luz-St-Sauveur via the Hourquette d’Ossoue (2734m) instead of directly to Cauterets. Most people miss it out, which is a shame. It starts with a 3km-long waterfall up to the Pont d’Espagne. Then there is the Lac de Gaube, one of the defining sights of the Pyrenees (get there before 9am and have it all to yourself). Followed by the long, long Gaube valley, with the dark north face of the Vignemale at the end, and the pass at the Hourquette d’Ossoue. A short diversion takes you to the top of the Petit Vignemale (3032m) which overlooks one of the larger glaciers in the Pyrenees.

An overnight stop in the Bayssellence refuge will give you time next day to saunter down to Gavarnie, sign into the hostel, and visit the Cirque. Victor Hugo variously called it nature’s coliseum, a hippodrome, a Parthenon, a cathedral, a Kremlin, boas rolled one above the other, the mouth of a volcano, a storm trap and, beginning to let his imagination run away just a little, a Tower of Babel turned over and imprinted in the earth like a seal.

Our guide on the Vignemale glacier

Our guide on the Vignemale glacier

Better still leave leave the visit to the Cirque until dawn the next day and only walk as far as Gèdre that day. After that you have a rollicking roller-coaster path down to Luz-St-Sauveur to rejoin the main route.

Grand Vignemale

If you take the above variant, there is the opportunity to climb the Vignemale (3298m), crossing the Glacier d’Ossoue. You will need crampons and a guide, but both can be arranged at the Bureau des Guides in Cauterets.

Canigou

On a clear day the Mediterranean can be seen from the top of Canigou

On a clear day the Mediterranean can be seen from the top of Canigou

You can walk round the Catalans’ favourite mountain, but the official GR10 between the refuge de Mariailles and the Chalet des Cortalets, is a long detour. Much more interesting – and quicker – is the variant which goes to the top of the mountain (at least on a fine day). There is a bit of hands-on stuff just below the summit – but don’t let the name “La cheminée” – the chimney – put you off. It is perfectly possible with a rucksack. And once you have hauled yourself up to the cross, there is an incredible view of the Mediterranean.

 

319 Responses to “French Pyrenees GR 10 trail: a walker’s guide”

  1. Richard says:

    Hi Steve,
    fantastic website – chapeau!! I have one question: coming from Hendaye, what is the best “exit spot” from the mountains if I need to go to Lourdes via public transport in order to catch a train up north from there?
    Thanks & with best Regards
    Richard

  2. steve says:

    Hi Richard. If you are coming in the summer months Gavarnie is a good option – see how to get to Gavarnie. Another possibility is Etsaut which is on the bus/train route from Canfranc (Spain) to Pau. I hope this helps. Steve

  3. Richard says:

    Hi Steve,

    thanks for the info in regards to “the exit from the mountains”. I want to do the trail in one go, starting in Hendaye mid June, but might have to Interrupt the journey due to a private commitment……hence the previous question. Thanks again.

  4. James Burton says:

    Hello, Steve. I had written earlier (10/5/14) about crossing the length of GR10 West to East from July to Sept 2015. Most supplies are in place save for a rucksack. I will blog trail marker status, give info on what is availablele for food, etc. I’ll have your book with me.

  5. Faeya says:

    Hi!

    Thanks so much for all the helpful information that you’ve posted here for future GR10 hikers.

    About the Wiciloc tracks that you provide here:
    The first quarter (Hendaye-Borce) does not work anymore. When I click the link I get the following message:

    “Page not found. Sorry, we were unable to locate the
    page you requested.”

    When you find the time, could you kindly look into this? I have downloaded the others, but this first part is missing.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. steve says:

    Thanks for pointing this out, Fseya. I’ve corrected it now.

  7. Faeya says:

    Fantastic, thanks!
    Have a good year! 🙂

  8. Kathryn says:

    Hello,
    We have 14 days to hike just wondering where you would suggest to hike. It will be the first 2weeks of July. We hike a lot, but will like to backpack, wondering about food off.

  9. steve says:

    Hi Kathryn. You should be able to walk anywhere on the GR10 without crampons at that time of year. When you say you “will like to backpack” do you mean you will be camping? Also, how many consecutive days are you used to walking one after the other? What kind of scenery would you like to see? Let me know and I’ll make some suggestions.

  10. Adele says:

    Hi Steve,
    I am thinking of walking the whole GR 10 starting at the beginning of June. I’m from Australia and the thought of ‘walking light’ seems luxurious! If you are walking the whole route, would you recommend a tent and stove for safety, or is it not necessary? And if you don’t need a tent, is it possible to spend a fair bit of time in free cabanes and buying basic food along the way?

    Thanks so much for the advice on this site, it’s great to find someone so committed to sharing your knowledge and expertise!
    adele

  11. steve says:

    Hi Adele
    The beginning of June could be OK but, depending on how hard this winter is, you might find snow after the first week. If you can, you would be better to start two weeks later. Otherwise plan diversions for the first high passes, see above.
    I don’t think a tent is necessary for safety reasons but you should have a good sleeping bag and a sarcophagus-style emergency blanket or bivvy bag. Expect temperatures to descend to 3 degrees centigrade if you are at 2000m – normally you should be able to descend to 1000-1500m for the night. There are quite a number of free huts on the way: see this site for cabanes and refuges in the Pyrenees.

    Food can be a problem but at the worst you will need to carry three days of provisions (in the Ariège). You will be able to eat in manned refuges but try to book if at all possible (note that phone coverage is patchy). The key is to plan your stops and alternatives if you walk faster or slower than you expect.
    Have fun. It is a glorious walk.

  12. Adele says:

    Thanks for the advice Steve, much appreciated!

  13. Kevin says:

    Hello Steve,

    Great site! Ever since doing your recommended Cauterets detour in 2012, I’ve been dreaming of traversing the entire range… This year I may have a chance! I was wondering though: I’d like to leave in late April, and I know that there will still be snow (even though it’s been a warm winter so far). I’m looking for some advice. Do you think this would be limited primarily to passes? Would it be possible to do with cramons and an ice axe? Could it be helped by going east to west? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Best,
    Kevin

  14. steve says:

    Hello Kevin

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Vignemale option.
    In reply to your questions. At the end of April the snow will be extensive, not just limited to a few passes. There will probably be snow fields over 2200m and on the north side of passes down to 1900m. Also, because it will be warming up in the day, the danger of avalanches will be increased. If you have significant experience of using crampons and an ice axe, know how to read the landscape and how to cut sections in the snow to determine the compaction at various levels, then it would still be a risky operation.

    On the other hand, if you are pragmatic, prepare deviations before you set out, respect your limits and are prepared to turn back, you could reasonably attempt it. I would guess you would have to spend 10-15 days in the foothills. The other thing to bear in mind is that the hostels will be closed, though many have a room available for winter (no facilities, make sure to have a snow shovel to clear the door).

    Going east to west won’t make any difference. You would still end up in snow after7-10 days.

    I hope this helps. Good luck! Steve

  15. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the wisdom Steve! That certainly helps.

  16. Jim turner says:

    Steve, I have really enjoyed your book. 2 if us are intending to backpack and camp the whole way starting mid August. I see from your info that sheet sleeping bags are necessary if using a refuge. Given that we intend to camp using a refuge would only be in an emergency would we be able to just use our own sleeping bags.. I don,t want to carry a separate liner.

  17. steve says:

    Hi Jim, glad you liked the book. I’m currently writing another on the GR11 in Spain. If you have your own sleeping bags you can use them in refuges, no problem. I’d love to hear how you get on.

  18. Jim turner says:

    Thanks Steve. I’m currently practising with the full pack.
    I will get back to you probably early October.

  19. Carl says:

    Hello Steve,

    In August I’m interested in hiking the GR 10 from saint engrace to cauterts. I have about 8 days in Mid August.

    Can you help me with a few questions

    with planning will i be able to go bed to bed? don’t want to carry a tent. hostels, inns, hotels, etc. would be desirable. places i can get a good meal and a bottle of wine!

    how do i get to saint engrace? Coming from Paris how would i get there?

    does your book cover this route?

    Thanks!! Carl

  20. steve says:

    Hello Carl. There are refuges (hostels), huts and hotels all the way from Ste Engrâce to Cauterets, at reasonable walking distances: Ste Engrâce, Arrete-la-Pierre-St Martin, Lescun, Borce, Etsaut, Ayous, Gabas (hotel), Cabannes de Cézy (primitive huts, check if still OK), Gourette, Arrens-Marsous, Viellettes, Ilhéou, and Cauterets. Eight days is perfectly reasonable. There is a lot of information on the Pyrenees cabanes et refuges site. All except the Cabannes de Cézy can provide food and drink.

    To get there you can catch a train to Oloron-Ste-Marie but after that it will have to be a taxi. Try to book the hostels one or two nights in advance or you may be disappointed in August.

    My book does cover this part of the GR10 but it is not a guide, rather an account of how the GR10 was for me – with background information as well.
    Have fun.

  21. Pete says:

    Hi. Has anyone managed to do the GR10 with a dog? what are the rules with regard the national parks? I have been struggling to fine any specific information on this. If there are prohibited bits, are their alternatives to bypass them?

  22. Terry says:

    Thanks so much for all the info on this site. My fiance and I will be honeymooning in the area and want to spend 4-5 days walking in mountains early/mid July. We are fit and experienced hikers but due to it being a honeymoon and a part of a longer trip, we’re hoping to stay in one place or get luggage transport, and would prefer a private room. We’d consider renting a car if train transport is too time-consuming. We will be coming from Collioure area and eventually heading back to Paris. Can you suggest a good spot and advise on transportation? Thanks so much.

  23. steve says:

    Hi Terry. I don’t know of anybody who will transport your luggage, though there may be some. So being based in a small town could be a good idea. Banyuls is very pretty, but not really mountains. Villefranche de Conflent could be interesting. You can get there on the train (le petit train jaune, a rack railway). From there you can walk the wonderful Gorges de la Carança (accessible by train), Canigou (taxi part of the way, well worth doing on a good day, I think the refuge has some rooms as well as dormitories), the terraces on the north side of the valley, and go to the spa in St Thomas (train plus walk), St Martin de Canigou monastery (taxi to Casteil). If you are interested in historic towns Villefranche is a great place, as is Mont Louis.
    After that the next place with many possibilities is Bagnères de Luchon. I recommend taxi to the Hospice de France and then walking up to the Port de Benasque, but there are many other great walks.
    Congratulations, by the way.

  24. steve says:

    I’m working on this and will come back to you in a couple of days.

  25. steve says:

    Hi Pete. I’ve now written an article on the rules on walking with dogs in the Pyrenees.

  26. Mick says:

    Hi Steve,

    Was just wondering if you saw any Children attempting the Gr10, with parents of course. If so what age would estimate the youngest to have been? We are planning a trip along the GR10 with our kids, the youngest of which will 10 at the planned departure date.

    Is it possible to camp wild along route or are there designated spots?

    Apologies if you have answered these questions in the comments above.

    Thanks

    Mick

  27. steve says:

    I don’t think many parents, if any, take their young children on the GR10 (apart from day trips). I have never met any families who were doing it. But feasability would depend on which sections you want to do and how much walking the kids do normally. Are you intending to do all of it? Or just a week? If you start at Hendaye you would have three days before you get up high. On the other hand the possibilities for wild camping in the Basque Country are limited. Let me have more details and I’ll see if I can help.

    Yes you can wild camp, but there are restrictions in National Parks, Natural Parks and Reserves.

  28. rebecca cox says:

    I’m very pleased to announce that there is a new website http://www.sudcanigo.com which has all the latest details of walks, Tours, canyoning, VTT and horse riding trails in the Haut Vallespir, including tours of Canigo and nature reserves. There are details of refuges and hotels, including Les Glycines Hotel and the Centre-sports-loisirs-baille with its 30+ beds in Arles sur Tech. The Sant Guilem refuge at 1300m on Canigo is undergoing major renovation and will open summer 2015 fully fitted out, even with a hot tub. There is also the Tour of Batere which was a vantage point for the Cathars in 1300’s to protect its Castles like Castlenou, and later became a major site for mining Iron.

  29. steve says:

    Thanks for the information Rebecca. Just to avoid any confusion the Saint Guilem refuge which is being renovated is not the unmanned Club Alpin Français Refuge on the Pla Guillem at 2280m. I look forward to the hot tub though. Let us know when it opens.

  30. Pete says:

    Many thanks for the information about dog access, Steve. It gives me lots to think about.

  31. Pete says:

    Does anyone know how we could get from Estaut back to Hendaye to reconnect with our car?

  32. Mick says:

    Thanks Steve. I don’t have any concrete plans as yet. We need to wait for our youngest to hit 12 or 13 before attempting the walk. We would like to do it end to end as part of a fundraising year in support of the asthma foundation. Our children are active bush and hill walkers. When we have a more precise start time I will let you know.

    Mick

  33. steve says:

    Hi Pete. Easy. There are busses from Etsaut to Oloron Sainte Marie where they connect with a train to Pau see the SNCF timetable for Canfranc to Pau. At the moment it only goes up to 4 July but I expect there will be another nearer the time.

  34. Nyeleni says:

    Hi Steve! I was just wondering if you could help us out. we are a group of five and we are planning a walking holiday in France but we can’t find any route that doesn’t require a car to get to (we are reliant on buses and trains) and that also has campsites along the way. Approximately 50k if that’s possible. We would like to see the best the Pyrenees has to offer! Merci beaucoup 🙂

  35. steve says:

    There are several points where you can access the Pyrenees by public transport from the French side
    • Hendaye
    • St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
    • Etsaut
    • Cauterets
    • Luz-St-Sauveur
    • St Lary
    • Mérens
    • Bolquère
    • Villefranche-de-Conflent
    • Banyuls
    However, if you are looking for fully equipped campsites at about 10km apart you need to be low down, or stay in one place and walk out from there. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind some wild camping and some camping near hostels there are more possibilities. It also depends on when you want to go and what experience you have of walking in the mountains between 1000m and 2000m. Let me know more and I’ll try to help.

  36. Juliana says:

    Hi Steve,

    I’m in the early stage of planning a trek in the Pyrenees. I will be in France for 2 weeks in late May. I’d like to start from Lescun/Etsaut and hike east for 7-9 days, probably beginning on May 24/25. I know that the snow situation at Hourquette d’Arre will make it a bit dangerous this time of year, but I was thinking maybe I can still aim for it if I have some backup detour plans. I read somewhere that you can “cheat” and take Le Petit Train d’Artouste to lac d’Artouste and then walk along the road to Gourette. Would you recommend that or any other alternative options if the weather is really bad?

    Thanks,
    Juliana

  37. steve says:

    Hello Juliana. I’ve been looking at my maps and there isn’t a road from the Lac d’Artouste to Gourette. There is a path heading NE from the lake which will take you to road at Le Tech leading to Arrens-Marsous and back to the GR10, but there is a big problem. You would have to climb up to the Col d’Artouste at 2446m, the same height as the Hourquette d’Arre, up a 91% (42 degrees) slope. If there is still any quantity snow, at the end of May it would be just ripe for an avalanche.

    If you get to the Hourquette and it is too snowed up, an alternative might be to go back and sleep at the Cabannes de Cezy then head north to the col de Lurdé and continue north. Just before Eaux-Bonnes, turn SW at the Source de la Sourde, which would bring you out just above Gourette.

    I hope this helps.

  38. Juliana says:

    Thanks, Steve!
    I’d read the bit about the lac d’Artouste detour from this blog entry: https://gr10.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/some-might-call-it-cheating-gabas-to-gourette/
    but the author doesn’t provide any details on the route he took, so I wanted to check if you knew about it. When I use google maps to find a walking route to go from the lake to Gourette, I get this result which seems to be the path you’re talking about that involves climbing up the steep col d’Artouste: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Lac+d'Artouste,+Pyrénées+National+Park,+64440+Laruns,+France/Gourette,+Eaux-Bonnes,+France/@42.9092249,-0.368506,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0xd57957c09ecbd81:0x6b42d2922a08b10c!2m2!1d-0.3313099!2d42.8596549!1m5!1m1!1s0xd57b8c310509c75:0xc8d358e9f20eb2f!2m2!1d-0.332111!2d42.958836!3e2

    So I don’t know how that guy did it as the road seems non-existent. Thought about asking him but he probably wouldn’t remember since he’d done it in 2009.

    Anyway, good suggestion about turning back and staying at the Cabannes de Cezy. I haven’t bought any real maps yet, but I should be able to find this trail to col de Lurde easily on the IGN or FFRP 1:50,000 map right?
    Thanks again!

  39. steve says:

    I looked carefully at the entry and what he says is “Shame it started snowing when we got to the top (at the lake) but I suppose it meant that we didn’t waste our return tickets.” So they took the train to the lake and then took it back again. I think they must have walked the road through Gabas, Lauruns and Eaux-Bonnes to Gourette.

  40. Steve Brownsword says:

    Hi Steve, I contacted you 2013 asking for advice on walking the GR10 and in June 2014 my brother and I started our walk, we did not take your advice on travelling light and carried our house on our backs. It might not be a surprise to you but we failed missrably

  41. Steve Brownsword says:

    Hi Steve, I contacted you 2013 asking for advice on walking the GR10 and in June 2014 my brother and I started our walk, we did not take your advice on travelling light and carried our house on our backs. It might not be a surprise to you but we failed miserably.
    So June this year I intend to start again and will be travelling light. I’ve got all the lightweight gear but I’m not sure if the Gites provide pillows, what do you suggest? By the way I’m 54 so I need a bit of comfort or is it a rolled up item of clothing?

  42. steve says:

    Hi Steve. Good to hear that you are going to give it another go. How far did you get last time?
    Gîtes and manned hostels provide pillows in my experience. On the other hand you won’t find anything in unmanned huts. I just roll up clothing on the odd occasion when there is nothing else.
    I hope it works out better this time.

  43. steve says:

    I’m ashamed to say we only made it to Ainhoa, what should have been a 2 day walk took us 3 days. The weather was very hot and to honest we were crazy thinking that we could do it with 45lbs of rucksack on our backs. We were aiming to get to St.Jean Pied-de-Port but it beat us. Perhaps 20 years ago we might have done it but alas, it was just to much. Anyway I’ve managed to get my gear down to a respectical 23lbs and intend to start again in June aiming for St.Jean Pied-de-Port again. This long distance walking is new to me and I intend to enjoy it this time not just spending all day looking at the ground.

  44. Richard says:

    Steve, have read your book twice in the meanwhile (good read for sure!) and I am trying to improve my French language skills by crossreading the 4 FFR booklets. I have one question for the Moment: what about WLAN Access on the GR 10-just occasionally or frequent? Thanks in advance for your answer.

  45. steve says:

    Hi Richard. If you mean 3G access for uploading photos etc whilst walking, it is almost non-existant. However an increasing number of gîtes (b&b) have some kind of wifi connection; refuges very rarely. The situation is evolving all the time. I’d be interested to hear of any isolated hostels with wifi…

  46. Terry says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you so much for your advice – we ended up booking our honeymoon and following a lot of your tips. During our time in the area, we’ll be hiking the Gorges de la Carança, going to the spa in St Thomas, visiting the St Martin du Canigou monastery, and visiting Villefranche and Mont Louis, among other things…

    One thing we have not figured out is how to approach climbing the Pic du Canigou. We will be staying in Prades the evening before and the evening after the hike. We were told we may want to reserve a 4X4 to take us to the start of the hike via the Chalet des Cortalets.. but we will also have a rental car that we could use. Is it necessary to hire a 4×4? Is the approach via Refuge Mariailles another option? Could you compare the two approaches in terms of time and beauty?
    One more: is 4 hours enough time to hike the Gorges de la Caranca round trip?

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Terry

  47. steve says:

    Hi Terry,

    I’m glad to hear your plans are progressing.

    Canigou. There are restrictions on who can drive up to the Cortalets in Summer. In fact most cars can only go as far as a car park 30 minutes walk away. I’m not sure whether the 4×4 come into this category or not, so you would need to enquire at the tourist office in Villefranche. Note that there are two routes for the 4×4, one from Prades and the other from Corneilla but ordinary cars are restricted to the route from Prades. It is possible to drive up in an ordinary car (if permitted) if you aren’t too bothered about the undercarriage. It takes about 90 minutes for the 10 miles. If you opt for Mariailles it would make a long day. Again, to protect the area, cars can’t go right up to the refuge, so you have a 40 mins walk to get there. Plus 7 hours round trip to the summit. When you look at the distance and amount of climbing involved it looks as though it should be less, but I’ve never done it quicker.

    Carança. If you go as far as the refuge it is a 7-hour round trip. If you just do the Gorges it would take 5h. A good option is to go as far as the last bridge (I think it is the last one) and cross the river coming back on the other side. You then get to see the path you have just walked. This return path is more up and down so this option would take about 5h30.

    Enjoy yourselves.

  48. Dana says:

    Hi Steve,

    My Fiance and I are planning a trip to the Pyrenees Mid June. Though we are new to long distance hiking/camping we want to get the most out of our trip and hike the most scenic 1.5-2 wk stretch of the GR10 with the option to switch over to the GR11. We are flexible with our timeline so if all goes well we will keep hiking. What section would you start with if you only had 1.5-2wks?

    Dana & Mark

  49. steve says:

    Hi Dana and Mark. If you are planning to start mid-June and are new to long distance hiking you would be best to avoid the central section of the Pyrenees, which will still have snow, especially on the Spanish side. You will only be able to walk for about one week inland starting from either the Atlantic or Mediterranean coast on the GR10, possibly a bit more on the GR11.
    My suggestion would be to start at Hondaribbia on the GR11

    Hondarribia
    wildcamp (rather than to kill yourselves on the first day)
    Vera
    Elizondo
    Sorgain
    Burgete/Roncesvalles, then cross over into France on St James’ Way to
    St Jean-Pied-de-Port, then on GR10 to
    St Etienne-de-Baigorry
    Bidarray
    Ainhoa
    Olhette
    Hendaye

    Alternatively you could work your way inland from Banyuls on the Med, but you probably won’t be able to go further than Bolquère.

    Whatever you do you shouldn’t need to carry more than 14kg on your backs, including food, water, tent etc. An experienced walker would get this figure down to 12kg or less. I hope this helps.

  50. steve says:

    Thank you so much for the information! I think we are leaning towards Banyuls to Bolquere with the hopes of reaching Andorra.Do you think this is possible if we start around Mid-June Though we are new to the long distance hiking we are young/fit and have some great gear (I work at REI). Coming from the US where do you recommend flying into if we started at Banyuls? What GPS system do you recommend? Are you familiar with the MSR whisperlite international stove? It will burn white gas, kerosene, and unleaded gasoline. Are these fuels readily available throughout the trail?

    Hi Dana

    I’ve put your question on the blog so that others can benefit. Yes, you will be able to walk from Bolquère to Andorra across the Cerdagne to Puigcerdà. You could then pick up the GR11 for one day as far as Malniu but the day after there is a potential problem at the Portella de Engorgs where there is likely to be a snow corniche. If you do go that far, the way to avoid the snow is to climb a steep scree to your left at the Estany dels Aparellats and go round the south side of the highest point to bring you back to the GR11 (there is a well-defined track once you get to the top of the scree).
    For flying in directly you are probably limited to Barcelona or Toulouse, then train. If you pass by Paris you can go to Perpignan airport.
    As for GPSs I have a Garmin Etrex Vista HC with integrated maps. Anything more recent will do. I have Topo France and Topo Espagne maps (you will need the latter for Andorra).
    I’m not familiar with the stove (can you take it on a plane?) but unleaded gasoline is available in all gas stations (though I don’t know how easy it would be to buy small quantities.
    For information, Canigou is still looking very white.
    best wishes Steve

  51. james Burton says:

    Hi, Steve.
    Plans remain in place to commence hiking the GR-10 on or about July 8. Henday to the Med. I did take your recommendation and bought the Artic Blast rucksack. Very light weight indeed.

    I do plan to take copious notes re: food and lodging – and various obstacles, weather, etc.
    Thanks for all the good insight I’ve gained in the blog.

  52. steve says:

    Hi James. Sounds good. Let me know the address of your blog. I’d love to hear how it works out.

  53. Alison says:

    Hi Steve, love the website, very helpful indeed. I would be grateful for your input please – two of us are walking 9 days of the GR10, from 12 Sept, return flights from Toulouse. We are experienced walkers, having done high altitude stuff in Nepal 3 times, plus other long distance trails, always carrying our own gear. Will be carrying a tent in order to be flexible. I am keen to do the 3 day variant via Hourquette d’Ossoue that you describe as it sounds wonderful. Have the Cicerone guide which does not describe this route at all so is there more info available? English only I am afraid. Also, any suggestions for a start & end point for the 9 days? Would be walking approx 6 hrs a day as want to enjoy, not endure! Many thanks.

  54. steve says:

    Hi Alison. Have you got a GPS? If so I can point you to some resources. The variant is quite easy to follow.

  55. steve says:

    [conversation reconstituted after change of server]

    13/05/2015 at 8:59 pm

    You don’t need a GPS, the path is well marked. It would just be easier for you to see exactly where the path goes if you had one. In any case you can get a pretty good idea by looking at GR Infos.

    Since you are flying into Toulouse a good plan would be to start in Bagnères de Luchon and finish in Cauterets as there are trains/busses. However, on my calculation this might be a bit long.

    1 Bagnères de Luchon
    2 6h30 to Espingo
    3 6h30 to Germ
    4 4h00 to St Lary
    5 7h00 to Orédon
    6 5h00 to Barèges
    7 3h00 to Luz
    8 8h30 to Gavarnie
    9 5h30/6h30 to Baysselance/Oulettes de Gaube
    10 5h00/4h00 to Cauterets

    You could shorten this by taking a taxi from Luchon to the Granges d’Astau (below Espingo) as soon as you arrive but that would mean missing some great scenery on the first day (after Superbagnères). Another idea is a taxi from Bagnères de Luchon to Superbagnères which reduces the day by 1000m of climbing in forest, which isn’t that interesting though, as I mentioned, the second part is much better. A second short cut is a taxi from Barèges to Gavarnie (not the most interesting two days). I’d go for this.

    Evidently these times are based on staying in refuges and you have a tent so you could even things out better, in theory.

    Let me know if you need any more help.

    Alison says:
    13/05/2015 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks so much Steve, I will take a look at what you have suggested. Appreciate your input.

    Alison says:
    14/05/2015 at 1:23 am

    Hi again Steve, having investigated your suggestion, am curious as to why the east to west route? Is this because of the preference to walk against the flow, so to speak, or another reason? As you say, most of the guides are west to east. What would the difference be in doing your suggested route west to east. Also, you mention pre-ordering dinner etc if camping at a refuge. Would this need to be the day before or can one order meals on arrival as long as before a certain time? Thanks

    steve says:
    14/05/2015 at 11:04 am

    Hi Alison. I suggested that way round so that the high point (both literally and metaphorically) would be near the end but either way is possible. As for dinner, refuges start preparing it in the morning based on the number of people they are expecting. So if you can ring up the day before they will appreciate it. (Bear in mind that there are many places where mobiles don’t work.) They will always try to fit you in but if you arrive after 16h00 it may be difficult.

  56. Josh says:

    Hi there, me and a few mates are walking over the pyrenees from cauteretes – Torla via vignemal this August and I was hoping you could tell me if we’d need crampons (we’re three fit and able 20 yr olds) to get up to the top or will the ice be sludgy enough to walk up? As I know runners do the route each year in trainers. If that’s not possible is there some way of getting up there avoiding the glacier that doesn’t require any climbing equipment?

    One last thing.. It would be a HUGE favour if you could just name the map(s) for walkers that I need that would need for this route.

    Thanks a lot and great article!
    Josh

  57. steve says:

    Hi Josh

    Just to clarify, the runners only climb the Petit Vignemale which is not the same thing at all. I presume you are proposing Cauterets – Vallée de Gaube – Bayssellance – Pique Longue de Vignemale (the top) – col de Cerbillona – Bujaruelo – Torla. It is not possible to do this without crampons and ice axes.

    It is also important to be roped up. When I climbed the Vignemale we were roped up and could clearly see the crevasse but one of the group fell into it and had to be hauled out. If she hadn’t been roped up she would have been dead. On another occasion, a friend of mine was the eighth person to in the group to follow the footsteps of his predecessors over a glacier. He was one of the lightest but the snow bridge which nobody had seen collapsed under his feet.

    Yes it is true that the route may be slushy in the afternoons, depending on the weather, but you need be off the glacier before it becomes slushy. Most people instinctively think that slush is less dangerous than ice but this isn’t true. On slush you can much more easily slip or provoke an avalanche. There is no way of avoiding the glacier without climbing experience.

    The best thing is to book a guide from the Bureau des Guides in Cauterets well in advance. They will provide you with the necessary equipment. The guide will probably meet you at Baysselance and leave you at the Col de Cerbillona.

    The Spanish 1:50:000 Mapa excursionista no 24 Gavarnie-Ordesa covers the whole area ; in the meantime you might care to look at these Spanish maps online and print out the relevant pages.

    Have fun but take care, Steve

  58. Karl Foster says:

    Hello. Little advice needed. Im hoping to walj the GR10 this year fairly soon actually and im curips to know what kind of budget should I look at? Im planning on camping as much as possible, forridge for some thinks im very good at it, fish also but no hunting larger animals such as dear and rabbits etc. I am an experienced hiker and mountainer although thats normally in the winter hiking with skis! Just need to know the minimum I would need! Im super keen to do thos this year as I have unexpected time on my hands but not so much money. Would £500 be enough just for food and water etc maybe the odd night in a hostel! Also do you know any links where I could find othet people to share this experience with. Many thanks.

  59. steve says:

    Hi Karl. Since you are good at foraging you should be able to supplement your diet at both ends of the Pyrenees, but once you get to the high Pyrenees it will be more difficult. You would best not to start out until at least 21 June to give things a time to grow. Fishing is regulated so you need to check out the rules. As for doing the whole route on £500, it could be possible, depending on how many days you take. Normally people take between 45 and 60 days. You won’t need to buy water. There are enough springs, and as long as you take water purifying tablets for emergencies you will be OK. There are some French forums on the Pyrenees but I don’t know of any really very active ones in English.Try the LDWA or the Walking Forum. Good luck.

  60. Karl Foster says:

    Hi Steve, Many thanks For your reply. I have decided to put Iit of until September around the 15th os this still an ok time to go and to still be able to walk the entire length? Thanks again

  61. steve says:

    HI Karl, You are likely to encounter snow from 1 november, perhaps earlier, so you will need to walk quickly but with luck you should have time.

  62. Brendan Moran says:

    Hi
    Thank you for a great information resource. I plan to hike the full length of the GR 10 in August September this year starting at Banyuls. I am a fit and experienced hiker, however I have a back problem. Hence I use a single wheeled trailer that coverts to a backpack. Where possible I pull this behind me using a hip harness and saving my back. When it is not possible I carry it on my back. The trailer wheel is large so I can negotiate scree and rocks though a large fallen tree would require some effort. Assuming I could use the trailer for all up slopes of less than 35 degrees and all down slopes of no more than 45 degrees, would you estimate that I could use it for 2/3 of the time or more. Regards Brendan

  63. steve says:

    Hi Brendan. I admire your courage. The slopes are very rarely above 35 degrees. If you have GPS software you can download the traces from higher up this page and see the slopes (in percentages). On the other hand the track is often rough.

    I also have back problems (the result of a car accident) but have found that keeping my rucksack weight down to less than 11kg and above all making sure that all the weight rests on my hips by tightening the waist band has eliminated any pain there…

    Have fun.

  64. Qin Zhu says:

    Hi, Steve. Thank you for creating and maintaining such a wonderful website for hikers on Pyrenees. We will be hiking GR10 from July 7th to 13th. We will start from Hendaye to St Jean Pied de Port. My husband needs to take photographs for couple hours each day on the trip, so we gave ourselves two more days to cover normally 5-day’s worth of distance. We try to trim the packing list as much as possible since we have heavy camera stuff, so my question is do we need any thick clothes on this part of the trip? The other question is how to get to Bayonne from St Jean Pied De Port? It seems there is a bus, but I was not able to find the bus schedule online. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  65. steve says:

    Hello Qin Zhu

    It will be hot in July (20+ degrees celcius in the afternoon in the hills) but if you get caught in a thunderstorm the temperature can descend by 15 degrees celcius in as many minutes. The trick is to plan to arrive at your destination before 16h00 as most of the storms are later.

    The reason you can’t find the bus timetables is that the bus is pretending to be a train! Bus/train times from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Bayonne

    It would be nice to see some photos…

  66. Qin Zhu says:

    Steve, thank you so much for the advice and the bus timetable! And a sure thing you will see the photos. This is my “GoTo” site for hiking the Pyrenees. Hopefully I will have a chance to complete the entire route next year. So I will be back for more questions…

  67. Nikolay says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you very much for the website and your efforts on it.
    I am looking for 10-12 (14 is max) solo walking days part of GR10 or other routes in August. Appreciate your recommendation ?
    Night in tent.

    In July I am going solo TMB – that is my first experience over 3 nights continuously despite climbing to summits Mont-Blanc and Elbrus.

  68. steve says:

    Hi Nikolay

    How about a circuit which takes in both sides of the mountains and gives you the possibility of climbing the Vignemale (Pique longue)?

    • Cauterets (in France, accessible by train)
    • Oulettes de Gaube
    • Gavarnie
    • Bujaruelo (Spain)
    • Panticosa
    • Respomuso
    • Sallent de Gállego
    • Candanchú
    • Borce (back into France)
    • Gabas
    • Gourette
    • Arrens-Marsous
    • Cauterets

    It takes in the GR10 in France and its Spanish equivalent the GR11. If you stay at Bayssellance just after the Oulettes de Gaube the Vignemale is within reach (crampons, ice axe and a guide – the last available in Cauterets). Good real mountain stuff.

    Let me know if you need any more info

  69. Nikolay says:

    Hi Steve,

    That sounds quite interesting because I have passion to use my ice and mountain stuff but for this year I am thinking about alone solo trekking in tent which do not require a guide. My target is just to experience continuous hike longer that I had before. Is there another safe possibility ? What is the most nice in that area ?

  70. steve says:

    Hi Nikolay

    Sorry I didn’t make myself clear. The circuit I suggested doesn’t need ice kit; it was only if you wanted to add the Vignemale that you would need that. It is perfectly suitable for solo camping without a guide. It is similar to the TMB technically. If you are looking for something with less climbing I can make another suggestion. Let me know…

  71. Nikolay says:

    That is great Steve. Exactly what I am looking for. Thank you very much for clarification and sorry for misunderstanding.

  72. steve says:

    It would be nice if you could let me know how you get on: I’m increasingly asked about one- to two-week walks and am thinking of writing an article.
    Have fun.

  73. Nikolay says:

    Sure Steve. I’ll be happy to feedback you if it happens. Very hope so if TMB would not “kill” me.
    Route seems quite good for car accessibility (I am driving from Brussels) as it is circle I guess. Nice to have some ice fun option at the end and no necessary to carry ice stuff as it can be stored in the car and picked at the end of route for ice option.

  74. Robin says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for going to the trouble in setting up your web site, providing all the links and information on the GR10, your efforts are truly appreciated.
    I write to get your opinion on the FFRP Guide, and am concerned about its accuracy and comprehensiveness. For example in your book Steve, you slept in the hovel Cabane du col de Sasc, when only a short distance away was the Cabane de Courtal Marti (which you mentioned in your book). The next night you slept in the open on the Plateau de Beille, it sounds like you went to the left off the saddle (viewing the Talc open-cut mine) – if you had of gone the other side of the saddle, about 400 to 500 meters was the Cabane de Poussiergues in the valley.
    In the following chapter you mention leaving the ridge and passing a hut that was not in your FFRP Guide – that would have been Cabane des Genibres and I am assuming that the Cabane de Courtal Marti and Cabane de Poussiergues also were not in the FFRP Guide.
    Of course they might have updated the FFRP Guide by now, but my question to you is, would it not be easier to upload the co-ordinates to my GPS of all the acceptable accommodation in the area where I expect to sleep that night OR do you still think that the FFRP Guide is a good reference?
    Cheers,
    Robin.
    P.S. Love your book – good reading. It is great to read how others fair – both the good and the bad (hope you have recovered from your rash – lucky that wasn’t a rain-dance you did after applying the ointment).

  75. Elizabeth Harding says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve read your book and I found it helpful and informative. You don’t shy from saying you are tired and fed-up especially when your feet are suffering and your knees are letting you down (literally).

    A friend and I are in the middle of doing parts of this trail. What annoys us is the lack of any indication of true distance in the Topo guides. Giving the time it takes to walk a particular stretch is relevant only if the walker is a fit, 25 year old man with long legs who knows the terrain, finds craghopping a piece of cake and is unencumbered by gear. It took us some time to work this out. It could have been dangerous to rely on this. We are now having to adjust our plans.
    Any thoughts on this?

  76. steve says:

    Hello Elizabeth

    I’m glad you found my book informative. On the subject of distances, I don’t think that knowing them really helps much in the mountains. When I calculate how long a walk will take in the Pyrenees I look at how much climbing is involved because that is by far and away the most important factor. I know how much climbing I can expect to do in an hour (about 300m positive or 500m negative), so I calculate on that basis, adding time for breaks, roughness of terrain and heat (in summer). If I have a guidebook, after having used it once, I just multiply the number of hours as necessary, as I imagine you do.

    You are right to say that the guidebooks make assumptions about the level of experience and fitness of walkers tackling the Pyrenees but personally I think emphasising the distances would be misleading.

    I hope you find this helpful.

  77. steve says:

    Hi Robin

    As you say, guides have their faults. It would be interesting to have a page on the FFRP site where walkers could add updates to a particular guide. That said, I still find them useful.

    One resource which will be helpful, if you haven’t already seen it, is Refuges et cabanes des Pyrenees.

    As for ointments, I later tried suncream, with much the same effect.

  78. Brendan Moran says:

    Hi
    this link http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-blogs/weathermatrix/156-inches-of-snow-in-pyrenees-world-record/41689081
    might suggest a big snow melt this year and hence wetter muddier GR10. Is there anywhere to find out about track condition or can any current walkers report on that. I am planning to walk the full GR10 in August September. Regards Brendan

  79. steve says:

    Hi Brendan. By the time you are walking the traces of last winter will have completely disappeared and the track will only be affected by any recent storms. I climbed the Pic de Crabère last weekend, from the Refuge d’Araing, and it was dry except for a small amount of residual snow right at the top. It was unusually hot.

  80. Heather says:

    Hi Steve

    Thanks for the awesome information. I am doing St Jean to Luchon (with the 3 day Cauterets variant) on about the 14th of July. I am carrying a tent (ultra lightweight) and intend to camp and then stay in refuges/gites etc about every third night (but am flexible regarding this, depending if I am tired/bad weather etc). I am also taking my Trangia (mainly for morning coffee!) I am a solo hiker, 53, but experienced. However, I have a couple of questions, which I hope you can answer.

    1) I am using my Samsung S5 mobile for GPS (with Viewranger maps and a gpx of the track and some HRP routes), and for photographs, updating my various blogs, etc. It has power saving mode and I have a powerpack, and should give me about 3-5 days battery life. Do any refuges/gites etc have electricity and if so, is there huge demand for the powerpoints from all the other hikers?

    2) I don’t particularly mind the heat (I live in Australia) but how cold (and wet) do the nights get? I have hiked in winter in Tasmania (about -5 or so) and I just layered to cope ok with that. I don’t want to take too many clothes on this trip as I have to carry everything (including for the pre trip), and want to keep below 10kg.

    3) Lastly, what is the mobile reception like, and which mobile network in France has the best coverage (and cheap data)? It seemed so so last time I was there (2013) but it might have improved or maybe I just was on the wrong network.

    Thanks so much
    Heather

  81. […] here is my gear list for my Pyrenees Trek. I am doing a 3 week, approximately 400km portion of the GR10, from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Bagneres de Luchon, and am taking the 3 day variant near Cauterets. I […]

  82. Cevia says:

    Hi Steve,

    I would like to walk half of the GR11 and half of the GR10 beginning from Irun or Hondarribia in mid-August and finishing in Banyuls. Where would you recommend I cross over to continue on the GR 10 about halfway into the GR11? Any advice on doing so? Guided peak ascent, catching some form of transportation?

    Your thoughts would be much appreciated!
    Thank you,
    Cevia

  83. steve says:

    Hi Heather. In reply to your questions.

    1) Manned refuges and gîtes have powerpoints, but often only one or two. So far I have always managed to charge my batteries when I wanted to, but I tend to arrive before everybody else (about 4 p.m.) and start straight away.
    2) If you are up high at night (2000m+) the temperature might descend to +5 degrees, occasionally down to zero but not normally below. In any case you should be able to get down into a valley (the GR10 is all hills and valleys); at 1500m you can expect +8 degrees. To avoid getting cold and wet plan to arrive before 4 p.m. when the storms often start.
    3) Mobile telephone reception is non-existant on at least 60% of the GR10 once you get above 500m. Orange or SFR are marginally better than Free and Bouygues.

    By the way, I was interested to see your kitlist. How much does the powerbank weigh? I’d also be interested to know how you get on with mobile phone GPS.

    Best wishes, Steve

  84. steve says:

    Hi Cevia. There are many crossing points, none of which require guides or transport. In the past the hill-farming communities on both sides of the Pyrenees were in constant communication. Near the middle there are two great possibilities, one between Bujaruelo and Gavarnie and the other between Benasque and Luchon (the Portillon de Benasque), both legendary passes. A little further on you can cross from Tavascan to Ustou (stop in at the gîte l’Escolan in Bidous and say hello from me.)

    Let me know if you want more precisions.

  85. Nikolay says:

    Hey Guys, just noticed the power bank mention and I’ll be using “Power traveller SOLARMONKEY ADVENTURER” It is solar battery with small bank. Seems more reasonable than pure power bank for the same purpose (single smartphone Galaxy mini S4)
    Will see in TMB from tomorrow. That is my first experience with such devices.

  86. Faeya says:

    Hi Steve!
    I’ll be solo-hiking from Hendaye to Luchon in September and wanted to ask about your experience with GPS reception in the Pyrenees. I recently purchased a Garmin eTrex, which I will be taking along with me (despite the weight penalty). P.S. The Wikiloc tracks you provide here have been very useful, thanks!

  87. steve says:

    Hi Faeya, I’ve been using a Garmin eTrex 30 with onboard maps for some years and it works everywhere. The only difficulty is if you cross the frontier which requires a bit of fiddling with the maps. Don’t rely too much on the Wikiloc tracks! Sometimes I have stubbonly followed a track because it was on my GPS only to find out that the path had been diverted. (The worst of it is that some of the old waymarks may still be in place!)

  88. Faeya says:

    I’ll make sure to keep this in mind, thanks!

  89. Cevia says:

    Thanks so much for those suggestions, Steve. I will look into all of them!

    I will also be solo hiking in the Pyrenees for the first time, hoping to stay mostly in refuges along the way. I’m waiting for the GR10 and 11 Cisero guidebooks to arrive in the mail, but in the meantime am wondering if there are any sections I’ll have to plan to camp through or bypass? Can you suggest what gear is absolutely necessary in order to do so? I’m trying to keep 40L pack light but do want to be prepared…

    Thanks again for your extremely helpful advice!
    Cevia

  90. steve says:

    Hi Cevia. You don’t need to camp anywhere on the GR10 or GR11, though you will sometimes have to stay in unmanned huts. Unfortunately the Cisero guidebook to the GR11 is out of date (I believe there is another in production). You would be better with the Spanish Prames guide issued in 2013. In particular the route between Burguete and Otsagavia has changed completely. It now passes via Hirriberri, avoiding two nights in huts (but also missing out on the Iraty forest). As for the GR10, there is either a very long day between Gabas and Gourette or an overnight stop in a hut at the Plateau de Cézy; you will need to stay in a hut at the Cabanes de Peyrehitte (just after Luchon) and once of twice in the Ariège. The most essential bit of kit is water purifying tablets.

    Have fun.

  91. Hi there. I went and continued my way from East to West on the GR10 at the start of June. I had a great trip and you can find a link to the report below. It is really interesting to go from east to west. I would be interested to see is there much of a difference in going either direction. Perhaps someone might find some bit of useful information in the report,
    Stephen
    http://howlingmist.blogspot.ie/2015/06/further-along-gr10mont-valier-to.html

  92. Heather says:

    Thanks very much for the information Steve and others.

    The powerbank weighs 275g (not that heavy, but if you are trying to reduce as much weight as possible…)

    Also, I found this site about mobile coverage, it might help some.

    http://www.arcep.fr/index.php?id=12433&L=0

  93. Cevia says:

    Steve,

    Thank you again for the very useful information. Nice to know I don’t have to invest in alot (or any) camping gear. I’ll look into the Prames guide you mentioned and the water purification options available.

    Best!
    Cevia

  94. Laurence says:

    I am planning to walk the GR10 (west to east) in 2016 for a UK-based charity for the disabled. I have been on a 3-day trial trek along the Pyrenees, with all my equipment on my back (rucksack and about 20Kg of essentials), to test my physical capabilities and identify other difficulties I may have.

    My main concern is that I do not know how to get food and water and there seems to be little advice about this in the guide books and Web sites I have seen. There was one walk where my partner and I had to drive about 10 miles (on a Wednesday mid-afternoon) in order to find a shop that was open! I am very worried that, having completed a day’s walk, I will need to walk several more miles to find a shop to buy provisions for the next day’s walk, or to find a cash-point to withdraw cash. Please can you advise? How did you manage on your trek along the GR10?

  95. steve says:

    Hi Laurence

    I’m about to go off for four days but I’ll reply when I get back. Can you give me an idea of how much mountain experience you have please. For example, which bit of the Pyrenees did you do and how many hours did it take?

  96. Tim Turton says:

    Hi Steve. I’m thinking of doing a section of the GR10 on my own. I’m looking at 2 or 3 weeks in September/October. What section would you recommend? I am walking fit (57yrs of age) but really don’t want carry my home on my back,just essentials in a rucksack. I need a section where there are places to stay overnight and food available. Happy to carry waterproofs, clothes and some food/drink. Also what sort of footwear. I have Scarpa Manta boots are these too heavy?. Best wishes Tim.

  97. Ian Mckay says:

    Hi Steve,

    Great site, spent a few hours reading through your information and the various threads.

    Me and my partner are planning a 5 day walk during 2 weeks in the south of France. We are looking at walking from Fos to Aunac. We plan on leaving our car at Fos and getting a taxi/bus/train back to Fos from Aunac. Is this possible?

    Aunac looks close to lots of towns and seems to have a good infrastructure. This looks like quite a remote part of the GR10 and we’d value any advice you can give us on this section. We are camping so we won’t be tied to any specific timeframe but availability of food maybe an issue. Water looks fine, as there seems to be a few springs, and we’ll be carrying water purification tablets.

    Cheers, Ian and Kate

  98. Laurence says:

    Hi Steve,
    thanks for the quick reply! I have had very little mountain walking experience although I have been training (in the UK) pretty rigorously for the past few months. About 3 weeks ago now, I walked for 3 consecutive days on or near the Pyrenees (although not on the GR10 itself, owing to some bad weather). The first day was spent walking around some fairly gentle hills around Bourriege (about 12 miles on that day). The second day, we (that’s me and my walking colleague who has more experience than me) walked the Pic de Carlit (about 1000m climb and 10 miles on that day starting at the Lac Bouillabase that the GR10 skirts around). The third day we walked up through a forest and along a ridge (we climbed about 600m) starting at Puyvalador and heading towards Madres, about 13 miles in total.

    We averaged about 1-2mph (including stops for food and drink) over the 3 days. Not fast I know, but as an experiment, I managed to convince myself that I am physically able to do it (provided I maintain my training regime).
    I would be extremely grateful for any advice you can provide Steve!

  99. Richard says:

    Hi Steve,

    I’m going walk some the GR10 beginning on August 17th this year. I’m starting from Banyules and am having trouble finding cheap accomodation (Gites, hostals etc.) in Banyules itself. I presume this is because it’s a sort of resort town. Do you you know of any in the vicinity. The closest thing that is reasonably priced by my standards (less than EUR 40 per night) is in Port Bou on the Spanish side of the border (I live in Spain). Any assistance would be much appreciated.

    Richard

  100. Mark S says:

    Hi thanks for this great site! You’ve probably been asked this before but… 2 week holiday end of Aug start of Sep what would be you recommendation for the best 2 weeks on the G10? fairly strong hikers would love to cross the Glacier d’Ossoue (any idea roughly the cost of a guide/crampon hire?) Thanks.

  101. Mark S says:

    Just read your answer to Nikolay – looks a good option, Is this a mix of mountain/lower level as my GF is keen to experience local villages etc? Is this a 14 day schedule and if possible to hike across th glacier? again many thanks for the site!!

  102. steve says:

    Hello Mark
    Yes it is a good option (on GR10 in France and GR11 in Spain) and takes in villages/small towns. Gabas to Gourette is quite long but can be split at the Cabanes de Cézy. For the glacier you need to contact the Bureau de guides in Cauterets. The best option is to organise your dates so that you can catch one of their regular trips up the Grand Vignemale (Pique Longue). In that case you would be better to stay in Bayssellance rather than Oulettes de Gaube.

  103. steve says:

    Hi Richard
    I don’t know of any cheap accomodation in Banyules. However if you arrive early enough you could sleep in Can Tomy about 4 hours walk on the GR10 on the Pic de Sailfort. Otherwise ring tourist info +33 (0)4 68 88 31 58.

  104. steve says:

    Hi Ian and Kate. There are two Aunacs, one in the Charente. The one in the Ariège is no more than a couple of houses. However, you could walk from there to Seix where there is a little more infrastructure including a taxi.

    As you suspect, food is a problem though you will be able to buy some things (or take meals) at refuges. There is a relatively new one in the Riberot valley by the way.

  105. steve says:

    Hi Tim. September is better than October as many refuges will close at the end of September. Also weather deteroirates. It would probably be best to start (or finish) at Banyuls, though the only area which still lacks sufficient refuges is the Ariège. Your boots are fine as there are some rocky areas where ankle support is useful. I have similar ones though I am beginning to think I should be trying something lighter…
    Have fun

  106. steve says:

    Hi Laurence. The climb up the Carlit is the equivalent of what you might expect each day on the GR10, though there are few places as tricky as the final few metres to the top. What concerns me most is the weight you have in your rucksack. 20kg is much more than you need to carry, even if it includes a tent. My kitlist (above), which includes everything I wear and everything in my rucksack, weighs in at 10.5kg (though I admit that walking from hostel to hostel reduces weight). There are loads of sites about ultra-light walking; a real insipration for me.

    If you are intending to camp you will sometimes need to carry 3 days food but not more than that. With planning you shouldn’t need to leave the trail to resupply. Though there are few villages and fewer shops you can eat at refuges and get them to provide picnics (ring in advance). As for water, take purifying tablets.

    By the way, you don’t say what time of year you are thinking of.

  107. Laurence says:

    Thanks again Steve. I am thinking of walking from mid June onwards. So I expect it will take between 10-12 weeks to complete, walking 6 days per week.

    The 20kg includes 3L water. It doesnt include a tent but does include a sleeping bag and mat (very lightweight). I had better re-examine my kit list.

  108. Cevia says:

    Hi Steve,

    I’m back with another question if I may…I’ve moved up my start date to August 10th and am still hoping to walk the first half of the GR11 starting from Irun and picking up the GR10 starting near Luchon, ending in Banyuls. In reading your comments and info in the Cisero guides I see that some of the refuges may be closed in Sept/Oct but that a room may be open…in general, is it correct to assume that none of the huts (manned or unmanned) are heated and so I should prepare for possibly very cold temps (below 5 degrees celsius) even in shelters by the end of my trek? I’m rethinking my clothing/sleeping bag/emergency bivy situation.
    Thanks for your thoughts!
    Cevia

  109. steve says:

    Hi Cevia,
    If it is cold the manned huts will have heating; most of the unmanned ones have some provision for lighting a fire though you may have to go some distance to find wood. Yes it may descend to less than five degrees at night in October on the higher parts of the trail, but in the valleys in September you may still get 20 degrees. I suspect a good bivy bag would be adequate as long as you don’t need to sleep outside.
    I hope this helps.

  110. Cevia says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks so much. Yes, this is so very helpful!
    With appreciation,
    Cevia

  111. Rina Rodriguez says:

    Dear Steve, your website is so helpful – thanks. I’m going with friends around August 25th or so. We’ll start in Cauterets and then plan to walk to/spend the night at the Refuge Baysellance, and then wake up the next morning and walk to Gavarnie (we have reservations at the Hotel Vignemale in Garvarnie). Does that sound doable – to get from Cauterets to the Refuge in one day? We’re reasonably fit 40-somethings. Many thanks!!

  112. steve says:

    Hi Rina. Yes it is doable but it is 1800m of climbing and 16km (6 hours walking for a good mountain walker plus stops). It depends on how fit you are and how experienced you are of uphill walking. I’ve known some people who regularly walk on the flat slow to a halt after 700m of climbing.
    You might find it more enjoyable to stay in the Oulettes de Gaube Refuge which would make two more even days. In any case you need to book the refuges now to be certain of having a bunk. Another idea is to take a bus or taxi from Cauterets to the Pont d’Espagne. To keep cool and avoid the afternoon storms (from 4pm), plan to set out at dawn.
    I hope I haven’t discouraged you. The walk is fantasticly beautiful and varied.

  113. Xavi says:

    Hey Steve!
    I’ll be walking the GR-10 between St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Gabas, where I’ll turn down the Gave d’Ossau to hike to Larune. I’ll start on Aug 30 and am planning to biwak (weather permitting) – have you any experience doing biwak there?
    Cheers!

  114. steve says:

    Hi Xavi

    There shouldn’t be any problem in early September. I didn’t bivouac but there were other walkers who were in tents and you can always find a little corner somewhere. Enjoy!

  115. Rina says:

    Thank you Steve. Very helpful. (I think I will take the bus, and maybe the chairlift that I’ve read about on to the lake and then start from there.)

  116. Syan says:

    Hello Steve. I am so glad I clicked on this site because. My friend and I are going to Pyrenees in September and I need your advise if this portion of my route is feasible.

    We are going to Fabreges and take the Petit train d’Artouste to see the lake and then walk on to Cabane du Lurien to stay the night. The place looks unmanned. Is it alright to use this route and also to stay in the Cabane? Then the next day, we will walk from Cabane du Lurien to Lake Fabreges. Is this route alright?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you. 🙂

  117. steve says:

    Hello Syan. I don’t have any specialist knowledge of the area, though your route looks feasible on the map. I suspect that the huts may be in ruins or locked as I can’t find anything recent on the web. You could try the local tourist office + (33) 5 59 05 31 41.
    I hope they have the information you need.

  118. Ian & Kate says:

    Dear Steve, many thanks for your response. We’ll check out the taxi at Seix (thanks for the link). We’ll carry enough food for the 5 days just in case. Cheers Ian and Kate

  119. Cevia says:

    Hi Steve,
    Cevia here again. Almost on my way! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be attempting to hike the first 1/2 of the GR 11 and the second 1/2 of the GR 10, from Irun to Banyuls starting on Aug 10th. I’m planning to cross over at Benasque to Luchon as you recommended. I’m wondering, as I’ll be needing to switch out my GR11 guide (I found a 2014 edition of the Ciserone by Brian Johnson) and Prames maps for my Lucia GR 10 Ciserone guide and FFRP maps, is it possible to mail a package to any of the manned refuges in Luchon or possibly a post office for pick-up? I figured that if this is an option, it will save me some weight in my pack.
    Thanks again for your helfpul advice,
    Cevia

  120. steve says:

    Hello Cevia. Send it to [Your name] Post restante, Bureau de Poste, 26 ALLEES D ETIGNY, 31110 – BAGNERES DE LUCHON

  121. Cevia says:

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you so much!!!
    Blessings,
    Cevia

  122. Andy and Paula says:

    Hi Steve
    Great website and such a huge resource with all the Q&As.
    However we have a new one
    Paula has work in Melles so we are taking the train on sep 7th. After her 2 days work we have 8 glorious days to spend on the GR10 before we head back to toulouse, via public transport.
    Our question is, which way East of West would you suggest for the most scenic. We’re quite happy to tackle the 3 days unsupported if we went East.
    We’ll need to end up somewhere to catch bus or train back the following day, we then have a nigh
    t in toulouse before train home on the 19th.
    Thanks very much for any input
    Kind regards

  123. Cevia says:

    Hi Steve!
    I’m 8 days into my hike, am in Hiriberri on the GR 11. I started reading your book along the way and am really enjoying it! I’m thinking of heading over to the GR 10 earlier than originally planned, when I finish the Spanish basque region of the hike. Do you know of a way to cross the border from Isaba to the Col de la Pierre-St-Martin by foot? I see that it is only 16 km by car on the NA 137 and that there is a refuge in Arette on the GR 10. Would you suggest doing that?

    Thanks so much!
    Cevia

  124. steve says:

    Hi Cevia
    I think it would be a pity to change over to the GR10 where you are. There are some wonderful sections of the GR11 to come, between Zuriza and Candanchú, particularly after the hut at Aguas Tuertas. From Candanchú you can even get a bus to take you over the border to Borce on the GR10 (from the main road, not from the village itself). Have fun
    Steve

  125. Eugene Brady says:

    Flying in/out of Biarritz and walking about the first half could u suggest how to get back to Biarritz. Eugene

  126. Cevia says:

    Thanks so much for your input, Steve. The walk from Hirriberri to Ochgavia yesterday was amazing! I will follow your advice and stick to the GR 11 for a bit more.
    Buen camino!
    Cevia

  127. steve says:

    Hi Eugene. The first half should take you to Luchon. The SNCF runs a service to Biarritz from Luchon (though it is a bus for the first leg). Before Luchon the best exit point is Luz-St-Sauveur. When are you going to start?

  128. […] If you can download a GPX of the track, that is even better. This helped me a lot when doing the GR10, as there were a few areas (at least a couple per day) where I wasn’t sure of the route. This […]

  129. A Gentleman says:

    I know what you’re saying about meeting people if you do the west-east route. However, I have found that you meet more people if you walk east-west Going west-east you might be in a quiet pocket between others but if you go east-west, you are guaranteed to cross the paths of everyone going in the opposite direction.

  130. Bev says:

    Hi Steve

    I will be in the Girona area mid October – and walking solo. I am working towards completing GR10 in stages and thinking about doing the end section from Banyuls (walking for 5 days). Do you think this might be do-able at this time of year?

    Many thanks

  131. steve says:

    Hello Bev. No problem. The Refuge des Cortalets shuts on 15 October but there is always the free refuge next door. The refuge at the col d’Ouillat may or may not be open so you will need to ring them 04 68 83 62 20. There are also several huts and shelters: Tomy, Tanyreda… It could be cold though (frost in the morning). Have fun.

  132. Jay c says:

    Hi Steve.

    I hiked the GR10 from Hendaye to Luchon in summer 2011. I’m back in Luchon but have been held up for work reasons. I’d like to continue the GR10 and have full backpacking/camping equipment. Do you think it unwise to continue east along the route at this time of year? Ill be heading off October 7th. Im happy to wildcamp and carry a weeks worth of food at a time. I’m not carrying axe/crampons. I’m OK re navigation.

    Thanks

  133. steve says:

    Hi Jay. There has been a little snow in the Pyrenees already but this morning it was 13 degrees C at the Refuge des Cortalets (2150m)! As long as you are prepared to turn back or take an alternative route if the weather turns bad it could be OK. When you get to Mérens ask about the col de Coma d’Anyell which is at 2450m and has a steep downward slope after it. At night even on the lower parts of the GR10 there will be a ground frost. Take care but don’t spoil the walk by worrying too much. Steve

  134. michiel says:

    Hi all
    next year as part of an event from Banyuls to Hendaye where we will try to traverse the Pyrenees in 16 days. Yes I realise that is about 50k per day.

    Just finished your book Steve. It’s ace. So my first question, anybody done it in less than 30 days and what shoes did they use. I realise shoes are personal but just as food for thought. Food will be a later question 🙂

    Michiel

  135. Robin says:

    Walking the GR10 in 16 days – why bother!
    Get a helicopter and do it in one day – save all that walking,
    Walking allows you the time to savour what you are walking through. To me there are not enough daylight hours to see what there is to be seen. Stop, look, listen, smell the clean fresh air, engross the surroundings OR watch your feet see nothing and walk the GR10 in 16 days.

  136. michiel says:

    Thanks Robin. I don’t disagree with you, but the event I signed up for is 16 (or maybe even 17) days.
    So question stands 🙂

  137. steve says:

    Hi Michiel. Kilian Jornet did the GR10 in 8 days, so you can look at what he recommends. I’m more of a clodhopper so the only advice on footwear I can give is that thick soles are a good idea as the rocks often have sharp edges. I now walk with poles and find that it makes me much more stable so that I don’t search for the degree of ankle support I used to need – which means that I am looking to reduce the weight on my feet but I haven’t yet found anything to recommend.

  138. michiel says:

    8 days. Knowing Kilian he’ll have used Salomon. Which unfortunately are too narrow for me. But that’s good point.

  139. Ivo says:

    Dear,
    Does anyone knows a good apple app to upload the gpx files of
    http://www.gr-infos.com/gr10a.htm on an iphone.

    thank you

    Ivo

  140. Kevin says:

    Hello-
    My son (age 8) and I are planning a trip April 4 – April 14 2015. He enjoys the outdoors and can accomplish up to 8-10 miles with 2,500 elevation gain per day. We speak French. I have started researching the Pyrenees, particularly GR10 or GR11. Our ideal is to walk from village to village, mixing cultural experiences with the outdoors, and staying in inns or hotels along the way (so we can travel as light as possible). Can you suggest a section that might fit our goals? Thank you!

  141. steve says:

    Hi Kevin. At that time of year you need to be near the sea of you will have too much snow. In any case many of the hostels will be shut. You can rule out the GR11 because there isn’t enough accommodation. So your best option would be to start at Hendaye. Possible overnights are Biriatou, Olhette, Sare, Ainhoa, Ferme Esteben, Bidarray, St-Étienne-de-Baïgorry and St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I don’t usually say to book the accommodation more than two days in advance but at that time of year you will need to check availability. If Bidarray to St-Étienne is too long you can catch the train but that would be a pity. I didn’t stop at all the places listed above, but here are the my times.

    It is beautiful countryside, very green. Walking in the Pyrenees is different to the American long-distance trails, as far as I can gather, because there are more villages. So you don’t need a tent.

    Start Climbing (m) Descent (m) km hours taken Finish
    1 Hendaye 688 588 21.9 06:30 Olhette
    2 Olhette 599 579 25.6 06:20 Aïnhoa
    3 Aïnhoa 694 664 25.1 07:00 Bidarray
    4 Bidarray 1227 1215 19.9 07:25 St Etienne-de-Baïgorry
    5 St Etienne-de-Baïgorry 859 864 21.3 05:15 St Jean Pied de Port
    6 St Jean Pied de Port 818 390 18 05:15 Route de Phagalcette
  142. james cordeaux says:

    Steve,
    Very interested in starting the walk from Hendaye. I’m thinking if doing the walk over a number of years. I would like to start from hendaye this summer in July. How far can I get in 7 days? Also is it fairly easy to fly in and out (from/to UK)? If so , where could I book from? Do you know if buses link up with airports?
    Thanks

  143. admin says:

    Hi James. Five to six days will get you to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port but beyond that it is some time before you reach another trailhead so you may well be best to stop there. You can fly in and out of either Bayonne or Bordeaux and catch buses into the towns from the airport, then trains to the trailheads. Hope this helps. Steve

  144. james cordeaux says:

    Thanks Steve that’s very helpful
    Just started your book and very much enjoying it. Have a good 2016

  145. Tim Boyes-Watson says:

    Hi Steve

    Great site. Me and my best mate (both mid-40s) are planing to walk for about 6 days starting 15 May. We are pretty tough and happy to sleep in huts and bring sleeping bags but want to avoid lugging camping gear. We have two friends in Limoges who have offered to ride us into the pyrenees on the back of their motorbikes and drop us off. From where we can walk and then ideally get the train back to London at the end.

    Please do you have any suggestions about where is best to start (coming from Limoges) and finish near somewhere on a trainline? Thanks Tim

  146. steve says:

    Hi Tim
    From Limoges almost anywhere in the Pyrenees is 5 hours drive, so from that point of view the choice isn’t limited. However 15 May is very early, unless you have crampons. Also much of the accommodation is closed. Your best bet would be to start in Hendaye and walk to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. There are trains from SJPP which will take you back. This stretch isn’t high mountain by Pyrenean standards but still the Pic d’Iparla is at 1021m, higher than anything in England.
    I hope this helps.

  147. Will says:

    Hi Steve

    planning a 9 day walk along a section of the GR10 this year. Approx. route:

    Day From
    1 Arrens Marsous (Pt10 p92)
    2 lac d’Estaing
    3 Cauterets
    4 Refuge de Baysselance (B8 p38)
    5 Grange de Holle (B12 p46)
    6 St Sauveur (Pt19 p54)
    7 Bareges
    8 Chalet Refuge d’Oredon
    9 Refuge de Campana (p76)

    We have only two slots of holiday to choose from. Either the first two weeks of June or the last two weeks of July. Would prefer to go in June to avoid the heat and crowds, but imagine we would come across some snow. We are both experienced winter walkers (Scotland) but NOT climbers – would the path be walkable with crampons and axe in the higher sections, around Refuge de Baysselance for example?

    I thought I’d ask the hut guardians, but they are are not around to be asked at the moment. If you cannot advise, who would you suggest we contact?

    Will & Kathryn (UK)

  148. steve says:

    Hi Will and Kathryn

    You’ve correctly identified the problem with the early date. The slope above the Oulettes de Gaube hostel is just right for avalanches and the time of year is also one of the worst. You would be better off staying at the Oulettes de Gaube than Baysselance because the snow would still be frozen in the morning, rather than slushy in the afternoon. Your best bet is to contact the Bureau des Guides in Cauterets and see what they say. Can you please post their advice so others can benefit. Thanks.

  149. Jamie Copeland says:

    Hello, hope you can help. I am due to be doing a sponsored walk in September. the route is the Le Chemin de la Liberté or Freedom Trail, France. I think it starts in St Girons and ends in Esteri – d’anue???Not too concerned about the elevation or the distance, however I hate heights! I don’t mind being up high it’s just walking along cliffs and drop off’s!! Have you walked along this route and if so, is this something I should be concerned about?
    Would appreciate any advice.
    many thanks, Jamie

  150. steve says:

    Hi Jamie
    I know a bit about the freedom trail and have walked a small part of it. From what I have noted, and as far as I can see from the maps of the rest of it, the path does not go along the edges of cliffs but you will have to walk down steep slopes at times. You will find lots more information on the site dedicated to the Freedom Walk. For more details, contact Scott Goodall. Perhaps you might like to walk alongside the association which organises the trek in mid-July each year.

  151. Jamie Copeland says:

    Thanks for the reply, that’s a great help. I will contact Scott to see if he has anymore advice.
    Jamie

  152. Blair says:

    Hi Steve!
    Wow, this website and the comments are just fantastic! Such an inspiration. I will be traveling in Spain at the end of May this year with girlfriends and my fiancé has offered to come meet me to do a week of hiking on the GR10 from May 27-June 5th. I am an experienced backpacker/hiker from the NE US (I’ve done many trips in the white mountains etc) but he is not as experienced and is excited by the prospect of hiking and staying in beds at the end of the long day 🙂
    Are there any easily accessible routes you would recommend for this timeframe? I’ll be coming from Madrid, but he can fly in anywhere!

    Cheers,
    Blair

  153. steve says:

    Hello Blair
    My replies to Tim Boyes-Watson and Will, above, are relevant to your project. Basically, if you don’t want to use crampons, to be sure of having a good time go to either the Mediterranean or the Atlantic ends of the Pyrenees and walk inland. For comfortable accommodation and days which aren’t too long the Atlantic end is better. For a wilder experience but staying in unmanned huts, go for the Mediterranean.
    I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions.

  154. Will says:

    Steve

    thanks for your advice – can I now unsubscribe from receiving future comments please. We’ve opted for July as the lesser of the two evils.

    Thanks again

  155. steve says:

    Hi Will. In theory there is an unsubscribe link on the comments updates. If that doesn’t work come back to me and I’ll remove you manually. Have fun in July.

  156. Thomas says:

    Hi Steve,
    Your site is a huge help, thanks a bunch. I was hoping to get your thoughts on a 4 day hike that myself and 3 amigos are planning at easter (25/3 to 29/3). We are planning to walk from:
    day 1: St Jean Pied-de-Pont > St Etienne-de-Baigorry
    day 2: St etiennne > Bidarray
    day 3: Bidarray > Ainhoa
    day 4: Ainhoa > Olhette

    I have chosen the route above because it is closer to the coast, lower altitude and accessible by road at various points if weather turns against us.
    I am a bit worried whether there will be too much snow (or any snow) on the trail at this time of year> I’d hope that given the lack of snow this year we would be fine, but wanted to ask your thoughts if possible.

    thanks in advance for your help, Tom

  157. steve says:

    Hi Tom
    Yes that looks a good plan. If there is any snow you are most likely to find it on Iparla, but as you say you can avoid it. I’d be interested to know how you get on.
    Best wishes Steve

  158. Hi Steve, I wrote to you a few months ago for your advice on walking the GR10. Well, I’m finally ready and I will be walking the GR10 during July to August this year. I am doing this for a charity (Norwood) that cares for people with learning and physical disabilities. I am walking the GR10 because it is a challenge that will, in some small way, help me to show my appreciation for the charity that cares for my son. I have attached a link to my Virgin Giving page. I am also looking for some keen trekkers to walk with me, either the entire length or for some of the sections. Please let me know if there are any interested readers and I will send my detailed itinerary. Thank you for such an excellent blog! I have linked my Virgin Giving page and Facebook page to this blog as well.

  159. Mike says:

    Hi, I have time off between the middle of April and the end if June this year (2016). Will the GR10 be manageable between these dates do you think?

  160. steve says:

    Hi Mike,

    Hmm… If you mean walking the whole of the GR10 starting at one end mid-April, I think you will have difficulties unless you are adept with crampons. What you could try is starting no earlier than 1 May from Hendaye and going as far as you can until you hit too much snow, probably after Gabas, day 13. Then take a taxi and train to the other end, Banyuls, and work inland. But perhaps you were thinking of some other idea? Unless you are camping (brr…) you will need to check which hostels are open as the season only starts at the beginning of June (though some have a room which is available all year round).

    Best of luck Steve

  161. Hello trekkers! Anyone planning on walking the GR10 this year? I am leaving from Hendaye on July 4th and hope to finish around the end of August. I am keen to meet up with some others so I won’t be walking the route alone. Please contact me if you are going around that time.

  162. Thomas says:

    Hi Steve, thanks for your previous reply on our trip plan. Apparently there has been record late snow this year so we are a little nervous about what Iparla will look like (will be really dissapointed to miss it). Since we are walking the route in reverse, can you recommend or suggest a guide which covers the GR10 from East to West? Cicerone guide looks like it only covers West to East. Thanks again, Tom

  163. steve says:

    Yes there has been some late snow but I have just been looking at the reports and the nearest ski resort Artouste is closed, presumably because there isn’t enough. I suspect you will be alright but you need to see when you get there. The forecast is sun/cloud then rain later in the week (snow above 1000m). See http://www.meteociel.fr/previsions/23856/saint_jean_pied_de_port.htm. By the time you arrive it will be 13 degrees C in the valley! So the snow may well be melting on Iparla; it isn’t very high. Ask when you are in SJPP at the Gendarmerie (they are involved in mountain rescue). In any case coming down from Iparla avoid the ridge route. Good luck. Steve (Can you let me know how you got on please.)

  164. Thomas says:

    Thanks Steve, I will certainly update you on how we went. Since we are walking the route in reverse, can you recommend or suggest a guide which covers the GR10 from East to West? Cicerone guide looks like it only covers West to East. Hopefully that can help me work out what the ridge route we have to avoid is too. Thanks again, Tom

  165. Rami says:

    Hello
    I am going to walk a part of the GR10 next summer (around two weeks during late June- beginning of July 2016).
    I would like to take the part of Hourquette d’Ossoue, the Vignemale, and Gavarnie around late June. Should it be snow on the ground? Can I walk without special equipment to the Bayssellence refuge, for example?
    General question – Should I make reservations in advance for the refuges on the trail (I am walking alone)?
    Thank you

  166. steve says:

    Hello Rami
    There may be snow on the ground late June but you will probably be able to walk around it and not need crampons or an ice axe. However to be sure ring up the hostel at the Oulettes de Gaube 05 62 42 13 67 a few days beforehand. As for reserving, in that area, at that time of year you would be best to do so, but try to allow a bit of flexibility in your timetable in case of bad weather.
    It is a lovely part of the mountains.

  167. Rami says:

    Thank you very much for your reply.
    You wrote that I have to make reservations but to allow flexibility:
    1. How long in advance should I make my reservations?
    2. In which part and how do you recommend to allow flexibility (I think I will walk from Gabas or from Gourette to Luchon)?
    Thanks again

  168. steve says:

    Hello Rami. I used to think that it was only necessary to reserve a couple of days in advance but it seems increasingly difficult to find a bed in the high season (from 1 July). And I have just tried to book at the Chalets d’Iraty (for the end of June) but they are full so I have had to replan. On the other hand if I book too much in advance I might set out in bad weather or when dead tired just because I am expected at the hostel. It is a difficult call. So what I have done for this summer is to build in more rest days so that I have flexibility, should I get behind schedule – I don’t think it likely that I will arrive too early! I try to arrange the rest days where there is a side walk available if I have the energy. Hope this helps. Steve

  169. Yasmin Grant says:

    Really helpful information!
    I was planning on doing the Cauterets to Lac de l’Oule étape at the end of April but I’m having doubts.
    I really love hiking but I’m a bit of a rookie! I’ve noticed that the high season is July/August but the only time i can do this hike is at the end of April.

    As a (fit) rookie, what do you suggest I bring with me?
    Will i need crampons? Is there a number I can call to get weather updates? Is there a guide i can buy so I don’t get lost?

    Thank you in advance!
    Yasmin

  170. Yasmin Grant says:

    Ok, scrap that! i’ve just skimmed through the previous comments and we’re going to re-plan our route! We’ll do the première étape instead!
    This website is an absolute goldmine-will be sure to take a copy of the information with me!

  171. steve says:

    Hello Yasmin. I’m glad the site was useful. Cauterets to the lac d’Oule would have been difficult. Best wishes Steve

  172. Rami says:

    Hello Steve
    I started planning my days in the GR10 so I can make reservations in advance, as you recommended me above.
    However, I would like to consult with you: the day from Arrens-marsous to Cauterets seems to be too long (isn’t it?) so I thought to stay in refuge d’llheou. Next day I thought to stay in refuge des oulettes de gaube and from there to walk to Le Chalet La Grange de Holle. The next day I thought to stay in Luz Saint-Sauveur. My question is if I have a too long day in my plan above and if yes, should I walk from Arrens-marsous to Cauterets in one part after all.

    Thank you again for all your advices
    Rami

  173. steve says:

    Hello Rami Arrens-Marsous-Ilhéou-Cauterets-Oulettes de Gaube-Granges de la Holle-Luz-St Sauveur is plausible. When I did it I added in one extra stop, at the Chalet du Clot and stayed at Baysselance rather than the Oulettes de Gaube. The last two days on your plan are the hardest. Why not have a short day around Gavarnie spending a second night at the gite le Saugué or nearby? This would give you time to recover and also make the last day more reasonable.
    Happy walking, Steve

  174. Lisa says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve just spent hours looking through your site. You truly are a gift to walkers. I hesitate to ask your advice– but here i go! I would like to do a 4(ish) day walk with my 12 year old daughter in late June/very early July. We live in Southern Spain and have friends in Toulouse– so anywhere between those two points. My daughter can do less than 20km per day and prefers rolling hills to mountians. We would like to stay in as supported facilities as possible and if we could avoid crowds, have a very well marked trail and see beautiful nature we would be in paradise. Thank you so much! -Lisa

  175. steve says:

    Hello Lisa. The best rolling countryside, with facilities, is in the Basque country (any four days between Hendaye and St-Jean-Pied-de-Port), but that isn’t really on your way unless you are in SW Spain. Further east, you might want to consider the Sentier Cathar. Or perhaps the Spanish GR15 which is in the foothills. Possibly the GR10 between Py and Planes might fit the bill. You could leave the car at Villefranche and take a taxi to Py. At the end you could return to Villefranche on the little yellow train. Don’t hesitate to ask more.
    Steve

  176. Caroline says:

    Hi Steve, like everyone else, I think your website is fantastic. A wealth of helpful information. I am interested in walking from SJPP to Esta, starting on 31 May. It will be hard for me to go later in the year. Do you think I will encounter snow? I am walking alone – is this stretch something I shouldn’t tackle? I get the sense that it is comparatively undemanding and well-used, so I’m likely to meet other walkers, which suits me fine – what do you think?

    Caroline

  177. steve says:

    Hi Caroline. I’m glad the site is useful. You say you are going from SJPP to Esta. I’m not sure where Esta is and think it might be a spelling mistake. Can you check please.

  178. steve says:

    So sorry, Steve: I meant to type ETSAUT. If I have your ear and eye for a moment, perhaps I could check out the following with you.

    I am 62 and love walking and have done quite bit on my own (eg backpacking in the Romania a few years ago, the Dolomites, based in a chalet with other walker, last year), but I am nervous of walking in the Pyranees alone after Macs Adventure told me they do not take bookings for solo walkers. I am aiming for ETSAUT because a friend has a house nearby and will be there at the beginning of June. If I walk from StJean Pied de Port to Etsaut, it seems to take 4 days, two of which are very long.

    Can you tell me how difficult it is to follow the GR10 over this section, and whether any snow in the first week of June is likely to make things difficult. I can check in advance if the gites etc are open … it’s more to see if you can give me a feel of whether this section is difficult in any way, and whether it really is too early.

    Thank you!

    Hello Caroline
    It’s not too early: the highest point is at 1950m so the snow should have melted at that date. But SJPP to Etsaut is 114km with 7551m of climbing. I’m surprised someone has suggested it is a four-day hike. It took me 43 hours of walking over six days and that was pushing it.
    I hope this helps.

  179. Laura says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks so much for all your advice. I am just starting my research on Pyreness walks- I’m planning 2 weeks on foot from the 28th June to the 12th July with myself and one other. I’m keen to do the higher, more remote and scenic aspects of the Pyrenees walks- I am an experienced hiker with navigational skills and have all my own trekking gear including 4-season tent. The only restriction would be glacial crossings as I won’t have access to crampons and ice-axe. Any suggestions of trails to take?

  180. Michael says:

    I can confirm there is a spring at Tanyureda. It’s a few hundred metres along the dirt road just down from the refuge. Dear God I was glad for that refuge a few days ago. Also the wooden based bunks are a great idea, they don’t get cold like metal ones. It snowed for a minute, I loved that.

  181. steve says:

    Hi Laura. At that kind of date you should be able to wander up to 2400m without encountering snow and get up to 2800m or above with some snow but nothing show-stopping. Perhaps you might like to do a circular walk taking in both sides of the Pyrenees (GR10 in France and GR11 in Spain) zigzagging across from one to the other depending on the weather. Have a look at my list of cross-border walks in the Pyrenees (not a complete list by any means). For high-mountain walks try the central zone. Hope this helps, Steve

  182. Rami says:

    Hello Steve
    I implemented your advices from above and made reservations for all of my days on the GR10 except for one – my first night (the day of my arrival from Lourdes by plane) – Arrens-marsous. I tried to make reservations but I understand that Gîte-auberge Camelat is closed and also Hôtel Le Tech. can you recommend me what to do? Are there other places to stay in or maybe I should stay in Lourdes and arrive Arrens-marsous next morning?

  183. steve says:

    Hello Rami. I suggest you try contacting the local tourist office, the Office du tourisme de Val d’Azun, which should be able to help. Good luck for your walk.

  184. Daisy says:

    Hi Steve,

    This site is awesome!!

    I was wondering if you could recommend a good 3 night 4 day hike (maybe 3.5 day) for us? I have a lot of experience backpacking solo with a tent & my boyfriend is a strong athlete. I think we are interested in hiking 5 or 6 hours a day (I can hike 2-3 miles/hour depending on the elevation). I am interested in staying on the French side & seeing a more mountainous view rather than a hill side view. We are also interested in staying in the huts.

    And, we can’t decided if we should rent a car, or if we could travel easily by train – are there any recommendations for that specifically? We plan to head to the Ocean after some hiking.

    Thanks!!

  185. steve says:

    Hello Daisy. It depends on when you are going but if it is July/August you could consider this:

    1. Cauterets to Oulettes de Gaube
    2. oulettes de Gaube to Gavarnie
    3. Gavarnie to Luz-St-Sauveur
    4. Luz-St-Sauveur to Cauterets

    See the section entitled Hourquette d’Ossoue above, which describes the first part of the route. This is high mountain walking. You don’t need a car as Cauterets is accessible by train as far as Lourdes where you will find a bus connection. Ot you could try Luz-St-Sauveur to Luchon, getting a taxi to Barèges to make the first day feasible. Let me know if you need any more info.

  186. Rami says:

    Hello Steve
    I hope I do not ask too many questions but every recommendation of yours is so helpful. Thank you again.
    I made all the reservations for my 11 days walk, starting June 28, and I have second thought on one part. I am walking from REFUGE DE BAYSSELLANCE to Gîte d’Etape Le Saugué, the next day to Luz Saint-Sauveur and then to Barèges.
    I think I prefer to sleep in Gavarnie and hike to Cirque de Gavarnie to La Grande Cascade and back. If I do it I have to skip one-step (I have to finish in Luchon at a fixed date) – or from Gavarnie to Luz Saint-Sauveur (take a bus?) or from Luz Saint-Sauveur to Barèges (take a bus?).
    What is your recommendation? Is walking to Cirque de Gavarnie is worthwhile? If yes which step should I skip? (I will need public transportation instead).
    Rami

  187. steve says:

    Hello Rami
    Since you will be in Gavarnie anyway you must go to the Cascade. It is only a short walk there and back from Gavarnie (6km) but rather longer from la Saugué. Perhaps you could fit it in between Bayssellance and la Saugé. If you still feel you need to cut a day out then take the taxi from Gavarnie to Luz.
    Steve

  188. Matthew says:

    Hi Steve,

    This website has been incredibly helpful, thank you!

    I am a student studying in Toulouse and some fellow students and I have been planning a hike starting from Mérens les Vals June 3 and ending at Vernet les Bains June 9 or 10. Do you think this is a reasonable section of the GR 10 to tackle given that it’s early in the season? We are all experienced hikers, but do not have crampons or ice axes with us. I would appreciate your thoughts!

    Thanks!

  189. Eve says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve just booked a return flight to Lourdes for the end of July and am planning on walking as much as i can of the GR10 in a week – starting at Caureters. If I walk about six hours a day, can you recommend a good stretch, and the best refuges to stay please? Could I make it from Cauterets to Lac de l’Oule (via Gavarnie) and get back to Lourdes from there? Going to book accommodation now. Very excited!
    Thanks so much for your help
    Eve

  190. steve says:

    Hello Eve

    From Cauterets you have two options

    1. Cauterets – Bayssellance (7h15) – Gavarnie (5h30) – Luz-St-Sauveur (9h05!) – Barèges (3h00) – Oule (7h00) – Saint-Lary-Soulan (3h30) (as you suggested)
    2. Cauterets – Luz-St-Sauveur (7h20) – Barèges (3h00) – Oule (7h00) – Saint-Lary-Soulan
    3. (3h30)

    From Saint-Lary-Soulon you will be able to find transport back to Lourdes.

    Unfortunately it isn’t possible to arrange the days more evenly.

    If you want to stay at Bayssellance it is the first place you should book as it could already be full. Otherwise stay at Oulettes de Gaube (1h30 earlier). The other possibility is to stay at the lac d’Oredon rather than Oule (again 1h30 earlier) which makes the days more even. There is plenty of accommodation in Cauterets, Gavarnie, Luz, Barèges and St Lary but I don’t recommend any in particular. However, you will have noticed that the day from Gavarnie to Luz is rather long. You can shorten it a bit by staying at the Granges de la Holle or more by staying at Le Saugé or L’Escapade but the last makes the previous day significantly longer.

    I hope this helps. Have fun. Steve

  191. James says:

    Hey Steve!
    Myself and four friends will all be hiking in the Pyrenees from around June 30th – July 16th. We’re interested in the most dramatic sections as we originally wanted to do the Dolomites, but found that tenting is forbidden.
    I was in Gourette before and hiked to Lac d’Anglas, where I went for a swim and a bit of climbing, and I want to hike through (and perhaps over!) some awesome peaks, lakes and boulder fields. Where is the best section for this? 🙂
    Thanks! 😀

  192. steve says:

    Hello James. Well if you want awesome, perhaps you should be on the Haute Randonnée Pyrénénne (HRP) or the GR11 in Spain, see my comparison of GR10, GR11 and HRP treks. Assuming that you have the skills (navigation and high-mountain experience) then the Central Pyrenees are where you should be (from Gourette to Luchon in GR10 terms or Candanchú to Conangles on the GR11). You will need crampons and ice axes to climb Aneto (3404m), Vignemale, Perdido etc. it is also possible to switch from one route to another, see my post on cross-frontier hikes in the Pyrenees.

    All three routes can be done without tents, but you need a lot of planning to find the mountain huts.

    I hope this helps. Feel free to elaborate on your project. Steve

  193. steve says:

    7 June 2016 The snow has melted. There is no problem on the Pyrenean Way (GR10) between Hendaye and Ustou (Ariège). Two Canadians trailblazers who set out from Hendaye on 16 May have arrived at the Gîte d’Etape L’Escolan on their way to the Mediterranean.

  194. Chris says:

    Hi Steve

    Great website! Like so many others, I can only admire the work you continue to put in to keep this up to date and to respond the folks like me.

    I am planning to walk the full GR 10 in July and August, starting July 3. Your site has really answered so many questions – I only have a couple of quite small ones.

    (i) Are there identifiable markers at the beginning and end of the GR 10?, eg, a post or cairn or sign? Or is simply a matter of any where on the beach at either end for the obligatory selfies?

    (ii) Planning stops at Cabane de Besset, Etang d’Ayes on consecutive nights, and then Refuge de Clarans about a week later. As far as I can make out I will definitely need a tent for the 2nd of these, and might be a good option for the other 2 as well. Is that right?

    I’ve done some day walks on the GR 10, so have a sense of the countryside and the ascent / descent required. Planning 54 days of walking with 5 rest days. Reasonably experienced walker in Australia, also in UK and New Zealand. (Longest walk was Heysen Trail in South Australia – 1150 kms, but of course nowhere near as much up and down as GR 10.) Have walked about 850 miles so far this year to get some strength in my 60 year old legs..

    Judging from your book as well as other sources such as the Ciceronne Guide I expect heat to be a major issue much of the time – but with mist and fog always being a possibility in these mountains.

    I will be solo some of the time, but have 2 brothers joining me for some sections of the walk. Will of course carry various maps, navaids and emergency gear, but have got pack weight down to 10.5 kgs..

    Cheers

    Chris

    (Adelaide / Australia)

  195. […] in their new home. We walked on both the Spanish and French side of the Pyrenees, on the GR11 and GR10, in the Ordesa Canyon, throughout the Valle de Tena, all the while in various weather conditions […]

  196. steve says:

    Hello Chris.
    Glad you found the site helpful.
    (i) As far as I know there is no official start in Hendaye but there is a plaque in Banyuls on the town hall. Everybody takes a photo there.
    (ii) I haven’t been to look at these three huts recently. Pyrenees Refuges et Cabanes is the best source of information for the first two. For Clarens ask Fabrice who runs the Petit Gite de Siguer and organises supplies for it. If you are only carrying a tent for those three nights, you would be better to leave it at home. Even if there is a problem with one of them there are others within an hour’s walk in an emergency.
    As you say, heat can be a problem on the GR10 but you may also have a sudden snowstorm, even in July/August. As an Australian I expect you deal with heat by starting early. In any case most thunderstorms arrive after 16h00 so it’s best to arrive before then.
    Looks like you are well prepared. By the way, you can download the locations of all the huts in the Pyrenees for your GPS. It took me a while to find that page; I was doing them one by one, as needed.
    I’m going to walking the HRP at the same time as you are on the GR10. They cross in places so maybe we will meet up.
    Have fun!

  197. […] my oldest son is in Italy, and I started thinking, what about Europe? I could do some more of the GR10; I could do some of the GR20, or I could look for some hikes around where he lives in Milan. My […]

  198. Chris says:

    Thanks for that Steve – much appreciated.

    BTW – I believe, from an email I had from Fabrice a week or two back, that the Petit Gite at Siguer is no longer available. As far as I could make out, the local municipality is no longer supporting it. I have managed to find alternate accommodation in Siguer through booking.com, but it does complicate the resupply question for the next day.

    Would be great fun if our paths crossed. My plan, subject to accident, illness, weather and bears, is to have rest days in St Jean PDP (July 8), Cauterets (July 20), Luz St Saveur (July 25), Luchon (Aug 1st) and Merens (Aug 18th) arriving at the Med on Aug 30th. We shall see what actually happens..

    Cheers for now

    Chris

  199. Eve says:

    Thanks so much Steve – everything’s booked now, thanks for your help and advice. The only stage I’ve not booked yet is my night in/around Bareges – plenty of places to stay in town, as you say, but I’m keen to try a refuge or somewhere more in the wilds that night – are there are refuges around there? Thanks again! Eve

  200. steve says:

    Hello Eve. Glad to be of help. You might like to try the Cabane Aygues-Cluses (scroll down for recent comments). It will be primitive but the situation is perfect. Beware, huts like this may be locked so you need to be prepared for the worst… or the best!

  201. steve says:

    Hi Chris. Thanks for the info about the Petit Gite; you could still ask Fabrice about the state of Clarens. I’m planning to be in Luchon on 2 August, going up to the Maupas refuge for the night. Depending on your timing we may meet up. Contact me on steve [at] archetype-it [point] com nearer the time if you like. Cheers Steve

  202. Caroline Villiers says:

    Hello Steve,

    Thank you for all the information on your site. So, so helpful.

    If I (travelling by car) wanted to meet someone doing the walk somewhere along the route, could you please suggest the most accessible point? Preferably somewhere with accommodation?

    Thanks again in advance,
    Caroline

  203. steve says:

    Hello Caroline. Thanks for your question; it has prompted me to update the site. If you look at the map page you will see that the lists now show which hostels and huts on the GR10 and GR11 in Spain are accessible by car.

  204. steve says:

    I’m off walking the Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne on Monday 20 June, so I might not be able to answer questions very quickly. But there are plenty of others who can help.

  205. Alun Davies says:

    Hi – my wife and I are planning to walk for 9 days in the Pyrenees in September. Last year we walked the Alta Via 2 and before that the Summer Haute Route to Zermatt I mention that to give you an idea of our level / grade. We like 6-8 hour days staying in guarded huts or valley hotels. We would like your advice please on which stretch of the GR10 you would recommend to us?
    I see you are away walking – but hop you can reply later please.
    Best wishes
    Alun

  206. steve says:

    Hi Alun. I should be able to reply around 6 July. If I forget please remind me. Steve

  207. Ed griffiths says:

    Hi, I walked the Pyrenees in the summer of 2013 starting on the 1st of July. The only stage I couldn’t do because of snow was Gabas to Gourette. I took a tent but wish I hadn’t, with the changes in the Ariege in particular I didn’t need it. It was a lot of unnecessary weight. I fully subscribe (now) to the “travel light” philosophy and sent a load of updates to Cicerone as it was their GR10 guide that convinced me to take the tent. It’s a good guide but sadly in need of update. If I go again (maybe next summer) I’ll see if I can persuade them to do a new edition.
    Ed

  208. Heather says:

    Hi Alun, I’m not an expert like Steve, but I walked from St Jean Pied de Port to St Lary Soulon last year (a bit longer than what you are planning). I wrote it up in my blog (https://solohikerchick.wordpress.com/) For me, the most spectacular sections were from Arriete le Pierre St Martin to Lescun (spectacular karst scenery); Estaut to Gabas (try and plan your hike to stay at the spectacular Refuge d’Ayous…and don’t do what I did, hike the next day all the way to Gourette; it’s a spectacular walk, but took me 13 hours). Then the 3 day variant from Cauterets (when approaching Cauterets, don’t turn right for the Refuge D’Ilheou,rather go left and you can go down the cable car. After the refuge, you just walk on a horrid steep road, then on bitumen down to the village, and it is not really a nice walk) is an absolute must, as is the short walk from Gavarnie to the Cascade (though it does seem awfully long if you do it after arriving). You can also catch a bus from Gavarnie to the Pont d’Espagne. I found the walk from Pont d’Espagne to Refuge Baysellance the most exquisitely beautiful of the section that I did, up past Lac du Gaube and into this awesome amphitheatre surrounded by huge mountains. Climbing Petit Vignemale is not a huge extra climb at the end of this too. Refuge Baysellance is probably the one place I would book, as it is often full, as people use it as a base to go climbing glaciers and the surrounding mountains. Most refuges allow camping in the grounds if they are full (if Baysellance is full go a bit further down the path towards the caves, as it is VERY windy on the plateau). Also, the Cicerone guide is horribly out of date, rather buy the French guidebook, it is much better (available in most of the bigger villages). Have a great walk.

  209. Heather says:

    Sorry, I meant you can catch a bus from Cauterets to Pont d’Espagne (not from Gavarnie…I did catch a bus from Gavarnie when I did the hike, but to Luz St Saveur as it was raining torrentially and all the creeks were flooded).

  210. Robin says:

    G’day Ed Griffiths,
    They do make ultra-light tents these days!
    Give me a tent and a good night’s sleep in preference to a snoring interrupted night of slumber any day!

  211. Marianne says:

    Hi Steve, We’re happy to find your site planning our GR10 trek. Since we begin our holiday i Bordeaux, we’ll go by train to Merens-les-vals (10 july). We plan to reach Banyuls-sur-mer by the 21st (to go back to Bordeaux by train the 22nd). Our plan is to follow the Ciceron guide (days 39-50), but after reading critique about need to update the guide, we’d like to have your comments about this route. We are fit, experienced hikers used to high altitudes (I walked Alta via 2 last summer). We’ll pack light, only bring travel blankets for sleep. Are there any must sees or dont’s? Are there any parts of our trip where we should book our stay days in advance? Difficulties making food supplys for the day?

    Thank you in advance!

    Marianne and Mats fr.o.m. Sweden

  212. steve says:

    Hi Marianne and Matts. I am away in the mountains so will reply when I get back 6 July. Book les Cortalets. Climb Canigou. More later.Steve

  213. alison ryan says:

    Hi Steve
    We have used your advice before and in planning our next stage of the GR10 have run into a problem, hence wondering if you can point us in the right direction. We are doing about 10 days and struggling to find somewhere around Sigeur. We have booked a night in Auzat but have had no luck with Sigeur. We emailed the person your website suggests but got an automated email back and it seems as far as I can make out that they no longer have people stay there. Le Petit Gite is closed, and another place we found called Cancela is full. We are struggling to find anywhere else. Any suggestions very welcome. Many thanks, Alison

  214. Stuart says:

    How did you get on Caroline? (15.4.06 post). I walked SJPP to Etsaut many years ago and, like Steve, needed 6 days. This year I did Etsaut to Luz in 4 days (2-5 June) in foul weather.Snow blocked the way between Gabas and Gourette necessitating a long detour through forest and on roads.The sun came out on 6 June but I’m surprised that the snow melted so quickly- the gardien at the Grange la Holle said the Cirque was only possible with crampons and ice axe. There is nowhere to stay in Arrens-Marsous. I stayed at a brilliant gite/auberge at the Col de Soulor. But that made it a very long day to Cauterets the next day. Hope you had a good walk Steve!

  215. Duncan says:

    Hi,

    I want to say a big thank you for the site. Me and a friend just got back from doing the loop from Cauterets, over Hourquette d’Ossou to Gavarnie, then up to Luz, followed by a quick pop over to Bareges on the GR10C before heading back to Lourdes (on the bus). Your page proved invaluable in both planning and execution of our trip. It was one of the best holidays I’ve had, and the scenery on this section is indescribable in its majesty. I thought I’d add a couple of notes that may be of use to others:
    – we’re not experienced in this kind of hiking (day trips up peaks in the Lake District was the most we’d done prior to this), and though we’re not unfit by any means, we’re not ultra runners. Where I’m going with this is that we found the times on the yellow signs to be…optimistic at best. We tended to add on 10-15 mins for every hour on signs

    – Lac de Gaube is BUSY. Not surprising really, given how beautiful it is, but it’s clearly a popular location; there were at least a hundred people there

    – the route up over Hourquette d’Ossou, which we did on the 28th June, involved a lot of walking over snow. Fortunately others had obviously gone before us (up and down) so there were footprints to follow, but we still found it hairy at times. The same was true on the way down the other side – there weren’t as many snow sections there, but with the time of year, and thus several sections showing great holes in the middle of previous ‘paths’ across, we were still glad to have it behind us

    – Cabane des Lourdes proved a useful stopping point. There’s some iron bunks in one room, and the springy corpse of a mattress in another. There was a shower and a stove, both of which look like they’ve not been operable for a long time. Nevertheless it proved welcome shelter from the thunderstorm that occurred ten mins after we got there

    – We ended up going from Gavarnie all the way to Luz. I was sure I’d seen somewhere reference to a hut on this stretch, but we didn’t see one, and so this leg took us around 11.5hrs (with breaks)

    – This probably goes without saying, but not a lot of English is spoken along the route, even in Cauterets, Gavarnie and Luz (or at least where we went). I’ve enough French to get by, but for anyone with no French, Spanish is fairly prevalent. And if neither of those tongues are familiar, I’d recommend a basic phrase book

    Again, thank you for your dedication to this site and the advice it contains. I fully intend to go back and do more in the future, and will be keeping this page in mind when I do so.

  216. steve says:

    Hi Duncan. I’m glad the site was helpful. And thanks for sharing your experience. I will be walking from the Oulettes de Gaube to Gavarnie on the HRP next week so it is useful to know the conditions.

  217. steve says:

    Hi Stuart. I have just arrived home after 13 days on the HRP – some of the areas are wildly beautiful. I will be going back next Monday to walk Somport to Luchon. See my Twitter feed for pictures as I progress.

  218. steve says:

    Hi Alison. I will ring the Mairie in Siguer tomorrow to see if they have any information. In the meantime you might like to consider walking to Miglos and staying there, coming back to the GR10 next day. Then you could stay in either the Cabane de Courtal Marti, the Cabane des Clarens or the Cabane Artaran, all primitive but when I last saw them they all still had roofs. If Auzat to Miglos is too long for you stay in the Relais d’Endron in Goulier. i stayed there last month. There is a good welcome and great food.

  219. steve says:

    Hi Marianne and Mats. From what you are saying I guess you are not staying in hostels, though there are plenty. You can resupply in Font Romeu (slightly off route), Vernet (off route), Arles and la Jonquera. Let me know if you have any specific questions. Look at Pyrenees refuges and cabanes for info on free huts. Best wishes, Steve.

  220. steve says:

    Hi Alun. In September you may find some of the refuges are closed so better at the beginning of the month than the end if you have a choice. The main trailheads in the (higher) central section are Etsaut, Gourette, Cauterets, Gavarnie and Bagnères de Luchon. The accommodation in Ariège, further east, is difficult. But walking from Gabas and Gourette involves either 10 hours walking or staying in a hut. So perhaps start at Gourette. See this list of busses from Pau to the Pyrenees. Let me know if you need any other info.

  221. Will says:

    Steve

    A technical question. We are walking a section of the GR10 in a couple of weeks and I’ve just got an IGN map (1:50,000, Carte de Randonness)as a backup to the FFR Topo Guide. I wanted to use the map in conjunction with my Garmin GPS and get grid ref’s off of the GPS to confirm my position on the grid on the map.

    Q – do you know what to set the Position format and Map Datum to so that the ref’s match those marked on the map. My French is very limitted but it looked like UTM / WGS 84 but when I set this and try some co-ordinates for a town on my map myu GPS highlights somewhere in Eastern Europe – so something is not quite right there!

    Thanks

  222. steve says:

    Hello Will

    Yes the coordinate system you need is UTM/WGS84 on French Maps. For example the coordinates for the church in Cauterets are 30 T 735770 4752348. 30T is the map tile (you don’t need to put this in). 735770 is the easting and 4752348 the northing. Try working the other way round: look at a position on your GPS and make a note of the coordinates and check it against your map.

    Beware, on Spanish Maps it is UTM/Datum Europeu 1950, see my article on using a GPS on Spanish Maps.

  223. steve says:

    Hi Alison. There was nobody at the Mairie when I rang. I will try again tomorrow. However the email you forwarded to me does explain the situation. Fabrice Scheffer is no longer running the Petit Gite but is still leaving supplies in Courtal Marty, Balleydret,and cabane EDF Clarens (to be paid for when you arrive at either Siguer or the Refuge du Rhule). There is, however, a room made available to walkers in Siguer. To book this you will need to phone the Mairie which is only open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 14h00 to 17h00. Email = mairie.siguer@wanadoo.fr, tel +33 (0)5 61 05 65 45.

    Du Jeudi au Vendredi : de 14h00 à 17h00

  224. Terry Stanway says:

    Hi Steve
    I am really you can help!
    We have planned a Charity fundraising trek for our local hospice, following the Freedom Trail from the 12th – 19th September. Everything is arranged including accomodation, transfers etc. and we have completed a considerable amount of training. Our group consists of 19 people including 2 members with Mountain Leader experience and 4 people with a range of First Aid qualifications. Unfortunately we have found out today that we have lost our planned guide.
    Through ongoing research it has been repeated referenced that any expo should have a guide who has completed the trail previously, so we now have a problem! Could you reccommend any possible local guides who would be willing to head-up our trek on the dates shown?
    All accommodation is already paid for including catering and we could offer a fee from the funds rasied to date.
    I await your feedback and sincerely hope you can help.
    Regards
    Terry

  225. Madeleine says:

    Hi, thanks for this wonderful resource! I am planning to walk on the GR 10 for a couple of weeks this September, probably starting in St Jean Pied de Port. I’m not intending to take a tent so will skip the sections that require camping. What should I do about maps if I don’t have a GPS? Are the wikiloc maps good enough to rely on if i download them and access them offline? Or would you recommend I splashed out for a GPS before I leave? My long-distance walking experience is on the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia, and the Camino – neither of which I needed a map for, so I’m just not sure how prepared I need to be.
    Many thanks for any advice,
    madeleine

  226. Henry says:

    Hi Steve,
    Fab website. Very inspiring. Thank you for all your efforts. I have a question. I am a father of three very fit kids (10,12 and 14) with very little hiking experience. I am a relatively good hiker (did half of the GR20 last summer – al very clearly marked!). We are holidaying in Cadaques and my initial plan was to take them and the lady wife (also fit) on a three-night hike from nearby Banyuls next week (staying in refuges gardés or gites). However, I was just in Collioure and it is incredibly hot. Would you have any advice on what would be a good stretch that is sufficiently cool not to frazzle them from the outset. Given that we have to return to Spain afterwards, and probably to Barcelona, I would also be interested in any alternative suggestion you might have other than the GR10 if you think it would be a better option. At one stage I thought of doing the tour du Canigou but it might be a lot of climbing and pretty crowded. Thank you so much in advance. Henry

  227. steve says:

    Hi Henry
    Yes it is too hot near the coast. Perhaps Thuès (train station) – Carança refuge – Mantet (chez Cazanove) – Mariailles (refuge) – Cortalets (4×4 taxi down to Villefranche train station) would fit the bill. The Carança gorges are spectacular but the path is 2,5m wide and there is a handrail. You won’t get up to the top of Canigou on this route (you could do the chimney but your 10-year-old is probably a little small to manage the chimney. I hope this helps.

  228. steve says:

    Hello Madeleine
    The waymarking on the GR10 is good but Wikiloc maps are not good enough if you stray off the trail or need to change course for any reason. You could buy one of the guides but there is no substitute for a 1:25000 map. Except, that is, a GPS. (I love my GPS.) If you have one you can download the free TopoPirineos map and create a track which you will be able to follow even in the thickest fog.
    Best wishes
    Steve

  229. steve says:

    Hi Terry

    I don’t know any guides in that area, though there must be some (about 300 euros/day). Try tourist information in Seix or St Girons. They should be able to help.

  230. Miguel Yiallourides says:

    Hi Steve, awesome content. I have been reading your website and consulting it for many days now as I will be doing the Cauterets – Lac De L’Oule route though stopping at Bareges.

    Do you think for an unexperienced hiker like myself, going on this route alone what are the top 3 things I need to look out for?

    Also, from Gavernie to Luz Saint Sauveur which from what I’ve heard the trek is about 8-9 hours. I’m thinking of doing that in one day, from morning until nightfall. Is it doable?

    I’m 24, male, fit but not much hiking experience and going alone

    Thanks

    Miguel Yiallourides

  231. steve says:

    Hi Miguel.

    1. The most important safety factor is the ability to navigate (and a map/compass/altimeter or GPS). As long as you stay on the trail somebody will come along… eventually.
    2. As you haven’t done much hiking you will probably find the Pyrenees a challenge. Set out as early as you can – if I have a long day I set out at dawn, even if this means eating breakfast on a tray with tepid coffee in a thermos. This is also a way of avoiding the afternoon storms which start from 15:00-16:00.
    3. Think ultra-light (see websites on ultra-light backpacking). Weight makes a huge difference and anyone staying in refuges shouldn’t be carrying more than 8kg (plus food for the day and water). I don’t carry a towel – I dry myself on a teeshirt; I don’t have a change of clothes, for example.

    My guess is that you are not carrying a tent so you are restricted to refuges. Gavarnie to Luz St Sauveur will be a long day though you can stay at le Saugué which cuts the distance down a bit.

    You don’t say when you are going. There could well be snow on the Hourquette d’Ossoue from the third week in September…

    I hope this helps.

  232. Hi Steve.
    I did it! From Hendaye to Banyuls-sur-mer, mostly in the GR10. I left Hendaye on 4 July and arrived in Banyuls on 20 August. 7 weeks of walking with Sundays resting, washing and planning. I walked around the Ariege because I walked alone, had no tent and was carrying between 18kg and 20kg. Too much stuff I know. My aim was to walk the route to raise funds for my son’s care home. Apart from the sheer physical difficulty of this route, there are also emotional difficulties to face when walking solo. I found Gabas-Gourette tough. Best point for me personally was near Mont Louis where I reached exactly the spot where I promised my son “I will walk this whole road for you”. Nothing can prepare you for this route. It is always surprising you.

    I have a public Facebook page with my weekly blogs and photos: http://www.facebook.com/LaurenceSmithTreks

  233. steve says:

    Congratulations Laurence

  234. Jis says:

    Hi Steve,

    I will start from Cauterets end of august and walk east. That means the part you recommend not to miss will be my first part to walk 😉
    I might want to combine with the HRP later on. Are there other parts or alternative routes between there and luchon you recommend? I do have quite a bit of experience but will be on my own 😉

    Jis

  235. steve says:

    Hi Jis
    The upper part of the Ordessa valley is worth a visit (especially the Senda de los Cazadores on the south side) (cross from Gavarnie to Bujaruelo) but then you have to get back to France – either Goriz to Saradets or Viados to Soula, neither of which is easy.
    I hope this helps.
    Steve

  236. Jis says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your tips. Still planning. via Ordesa might be hard in 12 days. (?)
    Cauterets-Gavarnie stands
    Gavarnie- Barroude via troumouse and refuge maillet or via breche the roland and Goriz…am a bit concerned about finding the route…
    Barroude-Bagneres de Luchon via viados,soula and portillon looks nice but exposed also. Could descent from soula to gr 10 though.
    So many choices to make 😉

  237. steve says:

    You could go back to Gavarnie after Ordesa and then continue on the GR10. It is true that Goriz-Brèche de Roland is difficult to follow if you don’t have a GPS… Soula to Portillon is a long day. Magnificent but with lots of boulders and takes 10 hours walking. As you say going back to the GR10 after la Soula is always an option.

  238. Robin Maguire says:

    G’day Steve,
    22/08/2016 You commented “I don’t carry a towel – I dry myself on a teeshirt; I don’t have a change of clothes”, and I think I recall that you don’t use deodorant as it clogs-up your pores.
    Ever smelt an old Billy-Goat leading up to Rutting Season? Well the Rut starts in the 2nd half of November in the Pyrenees; while you are walking the HRP, occasionally look over your shoulder – you might be followed by a heard of Pyrenean chamois with their eye on you thinking that the Rut has started early!

  239. Andy Bridge says:

    Hi Steve, walking for four days next week with a group leaving from Lescun, they are doing 10 days but I have to duck out at Socques when we cross the D934. I planned to get the bus service 806bis but just noticed the small print which says the service finishes fior the summer 31st August. Heading to Pau then Toulouse, presumably will have to hitch. Any idea if much traffic passes through from Col Portalet to Laruns?

    Great site and info, thanks.

  240. steve says:

    Hi Andy. At the beginning of September there won’t be much traffic. But generally if you look like a hiker other hikers will pick you up. Good luck.
    Steve

  241. Madeleine says:

    Hi again Steve, I’m getting ready for my trip to the Pyrnees and just wanted to know about water purifying. I have one of those water filters that can double as a water pouch. Will filtration work for purifying the water, or would you recommend I leave the filter at home and just buy purifying tablets instead? Is there giardia or other nasties in the water up in the mountains?
    Thanks heaps – getting excited now!

  242. Henry says:

    Steve,
    Just wanted to say thank you very much for your advice re our walk from Thuès (train station) – up the Carança gorges to Mantet (chez Cazanove), Mariailles and Cortalets. A great first randonnée for the kids, who loved it. The first day was a little tough as we left far too late so the second half of the 1000m climb exhausted them somewhat. But once we reached Caranca refuge, they were hooked and we managed to go straight up the chimney with our 10-year old in perfect conditions, and took a 4×4 back down from Cortalets. So merci beaucoup and looking forward to more hikes next year. All the best, Henry

  243. Gary says:

    Hi Steve,

    I’ve previously walked around two weeks of the middle of the GR11 with a friend but am now looking at a 3/4 day taster of the GR10 by myself. I fly into Toulouse on the Saturday and need to get to Barcelona to pick up a flight on the Thursday evening (for a couple of days walking in Majorca) so I’m a bit cramped for time (what with entering and exiting the walk). I carry my own tent and am fine with camping wild. Could you recommend any section of the walk? From a transport point of view the ariege looks like the best location to head to.
    Cheers
    Gary

  244. steve says:

    Hi Gary. In terms of accessibility you would be better to go to Banyuls, but you could go to Perpignan and then catch the train to Prades and bus to Vernet and start from there. Return on train from Merens-les-Vals.
    I hope this helps. Steve

  245. James Enciso says:

    Steve, this site is a goldmine for all hikers/campers who want to tackle and explore the Pyrenees. I want to thank you for sharing your experiences and perspectives of your journey. After spending days on your site and reviewing everyone’s comment I want to start a solo journey myself from West to East (Hendaye –> St Jean Pied de Port) I have prepared myself an Itinerary and I would like for you to check it out if everything seems to be in place. I am planning to leave by late September (the 24th which is very soon). I am bringing my own tent because I do want to camp outside. I haven’t gone camping nor hiking in awhile but I am a fit 24 year old whos ready for this challenge. My only concerns at the moment are finding a place to camp at Hendaye the night before my trek and where I may camp along the way if I can. Thanks. – James https://docs.google.com/document/d/19QNg3ZOHD7_WPhy17ngovZaxONEw14i9P_1dZftVkLM/edit?usp=sharing

  246. steve says:

    Hi James
    You seem to have thought of almost everything, though I’m a bit confused as in the Google.doc you ask if you need a tent since you are planning to stay in gites.

    Assuming you will be camping, the only thing I would suggest is that you should have a survival blanket (preferably sarcophage-shape) and a first-aid kit: Compeed and paper tape to hold it in place and anti-sceptic. If you are not camping you can dump much of the weight.

    I hope this helps
    Steve

  247. John says:

    Just finished year 4 of our week long walks on the GR10 at Aulus Les Bains. Two stops to recommend to fellow travellers, the Repos Du Moine in Fos, lovely couple and an English Breakfast and the Gite d’etape L’escolan at Bidous lovely spot great food friendly couple running the place and free wifi!

  248. steve says:

    Hi John. Thanks for the recommendations. I know Pauline and Jean-Charles at the Escolan gite. As you say, they a friendly couple and the food is excellent.

  249. Stephen says:

    Hi, I am not sure if you can help me. I have just moved to Perpignan from Ireland and I am trying to find a walking club that I can join. I really want to get into some hikes in the Pyrenees but I dont know where to start! Plenty of experience in Ireland and because of this i know its better to find a group for the first few hikes to be on the safe side. Any help would be really appreciated! Thanks, Stephen

  250. steve says:

    Hello Stephen. There are numerous clubs so it all depends on the kind of walking you want to do. You could start with the Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre des Pyrénées-Orientales (FFRP). This is an umbrella organisation for many clubs. The other big organisation is the Perpignan branch of the Club Alpin Français. Or the mairie, which will have a list of all the associations in the town.
    I hope this helps. Best wishes, Steve

  251. hoya says:

    Hello. I am Korean. It is preparing to walk the Pyrenees mountain range for 60 days around June 15, 2017. Everything is doubtful. I will ask you a little at a time.

  252. Hoya says:

    Hi Steve,
    How do you solve water with GR 10?
    Is it better to prepare a portable water purifier

  253. steve says:

    Hello Hoya,
    You do not need a portable water purifyer. Purifying tablets will do for the rare occasions where you run out of water. Please put all your questions in one comment. It will be easier for me to deal with them. Thanks.

  254. Robin says:

    Hola Hoya!
    Dehydrated water is the go!
    Weighs next to nothing, and when you need a drink – just re-hydrate it with water!

  255. Alec says:

    Steve – the amount of effort you are putting into answering these questions even years one is staggering. Thank you so much!

    I might do this next year, probably with a bivvy and looking to stay as light as possible. What do you think the lowest temperature you would encounter is (I’d try to sleep low obviously)?

    Is the path easy to follow? How often do you actually need the map, would you say? (I will have my phone with downloaded maps and GPS, wondering what kind of resolution/resilience I’d need on what else i take).

    Thanks again.

  256. steve says:

    Hi Alec. In fact I learn a lot from the questions, which makes it interesting for me. It makes me think about my assumptions: see my latest blog entry.
    As for temperatures, assuming you are walking in July and August and finish in the valleys each day the temperature shouldn’t descend below 8 degrees celsuis. But your best plan would be to stay in or near a hut, see Pyrenees refuges and cabanes. Beware though, on the heights even in mid-summer it sometimes snows.
    The path is easy enough to follow with the waymarks. The question is what you do when you have a problem and need to go off-route. Or the classic situation where you are following the red-and-white waymarks, but it is the wrong GR and you are miles from where you think you are. But a phone with a GPS should do, as long as you have a spare battery.
    Good luck with the planning.
    Steve

  257. Jeff camp says:

    Hi Steve,
    I have just discovered your website and it is such a wealth of information thank you, you are doing a great job. The internet is great but it is not always easy to find the information you seek! Your site is exactly what I was looking for.
    My wife and I intend to do some walking in the Pyrenees from late April to mid May. I will be based in Limoux. Do you have any suggestions on the best areas to walk at that time of year?

    My wife and I live in Tasmania and are used to walking in colder and higher elevations with challenging conditions, although our focus on this trip is to get a feel for the Pyrenees landscape, culture and history rather than slog our way across snow in difficult conditions.(As it can be like in Tassie ,even in Summer on the higher walks)
    We will have a hire car, so we can pretty much travel anywhere to start the walk. A circular or out and back walk would make sense for us up to 5 days.
    It sounds like the higher country will be out due to snow and some of the accomodation may not be open then? I will be researching as much as possible but I thought your insights would be a good starting
    point for our planning. Your website is excellent and very informative so I will be spending a bit of time reading up but any extra info will greatly help us plan.Thank you so much.
    Regards,
    Jeff Camp

  258. Elizabeth says:

    Hi there!
    My sister and I are hoping to hike from Hendaye to St Jean-Pied-de-Port this summer but were confused when looking up the trek online. Is there a fee to hike on this trail? ( We might have been looking at guided tours, but don’t plan on having a guide. A site mentioned that self guided tours had a fee??)
    Also, are there free shelters or refuges to stay between these places, other than wild camping? ( I didn’t see any listed on the link you gave until after passing St Jean-Pied-de-Port. )
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

  259. steve says:

    Hi Elizabeth.
    There is no fee to hike the GR10 (or any other routes in the Pyrenees as far as I know). The only free shelter in that section is the Cabane de Gainekoborda, though I don’t know what state it is in. There may be others… On the other hand you have accommodation at

    • Biriatou (hotels)
    • Refuge d’Olhette, recommended
    • Sare (hotels)
    • Ainhoa (hotels)
    • Refuge de la Ferme Esteben
    • Refuge de Bidarray
    • St-Etienne-de-Baïgorry (hotels)

    I hope this helps.

  260. steve says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Sorry I’ve been so long in replying but I’ve been away. Limoux is a great base for exploring the pre-Pyrenees, ie. the Corbières. Don’t miss Bugarach: you get a great view of the Pyrenean summits.

    There are many ways of crossing the Pyrenees which can be combined to create a circuit but at that time of year you may come across snow in Ariège above 2000m. On the other hand the Pyrenees-Orientales are accessible from Limoux and lower, on average. One other possibility is the Sentier Cathare, lower down so snow-free and with refuges which should be open.

    I hope this helps

  261. Charles says:

    Steve,

    I will be in Barcelona this summer and was thinking of taking my teenage daughter to do a 5-7 day section. Any recommendations? What book do you recommend that can give you a snap shot of the different sections of the trail?

  262. James Enciso says:

    Hi Steve,

    I would like to thank you so much again for your website and your personal input and experience in hiking the GR10.

    As I have completed my first solo-trek from Hendaye to St. Jean Pied de Port at the end of September of last year, I personally found the tranquility and solo-trekking an optimistic experience.

    My holidays (February 14-March 5) are fastly approaching and I yearn to continue hiking the GR10. I would like to ask you if it would be possible to hike a part of the GR10 during this time of a snowy month? I was also considering the GR Tour de Mont Blanc but the snow fears me.

    Any Advice is helpful! Thank you so much again for your time and understanding.

    James

  263. steve says:

    Hello Chuck

    Sorry to be so long in replying but I’ve only just noticed your comment. Since you will be in Barcelona you have many possibilities at the east end of the walk, for example you can get a train to Banyuls in France and start from there. Or you might consider the Spanish GR11, the equivalent on the south side of the Pyrenees. As for guide books to the GR10, Cicerone does a good one though the FFRP guide is the definitive one if you read French.

  264. steve says:

    Hello James

    I’m glad you enjoyed solo walking on the GR10. Unfortunately, unless you are adept with crampons and an ice axe walking beyond SJPP in February is not recommended and the Tour de Mont Blanc would be even more difficult.

    Steve

  265. Veronika P says:

    Hi Steve, thank you for all this extremely useful information. I’m sorry if I missed it among the other comments but is it possible to post resupply boxes to yourself to places along the trail?
    Many thanks,
    Veronika

  266. steve says:

    Hi Veronika

    Yes you can send parcels “Poste restante” to any post office, though they are becoming rarer : find a post offices in France. Beware, however, they may have limited opening hours and be closed all weekend.

    Best wishes, Steve

  267. Veronika P says:

    Thank you Steve!

  268. Cati says:

    Thank you so much for this information! My friend and I only have 5-6 days for a backpacking trip, but we would love to experience the Pyrenees. Do you recommend a certain Route? Where are the best starting points, and is it possible to jump in somewhere in the middle? Also, do you need a permit, or to book anything beforehand? Thank you again, and I’m sorry if you’re already answered these questions in the other comments.

  269. steve says:

    Hello Cati, There are so many possibilities. With 5-6 days you will only walk a max of 10% of the Pyrenees. If you are experienced montain walkers, go for around Gavarnie or in the Ariège, otherwise start in Hendaye and walk to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The high montains are only really accessible from June 15 to September 30 but the west end can be walked all year round. You don’t need a permit, but in July and August you would be best to book hostels in advance. Let me know if you have any more questions.
    Best wishes Steve

  270. Frank Boase says:

    Good Morning Steve, For many years this walk has been on my list of things to do. However the harsh realities gallop in….MONEY…So If I’m planning (wishing) to do the entire walk (I’m living in Philippines).
    1. How much should I budget for? I would plan to pack a light weight tent!

    2. Are a sort of soft felt/canvass boot suitable? I would/will go in July/August

    More later, but thanks for a great read.

  271. steve says:

    Hi Frank

    I know that Christine aka German tourist manages on a budget of 10 euros/day for long-distance treks in Western Europe, but then she is very abstemious. On the other hand, eating in hostels every night and buying a picnic (but camping nearby) would cost you about 30 euros/day on the GR10. So I would guess 20 euros would be a reasonable budget.

    I don’t know what the cost of living is like in the Philippines, nor how much you would spend on food in the 7-8 weeks it will take you to walk the GR10. But, above all, don’t try to walk too fast to save money. And plan rest days. I have met many dispirited people on the point of giving up as a result of a trivial problem because their body hurts all over. All they really need is a day or two’s rest.

    As for footwear, soft felt/canvas boots are not suitable. Trekking shoes with good soles are a minimum.

    By the way, if you haven’t bought them already, a really lightweight tent (400g) and a lightweight rucksack will make a hole in your budget. But in my opinion they are worth it.

  272. Mackenzie says:

    Hi Steve, Thanks so much for such an informative and maintained website, it’s been my home base for planning. I will be hiking the GR10 June 17- July 12, so I will surely not be able to complete it. Do you have a favorite section or recommendation on a ~26 day journey? How necessary is it to obtain reservations for the gites/refuges ahead of time at this time of year? I plan to bring a bivy sack for emergencies but no tent. Thanks again for your super website!

  273. steve says:

    Hello. There has been a lot of snow this last weekend to add to the existing. I can’t really predict how quickly it will melt but since you are starting June 17 you would be best to start at one of the ends rather than in the middle. Either way you will get to 2000m+ in a week or so and with 26 days you will finish near the middle. In June you will find space in the gites and refuges but in July you will need to book. Normally ringing up 1-2 days ahead is sufficient both in June and July. Butfor the week of 14 July, national holiday, you should book earlier.
    Have fun, Steve

  274. Cati Crawford says:

    Hi Steve – thank you so much for your reply! I have a couple more questions regarding accommodation. We are trying to decide whether to camp, sleep in gites, or refuges. Are all of these options relatively easy to find from the mail trail? If reservations are needed, how do you recommend making those? I cant seem to find a good website.

    Cheers

  275. Cati Crawford says:

    Hi Steve,

    ** Sorry for the typo: “mail trail” = main trail. Also, for context, we are planning to hike from Hendaye to St Jean Pied de Port.

    Thank you!

  276. steve says:

    Hi Cati,

    What you need to do is to identify the places you want to stay in, see my map of accommodation on the GR10 in the French Pyrenees. And then search for hotel, gite, refuge, camping for those places. You will get more accurate results in French than in English. You could camp if you want to save money but in some places it will have to be wild camping. As far as I know in Biriatou the only option is hotels but as long as you get off early from Hendaye you should be able to walk to Olhette in a day. As for making reservations, these can usually be made via the web and you should do this for the first two nights. After that you can book for the next night but one by phone when you see how far you think you will get. I recommend not booking too far ahead so you can slip in a rest day which will allow you to discover the area and recover if you are tired.

    “Slow trek” is my motto.

  277. Sherli says:

    Dear Steve:

    Thank you for such a website, which give a great overview, is detailed and helpful. I am writing to ask your specific advice. My friends and I will be based in the city of Pau for a short vacation in late May this year. We would like to don a hike that can be completed within several hours. (oh Lordy!!) Which means we intend to drive to which ever access point and then hike for several hours. Which section of the trail would you recommend? I would love to see the majestic waterfalls and mountain peaks without too strenous a hike…as we are healthy but softened with city living. Your feedback and experience would be most apprrciated. Thank you very much! Yours cordially,

    Sherli

  278. steve says:

    Dear Sherli

    From Pau, Gavarnie is easily accessible and is a good starting point. If some of you want an easy trek they can just walk to the Cirque and its famous waterfall (7km, 100m climbing, about two hours walking there and back) but the more ambitious can climb up to the refuge des Espuguettes (13km, 650m climbing, 5 hours round trip) and see the cirque from above. If it is a weekend the refuge may be open but you will need to check – see website for details. Make sure that your backpack is as light as possible.

    view of the cirque de Gavarnie and the Brèche de Roland from Espuguettes hostel

    [Picture: view of the cirque de Gavarnie and the Brèche de Roland from Espuguettes hostel]

    Be prepared to be tired at the end of the day – there are plenty of opportunities to quench your thirst in Gavarnie.

    Steve

  279. Qin Zhu says:

    Steve, thank you for the wonderful website that provides so much information for GR10 hikers and your tireless effort for answering questions. I hiked from Hendayne to Borce in previous years. I plan to hike from Borce to Bargneres-de-Luchon from June 16 to 30. But I am not sure if I will have problem with snow between Gabas and Gourette around Jun 17. I also plan to do the 3 day variant through Hourquette d’Ossoue based on your recommendation. Would there be problem passing high altitude in snow around Jun 22-23? I plan to bring microspikes (not as aggressive as crampons on hard ice, but lighter and easy to put on/off). I hike regularly in mountains, but have limited experience hiking on icy terrain. Much appreciate your advice!

  280. steve says:

    Glad you find the site useful. It snowed quite heavily in the Pyrenees last week, so my guess is that there will still be snow at the Hourquette d’Arre between Gabas and Gourette on 17 June. However, if there is too much snow it ought to be possible to walk to the Cabanes de Cézy, then north nearly to Eaux-Bonnes before heading up the river Sourde to Gourette. On the map it looks like a good alternative.

    It is also likely that the Hourquette d’Ossoue will still have snow/ice on it. I don’t know what microspikes are like in use but what the guides here say is that crampons and the like are a means of progression. For safety you should carry an ice-axe and know how to use it. So I would recommend both crampons and an ice axe, which you can always post home (from Luz-St-Sauveur) afterwards. Ask for advice in the Bureau des Guides in Cauterets.

    Please let us know what it is like. I try to post a report on late-season snow here if at all possible.

  281. Qin Zhu says:

    Steve, thank you so much for your advice! I will definitely report back the condition on the trail. I never used ice axe before, hope it is easy to learn! Is icy condition common only above 2400m or anywhere above 2000m in the second half of June? I was wondering if I should walk backwards from Luchon. Appreciate your thoughts!

  282. steve says:

    Hello again. See this video on using an ice axe to self arrest. In the second half of June you are only likely to have snow/ice above 2400m and only on north-facing slopes. As for the direction, you are better off walking west to east (as you are intending) because the Hourquette d’Ossoue is higher than the Hourquette d’Arre and will have snow later on. It is probably best to aim to cross the ice/snow mid-morning: it will be slightly soft, but not slushy.

    Since you will be equipped you might like to climb up to the Refuge du Portillon and see some real glaciers in passing.

  283. Qin Zhu says:

    Steve, I can’t say enough thanks! The video is great, very informative. I ended up watching a few episodes. I am just afraid I don’t have a chance to practice before the trip. Would love to see real glaciers. I guess I have to take my chances!

  284. Qin Zhu says:

    Steve, trouble you for another question. I was not able to import the KML or GPX file of refuges and cabanes from http://www.pyrenees-refuges.com into Google map as Google map has trouble with the file format. Are the downloads only for GPX device? Thanks again!

  285. steve says:

    Hello Qin Zhu, I’ve just tried downloading the files and none of them are downloading correctly at present (they are all just 1kb). There seems to be a problem. Let’s hope it gets fixed soon.

  286. Nathan says:

    hey steve,

    sorry if this was mentioned somewhere earlier. im wondering when is the earliest the route is fully accessible? i am hoping to be walking already by 18th april…

    thanks

    Nathan

  287. steve says:

    Hi Nathan

    Since you are starting on 18 April you will need to take an ice axe and crampons. Avalanches are frequent in some areas so ring mountain rescue for advice before going beyond Gabas or Bouillouses. Normally, the earliest possible start is 1 June but that is pushing it. You could start at one end, walk to the snow and then drop down, or go to the other end and start again… Take care, Steve

  288. Vincent says:

    Hi Steve,
    I am planning to walk a section of the GR10 for a week starting from April 27th. I am still considering the section we should walk due to the local snow conditions.

    I am having the following sections in mind:
    1. Saint jean pied de port – La pierre st martin (safest option)
    2. Merens les vals and walk westwards (stays below 2000m)
    3. Merens les vals and walk eastwards

    Do u think option 2 from Merens les vals and walk westwards to Sigue would be an option? Thank u

  289. steve says:

    Hello Vincent,

    From here I can see Canigou and it is still white very low down, so there is still lots of late-season snow. Assuming that you don’t have crampons Option 3 is a non-starter. With Option 2 you risk avalanches at the head of the Mourguillou valley on Day 1. The pass is at 2400m and will very likely have snow. And although the slope before it faces south-east and may be clear, it is very steep and you may find big snow fields above you just waiting to shift. I would go for Option 1.

    Please let us know what conditions you encounter. Keep safe.

    Steve

  290. Karen says:

    Hallo Steve,

    So im divorced and have 3 children. They are very fit. I am very fit. 42 kilometers running niente problemo – slowly -. I want to take my children on a few days walking each day starting at st Lary and to let them see beautiful mountain views and fresh air and return after max 6 hours walking to Saint Lary to a camping each day. After this we will go to the coast so they can relax for 10 days. Can you advise a few routes … Thanks Karen

  291. steve says:

    Hello Karen

    The GR10 passes through St-Lary-Soulan and walking either way out of the town will take you on into the mountains. I would recommend the Néouvielle Nature Reserve but it tends to be busy in Summer.

    The site of the St-Lary-Soulan tourist office has a brochure of walks near St-Lary-Soulan called the Sentiers du Rioumajou.

    Otherwise look at visiorando.com which has many longer walks near to St-Lary. (The details will be sent to you by email.)

    You can also look at Wikiloc for longer hikes (You can filter the thousands of results by difficulty or distance.) Beware with Wikloc, these are tracks that walkers have done and not necessarily official “treks”. But if several people have done the same route it is probably well-worn.

    If you want a really inspiring walk drive to the Granges d’Astau (to the east) and walk up the Valley d’Oo as far as the Lac Sausat. But start walking at 8am to avoid the crowds.

    I hope this helps

  292. Vincent says:

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for your reply. The local information is really valuable for us. 🙂 At the moment i’m considering to depart from Ax-Les-Thermes, instead of Merens les vals to avoid the high pass to Refuge de Ruhle.

    I’ll go via Vallee de Savignac, but then have to decide whether to go around Pic de Lauzate from the north or south. I’d love to go via the south, because of Crete des Isards. I’ve heard there is some snow, but I am not sure if it is safe enough to passage. Do u know more about the current conditions of Crete des Isards.

    Anyways, thank u. I’ll leave in a few days. I’ll report the conditions on the mountains when I’m back for other people.

  293. steve says:

    Hi Vincent,

    On my map (Topo France) I have a path marked on the south side of the Pic de Lauzate going up to the Col de Belh but nothing on the north. I don’t know it but much of the area round the Rulhe is big blocks of stone which are difficult to cross, so you might be better on the path. On the other hand the south facing slope of the Lauzate at 92% is classic avalanche territory and the path is just under it.

    I am going up to the Pla Guilhem (near Canigou) 2300m+ on Wednesday. It isn’t very close but should give me some idea of the conditions. I’ll let you know.

  294. Tim L says:

    Very informative! I’ve read everything but I’m somewhat confused on Fall hiking. Leaving from the West on September 1 and finishing at the end of October in the East – Is this possible? I understand the refuges may be closed and some other facilities BUT are there enough hotels and weather to carry one through to the Med in late October?

  295. steve says:

    Hi Tim,

    The weather should be OK (just) but accommodation will be difficult. I’m looking into this and will get back to you in a few days.

  296. Tim L says:

    I’m quite willing to start earlier if need be. I am a fit 63 year old living in Banff, Canada ( 1500m) who trudged up to 2200m yesterday carrying a 5 kilo weight, took 85 minutes. I’m cautious about the time to do the whole GR10. My friend’s children say they will camp and do it in 34 days.

    I am willing to start earlier (say Aug 20) and try to do it by October 15th.

  297. steve says:

    Same age as me then. Yes, start earlier. I could just about do 700m climbing in 90 minutes, with a 5kg pack. But I wouldn’t be able to do the GR10 in 34 days. No way.

  298. steve says:

    Hi Vincent

    I’ve just come back from the Pic des Sept Hommes in the Canigou massif. So here is my snow report: large patches of snow from 1900m. Icy in the morning. It would have been possible to get to Sept Hommes (2650m) without crampons because there are zones without snow but this would have meant detours.

    I met a family at Mariailles who had been heading in the direction of Canigou (via Cabane Arago) who had turned back at 1900m because the track was covered in ice and on a slope. They had snowshoes but these were not enough.

    Normally there is more snow in Ariège than around Canigou.

    I hope this helps.

  299. steve says:

    Hello Tim

    Accommodation on the eastern half of the Pyrenean Way (GR10) open autumn 2017

    Note that although most staffed hostels close at the end of September many have a basic dormitory which is accessible all year.

    • Luchon – hotels open all year
    • Cabane de Peyrehitte – hut open all year
    • Fos – hotels open all year
    • Melles – hotel open all year
    • Refuge d’Araing, hostel open to 30 september 2017
    • Cabane d’Arech – hut open all year
    • La Maison du Valier – hostel open to 11 novembre
    • Cabane d’Aouen – hut open all year
    • Refuge d’Esbintz, hostel open all year but you need to reserve
    • Refuge d’Aunac – open all autumn
    • Refuge d’Aula – hut open all year
    • Refuge de Rouze – gîte open all year
    • Gîte d’étape l’Escolan, Bidous – open all year but may be closed for a couple of weeks in autumn
    • Aulus – open to 30 september 2017
    • Refuge des étangs de Bassiès – open to 30 September 2017
    • Refuge de Marc – probably shuts sometime in September 2017
    • Refuge de Goulier – open to 30 October 2017
    • Petit gîte de Siguer is now closed but there is a room available for walkers, contact the mairie
    • Col de Sasc (very basic, to be avoided) – hut open all year
    • Cabane de Courtal Marty – basic hut open all year
    • Clarans – basic hut open all year
    • Plateau de Beille (nothing, the hut at 1940m is reserved for the shepherd)
    • Refuge du Rulhe – open to 30 September 2017
    • Refuge de Mérens (now closed, go to l’Hospitalet-près-l’Andorre)
    • Refuge des Bésines – open to 30 September 2017
    • Refuge des Bouillouses – open to 29 October2017 (try also Auberge du Carlit)
    • Bolquère – hotel open all year
    • Ori de Planès ecogîte – probably open all year
    • Cabane de l’Orri (very basic) – basic hut open all year
    • Refuge de la Carança – open to about 24 September, but there is a dormitory which is open all year
    • Mantet (chez Cazenove is now closed), try la Cavale
    • Refuge de Py – open all year
    • Refuge de Mariailles – hostel open to 29 October 2017, nearby huts open all year
    • Chalet des Cortalets – hostel open to 15 October 2017, nearby hut open all year
    • Batère – open to 30 September 2017
    • Arles-sur-Tech – hotels open all year
    • Refuge du Moulin de la Palette – hostel open all year
    • Refuge de Las Illas – basic hostel open all year
    • Refuge du Col d’Ullat – hostel open all year
    • Refuge Tomy – rock shelter but remarkably comfortable, with water and gas!
    • Banyuls – hotels open all year
  300. steve says:

    Hi Vincent,

    Just to let you and anyone else contemplating an early start know – though I suspect you are following the weather forecasts anyway – that snow is expected right along the length of the Pyrenees this week. 300mm is the figure being bandied about!

  301. Jennie says:

    Hi Steve,

    Love your website!

    I have just heard of a possible trip to stay in Ceret in early July this year. I would love to head to the mountains for a day or two of hiking. I am not so much interested in a mega physical challenge but stunning scenery, interesting botany, lakes and big skies…

    Any suggestions of the best place to head for?

  302. Mox says:

    Hi Steve,

    300M! Yikes. I’m looking at doing my first section from Hendaye to St Jean Pied de Port 2nd week in May. Am I likely to be in trouble? Also, where do you get your snow level information from?

    Thanks

  303. steve says:

    Hi Jennie

    Ceret is a lovely place to stay and you can head up to the mountains directly from there. On the other hand you could base yourself for a night at the comfortable hostel at the Moulin de la Palette above Arles. For big skies, a rather most ambititous project would be to drive to the refuge de Batère further up the valley (great outdoor hot tub) and then go to Les Cortalets on the flanks of Canigou and stay there overnight. Or the Tour de Mir above Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste. Bear in mind that it will be hot, so although starting walking at dawn may be a real struggle, it is worth it.

    Another thought, perhaps the best of all: drive to the col d’Ullat towards the Med and then walk to the Puig Neulós. Easy walking, can be done in a morning. Eat at the restaurant at the Col d’Ullat afterwards.

  304. steve says:

    Hi Mox

    I think you might have misread what I wrote. It wasn’t snow down at 300m but 300mm of snow. This was the figure given on televison after it had snowed. But it doesn’t apply to the first section from Hendaye to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port which is low down. You won’t have any problems. Should be lots of flowers and very green.

    Have fun

  305. Mox says:

    Hi, misread, check! Indeed I did. Threw me into panic mode but checking one of your links above and mountain-forecast.com settled me

    thanks

  306. Vincent says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m back from my trip to the Pyrenees. My original plan was to hike from Ax-Les-Thermes to Aulus-Les-Bains, but in the end I came no further than Siguer due to personal reasons. I took the trail from Ax-Les-Thermes that leads to Crete des Isards. I cannot recommend this trail, as there is lots of snow on the trail which forces you to walk on the steep slopes.

    The path over the Crete des Isards has some snow on steep parts, which makes the climb risky. We chose to go to Refuge de Ruhle, passing large snow patches and eventually ended up in Siguer.

    I’ve to say that the mountain range that you walk before hiking down to Siguer is really really beautiful. I wish I could have stayed there overnight.

  307. steve says:

    Thanks Vincent for sharing this useful information

  308. […] Les GR 10 – Sentiers de Grande Randonnée […]

  309. Edel O'Donnell says:

    Steve
    Thank you for this website…it’s great
    I’m off to do the GR10 on June 6th. Hoping for good weather. Do you recommend booking accommodation ahead each night during June or would it be ok to book as I go.
    Edel

  310. steve says:

    Hi Edel

    I recommend booking for the night after next, even in June. Around 14 July and 15 August you should book at least three days in advance. But it is best not to book too much in advance in case you have a change of plan.

    Have fun, Steve

  311. Edel O'Donnell says:

    Steve

    Thanks for your accommodation advice
    One more question. I want to buy a map (s) for the section from Olhette to Cauteretes, can you recommend a website where I might purchase same (or are they easily purchased there). I have guidebook and I also book from TopoGuides but the detail is not there ….a map for detail would be good.
    Regards and thanks again
    Edel

  312. steve says:

    Hi Edel

    Assuming you are in Ireland, you can buy them from Amazon, for example this IGN map of Vignemale/Cauterets. You can see the IGN’s own complete list of trekking maps for the GR10 in the Pyrenees on their site.

    As you are going early in the season can you let us know if there is still any snow when you reach the Hourquette d’Arre please? It would also be nice to have your impressions. Thanks.

  313. Juan Diaz says:

    Hi Steve

    Thanks for the website.

    We are looking to walk from Etsaut to Cauterets starting late June. We arrive in Europe ( northern Spain) in mid June. Can you advise where to get maps?

    We have been told there may be snow between Refuge Arremoulit and Refuge Larribet. If so, how should we detour to get Cauterets?

    We are planning to trek from Larribet to Ileeou. Alternatively should we go to Wallon? We are finding it hard to get distances and the routes.

    Thanks

  314. steve says:

    As you are not in France probably the best option is to download the free Topo Pirineos map. You will also need the free Basecamp GPS software which will enable you to print the maps. The advantage of this map is that it covers both sides of the Pyrenees, and you can transfer it to your hand-held GPS if you have one. Another excellent possibility is the French government map site. Search for Etsault (for example) and you will have the 1;25,000 map before your very eyes. So you just need to print them out. Alternatively you can try to buy them from the French IGN but I don’t know if you will have the time. For free maps of the Spanish Pyrenees go to the Spanish IGN site.

    Yes, there may be snow between Arrémoulit and Larribet and the pass is very abrupt. Probably the easiest alternative is to go down to the lac d’Artouste and the Lac de Migouélou and then down into the Tech valley. (I gather you have already rejected the obvious GR10 option between Etsaut and Cauterets and want to be higher up in the mountains.)

    Another possibility is to go to Respomuso and then Wallon, Pont d’Espagne. Here again you may encounter snow, at the col de Arrémoulit and the col de la Fache. But these are less steep than the direct route from Arrémoulit to Larribet.

    For routes look at Wikiloc. My HRP route from Somport to Oulettes de Gaube may be interesting and there are many others.

    Ibones de la Fache

    The picture shows the state of the snow at the Ibones de la Fache, just below the pass on 15 July 2016. Crampons and an ice axe could be useful.

  315. Alan Cane says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve been following your website for a couple of years to plan short hikes on the GR10 and GR11. You do
    a fabulous job with the Q&A helping so many people. This year I am planning to walk the entire GR10 starting
    on June 25th. I am looking for other hikers starting the same time because I’ll be walking solo. Could you
    publish my email address (alan.cane@outlook.com) or direct me to a forum for walkers on GR10 looking to connect. Regards,Alan

  316. steve says:

    Hi Alan

    I hope you find someone, but even if you don’t you will meet people all along the way. You can try Andy Howell’s Pyrenees forum though it hasn’t been that active recently.

  317. Kelsey says:

    Hi Steve and everyone,

    First off, you have an amazing website full of excellent resources. Thank you for all your hard work.

    My question: Maps.

    My friend and I will be doing the section:
    Cauterets → Horquette d’Ossoue → Gavarnie → Bareges → Saint Lary-Soulan

    We are from Canada and are sorting through which map would be best to get for this section. What exactly would you recommend for this? So far we are considering:

    1) GR®10 DE CARTES IGN 1:25.000 (DE HENDAYE À ARRENS)
    1647OT (Papier ou Résistante)
    1 x Vignemale/Ossau/Arrens/Cauterets/Pn des Pyrénées (Gps) – Résistante 16,70 €

    2) https://www.amazon.de/Pyr%C3%A9n%C3%A9es-carte-Bigorre-St-Lary-Soulan-Randonn%C3%A9es/dp/2344008063

    Our ideal map will have good topos, be water-resistant and have less focus on tourist “hotspots”.

    Thanks again for your help!

    -Kelsey

  318. steve says:

    Hello Kelsay

    Go for the IGN maps, because they are 1:25000 and because they are designed for walkers. They are not particularly water resistant, but fine for one trip. You might also be interested in the free maps of the Pyrenees you can download from the Internet, install on your computer and print. If you have a GPS you can transfer them to it as well.

    Have fun, Steve

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