The Pyrenean Way (GR10)

Cet article est également disponible en: French

Hendaye to Banyuls: from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean

Hendaye-Gabas > Gabas-Luchon > Luchon-Mérens > Mérens- Banyuls

walking boots, as seen on the Pyrenean Way

They won’t survive as far as Banyuls

How long is the Pyrenean Way (GR10)? Estimates vary wildly: 700km (435 miles), like walking from London to Edinburgh? Or 866km (538 miles), London to Aberdeen? A few clicks on my computer and the answer is there in black and white: the official start, the casino on the seafront in Hendaye, is 412km 959m (256.6 miles) from the town hall in Banyuls, the official end as the vulture flies. Apart from this nothing is certain. Landslides, unhelpful landowners, and even the FFRP, the French Ramblers’ Association, create diversions, for worse or for better. In addition, in some areas there are several different official routes, never mind the unofficial ones. And walkers add their own flights of fancy …

Some people walk the path in 30 days but for most it will take about 55, walking for an average of 7 hours. For those used to walking in Britain, this will seem slow progress: less than 10 miles a day for 7 hours walking! But walking the Pyrenean Way is not like walking in Britain, unless you are in the habit of climbing from the sea to the summit of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, and back, once a day, every day.

Signpost at the Porteille des Bésines on the Pyrenean Way

Porteille des Bésines: signpost at the highest point between Mérens and the Bésines hostel

There is only one series of guides worth taking with you on the Pyrenean Way. Published by the FFRP, the four books in the Traversée des Pyrénées series (in French) contain all the information you really need and nothing superfluous. They weigh next to nothing and, although I did meet one walker who was tearing out pages as he progressed, I think this was symbolic, rather than an attempt to lighten his load. The guides contain maps at a scale of 1:50,000, estimates of walking time, and particularly useful profiles of the path showing the gradients. Beware, however: they are not always very up-to-date, though some modifications are now noted on the FFRP site (see the catalogue of books for sale, at the bottom of the page relating to each guide).

On this site you will find short extracts from my book If you only walk long enough. For the whole story you can order a copy online from Amazon.

 

 

15 Responses to “The Pyrenean Way (GR10)”

  1. Reg Edmunds says:

    I have enjoyed reading your site, very imformative. I plan to hike the GR10 from July. I have not decided my Hendaye starting date yet. I have tried to find others to hike with but no luck, most of the people that I know cannot, or will not leavetheir homes for such a long time. The other problem is that they are not willing to give up their central heating, Sky TV or Ipads. Never mind I am still happy to hike alone. Can you recommend a French SIM card company for my unlocked smartphone?

  2. steve says:

    Hi Reg. There’s a lot to be said for hiking alone. For mobile phone coverage in the French Pyrenees the best option is Orange, but even then most of the mountainous areas are not covered. Have fun

  3. James says:

    Steve and Reg.
    I’ll be hiking beginning 8 or9 July Commencing in Henday

    I did select the Artic Blast rucksack (very lightweight) and Mobal for mobile phone service. Also carrying a ‘SPOT’ GPS tracking device. Steve, your book is a great reference!

  4. Reg Edmunds says:

    Thanks for the reply, Gosh you site must take up a lot of your time. Anyway I have committed myself to try to hike the GR10 and I start on 24th July 2015. Its also a special occasion for me, I am now 70 and was diagnosed with Prostate cancer in 2014 and had it surgically removed by the ‘da Vinci robot’ (see on You Tube, amazing machine) in April 2015. I decided to stop being a patient on June 1st and I celebrated by hiking and camping Offas Dyke Path, south to north following the border of Wales/England. A really good hike over 12 days. I have also been roped into use my GR10 walk to try to raise some money for The Rocky Appeal, our local NHS charity set up to try to keep this costly da Vinci robot to stay in our hospital. I’ve told them I will do my best! Thanks for all of the information on your site.

  5. steve says:

    Quel courage! Do you want me to put a link to your appeal?

  6. Reg Edmunds says:

    Thank you Steve, that would be wonderful. Much appreciated.

  7. Reg Edmunds says:

    My Rocky Appeal link is http://www.justgiving.com/Reg-Edmunds

  8. Nigel Harris says:

    I’m giving it a go – setting off from Hendaye on 20 July!

  9. steve says:

    Good luck Nigel!

  10. Reg Edmunds says:

    I completed the GR10 a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it, the weather was generally hot, it rained and at times I had lots of fog. The food and wine were great and the people I met were wonderful. Unfortunately, I gave myself a ‘present! Around the 17th day I realised I had developed a hernia! I got to Lescun and then hitchiked to Oleron and bought a truss. If I had not found one I would have returned home but I was lucky. I was then able to continue to the end. Thank you for your sites information, it proved to be very helpful. Would I do it again? If I was asked yesterday I would have said NO! If asked today my answer would be maybe?

  11. steve says:

    Congratulations Reg. I hope the hernia is easy to fix

  12. Michael says:

    I did the HRP route in 2014 and linked up with both the GR10 and GR11 on several occasions. I tried to follow Joostens route, but it was quite error prone primarily due to translation I think. Instead I wandered mostly via the Veron route which is well mapped on openhiking.net.
    I had read quite a lot about the Pyrenees beforehand, but Steve’s book was by far the best book for cultural information and sheer enjoyment. Take it with you!

  13. steve says:

    Thanks Michael. It is so nice to have positive feedback. I have a new book coming out in May, this time based on walking the Spanish GR11: “Footsteps on the mountains”. By the way, I’m hoping to do the HRP this year so I’ve been studying your blog.
    Steve

  14. Steven Watson says:

    Hi

    I walked the GR5 in July 2015 . I know the GR 10 is longer than the GR 5 , can you let me know if the degree of difficulty is similar. Plus the GR 5 is very well marked , with refuges / gites along the entire route. Is the GR 10 as well organised in terms of accommodation? Can you also recommend the best guide book. Thanks

    Ps I plan to walk the Coast to coast and Pennine Way this year .

  15. steve says:

    Hello Steven
    I haven’t walked the GR5 but my walking club did it over two years so I can use what they have told me to make a comparison. The GR10 is less technical and (mostly) less exposed than the GR5 and in that sense easier. The accommodation is reasonably well organised though in Ariège you will have to sleep in huts a couple of times unless you walk very long days. You don’t need a tent though this will save money. For my mind the four FFRP guides in French are the best but the Cicerone quide comes a close second.
    Good luck on the Coast to coast and Pennine Way.
    Steve

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