Hotelleries du Cirque from Gavarnie
Country - France
Region - Haute Pyrenees (65)
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 8.0 km / 5 miles
Ascent - 185 metres / 611 feet
Descent - 185 metres / 611 feet
The village of Gavarnie is dramatically situated, almost totally surrounded by mountains. The village's claim to fame is the magnificent Cirque de Gavarnie to the south of the village with its magnificent cliffs, waterfalls and stunning rock architecture. It is a rocky amphitheatre without equal in Europe.
There are many opportunities for parking in the village with some costing more than others. On busy days an early or late start is recommended as the village can get very busy. Sadly the village has lost much of its charm with strings of eating places and souvenir shops rather spoiling the atmosphere. However despite this, the walk into the Cirque de Gavarnie is remains a worthwhile way to spend a few hours.
From the village, walk south. You will probably be accompanied by many other people and a number of donkeys carrying tourists into the cirque. The way ahead is always clear starting with the river on your left before crossing by a bridge onto the other side where you remain for the remainder of the walk.
The track is wide and progress fast although the route gradually climbs slowing progress especially in hot weather. As you walk south the scale of the cliffs ahead becomes clearer and it is difficult not be impressed by this wall of limestone and its lofty waterfalls. Most people walk as far as the Hôtellerie du Cirque where refreshments are available. However you can, if time and energy permits, continue further up the valley to reach the base of the cliffs.
The return route follows the outward path. The view ahead, although less dramatic than on the outward walk, is still wonderful with mountains and alpine pastures rising on both sides of the valley.
- IGN Carte de Randonnée - Gavarnie - Luz-St-Saveur - 1:25000 Sheet 1748OT
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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