Lavedan Valleys & Villages

A hotel-hotel trek between Lourdes & Gavarnie

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Walk from hotel to hotel through dramatic scenery with comfortable beds and gourmet food in typical Pyrenean B&Bs and hotels each night. We transfer your bags so you walk only with day packs. We provide the initial briefing, maps and notes (full of historical and geographical points of interest) and all the support you require along the way.

The valleys you pass through present a fascinating complexity of twists and turns, tumbling streams, flat glaciated valley bottoms and high peaks. The views are superb and the landscape changes constantly as you move; from sparse mountain tops above the tree line to wild and steep river valleys lined with pines and beech and on down to the level of human habitation where you'll find attractive small stone built farming villages typical of this part of the Pyrenees. Covering a large part of the old province of Lavedan the walk follows parts of an old high route back from Santiago de Compostella over the Pyrenees. The passes to Spain were too high to take at the beginning of summer when pilgrims set out, but pilgrims often passed through these valleys on their way home, converging on the monastery in St Savin. 

We've chosen a route challenging enough for strong walkers and flexible enough for those who like shorter days. Walks can often be varied from four to seven hours depending on the routes chosen.

Hotel with cyclists in residenceDates: 1 May - 31 Oct 2017
Price: 760€ (5 nights), 905€ (7 nights), 1195€ (10 nights), 1475€ (13 nights) which includes collection in Lourdes and transfer to Ouzous, full briefing, marked maps and notes, half board (breakfast and dinner) accommodation in B&B, 2* and 3* hotels.
Meeting Point: Lourdes.
Extras: drinks, picnic lunches (various options), optional shuttle buses (Pont d'Espagne & Gavarnie).
Contact: Sian.

Seven Day Trek Itinerary

DAY 1 - Arrive in Lourdes

Ouzous viewIf you arrive early in Lourdes take the chance to look around this interesting pilgrimage town. From the garish religious paraphernalia to the quiet calm of the sanctuaries themselves the town is full of colours and contrasts. We collect you late afternoon and drive to your lovely B&B in Ouzous. We then sit down with maps and route notes and explain how the week works and each days' options. We live just a few miles away and you will have all our contact numbers in case you need to call. The view from the garden of the B&B allows you to see all the valleys you will walk through during your week.

DAY 2 - The Pibeste Nature Reserve

A beautiful day walk up through the Pibeste Nature Reserve, home to 25 species of predatory birds, isards and mouflons, to the Pic du Pibeste. The peak is a great vantage point for looking over the Lavedan province and appreciating the valleys that you will be exploring in the days to come.  The width of the PibesteArgeles valley, so smoothly carved out by glaciers during successive ice ages contrasts with the narrower, steeper gorges of the Val d’Azun, the Cauterets Valley to the south-west and the Luz Valley directly south. A second night in Ouzous.

DAY 3 - The Mont de Gez and Val d'Azun

There is a choice on this day between a longer and a shorter route. Both mean that you leave the limestone massif of the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPibeste behind you and head across a complex, largely agricultural, landscape. At times the valley town of Argeles Gazost is visible below, at others it is shielded by low hills. Argeles is a traditional market town but it turned itself into a fashionable spa in the 18th century by rerouting the thermal waters from the other side of the valley. On the shorter route you head in a wavy line over the low rounded hill of the Mont de Gez before arriving in the town of Arras from where you head on to St Savin. This is an interesting route for those who enjoy looking at village architecture and life. You pass through or near a number of very typical Lavedan villages with their substantial houses, protecting against cold in the winter and sun in the summer.

DAY 4 – The Pouey-Aspé Plateau

Cabane_CabalirosFrom St Savin you head up through the tiny village of Uz to the Pouey-Aspé plateau where St Savin had his hermitage for 13 years. This spot is today marked by a small chapel and the views from the top are spectacular over the Argeles Valley. You then descend almost into the village of Pierrefitte through old forest to connect with the cycling and walking path that runs along the old railway line up to Cauteret. You will quickly realise you are leaving the foothills and the transition from the gently rolling hills to the steep slopes of the Cauterets valley is dramatic. Another option is to start your day the easy way - in the car with the luggage and then take advantage of Cauterets' spa facilities with the lovely old baths offering thermal water swimming and treatments.

DAY 5 – Walking in and around Cauterets

GaubeCauterets and the surrounding valleys are too good to leave after just one night! The town is interesting in itself with long streets of high buildings and elegant statues crammed tightly into the narrow valley bottom. It's a lovely place to sit, have a coffee and watch the world go by. Above the town the spectacular Lac de Gaube and the Marcadau Valley, famous for its walking, open up. There is a pretty walk over granite slabs and through pine trees to the very blue Lac de Gaube. Those who wish can then continue onwards for a view of the Vignemale mountain - at 3298m the highest in the French Pyrenees - at the Oulettes Refuge.

DAY 6 – Over the Col du Riou to Luz St Sauveur

Col du RiouToday is really a matter of going up one side of the mountain and down the other, following the zig-zag GR10 path. The route climbs out of the back of Cauterets up to the winter ski station of Luz Ardiden and then crosses the mountain down and eastwards into Luz.  There are alternative routes for the descent but from all paths you have huge views over Luz St Sauveur and the  Bareges Valley (ascent 1050 m. descent 1100 on this day). The town of Luz itself is a delightful old mass of stone buildings huddled around the 12th Century fortified Eglise des Templiers. For those of you who love peaks there is a two hour deviation to climb to the top of Pic du Viscos - a classic triangular pointy 'Toblerone' peak with a cross at the top.  If you don't fancy the walk down we will come to collect you from the ski station or one of the villages on the Luz side of the pass.

DAY 7 - The Gavarnie Cirque

Gavarnie ChantalTo miss Gavarnie on a trip to the Pyrenees, and in particular to this valley, is unthinkable. The Grand Cascade is the waterfall with the highest vertical drop in Europe (423m) and the cirque is spectacular. The balcony path we suggest is far less travelled than the main valley path even in the height of summer. Outside July and August you can almost feel you have this marvel of nature to yourself. If you want a rest from walking it is possible to get a full view of the cirque from the terrace of one of the many cafés, or simply have a small stroll up to a grassy meadow for a picnic.

DAY 8 – Onward to Barèges / Return to Lourdes

GR10 cheminToday, either catch the bus from Luz to Lourdes, or if you have a late train or flight, you can steal a last walk and head up the valley to another thermal village - one whose waters are famous for healing broken bones. You follow the GR10 as it climbs out of the wide valley above Luz, heading up through four mountain villages on its way to Barèges.  Here you will really see how 2000 years of animal grazing has sculpted the landscape and created the high pastures of the Pyrenees. The valleys of Luz, Barèges and Gavarnie carry an AOP mark for the sheep grazed on the slopes below and above you. In this tranquil scene it's hard to imagine the power of the huge 1939 avalanche which poured down this valley, or the big flood in 2013, whose scars remain apparent. Catch the SNCF bus out of Luz to Lourdes in time for your connecting transport.

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