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Heart of the Pyrenees Walk

from $1,949.00

With both moderate and challenging walking options on offer each day, this superb high level mountain hike takes in dramatic gorges, beautiful lakes and traditional mountain villages unchanged over the years. Friendly, 3* hotels throughout.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate
    5/8
All about the Heart of the Pyrenees Walk.

This walking holiday is based in the Hautes-Pyrenees, an area of outstanding natural beauty and boasting some of the highest, most spectacular peaks in the Pyrenees. It’s a majestic network of verdant green valleys, pretty flower-strewn meadows, pristine, pine-scented woodlands and traditional rural villages perched steep on the hillsides.
Our walks follow mountain paths through a floral paradise with habitats ranging from vividly colourful upland pastures to rocky outcrops where countless alpine gems thrive in the most perfect of settings. We picnic by diamond-sparkling mountain streams (perfect for dipping tired toes!) and spot marmots and deer foraging in the hillside whilst vultures and eagles soar overhead. Each day offers a choice of Level 2 or Level 3 walks, and it’s no problem to alternate from day to day. The routes have all been meticulously designed by our knowledgeable local representatives Malcolm and Anne Gregory, who’ll be there to meet you and ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible.
Our family-run hotels offer a warm, individual welcome and traditional cuisine with distinctive flavours inspired by regional produce. Your first two nights are spent in the Lesponne Valley, at the foot of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, before heading to the delightful spa town of Argeles-Gazost. Finally, to Luz-St-Sauveur where spectacular sunsets provide the perfect backdrop to a relaxing aperitif on the hotel’s terrace.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • All breakfasts and four dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation, hotel-to-hotel
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Route notes and maps provided
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Choice of walking routes each day
  • Walking transfers
  • Standard transfers at the start/end of the trip (at designated place and time)
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Different walking levels every day; superb walking giving breathtaking views
  • Majestic, glacial amphitheatre of the Cirque de Gavarnie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Friendly hotels with excellent regional cuisine, 2 out of 3 with swimming pools
  • Dramatic gorges, beautiful lakes, lush green valleys and mountain villages
  • Unique flora and fauna: blue gentians, purple monkshood, bearded vultures
  1. Day 1 Day 1 - Arrive at Lesponne

    Arrive at your hotel in the Lesponne Valley, just south of the delightful spa town of Bagneres-de-Bigorre. (Staying at Domaine de Ramonjuan, Half Board)

  2. Day 2 Day 2 - At Lesponne 17km/11mi/5hr or 21km/13.5mi/6.5hr

    The easier walk today ascends gently through a beech forest to a bridge over the Magenta Waterfalls before dropping down into the main valley. You then descend to the quirky village of Campan which is decorated with life-sized puppets during the summer months. Return via picturesque Lesponne, maybe finding time to visit the delightful museum/cafe. The longer walk climbs the main valley to pretty Chirolet. From here a steady climb leads up to the Lac d’Ourrec (1667m), nestled on a plateau surrounded by high mountains and grazing animals. (Staying at Domaine de Ramonjuan, Half Board)

  3. Day 3 Day 3 - Lesponne to Argeles-Gazost 13km/8mi/4hr or 20km/12.50mi/6hr

    After a scenic drive via Bagneres-de-Bigorre, it’s a short ride up the funicular (payable locally) before the longer walk takes you to the summit of the Pic du Jer (948m) with a superb panorama over the famous town of Lourdes. The route continues high above the main river, the Gave de Pau, with views of the high mountains. The shorter walk starts in the charming village of St-Creac where a path climbs to picturesque Ouste. Here you join the longer walk, passing through a number of typically Pyrenean villages before descending to the attractive spa town of Argeles-Gazost. (Staying at Hotel Miramont, Half Board) Please note that this walk is currently unavailable. You will be transferred directly to Argeles-Gazost and provided with alternative walks from Argeles.

  4. Day 4 Day 4 - At Argeles-Gazost 11km/7mi/3.5hr or 16km/10mi/5.5hr

    Today, the Level 2 option takes in an old shepherd’s path, leading to the delightful village of St-Savin where there is a magnificent C12 abbey church. After walking out to the viewpoint at the Chapelle Pietat it’s downhill all the way back into the valley, returning via the Voie Verte, a cycleway that leads back to Argeles-Gazost. For a more challenging day, climb via a network of ancient paths and tracks to the summit of Mont de Gez (1097m) from where you can often see griffon vultures gliding overhead. It’s then a gentle yet scenic descent back to Argeles-Gazost. (Staying at Hotel Miramont, Half Board, evening meal included at a local restaurant)

  5. Day 5 Day 5 - Argeles-Gazost to Luz-St-Sauveur 14km/9mi/4.5hr or 17km/11mi/5.5hr

    After a short taxi ride you set off, climbing the lower flank of the Pic du Soulom along the old mule trail – enjoy spectacular views over the snow-capped mountains and down to the cavernous gorge below. Alternatively, pick up the route in the forest above the small town of Soulom, wending your way through the tranquil villages of Viscos (852m) and Sazos (836m) before dropping down into the main valley and your hotel in Luz-St-Sauveur. (Staying at Hotel Le Montaigu, Breakfast only)

  6. Day 6 Day 6 - At Luz-St-Sauveur 15km/9.5mi/4.5hr or 17km/11mi/6.5hr

    The easier Level 2 walk will take you through ancient villages of the area known as the Pays Toy: Vizos, Sassis and Sazos, where houses cluster around tiny Romanesque churches, and lavish floral window-boxes are proudly on display. You’ll return via the impressive Pont Napoleon, financed by Napoleon III after his visit in 1859 with wife Empress Eugenie. The more challenging option allows you to explore the delightful Yse Valley. The area was historically important for hay-making which still continues today, at 1600 metres! (Staying at Hotel Le Montaigu, Breakfast only)

  7. Day 7 Day 7 - Cirque de Gavarnie 12km/7.5mi/4hr or 21km/13.5mi/7hr

    Start with a short bus ride (30 mins, payable locally) to the pretty mountain resort of Gavarnie, the start of today’s walk. You head up to the Plateau de Bellevue to get spectacular views across to the Cirque de Gavarnie, a magnificent 1,000m amphitheatre of black cliffs, stretching into the clouds. You may choose to explore the charming side valley of Pouey Aspe, before continuing right into the Cirque to the base of the Grande Cascade which tumbles down hundreds of metres. It’s an easy walk back to the village before the bus ride back to Luz for your final dinner! (Staying at Hotel Le Montaigu, Breakfast only)

  8. Day 8 Day 8 - Leave Luz St. Sauveur
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Where you stay
Domaine de Ramonjuan
This beautifully renovated farmhouse, is situated at the foot of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, by the Adour river. The Domaine Ramonjuan is set in its own extensive grounds, offering the features of a traditional charming mountain hamlet in the depths of the countryside. The comfortable bedrooms are all very spacious, with private facilities, TV, direct dial telephone and hairdryers. The evening meals are taken in the traditionally furnished dining room and guests can enjoy an after dinner drink in the cosy bar area. The hotel also has parking, an open air swimming pool (heated in July and August), a games room and a tennis court.
Hotel Le Miramont
The Miramont hotel is set in a tree-lined garden in the town of Argeles-Gazost, just a 2-minute walk from Argeles’ spa centre. Built in the early 30s, it reflects the architecture of the period, although it didn’t actually become a hotel until 1963. Today it still retains the character and style of art deco with a modern twist. The owners, Pierre et Domnique, always ensure their customers are well looked after, giving them the good service of a 3* hotel with a family atmosphere. The hotel has 19 airy and modern rooms, equipped with Satellite TV, mini bar, safe, free WiFi and hairdryer. Evening meals are taken at the hotel’s restaurant; there is also a cocktail bar in the hotel, for an aperitif with a twist!
Hotel Le Montaigu
This rural 3*** hotel is located in a quiet corner just off the main streets of Esquieze Sere which is an area of Luz St.Sauveur. It is run by a husband and wife who are very friendly and welcoming, with great staff. It’s next to a ruined chateau, which you can see from the front of the hotel. Luz St.Sauveur and Esquieze Sere face each other from across the Gave du Pau (‘gave’ is the name for ‘stream’ in these parts), on the edge of the National Park. Luz is quite an animated little place with narrow lanes leading up to a fortified church.
Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and four evening meals are included.

One of the greatest pleasures of walking in the Pyrenees is the chance to sample a variety of French and Spanish food. Pyrenean cuisine is generally simple, delicious and very filling – preparing people for the strenuous mountain lifestyle they lead.

Cheeses – whether they are made from cow’s, goat’s or ewe’s milk or a mixture, the cheeses of the Midi-Pyrénées are all equally delicious. The most famous cheese of the area is known simply as Fromage des Pyrénées and is a mature, hard cheese. Other regional Pyrenean cheeses include Barousse, Bamalou, Rogallais, Tomme de chèvre de Loubières, Tourmalet, Galet de Bigorre, Bethmale, to name just a few!

The quality of Pyrenean wines varies greatly – try them all in order to discover one you like. From the table wines of Irrouleguy in the Basque country to the sweet apéritif wine produced in Banyuls on the Mediterranean coast, there should be something here to satisfy everybody.

Activity level 3 – Moderate

This is a self-guided tour, as such there will be no group or tour leader and you are free to complete the walks at your own pace. Please bear in mind that although this is a self-guided holiday, the atmosphere in the hotels tends to be quite social and they will sometimes place walkers together at breakfast and dinner. We have suggested that 8 yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you.

This holiday has both grade 2 and grade 3 options each day. Walking boots are essential and walking poles are strongly recommended. There are some sections where there is some exposure and a head for heights is required. Some of the high level walks may have snow in early/late season.

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July 27, 2019
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$1,999.00
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August 3, 2019
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