GAVARNIE CAUTERETS-PONT D’ESPAGNE
Why visit Gavarnie, Cauterets and Pont d’Espagne:
- A Top Occitania Site in the Pyrenees National Park.
- UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cirque de Gavarnie.
- Gavarnie, a stage on the Santiago de Compostela routes.
- Cauterets' signature architecture.
- The Pont d’Espagne waterfalls and Gaube Lake.
APPROACH THE CIRQUE DE GAVARNIE
And prepare for full-throttle thrills
Grandiose, awe-inspiring, the Cirque de Gavarnie was sculpted 50 million years ago by glacial erosion. A leisurely hour (on foot or horseback) from the village of Gavarnie leads you to the foot of this incredible 1700m high wall that's 14km in circumference. The site is made up of concentric tiers whose symmetry is simply incredible. Gavarnie is surrounded by mountains over 3000m high and has been popular since the 16th century. It became legendary when Victor Hugo called it an "impossible and extraordinary object".
Gavarnie is the birthplace of pyreneism (late 19th/early 20th century) which explores the mountain's sport, nature and culture. Botanists, scientists, romantic novelists, painters, poets and mountaineers made the Pyrenees their source of inspiration or achievement.
THINGS TO DO IN GAVARNIE
Summer and winter
Come skiing or snowshoeing at the Gavarnie-Gèdre ski resort and its 33 pistes in winter. Between the snow melting and the autumn frost, you can experience all the joys of the mountain: horse rides, hikes, fishing, canyoning, via ferrata etc. Don't miss the outdoor Gavarnie Festival in summer from July 24th to August 5th, the highest festival in Europe at an altitude of 1450m (children aged 5+). All year round you can soak up unforgettable natural sites in Gavarnie packed with a wealth of flora and fauna.
Everything at this extraordinary site is extra large: the 423m high Gavarnie waterfall is the highest in Europe.
And let yourself go
At an altitude of 950m and surrounded by the majestic Pyrenean peaks, Cauterets is a small town with a population of 1000. Visitors flock here for its ski resort and spas. It has been a spa destination since the early 19th century and its architecture is typical of the period (large hotels, elaborate walls). Listen to its fascinating story! The wonderful wooden station was built in just 2 months in 1904 and was used until 1949. It is now a concert venue.
The village of Gavarnie is a stage on the Santiage de Compostela routes and its parish church is listed as UNESCO World Heritage
A sight for sore eyes!
The Pont d'Espagne, 7km from Cauterets, is a former pastoral route that enabled France to trade with Spain. As a gateway to the Pyrenees National Park, the bridge is now a start point for rambling through forests, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and breath-taking scenery.
You can reach the spell-binding Gaube Lake by taking the ski lift (open early June to late September) or walking the GR10 trail (1.5 hr walk). When you get to the top, gaze at the impressive Vignemale, the highest peak in the French Pyrenees (altitude of 3298m).
Sweeping views from the Puntas car park. A 5 min cable car ride gives you incredible views of the Pont d'Espagne waterfalls.
Cauterets is in south-west Occitania in the Hautes-Pyrénées department. Cauterets is an hour's drive from Gavarnie.
- By car: Cauterets is 2.5 hrs from Toulouse on the A64 (junction 12), 3 hrs from Bordeaux via the A65 then the A64. Gavarnie is 2 hr 45 mins from Toulouse via the A64 (junction 12), 3.5 hrs from Bordeaux via the A65 then the A64.
- By plane: the nearest airports to Cauterets are Lourdes- Tarbes-Pyrénées (35km), Pau-Pyrénées (80km) and Toulouse-Blagnac (210km).
- By train: Lourdes train station (connections to and from Paris by TGV) is 30km from Cauterets. Shuttle buses take you from the station into Cauterets.