Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    Cirque de Gavarnie

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    8.5 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    210 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Overall Rating
    This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
    Physical Difficulty
    This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Technical Difficulty
    This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Read Reviews
    Directions to Trailhead
    Panoramic views of the Cirque de Gavarnie hike in French Pyrenees

    A hike to the Cirque de Gavarnie is the most popular hike in the French Pyrenees. But there’s a reason! You cannot come to the Pyrenees without a walk to the stunning Cirque de Gavarnie! It’s arguably one of the most beautiful sites in France and part of the UNESCO Global Heritage. Plus, we found a "secret" viewpoint.

    Download the 10Adventures App

    View Cirque de Gavarnie on Map

    View Map

    Join our newsletter

    Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

    Route Description for Cirque de Gavarnie

    The Cirque de Gavarnie is a highlight for most holiday-makers making the trip to the Pyrenees. This is a pleasant hike that isn’t too hard.

    From the car park, head downhill to the main crossroads in the centre of Gavarnie. This is the starting point of the route shown on the map. Follow the main street heading south, passing by numerous shops, bars and restaurants. After coming around a bend, the road splits, with the road to the right going up and the route we want to take going down to the left. From here the Cirque de Gavarnie is visible in the distance and is so huge it looks unreal!

    Follow the road as it runs out of the village and along the Gave de Gavarnie (river). You will see two bar-restaurants on the other side of the Gave, and after this, cross the bridge to the other side of the Gave and follow the road until it becomes a gravel track.

    This is a lovely stretch along the shallow river, which can be done with a stroller. You will soon reach the Pont de Nadau, a lovely stone bridge, which is a perfect foreground for a great photo with the amazing Cirque in the background. If you have had enough or have a stroller, you can cross the bridge and come back along the other river bank.

    But the best of this walk is still to come, so continue ahead. Do not cross the bridge and keep following the main track. From here it steepens up, crossing a bit of a forest, and you soon pass by a UNESCO World Heritage plaque. Soon afterwards, the views open over a large valley with the Cirque de Gavarnie now entirely dominating the landscape in the background.

    The track now goes downhill to reach some open ground. From there, it rises gently up to approximately 1,450 m, where it steepens again quite significantly as you lose sight of the Cirque. This is the only "difficult" part of the hike, but it just lasts for a few hundred metres.

    As for the route-finding, the track is so obvious that you have no chance to get lost! Soon the Hôtellerie du Cirque appears in the distance, with the Cirque itself and its 422 m waterfall behind. Down to the right, the river has dug a deep hollow, giving a real sensation of wilderness.

    As you reach the Hôtellerie, the view over the Cirque becomes simply incredible! You are now at 1,570 m while the highest peaks in front of you exceeding 3,000 m! The gorgeous waterfall can be approached continuing the track, adding some 3.0 km distance and 150 m ascent to the walk.

    To return, you can simply follow your track and retrace your steps.

    Another option is to cross the bridge on the way back (just before the main track runs uphill for a few dozen metres to reach the UNESCO plaque) and follow the left/W river bank.

    If you want to have one of the best views of the Cirque du Gavarnie, and have it in private, then we have a surprise for you! Right after the bridge, look out for that tiny path through the forest to your right. Walk up this path until you are out of the forest (hardly a minute or two). The main path which runs along the left bank of the Gave is down there in front of you, slightly to your right. But before you head down this way, take a look to your left: a faint path leads you up to a hump and what looks like stairs; carefully climb the first set of stones to enjoy a stupendous - and often private - view of the Cirque du Gavarnie! This is our "secret" viewpoint: this promontory is indeed a bit sideways and therefore not frequented often. You may even climb the last stairs, minding the steep ground to your right to sit on what looks like a minor summit, which could be a great spot for picnic!

    Retrace you steps down and veer left to reach the path. Follow it down to your right as it soon gets back along the river. After a few minutes, you will be back at the Pont de Nadau. Stay on the left bank, passing by a bar called "Le Pailha" (see Insider Tips section below) and meet the road at the first bridge you crossed on the way up, just before the entrance of the village. Follow the road back into the village to your starting point.

    Insider Hints for Cirque de Gavarnie

    • Gavarnie village is closed to traffic from the 15th of June to the 30th of September. Parking in and around the village is restricted between the hours from 9 AM to 5 PM. These restrictions do not apply to those who arrive before 9 AM or those who are staying at one of the Hotels/accommodations. The parking at the entrance can get crowded whilst the car parks within the village are less so. Beat the crowds, arrive early or park within one of the hotel car parks. The Hotel Vignemale car park is facing the Cirque with picnic tables and shaded spaces.
    • The Cirque de Gavarnie is part of the Pyrénées-Mont Perdu area, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The area is host to some of the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, including the third highest, the Monte Perdido (Mont Perdu in French, 3,355 m).
    • There is a great choice of bars and restaurants along the main street in the village. You can be tempted to ask for a local beer at La Ruade at the start/end of the walk. Further along the way, you will find some lovely places to enjoy a refreshment or proper food, next to the Gave (local name for a river -pronounce "gav", like "cat"). If you want a quiet place to enjoy a drink or a crêpe or ice-cream, try "Le Pailha", a bar which is on the left (W) bank of the Gave – it even has a swing for the kids!
    • There are plenty of hikes of all levels to be done in the area. The most popular one is La Brèche de Roland (2,807 m), starting from the Col des Tentes (2,208 m). Despite its reasonable amount of ascent (about 650 m), this walk is for very experienced hikers only as the second half is on steep ground with scree, and includes a tricky stream crossing and some (relatively easy) scrambling. It is best done in the summer and in the absence of snow or ice. The route crosses what remains of the Glacier de la Brèche, but does not require any special equipment in summer conditions. La Brèche de Roland is a huge gap of about 100 m high and 40 m wide which stands at the Spanish border. From up there, the views over the Spanish side and over the Cirque de Gavarnie are absolutely breathtaking!
    • The tiny campsite "La Bergerie", situated south of the village, along the route described below, is a perfect spot to explore the Cirque de Gavarnie and allows you to avoid paying the 5-euro car park fee.

    Getting to the Cirque de Gavarnie Trailhead

    The village of Gavarnie is situated at the end of the deep valley south of Lourdes. There is a mandatory car park (5 euro fee) in the village by the Office de Tourisme, except of course for visitors who are staying at the campsite or in one of the hotels or guest houses. The village is closed to trafffic from 9am-5pm, so to beat the crowds you must arrive early or park in the town.

    Route Information

    • When to do

      May to October

    • Backcountry Campsites


    • Toilets

      Soon after start, to the left of the main street

    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Cirque de Gavarnie Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather

    Cirque de Gavarnie Reviews

    Add a comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Nearby Trails

    Nearby Regions

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter