Walking Holidays – Pyrenees Taster VV

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Taster – Valleys & Views walking holiday HalfMountainSep_edit

This walking holiday is  based in the traditional mountain village of Barèges, in the French Hautes Pyrenees. From Bareges we combine day walks directly from the village, with excursions out to see the other local sights. The walking is at a gentle level, on clearly marked tracks and paths, taking in breath-taking views of snowy peaks, stone barns, and tinkling mountain streams. Some highlights of the week include a walking tour of one of the Pyrenees’ most famous spots, the Cirque de Gavarnie – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also a visit to the astronomical observatory at the Pic du Midi, which offers stupendous views across the Pyrenees.

Ste. Marie castle, Luz

We will use a combination of our own legs, mini-bus and cable car to explore the area. The excursions are accompanied by a local expert – a qualified International Mountain Leader, who will share with you their knowledge and love of the area, including facts about the culture, history and language of this rich and varied part of France.

Accommodation

This holiday is based from our lovely catered chalet “Les Cailloux”, in the traditional French mountain village of Barèges, in the Pays Toy.

What the price includes

The price shown for a Taster guided mountain walking week includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation, based on two sharing an en-suite room at the chalet
  • half board meals – continental breakfast buffet, afternoon tea & cake and 3-course evening meals on 6 nights
  • 3 packed lunches for walking days
  • local mini-bus transport
  • ticket for the Pic du Midi
  • accompaniment by an experienced MountainBug team member

Please note that airport transfers, optional snacks and beverages at restaurants visited along the way, lunch in La Mongie (on the Pic du Midi visit) and produce from the farmers’ market in Argeles (for our picnic at Lac d’Estaing) are not included in the price.

Walking from village to village in the Pyrenees

Weather

Spring time and Autumn are the perfect seasons to visit the French Pyrenees, when the climate is mild and the walking trails and favourite tourist sites are quiet. From late May to early July the Spring wildflowers at at their best. The weather is often very pleasant in June and September, but, naturally, mountains are changeable so we advise that you bring layers of clothes and lightweight waterproofs so that you can easily adapt to changes in the weather.

Please read our Kit List for more information on what we’d advise you bring with you.

Choose your walking holiday dates, then contact us to book.

A typical week’s itinerary:

Les cailloux chalet

Saturday

We suggest a stroll round the village before dinner and your Welcome Talk, where you will meet your guide and the rest of the group, take a look at the local maps and discuss  plans for the week.

Village to village walking in the Pyrenees

Sunday – Village to village walking in the Pyrenees

Starting from Barèges, today’s walk takes us down the valley to Luz-St. Sauveur, visiting seven different villages along the way. This is a wonderful walk to discover the Pays Toy – from the spectacular viewpoint at St. Justin, through the cobbled passageways winding through perched villages, to the ruined castle of Ste. Marie. We will stop to look at the historic churches, ancient communal wash-houses fed by mountain spring water, and learn about the traditional farming methods. This is our longest day of walking, around 5 hours, but it is mainly downhill and is broken up by plenty of breaks, lunch and photo opportunities!

Walking in the Cirque de Gavarnie

Monday – Cirque de Gavarnie

Today we head out in the mini-bus and start the day with a scenic drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cirque de Gavarnie at the Spanish frontier. Departing from Gavarnie village, our walk takes us up the valley bottom following a mule track beside a picturesque mountain river. As we climb steadily towards the Spanish border, the incredible backdrop of the cirque grows in size and splendour – kilometre-high cliffs loom beneath the 3000m peaks, capped with snow and bisected by the Grande Cascade – the highest free-hanging waterfall in Europe.

After a short foray into the cirque itself, we can enjoy a refreshing drink (or icecream!) at the Hotellerie du Cirque, before making our way back down the valley on a secret woodland trail. This narrow path soon pops out in idyllic Alpine meadows – one of the best places to see a whole host of different orchids in June. If the weather is warm, we’ll be sure to stop to dip our feet in an ice cold (glacier-fed) stream, and admire the view back to the cirque.

Today’s walking time is around 4 hours, plus stops – we will want to take our time to appreciate this truly spectacular natural limestone amphitheatre.

Pyrenees Taster Walking week - Argeles market

Tuesday – farmers’ market at Argeles Gazost and a lakeside picnic at Lac d’Estaing

A leisurely day, beginning with a visit to the regional farmers’ market at the pretty town of Argeles-Gazost. This weekly market is great opportunity to sample the local produce – including mountain sheep’s cheeses, honey, dry-cured sausage and hams. In the early Summer the flavour-packed melons, strawberries and ripe peaches are a must!

You’ll be able to buy your own food for a picnic lunch in the tranquil Val d’Azun – our next stop for a stroll around the beautiful Lac D’Estaing. After a relaxing picnic beside the lake, we make our way back to Bareges on scenic mountain roads, stopping along the way for another visit – either one of the quaint villages, or the abbey at St. Savin.

Bareges thermal spa

Wednesday – Free day

This is your free day to use as you please. We recommend an hour or two at the Bareges spa, where the thermal waters are reputed to have healing properties, but are certainly a great way to relax and unwind. The pilgrimage town of Lourdes is also a popular day trip, around 1 hour away on the local bus service. In the evening, you have the chance to eat out at one of the local restaurants – just ask us for a recommendation.

Pic du Midi observatory

Thursday – the Pic du Midi Observatory

Today’s sightseeing programme takes us over the famous Col du Tourmalet to La Mongie. Cycling fans will recognise the winding mountain roads from the Tour de France, which includes the notoriously tough Col du Tourmalet in its route almost every year.

From the mountain village of La Mongie, we take the cable car to the Pic du Midi observatory – an iconic James Bond-style structure, perched on top of a soaring mountain peak at 2877m. The cable car ride is impressive in its own right, but from the summit we are rewarded with fabulous views across the whole of the Pyrenean range – reaching as far as the Atlantic coast on particularly clear days. The Pic du Midi has a panoramic restaurant, and an interesting museum describing the gruelling process of constructing the observatory in the late 19th century. Later, the surface of the moon was mapped from here for the Apollo missions, and most recently the scientific research has focussed on solar flare studies.

Camp Rollot

Friday – the Balcony of Bareges

Today we pull our hiking boots on again, and leave on foot from Barèges to walk up to Le Lienz and Plateau Lumiere. We begin the day with a steady climb through the beech forest above Bareges. This forest was planted under order of Napoleon III, to protect the village from avalanches. After around an hour of climbing,  we’ll stop for a coffee at Chez Louisette – one of the most traditional and well-known local restaurants serving the specialities of the region.

Our route now takes us to the WW2 Resistance Camp Rollot –  a poignant reminder of the wartime history of France, before we follow an easy trail to the Plateau Lumiere. Here, the woods open out into flower-filled meadows, dotted with traditional stone barns, and we’ll pick a tranquil spot for lunch. The plateau has superb views down the valley towards the mountain villages of Sers and Betpouey, and beyond to the snow-capped peaks of the Ardiden massif.

We return to Bareges on the GR10 trail, with up to 4 hours total walking today – broken up by breaks and a leisurely lunch.

Saturday – depart

Leave in your own time after breakfast.

Please check individual holiday descriptions to find out what the price includes.  In some cases discounts are available for groups or family rooms. For some holidays accommodation is provided in mountain refuges, or by 3rd party suppliers – please see individual holiday descriptions for details.

PLEASE NOTE - Our calendar is flexible. Please contact us if you have a different trip or date in mind to the ones shown or if you would like a bespoke itinerary.

Summer 2019

May 2019

Dates Holidays Price
5-11  Walking - Spanish Pyrenees Explorer Kingdom of Aragon hike. £810
5-11  Walking - Spanish Pyrenees Explorer Kingdom of Aragon hike. £810
12-18 Walking – Cathar country Explorer The Cathar Trail, castles, views and history of the Albigensian crusade. £895
25-1 Walking – Valleys & views Taster  Sight seeing and walking £810

June 2019

Dates Holidays Price
1-8 Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking £790
8-15 Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking £790
15-22 Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking £790
22-29 Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking £790
22-29 Walking - Neouvielle Lakes – Discoverer walking (2 nights at manned refuges - Lake District £810
29-6 Hiking - Peaks, ridges & refuges Adventurer Unlimited trekking to the guides favourite spots, 1 night in catered refuge. £810
29-6 Walking – Valleys & views Taster Sight seeing and walking £810

July 2019

Dates Holidays Price
6-13 Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking £790
13-20 Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking £810
20-27 Walking – Gavarnie & Ordesa Discoverer France and Spain inc. 2 night mini-trek in catered refuges £810
20-27 Trekking – HRP Stage 1 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike) £890
20-27 Catered Accommodation for independent activities/hiking £450
27-3 Trekking – HRP Stage 2 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike) £890

August 2019

Dates Holidays Price
3-10 Trekking – HRP Stage 3 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (The Aneto -3404m, ascent stage) £990
10-17 Adventurer level 3000m peaks special Mountain trekking - inc 2 nights in catered refuges. £830
17-24 Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided day walking £790

September 2019

Dates Holidays Price
31-7 Walking – Gavarnie & Ordesa Discoverer France and Spain inc. 2 night mini-trek in catered refuges £810
31-7 Trekking – HRP Stage 1 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike) £890
31-7 Walking – Valleys & views Taster Sight seeing and walking £810
7-14 Walking – Valleys, villages & cirques Explorer Gentle guided walking £790
7-14  Trekking – HRP Stage 2 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (Coast to Coast long distance hike)  £890
7-14 Bespoke guided walking/trekking/climbing/activity week Your choice! contact us
14-21 Trekking – HRP Stage 3 The Pyrenees Haute Route Trek (The Aneto -3404m, ascent stage)  £990
14-21 Walking – Lakes, cirques & summits Discoverer Intermediate guided walking  £790
21-29 Walking – Gavarnie & Ordesa Discoverer France and Spain inc. 2 night mini-trek in catered refuges  £810
29-5 Walking – Spanish Pyrenees Discoverer Kingdom of Aragon hike.  £810
29-5 Walking - Spanish Pyrenees Explorer Kingdom of Aragon hike.  £810
29-5 Bespoke guided walking/trekking/climbing/activity week Your choice! contact us  —

October 2019

Dates Holidays Price
6-12 Walking – Cathar country Explorer The Cathar Trail, castles, views and history of the Albigensian crusade. £895

Choose your walking or trekking holiday dates, then contact us to book.