Day 1: Arrival in Lesponne
You'll be picked up at the Tarbes Train Station and transferred to the Hotel Ramonjuan at Lesponne. The hotel is situated part way up the quiet Lesponne valley about 10 kilometers from Bagnères de Bigorre. The beautifully renovated farmhouse is set in its own extensive grounds, offering the features of a traditional charming mountain hamlet in the depths of the countryside. Overnight in Lesponne.
Day 2: A circular day hike from Lesponne
Moderate: The route gently ascends through a beech forest to a bridge over the Magenta waterfalls before dropping down into the main valley. It then descends to the interesting village of Campan which is decorated with life-size puppets during the summer months. Return via the village of Lesponne, maybe finding time to visit the delightful museum/café. Approximately 17 kms, 600m ascent, 600m descent, 5 ¼ hrs walking.
Strenuous: The longer hike climbs the main valley to picturesque Chirolet. From there a steady climb leads up to the Lac D’Ourrec (1667m), nestled on a plateau surrounded by high mountains and grazing animals. Return by the same route. Approximately 21 kms, 900m ascent, 900m descent, 7 hrs walking.
Second night at Lesponne.
Day 3: Lesponne/Argelès Gazost
Strenuous: After a scenic drive via Bagnères de Bigorre those who have chosen to do the strenuous walk will be dropped off at the lower station of the Pic du Jer funicular railway on the outskirts of Lourdes. After taking the ride up (7.50€ one way, pay locally) the walk takes in the summit of the Pic du Jer (948m) with great views over the town of Lourdes. The route continues high above the East side of the main river, the Gave du Pau, with excellent views into the high mountains. After passing through a number of typically Pyrenean villages you drop down to the attractive spa town of Argelès-Gazost. Strenuous: Approx. 21km, 370m ascent, 830m descent, 6 hours walking
Moderate: Those choosing the moderate walk will be dropped off a few minutes later at the pretty village of St Créac from where they will join the same route as the 3-Boot walk into Argelès-Gazost. Moderate: Approx. 15 km, 340m ascent, 340m descent, 4 ½ hrs walking time.
Overnight at Argelès Gazost
Day 4: A circular walk from Argelès Gazost
Moderate: The route takes in an old shepherd’s path to climb out of Argelès-Gazost and leads through to the delightful village of St Savin where there is a magnificent 12th Century abbey church. After walking out to the viewpoint at the Chapelle Piétat, the route drops down into the main valley to the village of Adast where there is a remarkably well preserved Cabénèras – a small building which served to keep the milk cool. The route returns to Argelès-Gazost via the ‘Voie Verte’, a cycleway/walkway which follows a disused railway line.
Approx. 13 km, 220 m ascent, 220m descent, 4 hrs walking.
Strenuous: The route climbs through the forest above Argelès-Gazost to the summit of the Mont de Gez (1097 metres) which dominates the town and from where there are magnificent views in every direction. The descent is mainly on paths and tracks and takes in the village of Sère-en-Lavedan where there is an interesting display relating to local charcoal making. There are yellow waymarks for most of the walk – keep an eye out for these and ignore various minor paths and tracks which lead off the main route.
Approx. 16 kms, 700 m ascent, 700m descent, 5 ½ hrs walking.
Second night at Argelès Gazost.
Day 5: Argelès Gazost/Luz
The route today follows what would have been for centuries the main access route between the ‘Pays Toy’ (the area around Luz St Sauveur) and the rest of France. The road in the gorges below was not built until 1730 and before then all north/south travel would have been along the well-defined path you take today. The path is often edged with low walls and there are stunning views from time to time not only down into the gorge but across to the high mountains. A short taxi ride will take all walkers the 7km to the village of Pierrefitte-Nestalas where those starting the strenuous walk will set off climbing the lower flank of the Pic du Soulom mainly following the old mule trail. After about an hour the trail reaches the end of a minor road which is where those preferring the moderate walk will be dropped off by taxi. The route then continues though to the villages of Viscos (852m) and Sazos (836m) before dropping down into the main valley.
Moderate: Approx. 14 km, 330 m ascent, 340 m descent, 4 ½ hrs walking time.
Strenuous: Approx. 17km, 600 m ascent, 340 m descent, 5 ½ hours walking
Overnight at Luz St Sauveur
Day 6: A circular hike from Luz
Moderate: A chance to visit some of the charming mountain villages of the area known as the Pays Toy. The hike passes through the villages of Vizos, Saligos and Sazos before returning via the impressive Pont Napoléon. Approximately 15 kms, 700m ascent, 700m descent, 4 ½ hrs walking.
Strenuous: The more challenging hike allows you to explore the delightful Yse valley. The area was historically an important area for hay making which still continues today. The meadows are full of flowers quite late in the season due to the exceptionally high altitude. Haymaking at 1600 meters is quite unusual. There are several traditional barns some of which are still used; others have been converted for residential use. They all have excellent views, not only down the valley but also up to the higher mountains. The hike starts by crossing the town of Luz and then climbs an old, well graded path. Much of the higher walking and much of the descent is along well maintained dirt tracks. On the way back there is an opportunity to visit the Pont Napoleon and the Chapelle de Solferino.
Approx. 18 km, 970 m ascent, 970 m descent, 6 ¼ hrs.
Second night at Luz St. Sauveur.
Day 7: Day hike at Gavarnie
Catch the bus from Luz to Gavarnie where there are a several circular hikes possible. Departure at 9:10 a.m. from Luz. Cost 12 € round trip and is paid on the bus.
Moderate: The route takes in the slopes on both sides of the valley and goes right up to the Cirque de Gavarnie. Approximately 13 kms, 590m ascent, 590m descent, 4 ½ hrs or 14kms, 760 m ascent, 760m descent, 5 hrs.
Strenuous: A similar walk to the moderate option but with some extra ascent and time in the afternoon to linger longer in the magnificent scenery. Approximately 18 km, 930m ascent, 930m descent, 5 ½ hrs.
Return bus to Luz. Departures at 5:45 p.m. during the school year and 6:30 p.m. in July and August.
Third night at Luz St. Sauveur
Taxi from the hotel in Luz St. Sauveur to the train station at Lourdes.