From its namesake city, the Gave de Pau forges southeast towards the mountains, bending sharply south at Lourdes and soon fraying into several tributaries: the Gave d’Azun, the Gave de Cauterets, the Gave de Gavarnie and the Gave de Bastan, dropping from the Col du Tourmalet. Cauterets, 30km due south of Lourdes, and Gavarnie 37km southeast of Argelès, are busy, established resorts on the edge of the national park, but the countryside they adjoin is so spectacular that you forgive their deficiencies. If you want a smaller, more manageable base, then either Barèges, up a side valley from the spa resort of Luz-St-Sauveur, or Luz itself, are better bets. But pick your season well – or even the time of day – and you can enjoy the most popular sites in relative solitude. At Gavarnie few people stay the night, so it’s quiet early or late, and the Cirque de Troumouse, which is just as impressive (though much harder to get to without a car), has far fewer visitors.

 

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Though they may be sniffed at by "real" cylists, e-bikes are opening up serious mountain routes to the more casual pedaller. Andy Turner dons some lycra to find…

27 Oct 2017 • Andy Turner local_activity Special feature
20 seriously weird places around the world

20 seriously weird places around the world

The world is a weird (and wonderful) place. And from a rose-coloured lake to a Japanese island ruled by cats, we've got twenty pictures to prove it. 1. Spotted…

26 Jul 2017 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there's only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the …

25 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right