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.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Why you should go back to Paris in 2017

Why you should go back to Paris in 2017

There’s nowhere else quite like Paris. No other city can match the allure of its rooftop vistas, café-lined boulevards and striking monuments. Paris’s abil…

11 May 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to France

Video: a 1 minute guide to France

There's little wonder that the land of châteaux, Champagne and croissants regularly tops lists of the world's most visited countries. France beguiles travell…

28 Apr 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month