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Pyrenees GR10 Stage 3 Trek: Etsaut to Gavarnie

Pyrenees GR10 Stage 3 Trek

  • Join a classic European long-distance hike

  • Explore the majestic Pyrenean National Park

  • Trek the ‘Haute’ and ‘Atlantique’ Pyrenees

  • Traverse the impressive Chemin de la Mâture

  • Visit the pyramid-esque Pic de Midi d'Ossau

  • Conquer cols approaching 2500m

Why Choose Cloud 9 Adventure

  • We are the GR10 experts

  • Outstanding fully-qualified guides

  • Authentic hotels and gites

  • Full luggage support

Pyrenees GR10 Stage 3 Trek: Dates and Prices



8 nights

7 days' trekking

Luggage delivery

Group size 4-10

Join: Etsaut/ Borce


End: Gavarnie

Nearest airports: Lourdes, Biarritz


4 nights in hotels

3 nights in refuges

1 night in a gîte






Pyrenees GR10 Stage 3 Trek: Overview

Stage 3 of France’s GR10 route goes from Etsaut to Gavarnie. It is an adventure feast on many levels. The route traverses the Pyrenean National Park as well as two French departments (the Haute Pyrenees and the Pyrenees Atlantiques) to give you an in-depth taste of this fascinating corner of France - often close to its border with Spain. Highlights of this week-long stage include hiking along the 1200m-long Chemin de la Mâture, a precipitous path scored into the mountainside in the 1700s, and the magnificent Ossau valley, with the Pic de Midi d’Ossau its iconic crowning glory. The spa town of Cauterets awaits as do some serious col climbs, such as the GR10’s highest point in the Pyrenees Atlantiques - Hourquette d’Arre at almost 2500m. Flora and fauna abound so get the camera ready for rare birds and mountain marmots.


What to expect


Stage 3 of the GR10 is not for the faint-hearted nor those feigning fitness! There are some exposed sections such as the Chemin de la Mâture mentioned above so a head for heights at least on occasion will be required. There are also some challenging days with ascents of around 1500m to cols at almost 2500m, so good endurance and experience of multi-day trekking of this nature (while carrying a day sack) are required. Just get in touch if you have questions about any aspect of joining this trip.

Pyrenees GR10 Stage 3 Trek: 


Day 1 - Arrival in Etsaut

Arrive into Etsaut in time for an evening briefing at the hotel with your experienced Cloud 9 guide. Learn about your week's trekking ahead and ask your burning questions. Get a good night's sleep for the trekking begins after breakfast tomorrow. 


Accommodation: hotel, dinner not included

Luggage access: yes 

Day 2 - Trek from Etsaut to the Refuge d'Ayous

While the hardcore might attempt our Days 1 and 2 in one go (to make a 25km first day), we're on holiday so we've split this opening section into two days - especially as this first day is all impressively uphill! Marvel at the manmade Chemin de la Mâture - a trail cut into the sheer limestone cliffs by the French navy to get the good timber out. Enjoy expansive views of the Pic du Midi d'Ossau as you head up to skirt Pic d'Ayous (2288m) and nearby mountain lakes to reach your refuge for the evening.

Accommodation: mountain refuge, dinner included

Luggage access: no

Distance: 14km

Walking: 5.5 hrs

Ascent: approx +1500m (no descent!)


Day 3 - Trek from the Refuge d'Ayous to Gabas

What goes up, must come down so enjoy your day-long downhill trek today. It offers phenomenal views of the east face of the Pic du Midi d'Ossau, one of the region's most photographed mountains. Pass reflective mountain lakes including Gentau en route to your night's stop in Gabas. There's another reason we take the first two days easy: tomorrow's known as one of the toughest days on the whole GR10. 

Accommodation: hotel, dinner included

Luggage access: yes

Distance: 11km

Walking: 3.5 hrs

Descent: approx -1185m


Day 4 - Trek from Gabas to Gourette

A highlight of today is the steeply cut-in walkway of the Corniche des Alhas - a narrower version of the Chemin de la Mâture. A steady foot and head for heights and exposure are required (there's a handrail along its length). There are dramatic 2200m+ peaks all around to distract you, with your own highest point being the Hourquette d'Arre (2465m). From its summit you'll drop steeply down into Gourette, a ski resort in winter.

Accommodation: hotel, dinner included

Luggage access: yes

Distance: 23km

Walking: approx 9 hurs

Ascent/ descent: +1500m / -1200m


Day 5 -  Trek from Gourette to Arrens-Marsous (or Estaing)

Today is a walk in the park, with pleasant crossings of two low passes, the Col de Tortes (1799m) and the Col de Saucède (1525m). The lower pastures and valleys sprawl off northwards to your left, with the high Pyrenean peaks rising majestically to the south. There are good trekkers' facilities in Arrens, at the foot of the Pic de Mousquès (2222m) or to make this a slightly longer day, Estaing is another sensible stopping point a few kilometres further on.

Accommodation: gîte, dinner included

Luggage access: yes

Distance: 15km

Walking: approx 5.5 hrs

Ascent/ descent: +900m / -1300m

Day 6 - Trek from Arrens-Marsous to Refuge Illhéou

Today you'll skirt Pic de Mousquès to attain Lac d'Estaing. The latter part of the day's trek is then characterised by the long and relatively steep ascent of the Col d'Illhéou (2242m) from the lake to reach the refuge. It has full facilities and is perched near the tip of Lac d'Illhéou, also known as Lac Bleu. Enjoy an evening swim before a well-earned dinner. 


Accommodation: mountain refuge, dinner included

Luggage access: no

Distance: 20km

Walking: approx 7 hrs

Ascent/ descent: +1600m / -500m


Day 7 - Trek from Refuge Illhéou to Oulèttes de Gaube

Today begins with an 8km downhill to the tourist resort of Cauterets where you can replenish your snacks. From late morning, look forward to one of the absolute highlight sections of the week and indeed the GR10 as a whole. We'll pass bubbling streams and waterfalls to approach the dramatic north face of the Vignemale with its glacial vestiges. Ascending the Val de Gaube to pass Lac de Gaube, we'll head due south to reach our remote refuge for the evening.   

Accommodation: mountain refuge, dinner included

Luggage access: no

Distance: 23km

Walking: approx 8 hrs

Ascent/ descent: +1400m / -1200m

Day 8 - Trek from Oulèttes de Gaube to Gavarnie

This is our final day on the trail. Today brings downward switchbacks, snowfields - even into August - streams, wonderful views, boulder fields and glacial meltwaters. Early on we'll cross the Hourquette d'Ossoue (even in snow the path tends to be well marked). From here, if time allows, we should have the opportunity to climb the Petit Vignemale, a fantastic peak with great views. It makes for a long day: those who would prefer to save their energy can have a coffee at the Baysellance refuge just below the col. We then begin our long descent to the stunning village of Gavarnie, nestled at the foot of its famous cirque - an impressive rock wall with cascading waterfalls - a truly stunning end to our trek.

Accommodation: hotel, dinner included

Luggage access: yes

Distance: approx 22km

Walking: approx 7.5 -8 hrs

Ascent/ descent: +800m / -1400m

Day 9 - Departure day

Congratulations, you've completed Stage 3 of France's epic GR10. Your Cloud 9 adventure finishes after breakfast this morning. For those continuing on to Stage 4, new teammates will join us in Gavarnie by this evening ready to begin the trek in the morning.  


  • 8 nights' accommodation on twin-share or dormitory basis

  • All breakfasts

  • Evening meals on 7 nights (not provided on arrival day)

  • Fully qualified & experienced International Mountain Leader

  • Luggage access on all 5 nights

Not Included

  • Lunches

  • Evening meal on 1 night

  • Flights

  • Travel insurance

  • Personal drinks & snacks

  • Tips

Pyrenees GR10 Stage 3 Trek: Book Online

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