Pierre Meyer
Snowy Gave and Cirque de Gavarnie
Snowshoe hike at

Gavarnie Cirque

  • For families
  • Outside
  • Winter
  • Sports
  • Snowshoeing
Gavarnie-Gedre

The Cirque de Gavarnie is located in the Hautes-Pyrénées, on the border with Spain. Along with its neighbors the Cirque d'Estaubé and Troumouse, it is part of the Pyrénées - Mont Perdu complex inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Discover one of Gavarnie's unmissable routes: the Cirque de Gavarnie path. This easy route allows you to hike on foot or on snowshoes (depending on the snow cover) and meet this stone wall 6,5 km in circumference and 1 m high.

Hike Profile

The loop in winter 

Follow themarked route n°2 which will take you sometimes through pine trees, sometimes through snow-covered plateaus. To take advantage of the best sunshine conditions, remember to favor a departure in the middle of the day, at noon, the sun lights up the grey, pink and ocher limestone strata of the Cirque.

Melanie Mengarduque

Technical information

Duration About 2h30 round trip
Elevation + 70m
Distance 6 km (loop)
When to visit the Circus? All year
Where to park? Public car parks at the entrance to the village, paying from May to October.
Dogs tolerated on the 1st part of the route In winter, dogs are tolerated on a leash on the 1st loop, at number 2 of the snowshoe map.

How to visit the Circus in winter?

To go up to the Cirque de Gavarnie, after parking in the car park at the entrance to the village, continue on foot on the main road facing the Cirque (route du Cirque). Following the gave (that is to say the river), left bank, the very accessible path leads you to a fork, follow the right path towards the Pailha restaurant.

The start of the hike 

You quickly reach a first promontory overlooking the Cirque de Gavarnie. You will then be able to observe the highest waterfall in Europe (423 m), frozen in winter, you will see it stand out with its bluish tint, in the middle of a purely mineral setting. The waterfall and the Hôtel du Cirque are not accessible in winter because of the avalanche passages that lead to its foot.

Manon Vallin
Snowshoe hiking trail

on your way 

Continuing a little, you approach the Courade plateau. This vast expanse of glistening snow is crossed by a stream whose tributaries are found all around you. While staying on the left side with the Cirque in front of you, follow the directions until you come to a crossroads. From there, follow the loop on the edge of the forest, which will take you to a second plateau, that of Prade.

At the end of the path you can then observe the emblematic Pyrenean peaks which form the Cirque: Petit and Grand Astazous (3 and 012 m), Marboré (3 m), the Tower (072 m), the Helmet (3 248 m) or the Taillon (3 m).

Pierre Meyer
The Cirque de Gavarnie in winter

Back to the village

For the return, walk to the fork, take the path on the opposite side to go, and follow the path to the village. You will arrive in the center of the village, rue de l'Eglise. 

Meeting the Pyrenean fauna 

The Cirque de Gavarnie is at the heart of the Pyrenees national Park. The latter is home to an ecosystem as rich as it is fragile in which hundreds of species evolve. 

The bearded vulture, the rarest raptor in Europe

The bearded vulture has found refuge in the cliffs around the Cirque. Manon, passionate about animal photography and fascinated by this beautiful bird, had the chance to capture it with her lens. She tells us about her experience.

Manon Vallin
Bearded Vulture in the Pyrenees National Park

" After a week of snow, finally comes my day off. The weather is ideal for me: the wind and the snow are in the game. When I arrive at the start of the path, I feel that it will not be easy, the snow is is accumulated. I arrive a few tens of meters from my objective, I am already rewarded: the eagle is there, I have to wait to get on the lookout. Will it come back? Not sure.. I sit down, a silhouette appears, it's him, the majestic bearded vulture. I'm no longer cold and I can't see the time passing, the vulture, the eagle: it was worth it. Three hours and 500 photos later I come back down, stars in my eyes. Forgot the effort of the climb, what is certain is that I will come back. "

The fauna of the Pyrenees National Park

As Manon, you may also have the chance to meet the “bone breaker” (his nickname) during your outing to meet the Circus. Look up and try to see this magnificent bird of prey easily recognizable thanks to the orange color of its belly. Many other species inhabit the Pyrenees National Park. For their preservation, regulations must be respected when you enter the Park. To know the terms and conditions, click here.

Think about it before you leave!

In order to hike safely, we recommend that you follow a few tips.

  • Check the weather report mountain and the avalanche risk bulletin (BERA) available online. ContactGavarnie-Gèdre Tourist Office for live conditions and do not hesitate to postpone your outing in case of bad weather.
  • Adapt your outfit to weather conditions. Depending on snow conditions and temperatures, snowshoes may not be necessary. Contact us to know the actual conditions.
  • Before hitting the road, find out about road conditions throughInfoRoute65. Snow tires, chains or socks are now mandatory in the mountains, think about it!  
  • The snowshoe circuits in Gavarnie have specific markings, before leaving, remember to communicate your background to a third party and stick to it.

To continue your discovery of Gavarnie, discover the other marked routes around the villages of Gavarnie, Gèdre and the resort. Available online, you can also find the plans in our Inquiry Points.

Consult the Gavarnie-Gèdre snowshoe map

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