The glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse are all natural wonders, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Departure point: Gavarnie village
• Parking: Payable from 01 May – 31 October
• Car Price: € 5 for 24hrs
• Campervan price: 8 € for 24hrs
Accessible all year round.
• Departure point: Gloriettes dam
• Parking: free
Road accessible only to passenger vehicles.
Road closed in winter.
• Departure point: several hiking routes lead to the cirque
• Access by small tourist train from the Plateau du Maillet
• Road closed in winter.
The "Pyrenees - Mont Perdu" jewel
The three glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse are an integral part of the French-Spanish site "Pyrénées-Mont Perdu", which was listed in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This exceptional mountain landscape, which spills out along both sides of the Franco-Spanish border, has the Mont Perdu summit at its centre. A limestone massif which rises to a height of 3,355m. The site includes some of the largest and deepest canyons in Europe on the Spanish side, and three glacial cirques on the French side.
It reflects an agricultural lifestyle once prevalent in the mountainous regions of Europe, which remained unchanged until the twentieth century only in the Pyrenees. This area contains invaluable evidence about the European society of yesteryear, in its landscapes filled with villages, farms, fields, high pastures and mountain roads.
It is listed as a World Heritage site for two reasons: natural heritage and cultural heritage. Only 32 sites around the world benefit from this double UNESCO listing... a true jewel!
The Gavarnie Cirque
It truly is a natural wonder: 6.5km in circumference, 1500m in height, peaks exceeding 3000m and one of the largest waterfalls in Europe. It can be seen from the Gavarnie village, and can be reached within one hour, on foot or horseback. A UNESCO World Heritage site and the emblematic heart of the Pyrenees National Park, it really is, in the words of Victor Hugo a "possible and extraordinary object"
Gavarnie Cirque’s owes its fame to the various explorations that have taken place here. Botanists, scientists, poets and mountaineers in search of exploits or adventure, have, since the sixteenth century, made Gavarnie the cradle of what is known as Pyrénéism.
Hiking ideas: Easy and “must –do” 2 hour walk (round trip) to admire more closely this remarkable site. Less frequented hikes to admire it from above, also available – you decide how you wish to meet the Gavarnie Cirque! Full itinerary
Smaller and more discreet than its two neighbours, Estaubé Cirque is a remarkable nature site.Highly ranked in pastoralism in the valley, nearly 400 cows and 1,200 sheep graze here each summer! Follow the Gloriettes Lake then the bucolic Estaubé stream, this route is an ideal place to observe marmots and enjoy a family walk.
From the Gloriettes dam, above the cirque ridges, we can see the mythical Mount Perdu at 3,355m above sea level, an emblematic summit within the Pyrenees - Mount Perdu UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hiking ideas: Family walks such as the walk around of Lake Gloriettes and hikes further afield to the Hourquette d'Allans or one of the many routes back to the Troumouse Cirque! Full itinerary
Not as steep as Gavarnie, the Troumouse Cirque is however, the largest and most open of the three, with a circumference of nearly 11 km!Troumouse is home in summer to numerous herds of cows and sheep. Its grandeur combined with its peaceful and green surrounds lend it a truly special charm. The road leading to Troumouse is in itself spectacular: by car to the Plateau du Maillet then on foot or by small train (pulled by a tractor) to reach the Cirque. A remarkably preserved mountain landscape!
Hiking ideas: The view from the Virgin of Troumouse allows you to understand the immensity of the site. More experienced hikers will pit their wits against the Munia, a "3000"metre climb to admire nearby Spain, on the other side of this rocky wall. The loop from Héas is also a very nice way to discover it! Full itinerary