The GR10 and Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region
Posted by pdittman on September 30th, 2018 in '18 - Pyrenees-GR10, Hiking/Trekking, Vacations

It all started with a conversation with some Brits while we were on our first multi-day trek in Alpiglen, Switzerland in 2012.  They talked about the GR10 as a long distance hiking trail between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast paralleling the Pyrenean/Spanish border in France.

What’s a GR?   France is virtually blanketed with long distance hiking trails – Grande Randonnée – with the GR10 stretching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, covering a distance of roughly 540 miles and typically taking 50+days to traverse.

Fast forward six years…

Without the kind of time needed for the entire GR10, we sought a section that would give us a good sense of the overall GR10 experience, that had some great views and challenging terrain, and that could be combined with some more traditional vacationing (beaches, good food, good wine, relaxation!)

france GRs
GR (Grande Randonnée) trails in France

As usual, after a bunch of research, a few maps and books later, we identified a section that would give us a great taste of what the GR10 had to offer.    We settled on a section of the GR10 between Lescun and Gourette, spanning 4 days on the trail, roughly 40 miles, and a total elevation gain over 12,500ft (nearly 2.5 vertical miles!).   This section is close to Pau, a regional city with good air and ground transportation options. And it was a section that was near enough to the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, an area of France known for its farm produce, cheese, and wine (Bordeaux!).  Coincidentally, it was that same Switzerland trip where we first learned about the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region while talking to a vendor at a street fair in Paris.

The plan was to fly to Paris and then onward to Pau in the southwest of France.  Pau was to be our ‘home-base’, bookending our days in the Pyrenees and enabling us to leave a suitcase so we didn’t have to tote some extras through the mountains.  We planned four days in the mountains on the GR10 – beginning in Lescun, and following the GR10 to end in the ski resort of Gourette.   Returning to Pau for another day/night, then grabbing a rental car to drive to Arcachon on the southwest coast for some relaxing days in the coastal resort.

GR10 - Lescun to Gourette
Our planned GR10 sections – Lescun to Gourette

In total, our GR10 sections spanned roughly 50 miles, with about 15,000 feet of elevation gain.  The sections would leave is in villages each night, with only a single night in a mountain refuge (wow!)

Read more about each of the sections – and check out some of the breathtaking scenery in the Pyrenees – some of the best we’ve ever seen:

Lescun to Etsaut
Etsaut to Refuge D’Ayous
Refuge to Gabas
Gabas to Gourette

Also check out our chill time out the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, enjoying the oysters (20 million pounds per year!) and, of course, the food (!), wine, and France (remember “Paris is not France”).

À bientôt!

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