Walking Trails of the World – Pyrenees
There are many amazing walking trails in the Pyrenees, the mountain range in the southwest of Europe that helps separates France from Spain. The Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne or the Pyrenean Haute Route is one of the famous routes that takes walkers high into the mountains, with frequent border crossings. This is a pretty tough walk going from coast to coast and due to the large gaps between huts, requires some camping along the way.
A more accessible walking trail through the Pyrenees is the GR or Grande Route 10, which is a French footpath that runs the length of the mountain range following the border between Spain and France without crossing over into Spanish territory.
Grande Route 10 (GR 10): 52 Days – 866 km / 538 mi
This French path is one of the highlights of the European walking trails and runs from Hendaye on the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean to Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean Sea, although there is no reason why you can’t trek the trail in the opposite direction!
Despite spanning the length of the Pyrenees mountain range there is no actual climbing on the GR 10 although some days do involve a lot of ups and downs. In fact, over the entire hiking trail there is 48,000 metres (157,000 ft) of ascent.
Accommodation along the Pyrenees Trail
Along the way there are many accommodation options ranging from hotels to modest mountain refuges or dorms. As the GR 10 takes walkers in good condition around 52 days to complete, many people tackle the trail in sections, doing a week or two at a time. If you schedule your route and days in the right way, you can skip some of the longer gaps between accommodations that require overnight camping. This can help you avoid the need to take a tent and camping gear with your on the trek. If you can’t spare 52 days or more to complete the Pyrenees walking trail in one go then it is perfectly acceptable to complete it in a few visits; no one will think any less of you!
When to Walk the GR 10
Most people recommend tackling the GR 10 during the window around mid-summer when it can be uncomfortably hot. Due to the snow in winter and the autumn storms, the late spring and early summer months as well as the late summer and early autumn months are the best times to visit.
When you get to the end of the GR 10 you can either turn around and head back the way you came, cross the border and make the return journey on the Spanish GR 11 or do the sensible thing and head home.