Hiking Cirque de Gavarnie is relatively easy and very family friendly. Much of this hike is within the Cirque, along level paths and across meadows, affording spectacular views of the many waterfalls that cascade down the walls of the Cirque.
As you head out of Gavarnie on the D923, there is an Aire on the left side of the road, about 2km outside the village. We stayed for three nights, services provided (no electric). In 2018 it was €8 a night.
Yes, this hike can be as family friendly as you want to make it….I would probably miss going up to the waterfall with little ones in tow.
There are lots of bars and shops in Gavarnie village. The last toilets are soon after the start, on the left of the main street.
There will always be lots of people at Gavarnie, regardless of the time of year and in summer the crowd levels will be very high.
Hiking Cirque de Gavarnie, Haute Pyrenees
The classic French hike…ideal for families but a scramble up and down shale if you want to get to the waterfall. Much of the hike is in and around the Cirque, across wildflower strewn meadows with goats and sheep in abundance. There may be a little snow remaining even in summer which little ones can scramble safely over and there is a lovely small bridge with a clear brook running under, ideal for paddling.
If you want to get up to the main waterfall, you will be scrambling across deep and unstable shale so need to be steady on your feet, poles would be helpful here. You may well have been over-heating on the floor of the Cirque, but it’s cold and damp at the waterfall so take a shower-proof jacket or warm fleece.
The route is linear for part of the way (to and from the village of Gavarnie) but once you arrive at the Cirque you can amble around and take a different route back to the main trail. The scenery is stunning, in the spring there are amazing wildflowers and lots of lovely places to stop for a picnic.
Park at the Aire up the D923 and walk from here and back to add another 5km and 500m elevation gain if you want a longer hike.