Hiking Vallee de Gaube, Haute Pyrenees

The Best Wild Swimming in France

Hiking Vallee de Gaube in the French Pyrenees is spectacular and breathtaking.  A truly beautiful hike, taking in Lac de Gaube and the surrounding Vallee,  you will want to stop often to marvel at mother nature, the scenery and waterfalls.   

Motorhome Parking

You can park at the enormous car park at Port d’Espagne at the start of the route.  We did not stop overnight, but imagine it would be easy to stay discreetly.

Family Friendly?

Families can traverse around the Lac de Gaube without gaining elevation or taking the trails up to the waterfall. There is also a cable car from Port d’Espagne to the lake, a one way plus hike would make a good alternative.


There is a big interpretation centre with cafe and loos at Port d’Espagne and a hostelry at the lake.  There are also public loos at the lake, make sure you have you own loo roll….and a peg, they are well used!


This is a gorgeous spot which draws many visitors, particularly during the summer months. The cable car provides easy accessibility and so the area around the hostel can become very busy.  As you  traverse the lake and gain elevation, numbers lower.

Hiking Vallee de Gaube, Haute Pyrenees

This is one of the most picturesque hikes we have done; the lake is crystal clear and seemingly bottomless (imagine the trajectory of the mountains under the lake and you get the idea); the mountains beyond offer waterfalls, meadows and mountain goats galore! 

This route takes you up to the Cascade Esplamouse along a fairly easy and well marked path.  The elevation gain is spread along quite a distance so there are no especially steep places although you may have to scramble over a few large boulders. The Cascade is a great spot for lunch and if you turn back here, you will have a great full days hike.   It is possible to carry on to the Petit Vignemale at 3032m and stay at the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube (check before heading out to ensure the refuge is open), if you fancy a longer hike spread across a few days. 

For a 3km shorter hike, stop at the lake where there is a small hostelry. The lake is a great spot for wild swimming, but be warned, its cold even in summer!   You can then take the cable car back down or hike down the way you came up.


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