GR10 – How To Find The Best Trail (With Videos) - Mountain IQ
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GR10 – How To Find The Best Trail (With Videos)

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Looking for advice on GR10 trail running ? We have put together the best of the GR10 trail to help you along your way.

The GR10 runs the length of the Pyrenees Mountains. Roughly 900 km, it would take about two months to complete it in entirety.

It is our aim to provide you with useful information to help you get ready for tackling the GR10, whether you plan on attempting the whole hike in a single go or breaking it into more manageable, less time consuming pieces.

See 20 ​Best Hikes in Europe for a complete list of ​trails. 

​GR10 Overview

​GR10 -

Quick Facts

  • ​The GR11 is a similar route on the Spanish side of the border
  • The GR 10 forms part of the extensive Grande Randonnée (or GR) network of trails. The trails are found in France, Spain, Belgium and Germany
  • ​The route appears on all regional maps, Michelin road maps included.
  • The brown bear was nearly hunted to extinction but was reintroduced in 1996 when bears were brought from Slovenia
  • The Pyrenees Mountains are older than the Alps

One of the more challenging hikes that the world has to offer, the GR10 trail in France winds through the Pyrenees Mountains, linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Although an untouched, wild area, the Pyrenees is accessible all year around (although parts of the GR10 are not) and provides a good escape from the crowds one can sometimes find in other European mountains.

Topography

As the GR10 winds its way through the Pyrenees Mountains you will experience everything from lush green hills to snow-capped mountains. 

The western end of the hike is greener, but as you approach the Mediterranean the scenery becomes drier and rockier.

The Pyrenees Mountains form a natural barrier between Spain and France, rising more than 3 400m in elevation.

As the mountains fall between the lush green of southern France and the dry landscape that is northern Spain, the weather differs greatly on either side.

Wildlife and Plants

As the hike covers such a distance, it is home to a diversity of beautiful plants and amazing wildlife. Due to lack of human interference, there are many creatures that all the area home, many of them being unique to the Pyrenees.

Hiking through the mountain range gives you the unique opportunity to spot some of the most amazing wildlife such as the Pyrenean Desman or Alpine Marmot (which were reintroduced to the area).

Although you are unlikely to see them, you may be lucky enough to spot a brown bear footprints.

In the spring months the mountain comes alive with a variety of wildflowers and plants. With 180 endemic plant species, you can spot plants such the Pyrenean Buttercup or the Trumpet Gentiane along your journey.

Hiking

Covering over 900 km in total, the GR10 can be intimidating hike to attempt. However, you can make the hike shorter, or longer, by taking shortcuts or additional sections along the way.

You can also choose to do the hike in one go (which will take roughly two months) or smaller sections over time.

Along the route you will find high mountain refuges, guesthouses, hotels and basic gites offering accommodation to hikers on their journey.

However, parts of the journey are more remote and you will have to be self-sufficient at times.

Regional Map

While free maps and information are easily available online, it is a good idea to take a map with along on the GR10 trail.

Although the trail is well marked with the GR symbols, nothing beats a physical copy for when you are feeling lost.

We recommend the ​Andorra (Pyrenees) 1:40,000 Hiking Map guides you along the many hiking routes in the Pyrenees.

​GR10 - What You Ought To Know

Best Time To Go

The best time to hike the GR10 is late summer to early fall, or from late spring to early to early summer.

This way you avoid the summer heat and winter storms - in winter some of the GR10 is impassable due to snow.  

However, if you stick to the end of the mountain ranges you will be able to walk all year around with any snow gear.

Difficulty

The full GR10 is a challenging hike that takes between 45 to 60 days with hikers on average covering between 10 to 12 miles.

While you don’t have to be an extreme mountaineer the hiking can be tough so it is a good idea to be fit before attempting the trail, especially if you plan on doing large chunks of it at once.

​You will need to have some experience in walking in mountainous terrain as well as navigation in order to undertake this beautiful adventure.

Luckily the trail is well marked by the red and white symbols the GR trails are well known for.

Permits

​You do not need a permit to hike the GR10 trail.


The GR10 - The Route 

As the GR10 is ​559.2 miles (900 km), the journey can be split up into sections. Along the route you can find accommodation with more remotes requiring you to be self-sufficient. Most of the huts and hostels on the GR10 are accessible by car.

Generally the GR10 is hiked from Hendaye to Banyuls, but it can be hiked in either direction. Most guides begin in Hendaye and work onwards, however, there is no set way to hike the trail.

​GR10 Trail Top Tips
  • Here are some top tips for the GR10 trail, whether you plan on hiking the whole 559.2 miles (900 km) in 60 days, or just sections of it - we have you covered.
  • All GR trails are clearly marked by red and white symbols that mark if you need to turn left, right or have gone the wrong way.
  • Remember to always be prepared for any weather, particularly if you are doing a longer hike. It is a good idea to take sun protection as well as a good quality rain jacket on your journey.
  • Although the trails are clearly marked by the GR markers, it is still a good idea to take a map with - as using just the trail as navigation can be tricky.
  • The gites along the way mean that you can eat breakfast and dinner along the way and won’t have to carry lots of supplies. If the weather is good you can choose to stay outside, but if things are looking miserable you can easily pay for a bed in a gite.

Hendaye GR10

Photo by Davey Family

  • Area: ​Pays Basque region
  • Difficulty: ​Moderate
  • Distance: 60.9 miles (98 km) 
  • Days/Hours: ​7 day​s
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall
​Route Description

This section of the GR10 begins in the town of Hendaye, France, on the Atlantic coast.  On day 7 you will arrive at St Jean Pied de Port.

The route is dotted with traditional villages and rolling hills, with the mountains beckoning in the distance.

Arriving in Jean Pied de Port, you can either decide to continue onwards or just hike this section, it all depends on your preference. The average walk per day will take between 4 and a half to 7 hours, depending on the day and your fitness.

Accommodation

​Day one begins at Hendaye and ends at Olhette. Day two then moves on to Sare. On day three you will head from Sare to Ainhoa.

Moving on from Ainhoa, day four takes you to Ferme Esteben. Day five you walk onwards to Bidarray. From Bidarray, day six takes you to St Etienne de Baigorry. The last day (seven) of this section takes you to St Jean Pied de Port.

Video Overview

Watch the first part of the GR10, from Hendaye to St Jean Pied de Port.

Kimhike’s video gives you a good idea of what to expect in terms of breathtaking scenery and landscapes.


2. ​St Jean Pied de Port to Etsaut

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port-GR10

Photo by Sarah Busby

  • Area: ​​Pays Basque region South-Western France
  • Difficulty: ​Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: ​ 74.5 miles (120 km)
  • Days/Hours: ​6 days
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall

Route Description

The second section of the GR10 covers the remaining Pays Basque region. Beginning in St Jean Pied de Port, the section is generally done in 7 days, with the final day you will arrive Etsaut. 

This is situated at the entrance of the famous Pyrenean Parc National. As before, you can just hike this section or continue onwards.

Accommodation

Day one of the second section of the GR10 begins where you left off at St Jean Pied de Port, the trail then continues to Phagaloette.

From here, on the second day, you will walk to Iraty.

On day three you will hike from Iraty to Logibar, with spectacular views of dense forests along the way. After arriving at Logibar, on day four the GR10 makes its way to Senta.

From Senta you will walk to Lescun, with the seventh day bringing you to Etsaut.


3. ​​Etsaut to Cauterets

Cauterets-GR10

Photo by Ducombs Alain

  • Area: Region of Occitanie in south-western France ​
  • Difficulty: ​Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: ​54.6 miles (​88 km)
  • Days/Hours: ​7 days
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall

Route Description

This third part of the GR10 enters the Pyrenean National Park. The trail takes 6 days and you will end in the mountain village of Cauterets - much is well known for their thermal spa.

The hike takes you through the National Park, offering you amazing views of the Ossau valley.

Accommodation

Day one of this third section takes you from Etsaut to Refuge d’Ayous, with the second day taking you to Gabas.

From Gabas you will hike to Gourette, with a steep climb up to Hourquette d'Arre.

Day four you will leave Gourette and end at Arrens. Hereafter, on day five, you will arrive at Lleeou refuge.

Day six will end your journey at Cauterets - where you can either travel onwards or head home.

Video Overview

Have a look at this Dodane's video of their 3 week-trekking overview on the GR10 - from Hendaye to Cauterets.


4. ​​Cauterets to Luchon

  • Area:​ ​Region of Occitanie in south-western France
  • Difficulty: ​Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: ​74.5 miles (120 km)
  • Days/Hours: ​7 days
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall

Route Description

The fourth section of the GR10 takes you into the Pyrenees Mountains where you can discover and appreciate amazing flora and fauna, as well as high mountain passes and glacial lakes.

Accommodation

Day one you will depart Cauterets and walk to Luz Saint Sauveur.

Day two will then take you from here to Bareges. From Bareges day three takes you through the beautiful natural reserve of Néouvielle, and you will overnight in Lac de Orédon.

Day four then takes you to Saint Lary Soulan, with day five’s walks heading onwards to Espingo Refuge.

From Espingo day six takes you to the final destination of Lunchon. After spending night seven here you can travel onwards to section 5 of the GR10.

Video Overview

In this video Sanu Wah shares her 8-day trekking experience from Luz St Sauveur to Bagnères de Luchon in High Pyrenees.


5. ​​Luchon to Aulus les Bains

Aulus-les-Bains-GR10

Photo by Peter Wolbink

  • Area: ​Region of Occitanie in south-western France
  • Difficulty: ​​Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: ​96.3 miles (155 km)
  • Days/Hours: ​7 days
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall

Route Description

This part of the GR10 follows ancient pathways that have been means of transport through the deep valleys.  

The route begins in Luchon and winds its way through rural and forestry areas around the villages and hamlets along the way.

As your journey onwards, you will see old shepards cabins and cairns, all reminders of the past. Your journey ends at Aulus les Bains.

Accommodation

From Luchon, your last stop, you will walk to Artigue to Fos.

Day two will then take you from Fos to Araing Lake, with amazing views of open, wild spaces that are framed in this country.

Day three you hike to Eylie d’en Haut, with day four taking you to Bonac Irazein. From here you hike to Aunac.

On day six you will make your way to Aulus les Bains, leaving the thermal city on day seven.

Video Overview

In this video, Denis Pujol shares an overview of their five days of hiking near a small village of Aulus les Bains: in the mountains, pass the lakes and around the peaks.


Mérens-GR10

Photo by Jerome GRARE

  • Area: ​Region of Occitanie in south-western France
  • Difficulty: Moderate​
  • Distance: ​68.3 miles (110 km)
  • Days/Hours: ​7 days
  • Best Time to Hike: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall
​Route Description

Section six of the GR10 crosses the western and central sections of the Pyrenees. The area is known for its deep valleys and high plateau landscapes. 

You being this section of your journey at Aulus les Bains and end at Merens. 

Accommodation

​Beginning at Aulus les Bains, you spend day one walking to Bassies.

Day two then takes you from Bassies to Goulier, on this day you will pass a series of beautiful lakes.

From Goulier, day three takes you to Arquizat.

Day four you hike to the plateau de Beille, with day five taking you to Rulhe refuge.

Day six takes you to Merens, with the last day being particularly scenic. Day seven takes from Merens onwards.

Video Overview


In this video Patrick Beauvillard describes 3rd section of his crossing of the Pyrenees on the GR10 - from Melles to Mérens-les-Vals​


​7. ​Mérens to Vernet les Bains

  • Area: ​Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: ​51miles (82 km)
  • Elevation Gain:​
  • Days/Hours: ​ 7 days
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall

Route Description

The penultimate section of the GR10 takes you from Merens to Vernet les Bains. From Merens, the mountains open up giving you spectacular views.

This part of your journey lets you discover mountain villages, beautiful gorges and a natural reserve at Py and Mantet. Watch out for izards and wild mountain sheep as you hike.

Accommodation

From Merens you walk to the refuge of Besines.  

Day two will then take you to the Lake of Bouillouses.

On day three you continue on to Planes, with this day takes you past the lake through forests.

From Planes, day four takes you to refuge of Ras de la Caranca.

From here you walk to the hamlet of Py.

From Py day six take you to Vernet les Bains, with day seven walking onwards from Vernet Les Bains.

Video Overview

Have a look at this video by Robert Gimenez of Vernet Les Bains trail completed in 2013. 


​8. ​Vernet les Bains to Banyuls

  • Area: ​Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Distance: ​80.7 miles (130 km)
  • Days/Hours: ​6 days
  • Best Time to Go: ​Spring early summer or late summer to early fall

Route Description

On the final section of the GR10 you will see the environment change from Alpine to Mediterranean, with the sight of the sea and beach beckoning as you near the completion of your journey.  

This last part you will journey from Vernet les Bains to Banyuls.

Accommodation

Day one of the final section takes you from Vernet les Bains to the refuge Marialles. Day two moves on to the Refuges des Cortalets.

From here you walk to Arles sur Tech and then day four takes you to Las Illas.

The next day you walk from Las Illas to the col de L’Ouillat, this day is a long one covering 21 km.

Day six journeys on to Banyuls, this day is also a long one but you are rewarded by the completion of this fantastic journey.

Video Overview

In this video overview of Vernet les Bains to Banyuls trail Franck Hidvegi summarises his entire hike.

Recommended Guidebook

If you are looking for an awesome book on the GR10 trail that guides you along your way, we recommend ​"The GR10 Trail: Through the French Pyrenees"

The book includes step by step route descriptions as well as maps and gradient profiles.

A helpful guide, whether you plan on doing the whole GR10 hike or parts of the trail.

Travel Insurance

​If an accident should occur that requires medical assistance and evacuation you will want proper hiking insurance that will cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

This article on travel and hiking insurance proves great information on what type of insurance you need, as well as provides an easy quote calculator from a leading travel operator. 

Check out the World Nomads calculator for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to the States.

Frequently Asked Questions

​Do I need a reservation to go on GR10 hikes?

​When is the best time to visit GR10?

​Is altitude sickness a risk?

​Are the GR10 hikes difficult?

​What gear do I need?

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