The natural mountain amphitheater of Cirques de Gavarnie

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
8
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
2
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
5
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
3
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
3
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
55 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
France
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 20
Time of year visited
July
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
246th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 80% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing

Summary

For those beautiful Pyrenees views, its hard to beat the area just to the south of the town of Lourdes and, in particular, the easily accessible Cirques de Gavarnie with its sensational mountain amphitheater and laid back surrounding villages that provide a host of accommodation options.  The mountain behind, Mount Perdu, is actually now a UNESCO World-Heritage site both for its outstanding natural beauty and human settlement going all the way back to the Upper Paleolithic period (40,000 – 10,000 B.C.).  It’s only 1.5 hours walk from Gavarnie village to the the best views of the amphitheater and to see some of the waterfalls that are super impressive just after it has rained

 

Just one tip – the ease of accessibility of Cirques de Gavarnie means it is also the busiest of the three natural amphitheaters nearby.  Be sure to also consider Cirque de Troumouse and the most remote – Cirque d’Estaube, if you are keen to avoid the busy spots

highlights

#1 The wonderful first view of the Cirques de Gavarnie as you walk through Gavarnie village

#2 Walking along some of the gorgeous (and freezing!) rivers that pass through the valley and the small villages on the way

#3 Staying in one of the relaxed guesthouses that are spread all across these valleys and enjoying the surrounding views of the mountains

#4 The windy, but beautiful, drive up through this part of the Pyrenees

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone