Every year, I go with my dear parents for a trek of a few days in the mountains. Generally, we follow the paths of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in the north of Spain or the south of France but this year we decided to change and test the beautiful and demanding paths of the GR10. This time, we are going for 2 days, 34 km and 2,506 meters of elevation gain. Let me tell you this beautiful experience in the heart of the Basque Country.
GR10 map extracted from http://www.gr10.fr. Extremely convenient website to prepare for your trek!
It is a 895 km long hiking trail that crosses the Pyrenees from Hendaye to Banyuls-sur-Mer, south of Perpignan. A boon for nature lovers and athletes! We met many walkers who made the path in several times and it gave us ideas but for now, we will make the trip from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Bidarray in a 2 days hiking trip.
To follow the path, nothing more simple. Just look for white and red signs on the panels, trees, rocks ... They are very common and if you are wrong way, a white and red cross will invite you to turn around. For geeks like me, you can download the Trek Pyrenees app on Android. Geolocation, detailed plans, information on water points ... it is super convenient!
I found it very pleasant to start a multi-day hike in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port for two reasons. First, there is a train coming here and you do not need to come with a car, ask yourself where to leave it ... second, because this city is beautiful. I had the opportunity to go there many times and each time it is the favorite: the ramparts, the old typical houses, the Nive ...
8am, this is the start! We leave quickly the city towards the mountain. This first section on a deserted road offers superb panoramas. Once after this warm up, it rises!
What surprised me in this hike is the diversity of landscapes. Impossible to get tired, there is always something new. We go through deserted roads, beautiful undergrowth worthy of fantastic films, summits with breathtaking views of the region. And when the landscape varies less often, it is the typical houses that leave us speechless, or the herds of horses, sheep, raptors in the air ... what a sight!
The coolness of the undergrowth is so nice
The path goes through the Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry trail station. A few days after our visit, the resort hosted a great race, and thousands of participants! Hard to imagine in such a peaceful place .... and also uneven! Hold on tight, the longest race is an ultratrail of 130 km with 7,500 m of elevation gain ...
Hard to look at where you put your feet in such a landscape!
After 8 hours of walking, we arrive in the beautiful village of Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry. We are tired but so happy about this beautiful day we just spent. For now, it's time to cool off, and the terrace of the Laia chocolate factory seems like an excellent place. It is very famous in the area and highly appreciated by tourists. We understand why! Many sweets are proposed and the quality is exceptional: tablet, crottins, spread. I want to take everything!
Yum Yum, a funny name and it's delicious!
For this first night, we booked in the cottage Gaineko Karrikan. The dorms are basic but well kept and very accessible. For 30 € we have the night in dormitories, breakfast and a very nice friendly dinner with other hikers. Ideal for exchanging tips, our feelings and prepare for the next day.
We take out the sleeping bag and sleep!
Today we leave in the direction of Bidarray and the program is loaded: 17 km, 1,200 m vertical drop or 418 floors, all through 4 passes and 3 peaks ... The landscape looks amazing!
From the beginning, the climb is steep and we quickly gain height. This gives us a superb view from the early hours of the morning. We are walking at our pace, slowly enough and we are quickly doubled by regulars who go on their daily walk with their dog. The locals must have a very good health by doing this type of exercise every day!
Another 10km to Bidarray
We often take short breaks to catch our breath and spend a few minutes contemplating the view. What a beauty ! It's grandiose, very green, wild and so calm. There is no better place to recharge your batteries. It is always a good opportunity to rehydrate and eat a bit because the mountain makes you hungry !
A very photogenic horse, don't you think?
The second part of the hike is on a technical access road that I do not advise to people suffering from vertigo! It's impressive, the path is quite narrow and the emptiness is not far away. SOn some passages, you need to hold on a rope. No need for a great mountain experience to pass but be careful and do not go if the weather is not good, because it may slip!
You see these peaks off? Well, we're going that way
It's beautiful, I do not stop taking pictures but impossible to capture this immensity in a camera. I get excited every 2 minutes. "How beautiful it is, how lucky we are to be here, oh look at the horses!" We feel so good. It's so rewarding to arrive in a beautiful place after hours of walking and effort.
View from above - Photo break to capture the arrival at the top!
I could stay here for hours but we still have a long way to get to Baïgorry and we must stay focused because the descent is as technical as the climb.
After 10 hours of walking, we finally arrive at Baigorry. We go to the cottage to get rid of the backpacks and take a good shower well deserved before going to the Hostel Iparla. What a comfort! We intend to reward ourselves for this sports day. The setting is again exceptional and the meal is a delight. Ultimate bonus: we eat on the terrace overlooking the mountains we have climbed in the day. Happiness.
The view of the peaks of Iparla that we have climbed
I loved this little corner of the Basque Country and I will come back for sure! I saw that we could go rafting in the white water with ARTEKA It must also be great to discover the region by the streams!
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Article written by Mélanie Oliva for the Guide du Pays Basque