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Gavarnie, you can?t go wrong!


Gavarnie is a small ski resort nestling in the hollow of the most famous circus in the Pyrenees, listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. But don’t expect to find the latest cutting-edge groomers that you might see in Doppelmayer, or the super fast chairlifts you’ll find in Pomagalski, or even the latest generation of ski tows. If you’re a very good skier looking for really steep slopes, then you could be disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good family resort and you don’t like the crowds you get in the bigger places, then Gavarnie is ideal, with guaranteed snow and top quality conditions thanks to its excellent exposure to sun. In fact, as a small resort tucked away at the end of the valley, Garvarnie does pretty well for itself compared to other Pyrenean resorts, largely because it is blessed with the gigantic backdrop of the circus.
Budget skiing
Gavarnie is managed by Altiservice group, which caters to holidaymakers fed up with overpriced ski passes. Their pass costs around 24 euros, making Gavarnie one of the cheapest French resorts around. If you buy the Myaltiski pass, you can get up to 50% reduction on the pass! What’s more, skiers with a ticket from the Toulouse motorway toll get an extra 10 euros discount! With such aggressive pricing, Gavarnie offers the best value for money in its category.
Although small, the ski area nonetheless boasts 33 pistes including 5 truly black ones, and 12 ski lifts, which are old, it’s true, but trustworthy as they seem to break down less often than some of the more recent ones. 12 snow guns come to the rescue when snow is thin on the ground although as the resort is protected by the circus, it tends to keep the first snow pretty easily and for a long time. We saw this in January 2011, when all the rest of the Pyrenean arc was suffering from a lack of powder with temperatures too high for the season.
Something for everyone
A (very) long green run: the Mégaverte des Marmottes
Gavarnie boasts the longest green run in the Pyrenees with a 5.2 kilometre ride, which you get to via the chairlift (how good can it get?!). Beginners can take their time to learn and grow their confidence along this reassuring run that begins at the top of the resort and arrives back at the car park.

A great way to start free-riding
Gavarnie’s many small valleys are just what you need to start your freeride experience in a safe and reassuring environment, a kind of homespun freeride environment before you get ‘out there’ for real!
Children’s area
As a resort that’s well-adapted to families and beginners, Gavarnie has built a really nice kid’s park under the benevolent gaze of "Gégé le Desman." Here you’ll find a tunnel, moguls, banked turns slalom and everything you need to help children to learn to ski in the most enjoyable and fun-packed way possible. A chairlift will take you to the park.

Cross country snowfield
OK, with 7.5km of cross-country snowfields it’s not huge, but it’s free, and that’s pretty rare. The icing on the cake is that the track crosses the foot of the amazing Gavarnie circus.
Ski touring
While the ski area itself is relatively small, Gavarnie has an extraordinary ski touring area, which explains why the resort hosts one stage of the famous Derby 3000 World Cup that brings together thousands of enthusiasts. Goriz-Madore, the Taillon, Vignemale, the Brèche de Roland are just some of the highlights well known to ski touring enthusiasts.

The ski touring route is free, and it stretches between the village and the hotel complex at the Circus.
You’ve got it; the main reason people love Gavarnie is for its friendly and accessible approach to skiing that is getting increasingly difficult to find in other resorts. Everything jogs along nicely without publicity or pretention, and it all stays comfortably small scale.

The ski area is kept in check by a team of 10 ski patrollers, and is well-maintained overall: there is good, clear sign-posting and adequate protection. All the pistes are groomed daily, apart from the black runs which, without reaching exaggerated proportions, have enough moguls for some truly thigh-burning memories!
It’s possible to do bobsleigh on a 700-metre long run in the village of Gèdre. Open to all from 3 pm to 6 pm.

The climbing room, which covers 350m² and is 18 metres high, is designed for all levels of climbers. The room is open all year round from Monday to Saturday

With its excellent exposure and cold conditions, Gavarnie is famous worldwide for its ice cascade. You can choose between 66 different trails, adapted to all levels.
Guides’ office: +33(0)6 83 31 08 16
Practical information
Garvanie Gèdre ski area: from 1650m to 2400m
33 pistes including 7 green, 12 blue, 9 red, 5 black
For more information about the prices:

Eating out in Gavarnie:
Gavarnie’s only bar restaurant could certainly do with a facelift! Its bunker-like appearance is hardly what you might call inviting, and nor is its somewhat decrepit university canteen atmosphere. On the other hand, the food is good and relatively cheap and the staff are friendly, which is important to make up for the depressing architecture typical of resorts built forty odd years ago.
In the village, Le Clair Montagne, the Edelweiss and Les Glaciers were our three favourite bars out of the 6 restaurant/bars and pizzeria.
You can find more information about Andorra, Baqueira, Luz Ardiden, Grand Tourmalet and Cauterets on articles, resort guide, maps of pistes...

Looking for a holiday let? has plenty of holiday rental offers in Gavarnie and the surrounding area.
Photos: E. Beallet
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