The Pyrenees 2010: GR10 and GR11

The trail GR 10 runs between the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean ocean on the French side of the Pyrenees and the GR 11 is on the Spanish side. We walked for two weeks on the GR10 in the west of Pyrenees in 2009 read more about that here. We really liked the French side of the Pyrenees and we longed back, but this time we also wanted to try to walk on the Spanish side, on the GR11.

There are some places where you can cross the border by foot and that’s what we did. We started in Cauterets in France and walked to Spain and we walked on the GR11 for eight days before we crossed the border again and walked east back to Cauterets on the GR10.

In France everyone you meet says ” bonjour”,  but in Spain they say ” hola”. In France they call the cottages gite but in Spain it is refuge. We found the difference between the countries interesting. The mountains in Spain are a little higher and tougher, it was steeper,  there was more snow and they were more spectacular. There were less animals and no farm houses that sold cheese as on the French side and we did not pass as many villages. We often get the question which side we like the best– it’s impossible to answer, both are wonderful, just different.

There are quite a lot of tourists in the mid Pyrenees in both countries. People are biking, doing short walks and long ones. But the nature is so huge you usually don’t meet many people during the day. You find them at the refuges in the evenings. The refuges in Spain are often simple, since they are often up high, far away from  civilization,  there is limited electricity and hot water is a luxury. The food usually tasted good even though we got the same food for three nights in a row, chicken and beans. In some places you could buy some food for cooking like pasta, bread and gas for your stove. To be sure of getting a bed you should call ahead and book, usually it’s enough the night before. We didn’t do that often since we had a tent with us.  On the French side you can useally camp outside the refuges, on the Spanish side this uselly not possible. Bivouac isallowed on both side all most everywhere.

The guidebook we used was Trekking in the Pyrenees by Douglas Streatfield-James from Trailblazer. It was good, but we felt it was better for the GR10 than for GR11.

Our trip marked out on Google maps.