Grande cascade de Gavarnie
(cascade cirque de Gavarnie)
Grande cascade de Gavarnie or Cascade de Gavarnie is the tallest waterfall in France and one of the biggest waterfalls in Europe. Wit a single drop of 281 meters and a total height of 440 meters very impressive to see. When standing in front of the fall you see how impressive Grande cascade de Gavarnie is.
With a four star rating it is one of my favorite waterfalls of Europe. I visited Grande cascade de Gavarnie twice and I certainly want to go back for a third time.
Grande cascade de Gavarnie is located in cirque de Gavarnie, a cirque valley 800-3.000 meters wide in the French Pyrenees on the border with Spain.
The average flow of the waterfall is 3 m3/s but in summertime, with warm weather there is a lot of melted ice/snow from the glacier L’Epaule (at appr 3.000 m). At that time the flow of Grande cascade de Gavarnie exceeds 200 m3/s.
Grande cascade de Gavarnie is without a doubt also the most beautiful waterfall in France. It isn’t only the waterfall that makes this waterfall so gorgeous but also the surrounding, the wildlife, the flora and the impressive height when walking to the base of the Grande cascade de Gavarnie. People in front of the waterfall are so tiny, at that moment you really see how huge the waterfall is.
The trail into cirque de Gavarnie starts at Gavarnie. The cirque is very popular in summertime and it can be hard to find a parking spot, although there are several parking lots. The small village of Gavarnie is very picturesque with several small (tourist) shops. A nice place to have a drink and to enjoy the beautiful weather.
After leaving the village you automatically follow the trail along the river Gave de Gavarnie ou de Pau. It won’t take long before you see the great Grande cascade de Gavarnie. Even from a distance the waterfall looks very beautiful and it will become better when approaching this great waterfall.
On the way to Grande cascade de Gavarnie you will walk along the river, a nice place to cool down or to take a break. Especially with children a perfect spot. Although the walk takes a few hours, my daughter of 8 years old (at the moment) enjoyed it very much.
On the way to the waterfall you will see several rapids in the riverGave de Gavarnie ou de Pau or and in side rivers. I can remember a very beautiful spot at an ancient wall where you have a view on the waterfall and you can look down at the river (6th-11th and last picture).
The last part of the walk, after the hotel, goes up over a gravel path. My wife stayed on the terrace of the hotel but me and my daughter went on to the base of Grande cascade de Gavarnie. Please do and walk onto the base of the waterfall, it is really so nice.
Pay attention of the wildlife, when walking to Grande cascade de Gavarnie. We saw a capricorn and a mountain marmot (I don’t know the English word for it).
At the other end of the mountain pass you will find Parque Nacional de Ordesa in Spain, the most beautiful national park in the Spanish Pyrenees. Also a must to visit.
In the area of Gavarnie there are so many waterfalls, but my favorite are the Cascades du Lutour at Cauterets, west of Luz saint Sauveur.
2 thoughts on “Grande cascade de Gavarnie”
planning a trip by motorcycle to gavarni next week.
how long does it take from parking lot to cascade and back to parking lot?
It depends how far you want to walk. From the parking to the restaurant/viewpoint it is little over 1 hour and if you want to walk further to the base of the waterfall it is another 30 minutes. I think in total with photo stops it is a 2 hour walk to the base of Cascade de Gavarnie.