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Gourette visitor guide

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Visit Gourette, France

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Gourette is a small ski resort in the west of the Pyrenees, south of Pau and close to the town of Eaux-Bonnes.

Explore Gourette

France This Way comment: Gourette is perhaps itself not a very interesting destination, but you will be here for the skiing, the hiking, to explore the Pyrenees or to watch a stage of the Tour de France, not for the village itself!

It was close to here that the sport of skiing was first introduced to the Pyrenees, at the beginning of the 20th century, although the resort at Gourette was not developed until the 1930s after the sport had become more popular and the road to Gourette had been improved. Before that Gourette was a small settlement of mountain cottages.

Because of ease of access from the west, Gourette quickly became a popular winter resort for the wealthy of Bordeaux with a selection of impressive hotels built in prime locations.

Holiday apartments in Gourette

Gourette remained a small upmarket resort until the 1960s and 1970s when a lot of development of less expensive accommodation took place, unfortunately not in keeping wth the environment: this overconstruction of less attractive buildings took place in many ski resorts at this time and the resort quickly lost its position as number one ski destinaton in the Pyrenees.

Since 2000 many changes have taken place to correct the earlier mistakes, with the planned improvement and renewal of several of the apartments and buildings, the removal of numerous pylons, the recreation of the natural environment and the replacement of the outdated ski lifts, although this work was interrupted by the financial crisis after 2008.

As a result, Gourette today is a small and pleasant resort which offers several interesting options for skiing and is still popular, especially with French visitors from the region, although some of the buildings are rather dated.

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Gourette sports: skiing, cycling and hiking

The main resort is at an altitude of around 1400 metres, although the ski runs reach an altitude of more than 2400 metres. There are around 40 kilometres of ski runs available, across an area of 140 hectares, and reputed in part because of the large number of trees in parts of the ski station.

As with all ski resorts in the Pyrenees if you visit for a ski holiday you are very reliant on the weather and snow conditions, and it has been suggested to us that Gourette is a destination to book "last-minute" when you are more certain of the weather ahead, or accept the risk that some of the slopes may not be open.

As you will quickly discover, in the summer there are often more bikes on the road here than cars! The road to the Col d'Aubisque passes through Gourette and is often a stage on the Tour de France, and is also slightly lesss challenging than the mountain passes further east in the Pyrenees, so is a very popular challenge for cyclists who want to try a "real" mountain!

The GR10 long distance footpath passes through Gourette, and is one of the most challenging routes in France (and takes several weeks to complete) but there are lots of other hikes to suit all standards, including short walks around the Col d'Aubisque and an easy four kilometre trail from the casino in Eaux-Bonnes.

The most popular destinations include several small lakes in the mountains above the resort, such as the Lac d'Anglas, which is a four hour return trip from Gourette, and the Cascade de Ley which is accessed from the parking at ley, between Gourette and Eaux-Bonnes.

Other activites near Gourette include several mountain bike trails, and several places where climbing is possible, including a Via Ferrata with options at various levels of difficulty.

Centre of the village of Gourette

Attractions nearby

Gourette is part of Eaux-Bonnes, a 19th century spa town a few kilometres away, and you are likely to also visit that town while you are here. That is also quite a small town, and for a slightly larger town with a supermarket you need to travel a few kilometres further to Laruns, which also has a small historic centre.

The main attraction is the scenic highlights. Gourette is on the road that leads to the Col d'Aubisque, a scenic mountain pass (where the cows and horses like to stroll around the car park!) a few kilometres to the east. North of Eaux-Bones you can also explore the picturesque Valley d'Ossau, one of the importanat valleys across the Béarn region

From the Ley parking area, about one kilometre below Gourette you can follow a short walk to see a waterfall called the Cascade de Ley, a 140 metres high waterfall as the river emerges from a cliff.

Explore elsewhere in the Béarn. You can find more travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Aquitaine guide.

See also: 

Photos of Gourette

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Map of Gourette and places nearby

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Visit near Gourette with France This Way reviews

Col d'Aubisque

Col d'Aubisque

The Col d'Aubisque is a beautiful mountain pass with views of numerous high mountains in the Pyrenees

Col d'Aubisque guide
Eaux-Bonnes

Eaux-Bonnes

Eaux-Bonnes is a 19th century belle-epoque spa town at the base of the Col d'Aubisque

Eaux-Bonnes guide
Laruns

Laruns

Laruns is a pretty village, but it is the surrounding mountain scenery that attracts most visitors here

Laruns guide
Pyrenees National Parc

Pyrenees National Parc

The Pyrenees National Parc contains a great deal of the most beatiful mountain scenery in France

Pyrenees National Parc guide
Saint-Savin

Saint-Savin

It is the abbey church in Saint-Savin, and the surrounding countryside, that make a visit recommended

Saint-Savin guide
Sarrance

Sarrance

The small village of Sarrance is in the valley of the Gave d'Aspe and has an interesting church to visit

Sarrance guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Pyrenees-Atlantiques

The French version of this page is at Gourette (Francais)

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