If you’re planning a visit to Lac De Gaube, also known as Gaube Lake, this article is for you. In this guide, I share everything you need to know ahead of visiting Gaube Lake, including how to get there, what to expect and more.
Lac De Gaube, or Gaube Lake, is one of the most jaw-dropping wonders in all the French Pyrenees. An emerald alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks, it’s the epitome of natural beauty that exists in this magnificent region.
While it is possible to enjoy a beautiful hike to Lac de Gaube, you can also reach it by chairlift, which means that almost anybody can enjoy the ethereal lakeside views.
That said, since the lake lies in the Parc National des Pyrenees, there are rules and regulations that you should be aware of before visiting. Here I share all the facts based on our recent visit.
So let’s get to it and plan an unforgettable visit to Lac de Gaube.
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Tips & Advice for Lac de Gaube
Before I share the details of the Lac de Gaube hike and cable car, let’s cover some important FAQs that are useful to know before you plan your visit.
How to get there
The nearest village to Gaube Lake is Cauterets, while the closest major town is Lourdes.
Most people visiting the lake will park at the Pont d’Espagne and either hike or take the cable car from there.
From Cauterets, it’s around a 15-20 minute drive to the Pont d’Espagne car park, while from Lourdes, it’s approximately 1 hour.
There is also a shuttle bus that runs from Cauterets to Pont d’Espagne. At the time of writing, it is €8.50 for an adult return ticket and €5.50 for children.
For a challenging all-day hike, it’s possible to hike from Cauterets to the lake.
Pont D’Espagne Parking
There is a huge car park at Pont D’Espagne with plenty of spaces for both cars and campervans.
At the time of writing, it is €7 to park for the entire day. Or if you take the chairlift to Gaube Lake, it is included in the ticket price (€15).
You are not allowed to stay overnight in the car park.
Best Time to Visit
While you can access the lake most of the year, it’s wise to avoid the area during winter (November to March).
Since ice and snow can make for treacherous walking conditions, only experienced hikers should visit during this time.
It can get very crowded during the summer, particularly in July & August. If you visit during this time, try to arrive early to enjoy a peaceful experience.
The best months to visit are June and September when the weather is still good, but there are fewer people.
Lac De Gaube with Dogs
Since we are travelling with our dog Ronnie, we are always on the lookout for dog-friendly hikes.
Unfortunately, it was not so easy in France. Dogs are prohibited from entering all national parks in France – including the Parc National des Pyrenees.
While this area is part of the national park, there is a way you can visit Gaube Lake with your dog. It means taking the chairlift option since dogs are not allowed on the trails.
It was our understanding that we could take Ronnie on the chairlift and then enjoy the walk around the lake. However, this is NOT the case.
Dogs are only allowed on the north side of the lake. If you want to walk around the lake, you will need to leave your dog at home or take turns with others in your group.
If you’re looking for more dog friendly hikes in the Pyrenees, you might also consider Cirque de Gavarnie or Lac D’Estaing.
Swimming in Lac De Gaube
It seems to be a bit of a grey area whether or not you can swim in Gaube Lake. However, many people do, and I saw no signs saying not to.
I didn’t take the plunge myself on this occasion. But as wild swimming spots go, this is up there with the best of them.
Gaube Lake Camping
I hate to burst your bubble, but camping is forbidden throughout the Parc National des Pyrenees unless in a designated campsite.
The same goes for campervans. It’s risky to wild camp anywhere in Cauterets since guards are patrolling the area.
For a hassle-free stay, I suggest staying in one of the local aires or campsites.
Other Things to Know
- No drones are allowed in the national park.
- There is a restaurant by the lake where you can grab refreshments.
- You must respect the nature and wildlife in the area.
- No camping or fires.
Lac de Gaube Hike at a Glance
The hike to Gaube Lake is one of the most accessible and family-friendly hikes in the French Pyrenees. Here are all the details.
Time: 4-5 hours
Lac De Gaube Hiking Map
Route map for Lac De Gaube Via Pont D'Espagne by Charlotte Hockin on plotaroute.com
The picturesque trail begins at Pont D’Espagne car park. From there, follow the path past the cable car station and into the forested area.
Keep to the main path that snakes alongside the river. Soon enough, you will encounter an impressive set of waterfalls that converge together.
At this point, you can follow the signs to the famous stone bridge that once served as a trading route between France and Spain. Or continue along the GR10 trail towards the lake.
The path is in fairly good condition and, for the most part, ascends gradually. Though, those less steady on their feet will benefit from sturdy walking shoes and hiking poles.
One thing I noticed about the French Pyrenees’ hiking trails is how pristine they are. It really makes you appreciate the rules and regulations in place to protect the area.
As the path levels out approaching the valley, you are rewarded with more impeccable views. Towering peaks extend into the distance, dominated by Vignemale – the highest peak in the Pyrenees.
The view of the lake itself remains a surprise until the very last minute. I remember vividly how my jaw dropped to the floor. The striking turquoise colour did it – a truly mesmerising sight.
You may choose to end your hike here – the views are more than enough. Or you can continue the trail around the lake, where there is another waterfall and more dramatic vistas.
The south of the lake is also the access point to the Vignemale trails and other peaks, but these are serious hikes that require pre-planning.
When you are ready, you can follow the trail back the way you came. Or, mix it up, and take the route I have suggested on the map above.
This trail is slightly more rocky and technical in places, but nothing to be too concerned about. Soon enough, you’ll join the main route just ahead of the car park.
While Lac De Gaube isn’t a highly technical hike, you might still need some suitable gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure.
Here are some essentials I recommend you have in preparation for your walk.
- A map – We use All Trails.
- Sensible walking shoes or hiking boots.
- A waterproof hiking backpack.
- A refillable water bottle.
- Hiking snacks.
- Insect spray.
- A waterproof jacket
Lac de Gaube Cable Car
Taking the cable car to Gaube Lake is equally exciting as the hike. It begins with a short 10-minute ride inside a sheltered cabin, followed by a breathtaking journey on an open chairlift.
You should be aware that there’s still a little bit of walking involved – around 10-15 minutes. But the path is flat and in excellent condition.
The chairlift, in particular, provides astonishing views over the surrounding scenery. So long as you don’t have a fear of heights, it’s a truly relaxing way to access the lake.
At the time of writing, a return journey on the chairlift costs €15 per person. Parking in the Post D’Espagne car park is included in the price, and dogs travel for free.
Please note that the cable car ceases to operate for the winter months, so you should check the website before you go.
Enjoy Lac De Gaube!
So there you have it – our tips and recommendations for visiting Lac De Gaube. Have we covered everything? Do you have any questions?
Let us know! We love hearing from you. You can contact us in the comment section.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Hi Charlotte, Natalie and Ronnie!
Thank you for your informative page. I have been researching on visiting Lake Gaube and your page is THE most helpful I have came across.
Will be following on IG to see more of your adventures!
Thank you so much for this lovely comment. It made our day! Hope you enjoyed your visit to Lake Gaube <3