If you’re planning a visit to Lac D’Estaing, also known as lake Estaing, this article is for you. In this guide, I share everything you need to know ahead of visiting Lac D’Estaing, including how to get there, what to expect and more.
If you are at all familiar with the French Pyrenees region, you will know that it is teeming with magnificent natural wonders. Lac D’Estaing is one of them, and you won’t regret taking some time during your trip to visit.
Located in the heart of the Azun Valley, the unspoiled alpine lake boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. You can reach it by hiking but also by car, which means it’s easily accessible for everybody to enjoy.
That said, rules and regulations are in place to help preserve the area. Finding the facts online can be tricky, so I will share everything in this guide based on our recent visit.
Sound good? Let’s get to it then and start planning your visit to the beautiful Lac D’Estaing.
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Tips & Advice for Visiting Lac D'Estaing
Before I share what to expect when visiting Lac D’Estaing, let’s cover some important FAQs that are good to know before you plan your visit.
How to Get There
The closest major town to Lac D’Estaing is Lourdes which is approximately 1-hour away by car. The nearest villages are Estaing and Arrens-Marsous.
You will find a handful of places to stay in both of these villages; however, Arrens-Marsous is a bit more built up with shops and restaurants.
You can access the lake via a hike from both villages. From Estaing, it isn’t far at all; however, from Arrens-Marsous, it’s more of a challenge.
If you choose to hike from Arrens-Marsous, I would allow yourself most of the day to get there and back again.
Alternatively, you can reach the lake by car. There is plenty of space for parking next to the lake, and it is free.
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).
It’s common for it to snow during this time which can make for treacherous hiking and driving conditions. In fact, this area is popular amongst skiers in the winter.
On the other hand, the summer can get very crowded. Since Lac’D Estaing is easily accessible, it’s popular amongst families who come to enjoy the scenery and have picnics.
July and August are the busiest months, so if you want a peaceful experience, you should avoid this time. Alternatively, visit early in the morning before the crowds come.
The best months to visit are May, June, September and November when the weather is still good but there are far fewer people.
Lac D’Estaing with Dogs
Lac D’Estaing is one of the few landmarks within the Pyrenees region where it’s possible to take your dog.
Unfortunately, dogs are prohibited from entering all national parks in France, including the Parc National des Pyrenees.
The rule might seem unfair, but it is justified. It’s in place to protect the local wildlife and to ensure that the area maintains its jaw-dropping natural beauty.
However, since Lac D’Estaing isn’t geographically located in the park, dogs are allowed so long as they are kept on a leash.
Swimming in Lac D'Estaing
Unfortunately, swimming in Lac D’Estaing is prohibited, but water sports such as paddle boarding and kayaking are allowed.
I know this is contradictory, as you could easily fall into the lake when doing these activities.
I’ve not found any justifiable reason for not allowing swimming in the lake. But for your own safety, it may be wise to avoid it.
Since this is a popular spot for fishing, it could be something to do with the marine life that occupies the lake.
Lac D’Estaing Camping
Wild camping is strictly prohibited at Lac D’Estaing, and some local guards patrol the area. If you want to camp, you can do so at the neighbouring campsite.
Camping Intercommunal du Lac d’Estaing is in an excellent position at the foot of the lake and welcomes both tents and campervans.
Please note, however, that the campsite is only open between May & September.
Tip – We’ve found that if you visit out of season, it’s much easier to get away with wild camping.
Other Things to Know
- There are 2 restaurants by Lac D’Estaing where you can enjoy local produce or refreshments.
- Please help protect nature and wildlife in the area.
- No fires or BBQs around the lakeside.
Lac D'Estaing Walk
A walk around Lac D’Estaing promises some of the best views the Pyrenees region offers.
The lake is crystal clear, showing off a plethora of colours from turquoise blue to emerald green. The surrounding peaks reflect majestically in the water creating an otherworldly view.
As you approach the lake, the towering peaks stretch endlessly into the valley. The summits include that of Pic Arrouy and the mighty Pic du Midi d’Arrens, which peaks at 2267m.
The surroundings are verdant and green, with woodland that spans across the mountain plateau. This is pastoral territory so expect to see cows, goats, and horses grazing away.
From the car park, you can follow the trail either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Take your time and keep your camera ready, as there are plenty of photo opportunities.
Nature has a way of making you feel small. And as you navigate the valley, the shadows of the surrounding mountains are both haunting and beautiful.
You will find Centre d’accueil du lac d’Estaing at the southern point of the lake – a restaurant that we haven’t tried ourselves but comes highly recommended.
To complete a circular walk of the lake will take around one hour. A flat and reasonably level path, this is an accessible walk that can be enjoyed by all of the family.
More Hikes & Walks
Those hoping for a more challenging hike or walk needn’t be disappointed. Various trails spear off from the lake, allowing you to explore further spectacular sights.
Some nearby points of interest include the Arriousec plateau, the Ilhéou pass, and the waterfalls and lake of Plaa de Prat.
Enjoy Lac D'Estaing!
Well that’s it – that’s everything you need to know about Lac D’Estaing. I hope you’ve found this information helpful.
If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! Otherwise, we wish you a fantastic hike.
Planning a trip around Europe? Check out our Europe series for more travel tips and advice.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.