Hike from Napoleons bridge to


Taking a break from hiking on Table Mountain I took a busman’s holiday in the French Pyrenees! The hike from Napoleon bridge to Barege is an easy hike for a cloudy day in the Pyrenees. It starts at a height of 800m and climbs to  a heighest point of 1277m. The hike takes you through a number of small villages with some beautiful ancient buildings which add to the interest of the walk. Altogether you cover a distance of some 12km and the hike should take you some 4 hours to complete.

The hike starts on the D921 between Luz St Sauveur and Gavarnie. The bridge spans the Garvanie river and is pretty impressive. It was built in honour of Napoleon 3rd who used to come to this area to “take the water”

Napoleons Bridge

From the bridge you walk for less than 100m along the road in the direction of Luz. You will see a clear path leading off the road on the right hand side. Follow this path. It leads steeply up before levelling out and following the road and river towards the town of Luz. After about an hour you will reach a charming little church overlooking the town. From here you head into the town and basically follow your nose through the narrow cobbled streets towards the Templar Church in the middle of the town. This is an impressive building that dominates this area of the town.

The Templar church dominates the centre of Luz

It is well worth taking the time to explore the temple.

From here you need to head to your right and away from the Garvarnie river towards Bareges. Initially follow the road until just outside the town you take a small path to the village of Viella. It takes 15 minutes to get to the village along a path with light on a timing switch. Clearly people stay in the village of Viella but walk to Luz for supper. The village of Viella is tiny with another beautiful old church and a water fountain guarded by a shepherd.

The water fountain in the village of Viella

From Viella you again follow the road back onto the main pass and take a road leading up the other side of the valley to the village of Viey. From here the path leads to the village of Sers. It should take you about an hour to hike from Viella to Sers. Both villages are built quite high in the valley and the path is steep at times, but the views terrific.

The view of Bareges taken from the chapel of St Justin

From Sers you need to head still further uphill to the chapel of St Justin. This is a tiny little chapel and from here at a height of 1277m you get your first look at Bareges.

The final stretch of the path to Bareges is a realtively gentle path through forest into the town of Bareges.