Saturday 23 September 2023

Lac de Gaube

Lac de Gaube is a French Pyrenean lake near Cauterets in the Hautes-Pyrénées, within the Pyrenees National Park. The name is a tautology, as 'gaube' is a Gascon word for 'lake' and 'lac' is the French word for 'lake'. It comes from the same pre-Celtic Eurasian root as 'gaves', which is the local Pyrenean word for the mountain streams.

Lac de Gaube, Hautes Pyrenees, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The lake is at an altitude of 1725 metres above sea level, ovoid in shape, on a north-south axis. It sits in a small valley about 9 kilometres long, which starts at the foot of Mount Vignemale (3298 metres) and ends at the Pont d'Espagne. 

It is fed by the Gave des Oulettes de Gaube, which in turn is fed by the glacier on Mount Vignemale. At its deepest it is 40 metres to the bottom of the lake, and the surrounding slopes are covered in rock falls and landslides.

Reached by hiking a couple of hours uphill through the pines or by taking the cable car from Pont d'Espagne then the ski lift and walking a mere half an hour downhill through alpine meadows, the lake is famous for its fabulous views and ease of access. In addition, it is the departure point for several longer hiking trails. For example, go along the western bank on the GR10 (one of France's famous long distance hiking trails) and you can reach the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube at 2151 metres.

Once you get there, you can have lunch at the restaurant overlooking the lake, which serves a set menu for a very reasonable price. We have been here twice over the years for lunch, taking the cable car up and walking down, and last year we did the longer walk to and from Oulettes.

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