Ride the gondola (funiculaire) to the top of Cirque de Lys (8, 853 ft high). It's a nice long ride, with incredible views of the valley below, cows and sheep grazing, wildflowers and streams, and mountain peaks across the way. In summer, it's fun just for the ride, and a cafe at the top. In winter, this is a ski are, with a children's "jardinière."
Next door to the funicularire is Maison du Parch, a tiny museum about the Parc National Pyrenees - animals and traditional life in the mountains. Museum is in French but isn't hard to grasp the exhibits.
Pont d'Espagne - The Pont d'Espagne is a bridge over a lovely sparkling cataract, just a five minute walk from the car park. (It's a wide walkway to the bridge, you can take strollers.) From the bridge, different hiking paths go off in different directions.
Lac de Gaube
- This hike has fabulous alpine scenery - even little ones can make the hike to the lake. The trail going up to Lac de Gaube is an easy route, through forests, meadows, along streams, wildflowers blooming in summer. Or, if you're feeling lazy, from Pont d'Espagne you can take the chair lift (telesiege
) up, and then it's a largely level walk to the lake.
Lac de Gaube is a pristine azure lake, with lots of meadows around the edge, so bring your lunch along. On the edge of the lake, at the small hotel/restaurant with the outdoor terrace, you can have a meal or ice cream.
Two other good hikes - go up the trail to the Vallee au Marcadau, or teens can hike the trail along the river from Cauterets up to the car park (takes about 1 ½ hours).
Tip: Weather can be changeable in the Pyrenees, light rain or mist can come up in summer, so bring along a light jacket. Wear good shoes to hike in (don't hike in flip flops).