It was a good walk, but the weather could have been better. The days in fog were frustrating – I knew I was walking through alpine country I wanted to savour, but I couldn’t see it. The weather was typical; with the ocean nearby and the prevailing wind from the west, rain and fog are frequent. Likewise, if the wind moves south, it can be very hot.
I walked the first half of the GR10. The second half, from Luchon to the Mediterranean, cannot be done without carrying food and camping gear for a few nights. Several people on the hike told me this is no longer the case, but I checked the French guide for that section in a shop in Paris and camping is still required. I’d like to do the rest of the walk, but I don’t want to carry a full camping kit. There may be ways to avoid the sections without accommodation. I may be back.
If I had the first half to do again, I’d start inland and change the route to get more time in the alpine.
St. Jean Pied de Port would be my starting point, skipping the first five days of this trip. Being the start of the Camino to Santiago, SJPP is an easy town to get to and full of facilities. The disadvantage is that you don’t get five easy days to warm up, you must be ready, and, if you are a purist, you won’t be able to say you’ve done the full walk.
I would drop the direct one-day leg from Cauterets to Luz St. Sauver and instead take the alternative three-day route which loops south toward Spain through some high country before turning north again to reach Luz.
Those changes would make it a 21 day walk instead of 24 days. I’d add two rest days to bring it to 23 days. I didn’t take rest days and wish I had, one rest day each week in a town with a comfortable hotel. I thought the short days might be as good as a rest, but they aren’t. A day a week loafing is good.
Guide books for the GR10 are a problem for an anglophone. The only English language guide is The GR10 Trail published by Cicerone. It is out of date and sets ambitious times for each day. The French guides published by the Féderation Française de la Randonnée Pédestre are up to date, the time estimates are realistic, and the maps and supporting information are excellent. Even if your French is limited, they are worthwhile. They are readily available in France, but difficult to get in Canada. You should be able to order them from Stanfords in London or Pied à Terre in Amsterdam (email firstname.lastname@example.org, you can write in English). You need two FFRP guides for this trip: Pyrenees Occidentales, #1086, and Pyrenees Centrales, #1091.