Étang d’Areau from Col de Pause

The Col de Pause is a starting point for some wonderful walks, as well as an up-close view of Mont Valier.

This describes a walk up to the pastures known by various spellings: Areau, Arreau, Arréou and Areou, and its emerald green lake.

Some brave souls drive up to the parking area at the Col, but the road gets rougher and narrower beyond Laserre, so I park at Laserre and then walk along the GR10.  That takes me around 40 mins to get to the Col de Pause.  I never fail to be amazed by the view of Mont Valier up close:

At the Col you have a choice of walking up the crazy road or the GR10:


I found it quicker to continue walking up the GR10 – it’s steeper but much shorter.  It takes around 2 – 2.5 hours from the Col to the étang d’Areau, which is unmissable – yes it really is that colour!

If you don’t feel inclined to go further, there’s a path to the left of the lake that takes you to the top of the ridge.  Here you get a wonderful view of the lake with its backdrop of Mont Valier (image bottom left).  Turn around for another spectacular view of the endless ridges that fall away as you look east.

On the other hand, if you have the time and energy, you can carry on walking up the road all the way to the Spanish frontier at the Port d’Aula. This is one of the easier routes up to the border, I believe. It’s possible to stick to the road, but there are numerous paths that cut through the bends, and you continue to get spectacular views of the Valier massif.

This is bear country.  You can read about the debate surrounding the reintroduction of bears to the Pyrenees, featuring these very slopes, on Steve Cracknell’s site here (Steve’s site has links to other informative posts on all sides of the debate).

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