Subject: The Pyrenees
Hi Daboo Try the bullet train to Marseille or from Paris you can take a 3-hr train directly to Provence (somewhere in the Luberon, but I'm not sure of which town - you'll have to check). We were there at the end of Feb once to hike and walk. There was still snow on high places, but very mild and clear! The Dentelles and the Luberon have nice hikes but the Pyrenees are spectacular!!!

<<- the guidebook i'm following says not to worry about gite/hotel reservations until June. Is this safe?>> Not for the huts in the Pyrenees at the end of June - but chambre d'hotes (B&B's) and gites might not be too bad. Remember, as soon as the weather is good for hiking - the gites and B&B's will fill up especially on weekends. France puts out a chambre d'hote and gite guide. It's on the Internet I think. All SI's (tourist information centers) are open in the small towns and they have lists of B&B's and gites and they will be happy to help out. They are not always open daily except in the summers - check days and times and then.... hope!

<> Good boots are essential if you plan to hike the GR 10 or any part of it. Most hikes are open, but some have many rocks and many are dried up stream beds atleast in part. Hiking high will require good boots. It all depends on the hiking you plan to do. We always hike atleast 8 hrs per day and happy feet are important to us!

<< - If I go part of it alone, will it be easy to meet other people?>> Hard question. If you plan to go alone in the Pyrenees, you will need to be sure the huts are open or do day hikes and have a car. Buses are somewhat infrequent and you can't get to the good trailheads except with a car (At least this has been our experience) We did not stay in huts, preferring the camaraderie of the B&B's -- but we met many people on the hikes. People are all friendly - but we did not meet anyone who spoke English. Some French or Spainish would be helpful if you plan to hike and travel alone in the Pyrenees.

Remember, you can take a train or bus to each village in each valley, but from there, you'll be on your own - and it will not be high season. This is not a heavy tourist area. If you are considering car rental, we always use Europcar.

If you have specifics or would like any suggestions as to our fav. hikes, ask away. Regards, Susie Newton