Pont d'Espagne (Bridge of Spain)

Hautes-Pyrenees, Occitanie, France

About Pont d’Espagne (Bridge of Spain)


Hiking Distance: 600m round trip
Suggested Time: 20-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2012-05-12
Date last visited: 2012-05-12

Waterfall Latitude: 42.85071
Waterfall Longitude: -0.14011

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Pont d’Espagne (or Bridge of Spain) I think really refers to the general scenic area encompassing Lac de Gaube (Gaube Lake), the waterfalls, and the minor developments (a bustling cafe and cable car) at road’s end.

It’s either that or the stone bridge (pretty standard in France) at the confluence of the two major cascades beyond the end of the road.

Bridge_of_Spain_082_20120512 - One of the converging waterfalls at the Bridge of Spain
One of the converging waterfalls at the Bridge of Spain

I suppose we could’ve called this page Les Cascades du Pont d’Espagne, but we’ll just keep it short and sweet and refer to the waterfalls collectively as the Bridge of Spain for simplicity.

Even though the scenery at the paid parking area at road’s end had some memorable waterfalls on its own, there were several more waterfalls on the same stream throughout the drive up the D920.

Nevertheless, we thought the main waterfall attraction was really the converging pair of cascades tumbling right besides a bustling cafe and underneath the arched stone bridge (see photo above).

Even though there was nothing very special about the stone bridge itself, I believe its position right at the confluence of two thundering cascades was what gave this bridge its notoriety.

Bridge_of_Spain_101_20120512 - Looking downstream at the historic Bridge of Spain with a rainbow appearing from the mist of the converging waterfalls
Looking downstream at the historic Bridge of Spain with a rainbow appearing from the mist of the converging waterfalls

Therefore, it turned out to be a very popular photo subject especially since it only made perfect sense to photograph a bridge in a place called the Bridge of Spain.

Experiencing the Waterfalls of the Bridge of Spain (Pont d’Espagne)

To take in the most spectacular of the Bridge of Spain Waterfalls, it was merely a ten-minute walk from the car park at the cable car area to the bridge.

Since we weren’t in much of a hurry during our visit, we took much longer than that.

It was possible to continue on the trail going uphill towards some pretty lakeside scenery backed by mountains at Lac de Gaube (Gaube Lake).

Bridge_of_Spain_079_20120512 - Looking back at the context of the short walking path leading over a side cascade before reaching the main viewing area by the Bridge of Spain and its converging waterfalls
Looking back at the context of the short walking path leading over a side cascade before reaching the main viewing area by the Bridge of Spain and its converging waterfalls

However, we’ve been told it was an hour’s hike each way (two hours return) to get up to the lake (and back).

We were hoping the cable car to get up there and shorten the walk was running, but our visit was a week before it was to be open for the peak season.

Thus, we didn’t get to visit to visit the lake.

From a waterfalling standpoint, the short ten-minute walk was pretty much all there was to this place.

Bridge_of_Spain_085_20120512 - View from the Bridge of Spain looking back towards a lookout between the convergence of two big cascades
View from the Bridge of Spain looking back towards a lookout between the convergence of two big cascades

Of course, there were so many more opportunities to get saturated with waterfalls on the drive up to the Bridge of Spain itself that perhaps this was a fine way to cap off a visit here.

Bridge of Spain Waterfalls during the drive up

As for the drive up the D920, the waterfalling experience already began for us about 10 minutes from the thermal spa town of Cauterets.

This was where there was another convergence of a pair of cascades with the tumbling Cascade du Lutour (the one tumbling by a restaurant and bridge) being the most impressive.

The other one originated directly from the Bridge of Spain and tumbled past some hydro facility as well as the trailhead for the 90-minute uphill trail called Le Chemin des Cascades (the way of the waterfalls).

Bridge_of_Spain_010_20120512 - Looking upstream at the Cascade du Lutour and restaurant from the road leading up to the Bridge of Spain
Looking upstream at the Cascade du Lutour and restaurant from the road leading up to the Bridge of Spain

There was a very large pullout area for parking to check out the scenery as well as to buy stuff at the cafes and souvenir shops right across the road.

Beyond this well-touristed spot, the D920 continued uphill along a slow and winding mountain road full of switchbacks (I didn’t count how many).

At seemingly every switchback, there were gushing cascades from the same river coming from the Bridge of Spain that one could easily be tempted to stop for and check out.

We managed to stop at a pair of such waterfalls though pullouts were few.

Bridge_of_Spain_021_20120512 - A rushing cascade flowing by some kind of facility as seen on the road leading up to the Bridge of Spain very close to the Cascade du Lutour
A rushing cascade flowing by some kind of facility as seen on the road leading up to the Bridge of Spain very close to the Cascade du Lutour

In both the cases that we stopped, we actually drove further to the next switchback where there were pullouts.

Then, we walked along the road back towards the waterfalls themselves.

Specifically, one of the waterfalls we stopped for was called La Cascade de Cerisey.

This particular one was hard to photograph given how misty it was.

Another one we stopped for didn’t appear to have a name though it could’ve easily been famous in its own right if not for its location in a place that is full of other waterfalls.

Bridge_of_Spain_037_20120512 - Context of the Cascade du Cerisey at one of the switchbacks of the steep road leading up to the Bridge of Spain
Context of the Cascade du Cerisey at one of the switchbacks of the steep road leading up to the Bridge of Spain

That waterfall was on the second-to-last switchback where we parked at the last switchback then walked back towards a trail (which I believe was a continuation of Chemin des Cascades).

This trail offered some limited views of the cascade between trees.

In hindsight, we probably could’ve done what others had done and save the 5.5 euros to park at Bridge of Spain by walking from where we parked the car.

Oh well, you live and you learn.

Bridge_of_Spain_060_20120512 - Looking ahead on the steep road leading up to the Pont d'Espagne with a partially visible cascade tumbling in the background
Looking ahead on the steep road leading up to the Pont d’Espagne with a partially visible cascade tumbling in the background

Like the Grande Cascade du Gavarnie, the Bridge of Spain also resides in the Hautes-Pyrénées (Upper Pyrenees) department of the Occitanie region (formerly Midi-Pyrénées region) in the far south-southwest of France.

We did notice quite a bit of Spanish being spoken here probably because of its proximity to Spain.

Moreover, we also noticed quite a number of Spanish tour buses that would by come here as well.

Authorities

The Bridge of Spain and its waterfalls reside near Cauterets in the Hautes-Pyrenees department of the Occitanie province (formerly Midi-Pyrenees) of France. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their tourism board website.

St_Savin_012_20120512 - The charming St Savin, which was the start of our drive up to Bridge of Spain
Bridge_of_Spain_006_20120512 - Looking up towards the Cascade du Lutour from a well-touristed spot on the road to the Bridge of Spain barely 10 minutes uphill from Cauterets on the D920
Bridge_of_Spain_012_20120512 - Another look at the entirety of the Cascade du Lutour from the well-touristed spot along D920 about 10 minutes uphill from Cauterets
Bridge_of_Spain_018_20120512 - Looking up another rushing cascade tumbling past some hydro facility opposite where the Cascade du Lutour converged with this stream
Bridge_of_Spain_029_20120512 - Looking downhill from the touristed area in the direction of Cauterets from the D920
Bridge_of_Spain_036_20120512 - Looking back at the context of the cascade spilling next to some hydro facility as the D920 climb up towards Cascade du Lutour
Bridge_of_Spain_043_20120512 - Looking right at the bright and misty mess of the Cascade de Cerisey along the steep and winding D920 road up to the Bridge of Spain
Bridge_of_Spain_044_20120512 - This was another cascade that we noticed up ahead as we drove up the D920 towards the Bridge of Spain.  We actually stopped for this one though we never really did get a very satisfying view of it
Bridge_of_Spain_048_20120512 - Broad view from a switchback off the D920 looking towards part of that cascade that we saw earlier on this road on the ascent up to the Bridge of Spain
Bridge_of_Spain_053_20120512 - Zoomed in view right at the gushing torrent of that cascade that we stopped for near the top of the D920 road to the Bridge of Spain
Bridge_of_Spain_063_20120512 - When we finally made it to the car park for the Bridge of Spain, we noticed this cable car leading up to the Lac de Gaube, but it wasn't operational during our visit
Bridge_of_Spain_073_20120512 - The famous Bridge of Spain itself with a hint of the bottom of the converging waterfalls beneath its span
Bridge_of_Spain_074_20120512 - Looking downstream in the other direction from the Bridge of Spain
Bridge_of_Spain_076_20120512 - Focused look at a side cascade that the walking path traversed over en route to the Pont d'Espagne and its main converging waterfalls
Bridge_of_Spain_081_20120512 - One of the main waterfalls that converged at the Pont d'Espagne (Bridge of Spain)
Bridge_of_Spain_087_20120512 - The other cascade by the cafe that converged with the taller and bigger waterfall by the Pont d'Espagne (Bridge of Spain)
Bridge_of_Spain_108_20120512 - Context of the upper end of the other of the two waterfalls converging right at the Bridge of Spain (Pont d'Espagne)
Bridge_of_Spain_113_20120512 - Looking back at the context of the Bridge of Spain and the cafe

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We’ll start the driving route to Pont d’Espagne (Bridge of Spain) from the charming town of St-Savin, where we stayed.

We began by driving up the D920 for roughly 30-40 minutes or so to the thermal spa town of Cauterets.

Bridge_of_Spain_064_20120512 - The car park for the Bridge of Spain (Pont d'Espagne) at the end of the D920 road
The car park for the Bridge of Spain (Pont d’Espagne) at the end of the D920 road

From Cauterets, it’s another 15 minutes or so (without stops) up the slow and winding D920 road to get to its end at the Bridge of Spain car park.

For geographical context, the town of Cauterets was 14km (less than 30 minutes drive) south of St-Savin, 30km south of Lourdes, 205km (2.5 hours drive) southwest of Toulouse, and 735km (7 hours drive) southwest of Lyon.

V-shaped sweep tracking one of the main cascades then ending with a rainbow beneath an arch bridge


Tracking the confluence of two cascades (one of them is Cascade du Lutour)


Following one of the cascades near a hydro facility


Cascade du Cerisey


One of the cascades near the last of the switchbacks leading up to the road's end


Sweep starting downstream then finishing beneath the arch bridge


Following one of the cascades past the cafe before sweeping up to look at the main cascade


Looking at a double rainbow beneath the arch bridge before tracking up the main cascade


Tracking the cascade that eventually joins the main one

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Tagged with: bridge of spain, pyrenees, saint savin, st savin, cauterets, southern france, france, waterfall



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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