It’s been a few months, or even years, that we have the idea of crossing the Pyrénées. But we haven’t found the time yet to make it on foot. So we’ll use our car for this time, with day hikes, going from friends to friends. The firsts ones are our good buddies Karine and Audrey, travellers behind the blog Rêves et sac à dos and owner of the amazing restaurant Le bon temps. From their place we’ll wander around the area of the Canigou and discover monasteries and secret pass where they’ll lead us.
Monasteries and villages in the Pyrénées Catalanes
From Molitg-Les-Bains in the middle of the Parc Naturel Régional des Pyrénées Catalanes where we settle down for these few days we have a lot of options for our daily wanders. We first chose the wonderful little village of Eus, known as the most sunny village of France, AND one of the most beautiful village of France. We couldn’t miss that ! Old middle-age village it nowadays occupied by artists and small bars offering a nice joyful life on the sunny terraces. What a pleasure to walk in these little streets… And what a view from the top !!! In front, sits the famous Mount Canigou !
That where we’ll go the next day. To the incredible monastery of Saint-Martin du Canigou, built on top of a rocky peak during the Xth century, and occupied since by Benedictines nuns. It seems that it was fashion at that time to build things on crazy places. On the other side of the mountain, on the oriental foothills has been built the beuatiful Priory of Serrabonna where stand a very rare marble tribune !
Another day we planned a day hike on Mantet Pass, known for its jaw dropping views. But when we arrived up there after hours of driving on the little bending mountains roads, we were stucked on a violent thunderstorm. The sky was made of thick dark grey low cover, absorbing all the light of the day. As soon as a window opens between the clouds a powerful light was transpiercing through. What a nice opportunity for photographers! But for hiking, we’ll come back. On our way back, we enjoy a gorgeous thunder-sunset over Fort Libéria, a Vauban fortress, that sits over the pink marble fortified city of Villefranche-de-Conflent. Well it seems that this region has a lot of History marvels…
Peak of Madrès
Today its a day off for our friends Karine and Audrey. The perfect opportunity to discover their Pyrénées Catalanes, with their point of view. For that they took us on a day hike up the mountains to show us a kind of secret place where they love to climb to look at birds and isards (Pyrenean chamois). If the first kilometers let us doubtful, we soon understand why our friends took us there. Hidden after a few kilometers of forest track and a steep climb through a classic forest we arrive on a high valley offering stunning views on the mountains around.
Then, after a last steep ascent, we arrive there ! The view opens up on our goal. A little hut is installed here, and in front stand a large natural circus in which lay a steppe worthy of the Himalaya. At the back of it, the Peak of Madrès is looking over the panorama like an old patriach. We sit a couple of hours, far away from the crazyness of our world. We imagine ourselve living here as hermits… But an heavy rain stop our dreams and we’ll have to walk down to the car, totally wet after a few minutes under that pouring water.
We could have stayed in the Pyrénées Catalanes for ever, but life is not that easy, eh ? So we’ll take the road again soon, next step : The Occitanie region !
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